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Altered memory and affective instability in prisoners assessed for dangerous and severe personality disorder.
BACKGROUND: Previous studies of borderline personality disorder report neuropsychological impairments in several domains, including memory. No studies have compared memory functioning in high-risk prisoners with borderline personality disorder with similar prisoners with other personality disorders. AIMS: To explore mnemonic impairments in prisoners undergoing personality assessment as part of the dangerous and severe personality disorder initiative or detained in a medium secure facility. METHOD: We investigated memory function in 18 prisoners with borderline personality disorder and 18 prisoners with other personality disorders. RESULTS: Prisoners with borderline personality disorder exhibited a pattern of multi-modal impairments in the immediate and delayed recall of verbal and visual information, with some association with affective instability. These deficits were not associated with the severity of personality disturbance. CONCLUSIONS: These data suggest that memory deficits have some specificity in relation to the constituent traits of borderline personality disorder and indicate that neuropsychological assessment may be a source of useful adjunctive information for distinguishing between the cognitive and psychological difficulties of individual prisoners.