Current Psychiatry Reports

, 16:434 | Cite as

Trauma and Dissociation: Implications for Borderline Personality Disorder

  • Eric Vermetten
  • David Spiegel
Personality Disorders (C Schmahl, Section Editor)
Part of the following topical collections:
  1. Topical Collection on Personality Disorders


Psychological trauma can have devastating consequences on emotion regulatory capacities and lead to dissociative processes that provide subjective detachment from overwhelming emotional experience during and in the aftermath of trauma. Dissociation is a complex phenomenon that comprises a host of symptoms and factors, including depersonalization, derealization, time distortion, dissociative flashbacks, and alterations in the perception of the self. Dissociation occurs in up to two thirds of patients with borderline personality disorder (BPD). The neurobiology of traumatic dissociation has demonstrated a heterogeneity in posttraumatic stress symptoms that, over time, can result in different types of dysregulated emotional states. This review links the concepts of trauma and dissociation to BPD by illustrating different forms of emotional dysregulation and their clinical relevance to patients with BPD.


Dissociation Trauma Borderline personality disorder BPD Posttraumatic stress disorder PTSD Emotion regulation 


Compliance with Ethics Guidelines

Conflict of Interest

Eric Vermetten and David Spiegel declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Human and Animal Rights and Informed Consent

This article does not contain any studies with human or animal subjects performed by any of the authors.


Recently published papers of particular interest have been highlighted as: • Of importance •• Of major importance

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department PsychiatryLeiden University Medical CenterUtrechtThe Netherlands
  2. 2.Arq Psychotrauma Expert GroupDiemenThe Netherlands
  3. 3.Department Psychiatry and Behavioral SciencesStanford University School of MedicineStanfordUSA
  4. 4.Department PsychiatryLeiden University Medical Center UtrechtLeidenThe Netherlands

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