Background/Objective: Intolerance of aloneness is considered a core feature of borderline personality disorder (BPD) that is clinically significant, yet under-researched. This study developed a measure of aloneness for individuals with BPD.
Method: Interviews investigating the experience of aloneness for BPD participants (n = 12) formed the basis for the development of the measure. Pilot testing then occurred with BPD participants, control participants and qualified respondents. Validity, reliability and factor analysis of an Experience of Time Alone Scale (ETAS) was conducted with BPD participants (n = 112) and a comparison control group (n = 105).
Results: A three factor structure was revealed: (a) Cannot Cope Alone (α = .92), (b) Need to Escape from Others (α = .90), and (c) Consumed in Intolerable Distress (α = .88). The measure correlated significantly (p < .01) with the Mental Health Inventory, the Aloneness and Evocative Memory Scale, and the Hurvich Experience Inventory- Revised. Comparisons revealed highly significant differences between the BPD sample and control group on all subscales and the total score (U = 75.5, p = < .001, r = -.85).
Conclusions: This study represents one of the first empirical examinations of a construct that has largely only been studied theoretically. This newly developed measure may contribute to diagnosis and therapy.