A new study has pointed out the reason why people suffering from emotional stress portray a tendency of hurting themselves.
Individuals with borderline personality disorder experience intense emotions and display high prevalence rates of self-injurious behavior, which may help them to reduce negative emotional states.
Niedtfeld and colleagues used pictures to induce negative, positive, or neutral affect and thermal stimuli to induce heat pain or warmth perception.
They found, in patients with borderline personality disorder, evidence of heightened activation of limbic circuitry in response to pictures evocative of positive and negative emotions, consistent with their reported emotion regulation problems.
However, the thermal stimuli inhibited the activation of the amygdala in these patients and also in healthy controls, presumably suppressing emotional reactivity.
"These data are consistent with the hypothesis that physically painful stimuli provide some relief from emotional distress for some patients with borderline personality disorder because they paradoxically inhibit brain regions involved in emotion.
This process may help them to compensate for deficient emotional regulation mechanisms," said Dr. John Krystal.