Borderline personality disorder (BPD) has attracted extensive clinical theorizing and considerable research effort, however the definitive etiology and pathogenesis of BPD remain relatively opaque (Lenzenweger & Cicchetti, 2005; see entire issue of Development and Psychopathology, 3, 2005). In view of the research interest in BPD, one could suggest that models of borderline pathology can serve as a prototype in the development of models of personality pathology in general. BPD is a serious, persistent, and prevalent disorder (Lenzenweger, Lane, Loranger, & Kessler, in press) that absorbs more than its share of mental health treatment resources. The treatment of these patients is difficult and challenging. Given that the DSM criteria for this group of patients is a mixture of behaviors, symptoms, and traits, as defined, BPD involves both state and trait aspects. Furthermore, the extensive “co-morbidity” of BPD and other Axis II disorders suggests that there may be latent structures underlying personality pathology.
Our goal is to present an object relations model of borderline personality organization (BPO), a concept including but broader than BPD, integrated with empirical data on patients diagnosed with borderline personality disorder (BPD). In this manner, we arrive at an empirically informed and refined object relational model of the personality malfunction. We have utilized this model to guide data generation on brain functioning, neurocognition, diagnosis and co-morbidity, temperament, attachment, and symptom patterns.