Experimenting with arts-based methods and affective provocations to understand complex lived experience of a diagnosis of Borderline Personality Disorder

Borovica,, Tamara; Kokanovic, Renata; Flore, Jacinthe; Blackman, Lisa; Seal, Emma-Louise; Boydell, Kathrine and Bennett, Jill. 2024. Experimenting with arts-based methods and affective provocations to understand complex lived experience of a diagnosis of Borderline Personality Disorder. Social Science & Medicine, 350, 116950. ISSN 0277-9536 [Article]

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Abstract or Description

This article draws on arts-based psycho-social research to explore embodied and visceral knowing about living with a diagnosis of borderline personality disorder (BPD) grounded in lived experiences. We discuss creative artworks solicited through a nation-wide online survey conducted in Australia in 2021 that generated a more intimate and affective understanding about living with a diagnosis of BPD. To investigate what lived experiences of distress associated with a BPD diagnosis communicate through sensation, emotion, image and affective capacity, we put to work Lisa Blackman’s (2015) concept of “productive possibilities of negative states of being” and the broader theoretical framework of new materialism. Our approach highlights the unspeakable dimensions of health and illness communicated via artworks and allows a more transformative feeling-with that exceeds the normative affective repertoires and scripts associated with a diagnosis of BPD. We recognise the often unspoken and invisible affect of complex mental distress and trauma, and purposefully open the space for affective and symbolic aspects of creative artworks to communicate what is less known or has less presence in dominant biomedical frameworks about living with a BPD diagnosis. We aim to foreground the lived and living experience of participants to generate experiential rather than clinical understandings of the diagnosis.

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Funding: The authors disclosed receipt of the following financial support for the research and authorship of this article: This work was supported by the Australian Research Council Linkage Project [grant number LP190100247].

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The data that has been used is confidential.

Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Media, Communications and Cultural Studies


7 May 2024Accepted
10 May 2024Published Online
June 2024Published

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Date Deposited:

21 Mar 2024 10:29

Last Modified:

28 May 2024 10:13

Peer Reviewed:

Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.



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