The relation of borderline personality disorder to aggression, victimization, and institutional misconduct among prisoners

Kelly E. Moore, Robyn L. Gobin, Heather L. McCauley, Chien Wen Kao, Stephanie M. Anthony, Sheryl Kubiak, Caron Zlotnick, Jennifer E. Johnson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective: Borderline personality disorder (BPD) is highly prevalent among incarcerated populations; however, research has yet to examine whether prisoners diagnosed with BPD experience greater interpersonal dysfunction and institutional misconduct while incarcerated. Procedure: This study drew from a sample of 184 male and female prisoners diagnosed with major depressive disorder (MDD) in a randomized trial of depression treatment. The presence of a BPD diagnosis (n = 69) was analyzed as a predictor of disciplinary incidents/infractions (i.e., fights, arguments with staff, disciplinary infractions, isolation), time spent in isolation, and types of aggression and victimization experiences during incarceration. Results: There was a trend suggesting prisoners with BPD were about twice as likely as those without BPD to report disciplinary incidents/infractions (OR = 1.76 [0.93, 3.32], p = 0.075). Having a BPD diagnosis was unrelated to time in isolation and overall aggression and victimization. However, prisoners with BPD were more likely than those without BPD to perpetrate and be victimized by psychological aggression. Due to high rates of antisocial personality disorder (ASPD) in the sample as a whole (72%), additional analyses compared outcomes across prisoners with no BPD or ASPD diagnosis, BPD diagnosis only, ASPD diagnosis only, and comorbid BPD and ASPD. Prisoners with comorbid BPD and ASPD were no more likely than prisoners with ASPD only to report disciplinary incidents/infractions, but were significantly more likely than those with ASPD only to report perpetrating and being victimized by psychological aggression. Conclusions: Among prisoners with MDD, those with a BPD diagnosis have increased risk of psychological aggression and disciplinary infractions during incarceration.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)15-21
Number of pages7
JournalComprehensive Psychiatry
StatePublished - Jul 2018

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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