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Concept: Avoidant personality disorder


The most efficacious treatments for social anxiety disorder (SAD) are the SSRIs and cognitive therapy (CT). Combined treatment is advocated for SAD but has not been evaluated in randomized trials using CT and SSRI. Our aim was to evaluate whether one treatment is more effective than the other and whether combined treatment is more effective than the single treatments.

Concepts: Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor, Anxiety disorder, Panic disorder, Avoidant personality disorder, Personality disorder, Social anxiety disorder, Paroxetine


OBJECTIVE The authors examined 3-year transitions among nonuse, asymptomatic use, and problem use of illicit drugs for U.S. adults in the general household population. METHOD Data were from the nationally representative National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions, a study of 34,653 adults interviewed twice, 3 years apart. Respondents were categorized on three mutually exclusive categories of baseline drug status: past-year nonusers (N=32,675), past-year asymptomatic drug users (N=861), and past-year symptomatic drug users (N=1,117). Symptomatic drug use, or problem use, was defined as presence of one or more symptoms that operationalize DSM-IV drug abuse and dependence criteria. The authors assessed sociodemographic, health, substance use, and psychiatric covariates for association with 3-year transitions to different status categories. RESULTS Among baseline nonusers, 95.4% continued to be nonusers at follow-up, 2.1% became asymptomatic users, and 2.5% developed problem use. Among baseline asymptomatic users, 66.6% had stopped using drugs at follow-up, 14.3% continued to be asymptomatic users, and 19.1% had developed problem use. Nearly half (49.0%) of those with problem use at baseline had stopped using drugs at follow-up, 10.9% had transitioned to asymptomatic use, and 40.1% continued to have problem use. Younger age, male sex, white race, and not being married were associated with progression from nonuse to use or problem use, as were alcohol and tobacco use and disorders, major depression, and schizotypal, borderline, and narcissistic personality disorders. Panic disorder and avoidant personality disorder were associated with less progression. CONCLUSIONS Transitions in drug use status are common. The finding that alcohol and tobacco variables and co-occurring psychopathology are important correlates of transitions suggests the value of addressing all co-occurring disorders and substance use in patient assessments and treatment planning, both to prevent adverse transitions and to promote positive transitions.

Concepts: Drug addiction, Borderline personality disorder, Schizoid personality disorder, Avoidant personality disorder, Personality disorder, Antisocial personality disorder, Narcissistic personality disorder, Dependent personality disorder


Experiential avoidance (EA) is an important factor in maintaining different forms of psychopathology including borderline personality pathology (BPD). So far little is known about the functions of EA, BPD features and general psychopathology for positive emotions. In this study we investigated three different anticipated pathways of their influence on positive emotions.

Concepts: Psychology, Abnormal psychology, Borderline personality disorder, Psychiatry, Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Avoidant personality disorder, Personality disorder, Histrionic personality disorder


The present study examined the emotional reactivity of persons with heightened borderline personality (BP) features to social rejection and negative evaluation in the laboratory. Individuals with high levels of BP features (n = 30) and controls with low levels of BP features (n = 44) were randomly assigned to a condition involving negative evaluation based on writing (negative evaluation/academic), or a condition involving negative evaluation based on personal characteristics as well as social rejection (negative evaluation/social rejection). Hypothesis 1 was that high-BP individuals, but not low-BP controls, would show greater emotional reactivity to the negative evaluation/social rejection stressor, compared with the negative evaluation/academic (writing) stressor. Hypothesis 2 was that high-BP individuals would specifically show greater reactivity of shame- and anger-related emotions to the negative evaluation/social rejection stressor compared with the negative evaluation/academic stressor. Findings indicated that high-BP individuals showed heightened emotional reactivity to the social rejection stressor but not to the negative evaluation stressor, but the opposite pattern occurred for controls. In addition, there was evidence for heightened reactivity of irritability, distress, and shame for the high-BP group, specifically in the social rejection condition.

Concepts: Person, Personality psychology, Borderline personality disorder, Bipolar disorder, Emotion, Avoidant personality disorder, Personality disorder, Shunning


Difficulties in emotion regulation are one of the core features of borderline personality disorder (BPD). Individuals with BPD also report higher levels of experiential avoidance (EA) compared to controls. These constructs have never been studied concomitantly in adolescents. First, given the conceptual similarity of difficulties in emotion regulation and EA, the authors sought to determine whether EA provides incremental validity, above emotion dysregulation, in its association with borderline features. Second, EA was explored as a mediator in the relation between difficulties in emotion regulation and borderline features. The sample included 208 adolescents recruited from an inpatient psychiatric unit (Mage = 15.96, SD = 1.39; females = 60.1%). Borderline personality features were assessed using the self-report Borderline Personality Features Scale for Children (Crick, Murray-Close, & Woods, 2005). EA was assessed using the Avoidance and Fusion Questionnaire for Youth (Greco, Lambert, & Baer, 2008), and difficulties in emotion regulation were assessed using the Difficulties in Emotion Regulation Scale (Gratz & Roemer, 2004). Greater borderline personality features were associated with significantly higher levels of EA and difficulties in emotion regulation. Hierarchical regression analyses showed that EA made a small, but significant, incremental and independent contribution to borderline features when added to a model already including difficulties in emotion regulation. In addition, EA partially mediated the relation between difficulties in emotion regulation and borderline features. EA and emotion regulation are both important targets of treatments aimed at decreasing borderline personality features in adolescents. (PsycINFO Database Record © 2013 APA, all rights reserved).

Concepts: Borderline personality disorder, Avoidant personality disorder, Personality disorder, Histrionic personality disorder, Emotional dysregulation


Nonverbal behavior expresses many of the dynamics underlying face-to-face social interactions, implicitly revealing one’s attitudes, emotions, and social motives. Although research has often described nonverbal behavior as approach versus avoidant (i.e., through the study of proxemics), psychological responses to many social contexts are a mix of these two. Fairness violations are an ideal example, eliciting strong avoidance-related responses such as negative attitudes, as well as strong approach-related responses such as anger and retaliation. As such, nonverbal behavior toward unfair others is difficult to predict in discrete approach versus avoidance terms. Here we address this problem using proxemic imaging, a new method which creates frequency images of dyadic space by combining motion capture data of interpersonal distance and gaze to provide an objective but nuanced analysis of social interactions. Participants first played an economic game with fair and unfair players and then encountered them in an unrelated task in a virtual environment. Afterwards, they could monetarily punish the other players. Proxemic images of the interactions demonstrate that, overall, participants kept the fair player closer. However, participants who actively punished the unfair players were more likely to stand directly in front of those players and even to turn their backs on them. Together these patterns illustrate that fairness violations influence nonverbal behavior in ways that further predict differences in more overt behavior (i.e., financial punishment). Moreover, they demonstrate that proxemic imaging can detect subtle combinations of approach and avoidance behavior during face-to-face social interactions.

Concepts: Psychology, Sociology, Behavior, Avoidant personality disorder, Social relation, Nonverbal communication, Punishment, Proxemics


The psychometric properties of a new 28-item self-report measure of mentalization, the Mentalization Scale (MentS), were examined in 2 studies: with a sample of employed adults and university students (N1 = 288 + 278) and with a sample of persons with borderline personality disorder (BPD) and matched controls (N2 = 62 + 62). Besides the MentS, both studies employed measures of attachment and the Big Five; Study 1 also included assessments of empathy and emotional intelligence. MentS whole-scale internal consistency was good in the community and acceptable in the clinical sample (α = .84 and .75, respectively). A principal components analysis of Study 1 data yielded 3 interpretable factors, or subscales: Self-Related Mentalization (MentS-S), Other-Related Mentalization (MentS-O), and Motivation to Mentalize (MentS-M). These showed acceptable reliabilities (α = .74-.79), except for MentS-M in the clinical sample (α = .60). MentS scores further exhibited a coherent pattern of correlations with cognate constructs and the Big Five, relating positively to empathy, trait and ability emotional intelligence, openness, extraversion, and conscientiousness, and negatively to attachment avoidance and anxiety, and neuroticism. Persons with BPD scored significantly lower on MentS total and MentS-S. The proposed scale is thus deemed suitable for quick, yet meaningful, assessments of mentalization in both individual differences research and clinical contexts.

Concepts: Psychology, Personality psychology, Psychometrics, Borderline personality disorder, Avoidant personality disorder, Neuroticism, Personality disorder, Histrionic personality disorder


Repeated social defeat (RSD) is a murine stressor that recapitulates key physiological, immunological, and behavioral alterations observed in humans exposed to chronic psychosocial stress. Psychosocial stress promotes prolonged behavioral adaptations that are associated with neuroinflammatory signaling and impaired neuroplasticity. Here, we show that RSD promoted hippocampal neuroinflammatory activation that was characterized by proinflammatory gene expression and by microglia activation and monocyte trafficking that was particularly pronounced within the caudal extent of the hippocampus. Because the hippocampus is a key area involved in neuroplasticity, behavior, and cognition, we hypothesize that stress-induced neuroinflammation impairs hippocampal neurogenesis and promotes cognitive and affective behavioral deficits. We show here that RSD caused transient impairments in spatial memory recall that resolved within 28 d. In assessment of neurogenesis, the number of proliferating neural progenitor cells (NPCs) and the number of young, developing neurons were not affected initially after RSD. Nonetheless, the neuronal differentiation of NPCs that proliferated during RSD was significantly impaired when examined 10 and 28 d later. In addition, social avoidance, a measure of depressive-like behavior associated with caudal hippocampal circuitry, persisted 28 d after RSD. Treatment with minocycline during RSD prevented both microglia activation and monocyte recruitment. Inhibition of this neuroinflammatory activation in turn prevented impairments in spatial memory after RSD but did not prevent deficits in neurogenesis nor did it prevent the persistence of social avoidance behavior. These findings show that neuroinflammatory activation after psychosocial stress impairs spatial memory performance independent of deficits in neurogenesis and social avoidance.

Concepts: Nervous system, Psychology, Neuron, Brain, Memory, Hippocampus, Neurogenesis, Avoidant personality disorder


Social anxiety is associated with low positive affect (PA), a factor that can significantly affect psychological well-being and adaptive functioning. Despite suggestions that individuals with high levels of social anxiety would benefit from PA enhancement, the feasibility of doing so remains an unanswered question. Accordingly, in the current study, individuals with high levels of social anxiety (N = 142) were randomly assigned to conditions designed to enhance PA (Kind Acts), reduce negative affect (NA; Behavioral Experiments), or a neutral control (Activity Monitoring). All participants engaged in the required activities for 4 weeks and completed prepost questionnaires measuring mood and social goals, as well as weekly email ratings of mood, anxiety, and social activities. Both the prepost and weekly mood ratings revealed that participants who engaged in kind acts displayed significant increases in PA that were sustained over the 4 weeks of the study. No significant changes in PA were observed in the other conditions. The increase in hedonic functioning was not due to differential compliance, frequency of social activities, or an indirect effect of NA reduction. In addition, participants who engaged in kind acts displayed an increase in relationship satisfaction and a decrease in social avoidance goals, whereas no significant changes in these variables were observed in the other conditions. This study is the first to demonstrate that positive affect can be increased in individuals with high levels of social anxiety and that PA enhancement strategies may result in wider social benefits. The role of PA in producing those benefits requires further study. (PsycINFO Database Record © 2013 APA, all rights reserved).

Concepts: Anxiety, Psychology, Emotion, Anxiety disorder, Avoidant personality disorder, Fear, All rights reserved, Affect theory


Intermittent Explosive Disorder (IED), as described in DSM-5, is the categorical expression of pathological impulsive aggression. Previous work has identified neurobiological correlates of the disorder in patterns of frontal-limbic brain activity and dysregulation of serotonergic neurotransmission. Given the importance of short and long range white matter connections of the brain in social and emotional behavior, studies of white matter connectivity in impulsive aggression are warranted. Diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) studies in the related conditions of antisocial and borderline personality disorder have produced preliminary evidence of disturbed white matter connectivity in these disorders, but to date there have been no DTI studies in IED. 132 male and female adults between the ages of 19 and 55 underwent Turboprop-DTI on a 3 Tesla MRI scanner. 42 subjects had IED, 40 were normal controls, and 50 were clinical psychiatric controls with psychiatric disorders without IED. All subjects were free of alcohol, psychotropic medications, or drugs of abuse. The diffusion tensor was calculated in each voxel and maps of fractional anisotropy (FA) were generated. Tract-based spatial statistics (TBSS) were used to compare FA along the white matter skeleton between the three subject groups. IED was associated with lower FA in two clusters located in the superior longitudinal fasciculus (SLF) when compared to the psychiatric and healthy controls. Impulsive aggression and borderline personality disorder, but not psychopathy or antisocial personality disorder, was associated with lower FA in the two clusters within the SLF.In conclusion, IED was associated with lower white matter integrity in long range connections between the frontal and temporo-parietal regions.Neuropsychopharmacology accepted article preview online, 20 May 2016. doi:10.1038/npp.2016.74.

Concepts: Mental disorder, Abnormal psychology, Borderline personality disorder, Avoidant personality disorder, Personality disorder, Antisocial personality disorder, Histrionic personality disorder, Personality disorders