Symptoms of borderline personality disorder often mimic traits of other psychiatric disorders, complicating diagnosis and treatment. But researchers in Canada say they have identified a characteristic that may be unique to borderline personality disorder: a tendency to misinterpret emotions expressed by the face.
“They have difficulty processing facial emotions and will see a negative emotion on a neutral face,” said Anthony Ruocco, a clinical neuropsychologist and assistant professor at the University of Toronto. “This is not seen in bipolar disorder or schizophrenia.”
Inaccuracies in recognizing anger, sadness, fear and disgust also were noted in Ruocco’s recent study, with greater deficits related to anger and disgust.
Although more research is needed to understand the brain mechanisms involved in these misperceptions and their significance, Ruocco called these “potentially important” deficits.
“There may be neurobiological factors that contribute to these biases in emotion perception,” he said. Pinpointing those factors might lead to better understanding of the illness and improved treatments.
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