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Original Research

Neurologic Soft Signs in Borderline Personality Disorder

José Manuel De la Fuente, MD, PhD; Julio Bobes, MD, PhD; Coro Vizuete, MD; Maria-Teresa Bascaran, MD; Ignacio Morlán, PhD; and Julien Mendlewicz, MD, PhD

Published: April 15, 2006

Article Abstract

Objective: Borderline personality disorder isa disabling and dramatic psychiatric condition.To date, its pathophysiology remains unclear.Scientific evidence seems to have found underlying, nonfocal, central nervous system dysfunction in borderline personality disorder. Neurologicsoft signs are anomalies only evidenced by specific motor, sensory, or integrative testing when no other sign of a neurologic lesion is present. Neurologic soft signs have been proposed to be nonfocal in origin and to reflect central nervous system failure. The assessment of neurologic soft signs now appears reliable and stable. Assuming that neurologic soft signs reflect nonfocal central nervous system dysfunction, we hypothesizedthat patients with borderline personality disorder should have an increased frequency of neurologic soft signs, therefore enhancing the possibility of the existence in borderline personality disorderof a nonlocalized brain dysfunction.

Method: To test this hypothesis, we compared 29 neurologic soft signs in 20 drug-free patients with DSM-III-R borderline personality disorder and 20 controls, using an examination adapted from the literature on neurologic soft signs.The study was conducted from February 1991to March 1993.

Results: Thirteen neurologic soft signs were significantly more frequent in the borderline group. Patients with borderline personalitydisorder showed more left side, right side,and total neurologic soft signs than controls (p = .0001). All patients in the borderline group exhibited at least 1 neurologic soft sign, while only 7 controls did (p = .0001).

Conclusion: Our hypothesis was confirmed. These results add evidence to the possibility of the existence of a nonfocal central nervous system failure in borderline personality disorder.

Volume: 67

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