What is it about?

The aim of this study is to supplement the description of the functioning of individuals with borderline personality organization (BPO) in terms of metacognition by additionally describing the phenomenon of defense against emotional–relational experiences, as a possible factor contributing to observed levels of metacognition. The participants were divided into borderline (N = 69) and nonborderline groups (N = 71). After a procedure aimed at activating the attachment system, they were asked to tell a relational story, which was used to code a metacognition rate (using the Metacognition Assessment Scale–Revised, MAS-R) and a defensive activity (Defensive Activity Coding System, DACS). Both groups registered low levels of metacognition; no significant differences were found primarily, although ANCOVA reveals that, once the defense effect has been removed, BPO individuals present a lower level of metacognition than those in the control group. Furthermore, the causal mediation analysis confirmed the mediative role of defensiveness in the relation between metacognition and BPO. Defensive activity proved to interfere in the assessment of metacognition in individuals with BPO.

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Why is it important?

This study suggests that triggering defensive mechanisms may be an important factor in explaining different levels of metacognition in people with and without personality disorder. These two processes proved to be mutually dependent, and they may contribute to the interpersonal functioning of people on an everyday basis, especially in demanding interpersonal situations.

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This page is a summary of: Metacognition and defensive activity in response to relational–emotional stimuli in borderline personality organization., Journal of Psychotherapy Integration, August 2022, American Psychological Association (APA),
DOI: 10.1037/int0000286.
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