Mclean Hospital
John G. Gunderson, MD

John G. Gunderson, MD

McLean Hospital Title:
  • Consultant in Psychiatry
Harvard Medical School Title:
  • Professor of Psychiatry, Emeritus


John G. Gunderson, MD, is a professor of psychiatry, emeritus, at Harvard Medical School and a consultant in psychiatry at McLean Hospital. His seminal studies on the diagnosis, families, psychodynamics, treatment, and pathogenesis of borderline personality disorder helped transform the diagnosis from a psychoanalytic construct into an empirically validated and internationally recognized disorder and earned him recognition as the “father” of this disorder.

Dr. Gunderson chaired the DSM IV work group on personality disorders, and has led major NIMH-funded studies on both the longitudinal stability and the family transmission of borderline personality disorder. In 2009, McLean Hospital honored his contributions by establishing a treatment center in Cambridge, Massachusetts called the Gunderson Residence. He currently is engaged in teaching an empirically validated therapy he developed called General Psychiatric Management.

Research Focus:

Dr. Gunderson’s seminal studies on borderline personality disorder (BPD) helped establish the diagnosis as an empirically validated and internationally recognized condition with specific treatments and good outcomes. The clinician-scientists in Dr. Gunderson’s Personality and Psychosocial Research Program, established in 1979, study the origins, course, development, and treatment of BPD.

Recent research has focused on interactions of BPD and mood and other psychiatric disorders, a longitudinal study of patients with BPD, and the development of general psychiatric management, a treatment approach that teaches non-specialist clinicians to treat BPD effectively.

Dr. Gunderson’s research in interpersonal hypersensitivity and familial vulnerability has shown that BPD has a latent unifying genetic structure. His research group hypothesizes that this is an innate interpersonal hypersensitivity evident with their caretakers in early life.

The 20-year “Collaborative Longitudinal of Personality Disorders Study” has found that personality disorders show consistency over time, with rates of symptomatic improvement far greater than expected, but often with sustained problems in work and partnerships.

The report, “Interactions of Borderline Personality Disorder and Mood Disorders Over Ten Years,” examined the relationship of BPD to mood disorders and suggests overlap in their psychopathologies, arguing for prioritizing the treatment of BPD. Bipolar disorders and BPD appear to be independent disorders, underscoring the need to provide appropriate treatment for each.


Borderline Personality Disorder

Selected Publications:

Gunderson JG, Stout RL, Shea MT, Keuroghlian A, Morey LC, Grilo CM, Sanislow C, Yen S, Zanarini MC, Markowitz JC, McGlashan TH, Skodol AE. Interactions of borderline personality disorder and mood disorders over ten years. The Journal of Clinical Psychiatry 2014;75(8):829-34.

Ruocco AC, Hudson JI, Zanarini MC, Gunderson JG. Familial aggregation of candidate phenotypes for borderline personality disorder. Personality Disorders 2015 Jan;6(1):75-80.

PubMed search for Dr. Gunderson


Gunderson JG, Gabbard GO, eds. Psychotherapy for personality disorders. Washington, DC: American Psychiatric Association Publishing, 2000.

Gunderson JG. Borderline personality disorder: a clinical guide. Washington, DC: American Psychiatric Association Publishing, 2001.

Gunderson JG, Hoffman PD. Understanding and treating borderline personality disorder: a guide for professionals and families. Washington, DC: American Psychiatric Association Publishing, 2005.

Gunderson JG, Links PL. Handbook of good psychiatric management (GPM) for borderline patients. Washington, DC: American Psychiatric Association Publishing, 2014.

Choi-Kain LW, Gunderson JG, eds. Borderline personality and mood disorders. New York: Springer, 2015.

Gunderson JG, Hoffman PD. Beyond borderline: true stories of recovery from borderline personality disorder. Oakland, CA: New Harbinger Publications, 2016.

Education & Training:

  • 1960-1963 Johns Hopkins College
  • 1965 MBS, Dartmouth Medical School
  • 1967 MD, Harvard Medical School
  • 1967-1968 Intern in Medicine, Hennepin County General Hospital
  • 1968-1970 Resident in Psychiatry, Massachusetts Mental Health Center
  • 1969-1980 Boston Psychoanalytic Institute (1971-1973 Visiting Candidate, Washington Psychoanalytic Institute)
  • 1970-1971 Chief Resident in Psychiatry, Massachusetts Mental Health Center
  • 1971-1973 Research Fellow, Adult Psychiatry Branch, Center for Studies of Schizophrenia and at the Psychiatric Assessment Section, National Institute of Mental Health
  • 1971-1972 Research Fellow, Chestnut Lodge Sanitarium
Board Certifications:
  • 1970 Massachusetts License Registration
  • 1971 Maryland License Registration
  • 1974 American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology
  • 1986 American Psychoanalytic Association