Coping with shame and guilt in borderline personality disorder. An emotion regulation perspective.


Grant: PN-III- P4-ID- PCE-2016- 0864

Contract no. 137/12.07.2017



Borderline personality disorder (BPD) is characterized by a pervasive pattern of instability in affect regulation, impulse control, interpersonal relationships and self-image, with emotion dysregulation lying at the heart of the disorder. While individuals with BPD exhibit a host of problematic emotions, it has been argued that shame is the emotion most strongly linked to symptoms. Despite the hypothesized centrality of shame, its empirical investigation in BPD is limited. Moreover, there are no studies looking at how individuals with BPD regulate shame. The main objective of the project is to study the experience and regulation of shame in individuals with BPD or high BPD features. In addition to shame, we will also look at guilt, as maladaptive guilt is also highly likely given the dysfunctional developmental context that many individuals with BPD experience. The project will involve two studies. The first one is a longitudinal study that will employ experience sampling and diary methods to study the everyday experience and regulation of shame and guilt in people with high BPD features. Relations with childhood adversity and non-suicidal self-injury will also be explored. The second study will evaluate the experience of shame and the impact of shame-regulation strategies in individuals diagnosed with BPD, following a shame induction procedure in the lab. In addition to subjective experience, we will also evaluate stress response by salivary cortisol assays. Both studies will include non-clinical control groups for comparison. We expect these studies to lead to a better understanding of shame and guilt experiences in BPD and to offer, for the first time, an image of shame and guilt dysregulation in this disorder, using a combination of ecological and laboratory methods. As shame and guilt dysregulation are relevant for a number of other personality disorders, building on the results of this project, a transdiagnostic approach could be developed in the future.


PI: Aurora Szentagotai-Tătar, Ph.D​​​​​​​
Team members:
Daniel David, Ph.D
Anca Dobrean, Ph.D
Diana Cândea, Ph.D
Romana Vulturar, MD, Ph.D
Samuel Bud, PhD Student
Raluca Szekely-Copîndean, PhD Student





Cândea, D., & Szentagotai-Tătar, A. (2018). Shame-proneness, guilt-proneness and anxiety
symptoms: A meta-analysis. Journal of Anxiety Disorders, 58, 78-106.

Bîlc, M., Vulturar, R., Chiș, A., Buciuman, M., Nuțu, D., Bunea, I., Szentagotai-Tătar,
A., & Miu, A. (2018). Childhood trauma and emotion regulation: The moderator role of
BDNF Val 66Met. Neuroscience Letters 685, 7-11.





Oltean, L. E, & Szentagotai-Tătar, A. (2018, September). Early life stress and reward processing: A
meta-analysis. Conferința Națională a Școlilor Doctorale, 19-21 Septembrie 2018, Cluj-



Grant reports


Grant Report 2017 [available for download]

Grant Report 2018 [available for download]