It has been suspected for a while now that many people who have been diagnosed with BPD should really have been diagnosed with a different syndrome known as complex post traumatic stress disorder (CPTSD).
Whilst simple PTSD typically results from an intense, one- off, traumatic experience, complex PTSD occurs as a result of protracted and prolonged trauma. CPTSD is especially likely to occur in cases of child abuse that continued over a long period, especially when the abuser should have been acting as the child’s primary carer(eg a parent or step-parent).
It has been found that a very high percentage of those diagnosed with BPD experienced severe childhood trauma which is why (amongst other reasons, see below) many experts are now questioning whether a large number of those so diagnosed should, instead, have been diagnosed with BPD.
CPTSD is so damaging to an individual as it eats into the very core of how s/he perceives him/herself and affects, on a profound level, how s/he views others and the world in general. In short, it adversely impinges upon a person’s core and fundamental beliefs.
Symptoms of CPTSD
– severe mood swings
– out of control emotions
– out of control behaviours eg shoplifting, pathological gambling, promiscuous and risky sex, severe overspending
– dissociation (click here to read my article on this)
– eating disorders
– impaired and distorted view of abuser (leading to emotional attachment). This is also known as Stockholm Syndrome.
– marked distrust of others
– intense jealousy
– extreme neediness
– feeling that life is utterly devoid of meaning
– inappropriate feelings of guilt/shame/self-disgust
– outbursts of extreme anger (sometimes with physical violence)
– severe anxiety
– suicidal thoughts/behaviour
Overlap With BPD Symptoms:
It is because these symptoms overlap substantially with the symptoms of BPD (click here) that it is thought many people are being diagnosed with BPD when they should be being diagnosed for CPTSD.
It is my belief that a main cause of such misdiagnosis is that doctors do not spend enough (or, indeed, any!) time talking to supposed ‘BPD suffers’ about their childhood experiences.
Given the choice, I suspect, if there are valid reasons, most people would feel more comfortable with a diagnosis of CPSTD than one of BPD. This is because, sadly and wrongly, stigma still tenaciously attaches itself to a diagnosis of BPD.
Also, a diagnosis of CPTSD implicitly acknowledges the fact that the sufferer has had harm done to him/her and that CPTSD is a NORMAL REACTION TO AN ABNORMAL SET OF EXPERIENCES.
This could significantly help sufferers cast off, once and for all, the vast weigh of guilt many feel in one fell swoop.
David Hosier BSc Hons; MSc; PGDE(FAHE).