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People With Borderline Personality Disorder May Misinterpret Facial Emotions
Date:5/23/2013

THURSDAY, May 23 (HealthDay News) -- 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.

But whether these misperceptions trigger the outbursts so common among people with borderline personality disorder was not within the scope of the studies.

People with borderline personality disorder have trouble regulating their emotions. They tend to act impulsively, lash out in anger and have stormy relationships. Many fear abandonment, complain of feeling empty and engage in bodily self-harm, such as cutting. High rates of suicide also are associated with the condition.

Ruocco discussed the study, published in the journal Psychological Medicine, at recent conferences co-sponsored by the National Education Alliance for Borderline Personality Disorder in Boston and New Haven, Conn.

His research, called a meta-analysis, involved a revie
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