Shame and Borderline Personality Features in Inpatient Adolescents: The Moderating Role of Adverse Experiences



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Objective: Few studies have demonstrated a link between shame and borderline features in adolescents (e.g., Wall et al., 2021). Adverse experiences (AEs) may be an important factor in determining the relationship between borderline features and shame. The present research examines the moderating role of AE in the relationship between borderline features and shame (trait-shame, state-shame, and shame proneness) among adolescents while controlling for age and gender.Methods: Inpatient adolescents completed measures of borderline features (BPFSC-11), adverse experiences (ALEQ), and shame (ESS, TSI, PFQ-2). Three moderation models were tested using PROCESS macro for SPSS. All included borderline features as the independent variable, AE severity as the moderator, and covariates of age and gender. Dependent variables were trait-shame (n = 80), state-shame (n = 110), and shame proneness (n = 144).Results: In the trait-shame model, borderline features were related to greater trait-shame among adolescents with low and moderate levels of AE. However, adolescents with a severe history of AE experienced high levels of trait-shame regardless of borderline features. In the state-shame model, AE did not moderate the relationship between borderline features and state-shame. In the shame proneness model, the association between borderline features and shame proneness was strongest at low, then moderate, and then high levels of AE.Conclusions: The relationship between borderline features and shame (trait and shame-proneness) was strongest in adolescents with low levels of AE. Adolescents with high levels of AE experience high levels of trait shame regardless of borderline features.