Interoception and Its Interaction with Self, Other, and Emotion Processing: Implications for the Understanding of Psychosocial Deficits in Borderline Personality Disorder

  • Annette Löffler
  • Jens Foell
  • Robin Bekrater-Bodmann
Personality Disorders (K Bertsch, Section Editor)
Part of the following topical collections:
  1. Topical Collection on Personality Disorders


Purpose of Review

We review evidence for the potential importance of interoception, i.e., the processing of signals arising from inside the body, for deficient psychosocial functioning in borderline personality disorder (BPD).

Recent Findings

Evidence suggests that variability in interoception interacts with higher-order psychological functions such as self, other, and emotion processing. These domains are characteristically impaired in BPD, suggesting a likely causal role of disturbed interoception in the etiology of the disorder. The inability to identify and describe one’s own emotional states represents a proxy of impaired interoception which might further mediate between the perception of inner physiological conditions and psychosocial functioning in BPD.


There is preliminary evidence explaining how early life stress might adversely affect central interoceptive representation and psychosocial functioning in BPD. Based on these findings and the specific pattern of disturbances in BPD, we propose the crucial role of interoception in an integrated biobehavioral model for BPD.


Interoception Borderline personality disorder Emotion regulation Emotional awareness Anterior insula 



This work was supported by the ‘Mechanisms of disturbed emotion processing in borderline personality disorder’ project, which receives funding from the Clinical Research Unit program (KFO 256-IP4n, BE 5723/1-2, awarded to RBB) of the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft. The funding source had no involvement in the writing of this article or in the decision to submit the article for publication.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

Annette Löffler, Jens Foell, and Robin Bekrater-Bodmann 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.


Papers of particular interest, published recently, have been highlighted as: • Of importance •• Of major importance

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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Annette Löffler
    • 1
  • Jens Foell
    • 2
  • Robin Bekrater-Bodmann
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Cognitive and Clinical Neuroscience, Central Institute of Mental Health, Medical Faculty MannheimHeidelberg UniversityMannheimGermany
  2. 2.Department of PsychologyFlorida State UniversityTallahasseeUSA

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