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‘Still-face’ interactions between mothers with borderline personality disorder and their 2-month-old infants

  • Lisa E. Crandell (a1), Matthew P. H. Patrick (a1) and R. Peter Hobson (a1)
Abstract
Background

There is evidence that psychopathology in mothers may be associated with dysfunctional mother–infant interactions.

Aims

To investigate mother–infant relations when mothers have borderline personality disorder.

Method

Eight mothers with borderline personality disorder and twelve mothers without psychiatric disorder were videotaped interacting with their 2-month-old infants in three successive phases of interaction: face-to-face play; an episode when the mother adopted a ‘still face’ and was unreactive; and a period when play interactions were resumed. The videotapes were rated by judges blind to the diagnostic group of the mother.

Results

The mothers with borderline personality disorder were more intrusively insensitive towards their infants. During the still-face period, their infants showed increased looking away and dazed looks. Following this, mother–infant interactions were less satisfying and their infants showed dazed looks and lowering of affect.

Conclusions

The diagnosis of borderline personality disorder is associated with a particular pattern of mother–infant interaction. The infants' responses to the still-face challenge might suggest dysfunctional self-regulation, but the developmental significance remains to be assessed.

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Copyright
Corresponding author
Dr Lisa Crandell, Via Giotto, 7, Roletto, Torino 10060, Italy. E-mail: drlisa@libero.it
Footnotes
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Declaration of interest

None. Funding detailed in Acknowledgements.

Footnotes
References
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‘Still-face’ interactions between mothers with borderline personality disorder and their 2-month-old infants

  • Lisa E. Crandell (a1), Matthew P. H. Patrick (a1) and R. Peter Hobson (a1)
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