Emotional Cascades and Borderline Personality Disorder

Although emotional cascades may affect many people, there is one psychological disorder in particular that may be characterized as a disorder of emotional cascades: borderline personality disorder (BPD).  This is a chronic and severe disorder with symptoms including stormy interpersonal relationships, emotions that are constantly fluctuating, and frequent dysregulated behaviors including suicidal behaviors (DSM-5, 2013).  Selby and Joiner (2009) have posited that BPD is a disorder where the core psychopathology results from emotional cascades, which occur more frequently and perhaps more intensely than in other disorders exhibiting behavioral dysregulation (i.e., substance use disorders, eating disorders).  In this sense, BPD may be viewed the extreme continuum of emotional cascades, whereas other disorders may be closer toward the center of this spectrum.  The EmP lab has conducted several studies suggesting that emotional cascades may be an important mechanism in the development of BPD, and this research is now helping inform the ways we treat BPD.