Self and identity in women with symptoms of borderline personality: A qualitative study

Gillian Agnew, Ciaran Shannon, Tina Ryan, Lesley Storey, Catherine McDonnell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)
389 Downloads (Pure)


Identity disturbance has been suggested to be a core feature of borderline personality disorder (BPD). However, there is little known about the identity of individuals with symptoms of BPD from the participant’s perspective. This study availed of in-depth lightly structured life story interviews with five female participants. Thematic analysis was utilized to derive three themes of identity: connection, distance between us, and hurt and healing. Results provided support for multiple and flexible conceptualizations of identity in comparison to the idea of a unitary self/identity. Results also suggested that participants were able to establish differing connections to others ranging from disconnection to intimacy and care. Participants reported that their identities were impacted upon by historical and current family/relationship dysfunction, but life stories also illustrated the positive impact of healing relationship experiences. Findings provide support for psychological theories that consider a multiple and relational self/identity and the empowerment of healthy aspects of the self in BPD recovery. Studies that assess the association between insight and change may further our knowledge into this complex population.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)30490
Number of pages9
JournalInternational Journal of Qualitative Studies on Health and Well-being
Publication statusPublished - 23 Mar 2016

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