Margaret McClure's Research Reconized at Personality Disorders Conference
Margaret McClure, PhD and assistant professor of psychology, recently impressed colleagues and experts in the field of clinical psychology at the 2015 meeting of the North American Society for the Study of Personality Disorders (NASSPD).
Dr. McClure presented her research on gender bias in borderline personality disorder (BPD) and was recognized for “Best Poster presentation.” The criteria for the award were best overall design and most significant contribution to the field. Her presentation was titled, “Gender differences in self-reported affective intensity, aggression, impulsivity, and childhood trauma in borderline personality disorder.”
The meeting of the NASSPD gives professionals in the field the opportunity to present the best evidenced-based practices in diagnosis and case formulation, become familiar with the most up-to-date information on personality disorder research, as well as the latest information on the biological basis of personality disorders.
Dr. McClure said, “This meeting is an opportunity for clinical scientists to come together to discuss advances in the understanding and treatment of personality disorders, which are frequently very distressing for patients but at the same time are quite difficult to treat effectively.”
BPD is a condition characterized by difficulties in regulating emotion, which leads to severe, unstable mood swings, impulsivity and instability, poor self-image and difficult personal relationships. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, 1.6% of the adult U.S. population has BPD, but that number could be as high as 5.9%.
Dr. McClure’s research on gender bias in BPD is timely. Nearly three quarters of people diagnosed with the condition are female, but recent research suggests that there might be more men with the condition than reported. Dr. McClure’s research further corroborates those studies.
Dr. McClure recruited 250 women and 203 men with clinically diagnosed BPD from the community, and administered a series of psychological assessments. Dr. McClure found that women and men with BPD seem to differ in how they self-report aspects of the disorder. Men reported higher degrees of aggression, inability to experience pleasure from activities usually found enjoyable, and suspiciousness. Women self-reported experiencing more intense affect and having a greater amount of childhood trauma.
Based on her analysis of the data, Dr. McClure concluded that there might not be a gender difference in the prevalence of BPD, but rather, a gender difference in who is seeking treatment and for which aspects of the disorder, which may impact the composition of clinically recruited samples.
This presentation is valuable to the field of clinical psychology as better understanding of a condition leads to better treatment. Dr. McClure said, “Understanding the experiences of individuals with this disorder is a crucial step toward identifying the most beneficial treatment for the most people. I hope to build on these results by examining gender differences in comorbid diagnoses, as well as potential gender differences in treatment response, for individuals with personality disorders.”
Dr. McClure is a clinical psychologist with research interests in clinical neuropsychology, assessment, and serious mental illness. In addition to being a professor at Fairfield, where she performs research with the help of several psychology students, she is an assistant professor in the Psychiatry Department at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mt. Sinai in Manhattan.
Pictured: Dr. Margaret McClure at the 2015 meeting of the North American Society for the Study of Personality Disorders (NASSPD).