Invalidating the self

The present study aimed to examine the association among self-compassion, childhood invalidating environment, and BPD symptoms in a sample of Singaporean undergraduate students.

Based on previous research, it was hypothesized that an invalidating childhood environment would be positively correlated with BPD symptomatology.

Linehan’s biosocial theory posits that parental invalidation during childhood plays a role in the development of borderline personality disorder symptoms later in life.

However, little research has examined components of the biosocial model in an Asian context, and variables that may influence the relationship between childhood invalidation and borderline symptoms.

While these findings provide some support for the biosocial model, none of the studies specifically assessed the construct of ] might imply a high level of invalidation experienced at the individual and/or collective level.

While the present study was not set up to provide direct comparison between cross-cultural samples, we aimed to provide a preliminary investigation of the association between childhood invalidation and BPD symptoms in the Singaporean context – a multicultural Asian society influenced by Confucius values as well as other Southeast Asian heritages such as Malay and Indian cultures [ Beyond the issue of cross-cultural applicability of the biosocial model, it is important to examine factors that may moderate the association between childhood invalidation and BPD symptomatology.

Two hundred and ninety undergraduate students from a large Singaporean university were recruited and completed measures assessing childhood invalidation, self-compassion, and borderline personality disorder symptoms.

Analyses using multiple regression indicated that both childhood invalidation and self-compassion significantly predicted borderline personality disorder symptomatology.

To date, no study has yet examined whether trait self-compassion may moderate the relationship between childhood invalidation and BPD symptoms.

Results from moderation analyses indicated that relationship between childhood invalidation and borderline personality disorder symptomatology did not vary as a function of self-compassion.

This study provides evidence in support of aspects of the biosocial model in an Asian context, and demonstrates a strong association between self-compassion and borderline personality disorder symptoms, independent of one’s history of parental invalidation during childhood. Several symptoms of BPD include fear of abandonment, unstable and intense relationships characterized by fluctuations between idealization and devaluation of others, difficulty controlling anger, and chronic feelings of emptiness.

Several factors that have received research attention include affective dysfunction and social support.

In one study, affective dysfunction was found to moderate the association between emotional abuse and childhood BPD symptoms, with emotional abuse predicting BPD features only among children with high (versus low) affective dysfunction [].

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