Purpose: Individuals with borderline personality disorder (BPD) often engage in sexual risk-taking behaviour (SRT), which causes problems such as sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and increases risk of re/victimisation. The current study aims to investigate the impact of impulsivity, previous victimisation, paraphilia, and sexual esteem on SRT for BPD individuals. The study also considers the function of sex for individuals with BPD and how the coronavirus pandemic may have impacted their sex life.
Methods: A sample of 221 participants were recruited via social media and SONA. An online questionnaire was used. Individuals completed a BPD screening tool and questionnaires assessing impulsivity, victimisation, paraphilia, sexual esteem and SRT. Three open-ended questions were used to assess the function of sex, the impact of the pandemic and the feelings about the impact.
Results: BPD participants scored significantly higher on the SRT, impulsivity, victimisation, and paraphilia measures relative to non-BPD participants. There was a significant positive correlation between each variable and SRT. Impulsivity had a significant impact on SRT for both the BPD and non-BPD participants. There was not a significant difference in effect of impulsivity for BPD participants. Abuse, suicide, and divorce were three of the most frequent forms of victimisation mentioned. The most common function of sex mentioned by participants, more so by BPD participants, is for “enjoyment”, to “feel (better/desired/validated/loved)” and a “coping mechanism”. BPD participants were more negatively impacted by the pandemic and more “frustrated” than non-BPD participants.
Conclusions: The results have shown that BPD interventions and treatments should focus on reducing impulsivity and consider the impact of paraphilic interests and previous victimisation to reduce SRT, and that BPD individuals may need extra support because of the pandemic.
Key words: Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD), Sexual Risk-Taking (SRT), Impulsivity, Victimisation, Paraphilia, Sexual Esteem, Sex, COVID-19, Pandemic.
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