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Memory Function in Borderline Personality Disorder

Fatemeh Sajjadi has recently completed her PhD at the Department of Psychology, University of Otago. Prior to coming to New Zealand, she completed her Master’s in Clinical Psychology and practiced as a clinical psychologist for three years. Fatemeh, who was supervised by Professor Harlene Hayne, Professor Martin Sellbom and Dr Julien Gross, investigated potential memory differences in people with features of Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD). In particular, she examined whether individuals with more BPD symptoms would be more susceptible to false memories or would exhibit irregularities in autobiographical memory.


Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) is a severe psychiatric condition that involves impairment in multiple areas of psychological functioning including disturbed cognition, impulsivity, and intense unstable relationships. Memory deficits are not recognized as a core symptom of BPD, but BPD patients have long been suspected of having inaccurate perceptions, disturbed memory processes, and an increased tendency to generate false memories about past events. As a part of this PhD project, we examined whether there was an association between BPD and the production of false memories in the Deese-Roediger-McDermott (DRM) paradigm—a laboratory-based procedure that is frequently used to investigate false memory. We also examined the relation between different manifestations of identity impairment, as operationalized through the characteristics of narrative identity, and features of BPD. Moreover, our consistent goal throughout this thesis was to compare the traditional and alternative model of BPD.

We recruited 300 university students who were administered a series of self-report measures of personality and psychopathology, DRM paradigm, and were asked to describe a memory about a turning-point in their lives. We found that using the traditional diagnosis of BPD, BPD symptoms were correlated with higher false memory for positive information; in the alternative model of BPD, identity impairment and anxiousness were correlated with the overall false memory score. We also found that narrative identity, but not narrative intimacy nor coherence, was the dominant predictor of BPD features. Taken together, the current findings not only have important theoretical implications for understanding memory differences in BPD, but they also have practical implications in clinical settings.

Date Monday, 31 August 2020
Time 12:00pm - 1:00pm
Audience Public
Event Category Sciences
Event Type Seminar
Departmental Seminar
LocationWilliam James Seminar Room 103, William James Building, 275 Leith Walk, Dunedin Campus
Contact NameDepartment of Psychology
Contact Phone+64 3 479 7631

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