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Małgorzata Juraś-Darowny

Małgorzata Juraś-Darowny


  • Biological markers of attachment and Young's early maladaptive schemas in the group of people diagnosed with borderline personality disorder

    Co-Presented with Monika Talarowska


    As we come into the world, we are not a “blank slate”. With both our genes and prenatal experiences, the seeds of personality are already planted. While some of them can remain dormant, others will thrive and affect our future functioning. What determines which of them prevail? Perinatal experiences, the atmosphere and circumstances of our birth and how we experience the world around us from the very beginning, the fulfilment of basic needs, the behaviour and attitudes of our primary caregivers – mall these factors shape the core of our personality, including attachment style and cognitive schemas. Early experiences, especially in the relationship with a caregiver, set the stage for the development of borderline personality disorder (BPD). Their biological footprints, in the form of epigenetic modifications in the expression of certain genes, can also be seen in the psychological functioning, including early maladaptive schemas (EMS) formation which, in terms of development, precedes the diagnosis of mental illness. Current research indicates that the expression of oxytocin and vasopressin genes as well as the levels of these hormones are key factors in the aetiology of mental disorders, including BPD. The aim of this project is to demonstrate the relationship between EMS typically observed in BPD and lower levels of oxytocin, higher levels of vasopressin, and higher levels of AVP and AVP1a mRNA expression (compared to the healthy control).


    150 volunteers will be invited to participate in the study (75 people diagnosed with BPD and 75 people with a negative history of mental disorders).


    Blood samples will be collected once from each participant on the day of inclusion in the study, to analyse the biological markers mentioned above. Each participant will perform the following psychological tests: Young’s Schema Questionnaire (YSQ-S3-PL), J. Panksepp’s Neuroaffective Personality Scale (ANPS), BPD Checklist, Beck Depression Inventory (BDI), The State and Trait Anxiety Inventory (STAI), and The Emotion Control Scale (CECS).

    Results and significance of a study

    The results will provide conclusions about the mutual dependence between EMS, human personality structure, and the biological embedding (manifested by gene expression) of BPD. They could have an important impact on the discussion about the biological basis of human personality, biological markers of mental health disorders, and their potential as indicators of the effectiveness of treatment. Epigenetic modifications represent a biological trace of experience that can affect human functioning even after many years have passed. However, this biological nature does not seem to imply irreversibility. Dynamic adaptation of the body to changing environmental conditions is observed in epigenetic changes that occur during psychotherapy. Thus, biological markers of attachment could provide biological evidence for the efficacy of schema therapy and a key to understanding the mechanisms underlying the healing process. Furthermore, this research could contextualise schema therapy and its constructs by finding their place in the biological and medical perspective. Such results would strengthen the status of Schema Therapy as an evidence-based therapy.

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