Individuals with greater borderline personality features may be vulnerable to chronic pain. Because pain is an unpleasant sensory and emotional experience, affect dysregulation as the core personality feature may be linked to pain hypersensitivity. Studies have found that greater borderline features are associated with increased intensity in clinical and experimental pain, and that depression mediates this increase. The current study further examined the association between borderline features and heat pain sensitivity, the contribution of affect dysregulation and the other borderline personality factors (identity problems, negative relationships, self-harming/impulsivity) to the association, and depression as a mediator. Additionally, we examined whether blunted sympathetic responses mediate the association between borderline features and temporal summation of second pain (TSSP). Thermal pain threshold, thermal TSSP and aftersensations pain were assessed in 79 healthy individuals with varying degrees of borderline features. TSSP is a proxy measure for central sensitization and refers to the gradual increase in pain to repeated nociceptive stimuli. A regression analysis showed that greater borderline features predicted greater TSSP (β = .22, p = .050, R2 = .05). Borderline features were unrelated to pain threshold and TSSP decay. A stepwise regression showed greater TSSP in individuals with greater borderline features was accounted for by the negative relationships factor rather than the affect dysregulation factor. The results of mediational analyses showed depression and blunted sympathetic skin conductance responses mediated the positive association between TSSP and borderline features.
- Central Sensitization
- Borderline Personality
- Pain Modulation
- Temporal Summation Of Second Pain