Narratively Shaped Emotions: The Case of Borderline Personality Disorder

Anna Bortolan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


In this article, I provide a phenomenological exploration of the role played by narrativity in shaping affective experience. I start by surveying and identifying different ways in which linguistic and narrative expression contribute to structure and regulate emotions, and I then expand on these insights by taking into consideration the phenomenology of borderline personality disorder. Disruptions of narrative abilities have been shown to be central to the illness, and I argue that these disruptions are at the origin of a number of alterations of affective experience. In particular, I suggest that due to the narrative “fragmentation” characteristic of the disorder, the emotions experienced by borderline patients can be less differentiated and have a predominantly bodily and unregulated character.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)212-230
Number of pages19
JournalThe Journal of Medicine and Philosophy
Issue number2
Early online date19 Feb 2020
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2020

Bibliographical note

This article was completed during my appointment as a Government of Ireland Postdoctoral Fellow (pro-ject “The Phenomenology of Self-Esteem”—GOIPD/2016/555), and I thank the Irish Research Council for their support at the time. This article originated in the research I carried out as a PhD student at Durham University, and I thank Matthew Ratcliffe, my PhD Supervisor, and the postgraduate community in the Department of Philosophy for helpful conversations during this period. A previous version of the paper was presented at “Emotions, Normativity, and Social Life”—the San Raffaele Spring School of Philosophy held in Milan in June 2016—and I am grateful to the audience at the event for their feedback. Many thanks also to the anonymous reviewers for their comments


  • borderline personality disorder
  • emotions
  • narratives
  • phenomenology


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