Emotional dysregulation

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Emotional dysregulation is a term used within the mental health community referring to an emotional response that is poorly modulated, and does not fall within the conventionally accepted range of emotive response. [1] The response set is not necessarily negative, and is sometimes seen within the positive range of emotions. Common examples of emotional dysregulation might include disproportionate rage over something small, like a broken plate, or hysterical tears over a missed appointment.

Emotional dysregulation is typically associated with an experience of early psychological trauma, or chronic maltreatment (such as child abuse, child neglect, or institutional neglect/abuse). It is most commonly associated with Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD), Complex post-traumatic stress, and Intermittent Explosive Disorder.[2][3]


  1. Linehan, M. (1993). Cognitive-behavioral treatment of borderline personality disorder. Guilford Press:
  2. Pynoos, R., Steinberg, A., & Piacentini, J. (1999). A developmental psychopathology model of childhood traumatic stress and intersection with anxiety disorders. Biological Psychiatry, 46, 1542-1554.
  3. Schore, A., (2003). Affect dysregulation and disorders of the self. New York: Norton.