World assumptions and the role of trauma in borderline personality disorder

J. Giesen-Bloo*, A.R. Arntz

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


The present study tested whether borderline personality disorder (BPD) is characterized by specific worldviews as hypothesized by cognitive models, using Janoff-Bulman's [(1989) Social Cognition, 7, 113-136] world assumptive model of negative effects of trauma. A second aim of this study was to investigate the role of trauma in the content of worldviews of BPD patients. Fifteen BPD patients, 14 patients with Cluster C personality disorders (PD), 19 patients with axis-I psychopathology and 21 non-patients filled out the World Assumptions Scale, the Personality Disorder Belief Questionnaire, a childhood trauma checklist (assessing physical, emotional and sexual abuse) and the BPD Checklist (severity of BPD psychopathology). BPD patients appear to view the world as malevolent and perceive less luck independent of trauma but dependent of BPD psychopathology. Furthermore, BPD patients have low self-worth and persist in specific beliefs independent of trauma or severity of BPD psychopathology. Pretzer's theory of BPD can be largely supported through Janoff-Bulman's world assumptive model. World assumptions of BPD patients can better be explained by the severity of BPD psychopathology than by the presence of trauma.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)197-208
JournalJournal of Behavior Therapy and Experimental Psychiatry
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2005

Cite this