People who have Borderline Personality Disorder experience extremely strong emotional reactions. In fact, emotional dysregulation is one of the primary diagnostic descriptions for BPD.

Marsha Linehan, PhD, the developer of Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT), the most prevalent treatment available for people struggling with BPD, believes that among all emotions people with BPD struggle with, shame is the most powerful and difficult to deal with.

In an interview with Dr. LInehan that appears in the video series If only We Had Known: A Guide to Borderline Personality Disorder, she stated:

“One of the emotions that’s critical in borderline personality disorder actually is the shame and we’re finding more and more with our research how really central shame is to this whole disorder.”

Along the same lines, Ruth M. Buczynski, PhD, President of The National Institute for the Clinical Application of Behavioral Medicine (NICAMB), recently compared the key differences between guilt and shame and described how guilt can sometimes have a healthy purpose while shame never will (There is also a link to a very informative infographic on these differences that you can download and print).

Additionally, clinical psychologist Kristalyn Salters-Pedneault, dives a little deeper into the highly negative nature of shame in an article she wrote for the online mental health journal VeryWellMind

The bottom line in the comparison of these two emotions is that guilt, when examined and better understood can lead to a healthier outcome, Shame, on the other hand, will hold you back in the recovery process until it is accepted as such and effectively addressed.

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