Blind to Trust

The New Scientist is reporting on a study about borderline personality disorder’s link to misapprehension of trust and distrust. Here’s an excerpt from the abstract:

“We recruited 55 individuals afflicted with borderline personality disorder (BPD) to play a multiround economic exchange game with healthy partners. Behaviorally, individuals with BPD showed a profound incapacity to maintain cooperation, and were impaired in their ability to repair broken cooperation on the basis of a quantitative measure of coaxing. Neurally, activity in the anterior insula, a region known to respond to norm violations across affective, interoceptive, economic, and social dimensions, strongly differentiated healthy participants from individuals with BPD….These neural and behavioral data suggest that norms used in perception of social gestures are pathologically perturbed or missing altogether among individuals with BPD. “

So, if this study is correct, it seems that people with BPD have an incapacity to trust, and an incapacity to repair broken “trust bridges” or acknowledge repair attempts by others.  The normal social gestures most people consider healthy methods of initiating and maintaining trust evidently don’t resonate in the BPD brain.  Another excellent example of a neurobiological reality happening all the time (around us and/or in us) that we are unaware of, while our social interpretations are based instead solely on our perceptions of “normal” social constructs.  If only normal was that simple.


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