A new study from Denmark suggests modern psychoanalytic psychotherapy can help individuals suffering from severe borderline personality disorders.
The seven-year investigation, headed by Carsten René Jørgensen, Ph.D., from the Department of Psychology and Behavioral Sciences at Aarhus University, examined two modern forms of psychoanalytic treatment.
Borderline personality disorders are among the more serious personality disorders, in which patients have difficulty dealing with interpersonal relationships and often experience pronounced fluctuations in their emotions and self-perception. Patients may also be self-harming and have a highly increased risk of abuse and suicide attempts, among other things.
As a result, borderline personality disorders are an understudied group; and the complexity of the illness makes it one of the more difficult to treat. The current study is among the first to examine modern psychoanalytic treatment of severe personality disorders.
The study looked at both supportive treatment with group therapy every two weeks and more intensive therapy with weekly sessions involving both group therapy and individual psychotherapy. Both forms of treatment are based on modern psychoanalytic principles.
Researchers were surprised to discover therapy provided a strong positive effect as a vast majority of patients did better after a two-year course of treatment.
However, a distinctive feature of the intensive treatment was that patients in this group achieved a higher functional level, which suggests they are more likely to gain a foothold in the world of work.
The research results indicate that modern psychoanalytic psychotherapy may be part of the solution to get some patients closer to the labor market and self-reliance. This is significant as up to 80 percent of the patients receive public support.
“These are people who suffer greatly, but this treatment helps them to feel better, see their strengths and weaknesses more clearly and become better at handling relations. They will better equip them to start, for example, an education or part-time work,” said Carsten René Jørgensen.
From a socioeconomic point of view it may therefore be beneficial to treat this patient group.
Jørgensen explains that although the treatment itself requires extensive resources, studies have shown that the socioeconomic savings by offering treatment are higher because the cost of emergency room visits, hospitalizations, local initiatives, benefits and other forms of treatment are reduced.