Transference focused psychotherapy for patients with comorbid narcissistic and borderline personality disorder

Diana Diamond, Frank E. Yeomans, Barry Stern, Kenneth N. Levy, Susanne Hörz, Stephan Doering, Melitta Fischer-Kern, Jill Delaney, John F. Clarkin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

30 Scopus citations


Clinical experience involving the treatment of patients with comorbid borderline and narcissistic personality disorders suggests that this patient population is among the more difficult to treat within the personality disorder spectrum. In this article, we present refinements of Transference Focused Psychotherapy (TFP) based on our clinical experience with and research data on patients with comorbid narcissistic personality disorder/borderline personality disorder (NPD/BPD). We briefly review object relations formulations of severe narcissistic pathology, as well as recent research in attachment and the allied concept of mentalization, which have provided a new lens through which to view narcissistic disorders. The research findings from two randomized clinical trials demonstrating the efficacy and effectiveness of TFP are presented. The data from the two Randomized Clinical Trials (RCT) allowed for the study of the characteristics of the subgroup of borderline personality disorder patients who have comorbid NPD/BPD. Findings on comorbidity, attachment status, capacity for mentalization, and level of personality organization of borderline patients with comorbid NPD/BPD, compared with borderline patients without comorbid narcissistic pathology (BPD), are presented. Clinical implications of the observed group differences are discussed, with a focus on refinements in the technique of TFP. Clinical case material is presented to illustrate the specific challenges posed by narcissistic patients to carrying out TFP in each phase of treatment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)527-551
Number of pages25
JournalPsychoanalytic Inquiry
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 1 2013

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Clinical Psychology


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