Qualitative studies have noted that individuals with "borderline" psychopathology exhibit extreme thought disorder on unstructured tests, yet manifest relatively normal performance on more structured tests of cognitive performance. The present study provides empirical support for this clinical observation. Borderline syndrome patients, defined by DSM-III criteria for borderline personality disorder and/or schizotypal personality disorder, demonstrated significantly greater thought disorder on the Rorschach, as measured by Johnston and Holzman's (1979) Thought Disorder Index (TDI), than did nonpsychiatric controls and were indistinguishable from patients with schizophrenic disorder of relatively recent onset. Borderline patients did not differ from controls on a structured test of cognitive slippage. Further examination of the role of structure in the assessment and treatment of borderline syndrome disorders seems warranted.
Journal of personality assessment