Values in persons with borderline personality disorder: their relevance for the therapeutic interview

  • Milena Mancini | Department of Psychological, Health and Territorial Sciences, G. d’Annunzio University, Chieti, Italy.
  • Giovanni Stanghellini Department of Psychological, Health and Territorial Sciences, G. d’Annunzio University, Chieti, Italy; D. Portales University, Santiago, Chile.


This is an explorative study on values of 25 patients affected by borderline personality disorder interviewed in a clinical setting (phenomenological-dynamic psychotherapy) and re-classified following Consensual Qualitative Research. We identified three main categories of values: recognition (the importance for attention, acknowledgment, commendation and acceptance by the other), authenticity (the importance of absolute emotional fusion with the other), and immediacy (the importance of instantaneous, hic et nunc satisfaction of one’s needs/desires). Each of these values expresses a kind of ‘logic’, namely the logic of intimacy (the other’s closeness as indispensable for defining oneself and establish/reinforce one’s selfhood and identity), spontaneity (over-reliance on feelings unrestricted by social norms undermining their intensity), and instantaneity (glorification of ‘now-moments’/execration of procrastination draining the vitality of feelings). The borderline person lives an emotional normativity constituted by the intensity of feelings under the spell of a frustrated normativity since they enter into a collision with the hypocrisy of common-sense ethical norms and social rules and conventions, as well as by potential conflicts with the feelings of the other. Acknowledging the values affirmed by borderline persons may help to better understand their condition - that is, to grasp ‘what it is like’ and make sense of the phenomena that affect them – and particularly to find a logic in their otherwise irrational and incomprehensible self-defeating behavior.



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Authenticity, borderline personality disorder, immediacy, phenomenological-dynamic psychotherapy, recognition, values
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How to Cite
Mancini, M., & Stanghellini, G. (2020). Values in persons with borderline personality disorder: their relevance for the therapeutic interview. Research in Psychotherapy: Psychopathology, Process and Outcome, 23(1).