In several of my previous posts on the topic of borderline personality disorder (BPD), I have referred to how those who suffer from this serious condition tend to be highly impulsive, and, as might be anticipated, research now shows that this tendency towards impulsivity is likely to extend into sexual behaviours.
Indeed, many empirical studies have been conducted (some of which I will briefly refer to below) showing that, in connection with impulsive sexual behaviour, those who suffer from BPD are, in statistical terms (there are of course individual exceptions as each case of BPD is unique) and as a group :
– significantly more preoccupied with sex than average
– have had earlier sexual experience than average
– are more likely to be sexually assaulted (including by both ‘date rape’ and attack by strangers, due to sexual impulsivity putting the BPD sufferer in vulnerable positions – for example, going back to the home of a stranger after a drunken night out
– are more promiscuous / have more casual sex than average
– are more likely to have homosexual sex (impulsivity makes experimentation more likely)
– are more likely to have unprotected sex
– are more likely to be coerced into having sex
EXAMPLES OF RELEVANT RESEARCH STUDIES :
Many studies have been conducted which provide evidence for the above, but I will restrict myself to providing a few brief examples here :
Hull et al. (2006) assessed a group of seventy females who suffered from BPD and found that just under half of them had had the experience of casual sex – a significantly higher proportion than in the average population.
Neeleman et al. (2007) conducted research demonstrating that those who suffered from BPD were significantly more likely to have had the experience of homosexual sex than average.
Lavan and Johnson (2002). conducted research into the sexual histories of four hundred teenagers and found that those who had symptoms of BPD were significantly more likely to have had unprotected sex than those who were relatively symptom-free
Whilst some studies have NOT found significant differences related to aspects of sexual behaviour in those who suffer from BPD compared to those who do not, such studies are in a tiny minority.
TREATMENT IMPLICATIONS :
It is now becoming increasingly recognized that in the light of such research findings as detailed above, treatment for BPD should include checks on the sufferer’s sexual health (in connection to sexually transmitted diseases) and, when appropriate, education about safe sex.
A FINAL NOTE :
As some of the above information suggests, those with BPD are more likely than average to be sexually victimized. It has been hypothesized that, because those with BPD are more likely than average to have been victimized in childhood, there is an unconscious ‘repetition compulsion’ at play.
Hull, W. et al. Borderline Personality Disorder and Impulsive Sexual Behavior. Published Online:1 Apr 2006 https://doi.org/10.1176/ps.44.10.1000
Lavan, H., & Johnson, J. G. (2002). The association between Axis I and II psychiatric symptoms and high-risk sexual behavior during adolescence. Journal of Personality Disorders, 16,73–94. doi:10.1521/pedi.220.127.116.115
Neeleman AJ. The relevance of sexuality in the treatment of borderline personality disorder. Tijdschr Psychiatr. 2007;49(4):233‐240
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David Hosier BSc Hons; MSc; PGDE(FAHE)