Degree Name

MA (Master of Arts)



Date of Award


Committee Chair or Co-Chairs

Kelly Moore

Committee Members

Jill Stinson, Meredith Ginley


Borderline personality disorder (BPD) is a severe and debilitating mental disorder that is over-represented within the criminal legal system (CLS), with 15-29.5% of individuals in the CLS meeting criteria. However, little research has examined mechanisms leading to criminal involvement within this population. Potential mechanisms include positive/negative emotion dysregulation and internalized shame, which (aside from positive emotion dysregulation) have been linked to criminal involvement in other populations. Research has yet to examine these constructs as mechanisms explaining criminal involvement among individuals with BPD. This study examined positive/negative emotion dysregulation and internalized shame as mechanisms of the relationship between BPD and criminal involvement. Adults (N = 93) currently incarcerated in jail who are identified as having a current or prior mental health concern were invited to participate in the study. Measures include the addiction severity index (ASI) examining criminal involvement, the original and positive versions of the difficulties in emotion regulation scale (DERS; DERS-P), and the internalized shame scale (ISS). At the bivariate level, BPD symptoms were significantly correlated with negative emotion dysregulation (total score) and several subscales (clarity, goals, impulse, strategies), as well as internalized shame and criminal involvement. Negative emotion dysregulation and internalized shame were unrelated to criminal involvement, and there was no evidence of mediation through these constructs. These bivariate results are consistent with other literature, but future research is needed to examine relevant variables that could explicate the relationship between BPD symptoms and criminal involvement.

Document Type

Thesis - embargo


Copyright by the authors.

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