Borderline Depression A Desperate Vitality

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Abstract:

Persons with borderline personality disorder are often described as affected by extreme emotional fluctuations and by the sudden emergence of uncontrollable and disproportionate emotional reactions. Borderline persons frequently experience their own self as dim and fuzzy, are deprived of a stable sense of identity and unable to be steadily involved in a given life project. We will interpret these typical features as fluctuations between a clearly normative emotion such as anger and the more diffuse and confusing background of bad moods like dysphoria. Our main focus will be on dysphoria. The intentional structure that characterizes much of human emotional experience, we shall argue, is absent in dysphoria. If we imagine emotions as fluxes of intentionality that innervate the body and connect it to the world, dysphoria is empty intentionality, so to speak, devoid of the moderating power of language and representation. Dysphoria exerts a centrifugal force which fragments the borderline person's representations of herself and of others, inducing a painful experience of incoherence and inner emptiness, a feeling of uncertainty and inauthenticity in interpersonal relationships, and an excruciating sense of futility and inanity of life. But it also entails a sense of vitality, although a disorganized, aimless, and explosive one -- a desperate vitality.

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: DISPUTer, G. d'Annunzio University, Chieti (Italy); Universidad Diego Portales, Santiago (Chile), Email: giostan@libero.it

Publication date: January 1, 2013

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