Alexander L. Chapman, Ph.D., R.Psych.
Assistant Professor, Department of Psychology
Simon Fraser University
Burnaby, British Columbia
Description of Dr. Chapman’s Clinical Research Interests:
The focus of my research program is on borderline personality disorder, self-harm, and difficulties that people have with regulating emotions. In my research, I aim to understand the problems that persons with BPD have in regulating their emotions and behaviors. My research involves experimental studies aimed at clarifying the factors that drive the behavioral problems observed among persons with BPD, such as self-harm. I am also involved in clinical studies of treatments for BPD (e.g., Dialectical Behavior Therapy; Linehan, 1993), as well as research designed to clarify how and why these treatments work.
Books by Dr. Chapman
Freedom from Self-Harm: Overcoming Self-Injury with Skills from DBT and Other Treatments (2009, New Harbinger, authored with Dr. Kim Gratz), was written for individuals who engage in self-harm. Much like the BPD Survival Guide, the book discusses exactly what self-harm is, the possible causes of self-harm, harmful myths about people who self-harm, and effective treatments. There are also several chapters that help the reader learn how to regulate emotions, manage urges to self-harm, and boost her or his motivation to stop self-harming. As with the BPD Survival Guide, Freedom from Self-Harm may be a very useful book for people who self-harm as well as for their loved ones and therapists.
Abstracts of Recent Papers
Chapman, A.L., Leung, D.W., & Lynch, T.R. (in press). Impulsivity and emotion dysregulation in borderline personality disorder. Journal of Personality Disorders.
This study examined the association of borderline personality disorder (BPD) and negative emotional states with impulsivity in the laboratory. Undergraduate participants who were high in BPD features (high-BPD; n = 39) and controls who were low in BPD features (low-BPD; n = 56) completed measures of negative emotional state before a laboratory measure of impulsivity – a passive avoidance learning task. Controlling for psychopathology, high-BPD participants committed a greater number of impulsive responses than did low-BPD participants. Negative emotional state moderated the effect of BPD on impulsive responses. High-BPD participants who were in a negative emotional state committed fewer impulsive responses than high-BPD participants who were low in negative emotional state. Fear, nervousness, and shame negatively correlated with impulsivity among high-BPD participants but not among low-BPD participants. In addition, high-BPD participants (compared with low-BPD participants) reported greater emotion dysregulation in a variety of domains, compared with low-BPD participants.
Chapman, A.L., Rosenthal, M.Z., & Leung, D. (under review: Sept ‘07). Emotion suppression and borderline personality disorder: An experience-sampling study.
This study examined the effects of suppressing emotions in the natural environment among individuals who were high (high-BPD; n = 30) and low (low-BPD; n = 39) in borderline personality disorder (BPD) features. Participants responded to prompts from a personal data assistant eight times per day over a four day period. The first day was a baseline day, followed by instructions to observe emotions on the second day, suppress emotions on the third day, and observe emotions on the fourth day. Findings indicated that high-BPD participants reported greater negative emotions, lower positive emotions, and stronger urges to engage in impulsive behaviors (e.g., self-harm, drug use, bingeing) over the study period. For low-BPD participants, negative emotions were higher on the suppress day than they were on the observation or baseline days. High-BPD participants reported higher positive emotions on the suppress day, compared with the observe days, and lower urges on the suppress day compared with both the baseline and observe days. Overall, findings indicate negative effects of emotion suppression for low-BPD participants but not for high-BPD participants.
Chapman, A.L., Specht, M.W., & Cellucci, A.J. (2005). Borderline personality disorder and deliberate self-harm: Does experiential avoidance play a role? Suicide and Life Threatening Behavior, 35, 388-399.
This study examined the theory that borderline personality disorder (BPD) is associated with experiential avoidance, and that experiential avoidance mediates the association between BPD and deliberate, non-suicidal self-harm. Female inmate participants (N = 105) were given structured diagnostic assessments of BPD, as well as several measures of experiential avoidance. There was a high lifetime prevalence of past self-harm (47.6%). Higher dimensional scores representing BPD severity were associated with higher self-harm frequency and greater experiential avoidance. Structural equation modeling analyses indicated that experiential avoidance did not mediate the association between BPD and self-harm, although thought suppression was associated with self-harm frequency.