Category Archives: All Articles

Childhood Trauma: Aiding Recovery through Diet and Lifestyle.

childhood trauma recovery

Neurotransmitters :

Several of my posts have discussed research that shows childhood trauma can profoundly influence the biochemistry of the brain and that these biochemical changes can, and do, lead to problems with the individual’s psychological state and behavior.

Fortunately, however, research has also demonstrated that these adverse biochemical changes and their negative effects may be, at least in part, reversed by the individual adopting an appropriate diet and lifestyle.

The brain is able to naturally produce its own mood-benefitting neurochemicals (technically known as ENDOGENOUS neurochemicals).

Exercise :

One way to do this (which many of us are already familiar with) is through EXERCISE – research suggests that regular and mild exercise causes the brain to produce ENDORPHINS which work in a similar manner to prescribed anti-depressants (eg Prozac, Setraline etc).

Massage :

BODY MASSAGE, too, has been shown to be helpful; indeed, a study by Field (2001) revealed that it can REDUCE STRESS HORMONES in the body.

Mindfulness :

Furthermore, a study by Jevning et al (1978) demonstrated that MEDITATION can be of great benefit. Indeed, more and more therapies are integrating meditative techniques (eg the therapy known as MINDFULNESS) to help alleviate patients alleviate their anxiety. It has been shown that meditation works by reducing the levels of the stress hormone CORTISOL in the body (which is of particular importance as high levels of cortisol can physically harm the body).

Omega-3 :

The brain is a physical organ so it should come as no surprise to us that what we eat affects its NEUROCHEMICAL BALANCE. Research shows that FATTY ACIDS are VITAL TO EMOTIONAL WELLBEING. In particular, LOW LEVELS OF OMEGA-3 FATTY ACID have been shown to be linked to DEPRESSION, ANXIETY and ANTISOCIAL BEHAVIOUR.

OMEGA-3 FATTY ACID can be purchased as a supplement in most pharmacists. It has been used to treat ADHD in children; also, a study by Gesch et al (2002) showed that giving young offenders OMEGA-3 supplements reduced their offending rate by 37%.

Serotonin :

Another neurochemical which ENHANCES MOOD and helps to COMBAT ANXIETY and DEPRESSION is SEROTONIN. Many prescribed medications work by increasing the availability of serotonin in the brain, but SEROTONIN LEVELS CAN ALSO BE RAISED THROUGH DIET; research suggests that a diet RICH IN PROTEIN can help to achieve this and that research remains ongoing.

NOTE: One GP, who became so ill with bipolar depression that she had to be sectioned in a psychiatric ward and featured in an award winning documentary on mental illness, recovered sufficiently to return to her profession as a doctor. She has remained symptom free for 15 years (most people with bipolar disorder frequently relapse) and ATTRIBUTED THIS TO TREATING HERSELF BY CHANGING HER DIET. THE MAIN FEATURE OF THE DIET WAS THAT SHE TOOK 3 GRAMMES of COD LIVER OIL (a source of fatty acids) per day. Because this evidence, if it can be deemed as such, comes from just one individual it is obviously very far removed from providing a proper scientific sample or study. Nevertheless, I felt it to be of sufficient interest to make reference to it here. For those who are interested, the documentary is entitled ‘The Secret Life of a Manic Depressive‘ and, in my view, makes compelling viewing.


David Hosier BSc Hons; MSc; PGDE(FAHE).

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Copyright 2013 Child Abuse, Trauma and Recovery

Childhood Trauma, Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) and Dissociation.

childhood trauma

I have already written posts explaining the connection between childhood trauma and BPD. An important symptom of BPD is DISSOCIATION, which this post will examine in greater detail.

Dissociation is generally considered to be a COPING MECHANISM in response to severe trauma or stress. The phenomenon of dissociation can involve feeling disconnected from one’s emotions, one’s memories, one’s thoughts or even from reality itself. It is common in those suffering from BPD; BPD frequently occurs in individuals who have experienced childhood trauma.

Dissociation is, essentially, a way of ‘escaping’ from the stressful situation, or memory of the stressful situation, by changing one’s state of consciousness (this often occurs automatically and without intention); sometimes people report feeling ‘numb’. In situations of terror, one may dissociate, and, paradoxically, feel a detached state of calm. It may feel, too, that the traumatic event is not happening to oneself, but that one is ‘observing the traumatic event from outside of the body’, leading to passivity and emotional detachment.

Dissociative feelings of ‘being outside of oneself’ are described as DEPERSONALIZATION and dissociative feelings of being disconnected from reality are described as DEREALIZATION.

Some experts have described dissociation as working a bit like morphine – dampening down emotional and physical pain. However, it is yet to be properly explained what the exact biological mechanisms are that underpin the dissociative experience.


The four main types of dissociation are:


Let’s look at each of these in a little more detail:

1) Dissociative Amnesia: here, large parts of, or all, the traumatic event/s cannot be remembered.

2) Dissociative Identity Disorder: this is also known as MULTIPLE PERSONALITY DISORDER. Here, the person adopts two or more distinct, utterly different personas. The different personas talk in different voices, use different vocabularies etc (they can also actually differ in handedness). The different personas do not have access to ‘each others” memories, studies have shown, so they have distinct ‘personal histories’. It is likely that each persona represents a different strategy for coping with stress.

3) Dissociative Fugue: in this state, individuals can disconnect from their previous personalities, and, then, often, travel far from home to take on, and live under, a completely new persona. They may appear normal to others who have never met them before, even though they are living under a completely new identity, having left a whole life and set of memories behind.

4) Depersonalization Disorder: in this state, individuals can feel detached from their bodies or experiences. A phrase I read in a novel recently may aptly illustrate the sensation: ‘it’s like living in a dream underwater.’

A large number of people who have suffered extreme childhood trauma report experiencing such automatic dissociative states. Furthermore, they may often seek to induce dissociative states, deliberately and artificially, as a way of escaping the constant psychological pain resulting from the initial trauma by, for example, USING ALCOHOL TO EXCESS, USING NARCOTICS, SELF-HARMING or GAMBLING. The kinds of psychological state from which the individual is seeking to escape through dissociation include INSOMNIA, NIGHTMARES, FEELINGS OF RAGE and INTENSE ANXIETY.


Dissociation may be helpful (adaptive) in the short-term but problems develop when the state persists long after it has served any beneficial purpose. The psychologist ,Lifton, described prolonged states of ‘psychic numbing’ and ‘mental paralysis’ often resulting from a dissociative response to severe trauma. This can make even basic day-to-day functioning extremely problematic and requires professional intervention.


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David Hosier BSc (Hons); MSc; PGDE(FAHE).

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Copyright 2013 Child Abuse, Trauma and Recovery

Childhood Trauma: What Experiments on Causes of Aggression in Rats Tell Us.

childhood trauma and aggression

Effect Of Trauma On Young Rats’ Brains :

A recent Swiss study has looked at the effects of trauma on ‘adolescent’ rats. It was found that those rats who were exposed to trauma (fear and stress inducing stimuli) suffered adverse PHYSICAL EFFECTS ON THE BRAIN (specifically, the PREFRONTAL CORTEX). This, in turn, leads to them displaying significantly more aggressive behavior than non-traumatized rats.

Effect Of Separation From Mothers :

A very similar effect has been found to occur in young rats SEPARATED FROM THEIR MOTHERS.
Furthermore, ‘adolescent’ rats exposed to trauma also develop ANXIETY and DEPRESSION type behaviors. They were found to also have increased activity in the brain region known as the AMYGDALA (which is linked to FEAR and VIOLENCE in humans). Additionally, they developed abnormally high levels of TESTOSTERONE ( a hormone which, in humans, is linked to AGGRESSION and VIOLENCE). Even the rats’ DNA was found to be affected by the trauma (specifically, MAOA genes). These genes act to break down SEROTONIN (a brain chemical, or neurotransmitter) and damage to it leads to too much serotonin being broken down which, in turn, leads to aggressive behaviour.

Comparison With Adult Rats :

However, ADULT RATS exposed to trauma did not undergo the same behavioral changes, so:



To what degree can we apply these findings to the effects of childhood trauma in HUMANS?

In fact, the findings I’ve outlined above mirror very accurately findings from studies on humans; this suggests that similar physiological processes are going on in both rats and humans as a result of early trauma.

Studies on non-human primates have also given rise to very similar findings.

It is hoped that such research showing that physiological effects of early trauma seem to underlie a development of a greater propensity towards violence and aggression will help lead to drugs being developed that can reverse these physiological effects and therefore reduce levels of aggression in individuals affected by early trauma. With this aim in mind, further human and non-human studies are being conducted.

The above post is based on a study by Marquez et al (2013).

David Hosier BSc Hons; MSc; PGDE(FAHE).

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Copyright 2013 Child Abuse, Trauma and Recovery

Childhood Trauma: Can ‘Buried Traumatic Memories’ be Uncovered by Hypnosis?


A central tenet of psychodynamic theory is that some traumatic memories are so painful that they are buried (repressed) in the unconscious (automatically rather than deliberately) denying us direct access to them (though it has been theorized indirect access may be available through dreams and other phenomena).

One theory is that these buried memories need to be brought into full consciousness via the psychotherapeutic process and properly ‘worked through’ in order to alleviate the psychological symptoms associated with their hitherto repression.

It is frequently believed, including by therapists, that ‘buried traumatic memories’ can be accessed by hypnosis. But can they? What does the research tell us?

In one study, 70% of first year psychology students agreed with the statement that hypnosis can help to access repressed memories. More worryingly, 84% of psychologists were also found to believe the same thing. It comes as little surprise, then, that many therapists use hypnosis in an attempt to help their clients recover ‘repressed traumatic memories’. Indeed, the therapy, known as ‘hypnoanalysis’, was developed on the theory that ‘repressed traumatic memories’ could be accessed by hypnosis to cure the patient of his/her psychological ailment.

Surveys of the general public indicate that many of them, too, believe in the power of hypnosis to aid memory recall.

Whilst some contemporary researchers still hold to the belief that hypnosis aids recall, the majority now believe this is NOT the case. On the contrary, hypnosis has generally been found to IMPAIR and DISTORT recall (eg. Lynnet, 2001).

Furthermore, studies reveal that hypnosis can CREATE FALSE MEMORIES (see my post on memory repression for more detail on the question of the reality of concept of buried memories) which, due to the insiduous influence of the therapist, the patient can become very confident are real.

This is of particular concern if the hypnosis has been used to try to help an eye-witness or crime victim recall ‘forgotten details’ of the crime and this evidence is then presented before a court of law. Indeed, as the problem becomes increasingly recognized, such ‘hypnotically recovered evidence’ is becoming increasingly unlikely to be admissable.

Some therapists use hypnosis to age-regress their adult clients (ie. take them back ‘mentally’ to their childhoods) in an attempt to help them recall important events that occurred in their childhood which may be connected to their current psychological state. However, here, too, research suggests (eg. Nash, 1987) such attempts are of no real value.


Hypnosis does not appear to be useful for retrieving ‘buried memories’ and can, in fact, be utterly counter-productive by creating FALSE or DISTORTED memories.

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David Hosier BSc Hons; MSc; PGDE(FAHE).

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Copyright 2013 Child Abuse, Trauma and Recovery

Effects of Childhood Trauma: The Interaction between Nature and Nurture.

TONY SOPRANO: And to think I’m the cause of it.

DR. MALFI: How are you the cause of it?

TONY SOPRANO: It’s in his blood, this miserable fucking existence. My rotten fucking putrid genes have infected my kid’s soul. That’s my gift to my son.

Studies have shown that male children who are severely maltreated are more prone to anti-social and violent behaviour in later life. Is this due to their parents passing on ‘bad’ genes, the child growing up in a ‘bad’ environment, or a combination of the two?

A study by Moffit et al looked at how children’s genes interacted with their environment to produce (or not to produce) later anti-social behaviour.

The study focused upon one particular group of genes known as MAOA genes (MAOA is an abbreviation for the brain chemical MONOAMINE OXIDASE A).

It was found that those with high activity MAOA genes were, in the main, protected from the potential adverse effects of the problematic environment in which they were brought up:


The opposite was the case for those who had low activity MAOA genes:


In the study, those in the second group (low activity MAOA genes) commited four times as many assaults, robberies and rapes.


It seems, therefore, that PARTICULARLY BAD OUTCOMES, IN TERMS OF PROPENSITY TO DEVELOP ANTI-SOCIAL BEHAVIOUR, are much more likely if the individual in question has had BOTH a ‘bad’ childhood environment AND has inherited ‘bad’ genes (low activity MAOA genes). Indeed, it would appear that the JOINT EFFECT of BOTH is GREATER THAN THE SUM OF THE PARTS of the two factors.

This finding has been confirmed by other studies showing that low activity MOAO genes are connected with the development of anti-social behaviour.


These findings have implications for treatment of psychological conditions associated with aggression as there are drugs which alter brain neurochemistry by acting upon monoamine oxidase. However, it should be noted that these drugs are not without risk and cannot always be guaranteed to be helpful. All treatment options require consultations with the relevant medical experts.

If you would like to view an infographic which shows how childhood trauma and genes interact to produce vulnerability to various conditions please click here,


David Hosier BSc Hons; MSc; PGDE(FAHE).

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Copyright 2013 Child Abuse, Trauma and Recovery

Types of Relationship Problems the Individual may Experience as a Result of Childhood Trauma.

childhood trauma and relationship problems

Attachment Styles :

Early relationships between the parent and child have an enormous impact upon how the child manages relationships throughout later life.

If the child experiences significant difficulties with relating to his/her parents, it often leads to problems with relating to others later on in life.

Secure Attachment :

The developmental psychologist, Bowlby (1998) proposed that there were, in very broad terms, two types of attachment that the child could form with the parent/s: SECURE ATTACHMENT and INSECURE ATTACHMENT.

Insecure Attachment :

If INSECURE ATTACHMENT develops, due to problems with how the parent relates to the child, the child often goes on to develop relationship problems with others in later life, because, according to Bowlby, s/he is prone to develop maladaptive (counter-productive) ways of relating to others which Bowlby terms MALADAPTIVE ATTACHMENT STYLES.

Bowlby proposed that there were three main types of maladaptive attachment style which the child could develop due to his/her problematic parenting; these are:


1) Insecure-avoidant attachment style:

Children who relate to others in this way may appear withdrawn, and, sometimes, hostile. By keeping their distance from others, they reduce their feelings of anxiety. However, underlying this there tends to be a great vulnerability and need. In adulthood, they are likely to continue to be distrustful of others and to maintain an emotional distance. Again, though, great vulnerability and need tend to underlie this.

Because the individual who develops this attachment style tends to be constantly expecting to be let down and betrayed by the person s/he is relating to, s/he may overcompensate for this feeling of vulnerability by becoming over-controlling, in an attempt to stop the person from ‘getting away’.

Individuals who develop this attachment style often have parents who were unresponsive to the needs of the child, lacked warmth and showed little love. The parents may have rejected the child’s attempts to form a close relationship with them.

2) Insecure-ambivalent attachment style:

With this style, the child oscillates between ‘clinging’ to others and angrily rejecting them – this tends to occur in ways which are largely unpredictable. Their relationships with others tend to be HIGHLY EMOTIONALLY VOLATILE. Also, they tend to be EXTREMELY SENSITIVE TO ANY SIGNS THEY ARE BEING REJECTED (sometimes misinterpreting signals and reading negativity into them when none was intended) and can become extremely angry if they believe that they are being rejected. Underneath this display of anger, however, the individual experiences deep hurt and emotional pain in response to the perceived rejection.

This pattern of relating to others often continues into adulthood. As with insecure-avoidant attachment styles, they may overcompensate for their profound fear of being abandoned by becoming over-controlling.

Individuals who develop this attachment style have often had parents who were unreliable and unpredictable in their manner of relating to the child – sometimes being available and sometimes not.

3) Insecure-disorganized attachment style:

This attachment style develops more rarely and is usually connected to particularly severe trauma during childhood.

Children with this attachment style tend to be HIGHLY SUSPICIOUS of others and EXTREMELY CAUTIOUS about forming relationships.

In adulthood, this tends to lead to profound difficulties with developing any kind of relationship and maintaining it – in any relationship the individual does manage to form, s/he will tend to behave in a highly unpredictable way and be highly vulnerable to sustaining further emotional wounds when they are, all too frequently, rejected for being too ‘difficult.’

A deep seated fear of others often underlies this attachment style which can lead to exploitation.

Individuals who develop this attachment style have often suffered severe abuse and have, also, often been brought up in environments which were extremely CHAOTIC and NEGLECTFUL.

This post is based upon Bowlby’s Attachment Theory.

To read my post on types of relationship difficulties individuals may experience as a result of childhood trauma, please click here.

David Hosier BSc Hons; MSc; PGDE(FAHE).

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Copyright 2013 Child Abuse, Trauma and Recovery

Research on Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation as a Treatment for Trauma.

transcranial magnetic stimulation

What Is Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation? :

Transcranial magnetic stimulation is normally abbreviated to TMS. Essentially, this treatment works by delivering short pulses of magnetic energy (which are generated by a hand held device that contains an electro-magnetic coil) to specific brain regions. It is a non-physically invasive therapy and the smallish, relatively simple device is merely guided over the relevant areas of the patient’s head by the doctor.

Research has already shown that the treatment can significantly reduce depressive symptoms in patients and early indicators are that it may also be of benefit to individuals suffering from the effects of trauma.

In order to help you visualize the simplicity of the procedure, imagine a hair-dryer being moved over the head – the only difference is that, rather than warm air being delivered,essentially painless, magnetic pulses are delivered instead.


I have already stated that the procedure is essentially painless (although some patients report that it has induced in them a headache) so the magnetic pulses are delivered whilst the patient is fully conscious. The procedure generally takes about twenty minutes. The magnetic pulses work by altering the way in which the brain cells communicate with each other (or, to put it more technically, the electrical firing between the brain’s neurons is altered) in the specific brain regions at which the treatment is directed. Research into the treatment has so far suggested that it may:

– reduce symptoms of depression
– reduce symptoms of anxiety – reduce the intensity of intrusive traumatic thoughts – help to reduce social anxiety by reducing avoidance behaviours


Unfortunately, TMS cannot be administered to those individuals who have been fitted with a pacemaker (or, for that matter, have had any other metal implanted in their body). Also, it cannot be administered to those who suffer from epilepsy in most cases.

In rare cases, TMS may induce seizures or manic episodes.

Anyone considering the treatment should discuss it with their doctor.


David Hosier BSc Hons; MSc; PGDE(FAHE).

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Copyright 2013 Child Abuse, Trauma and Recovery

Exciting Early Research Findings on the Medication Propranolol’s (a Beta-Blocker) Effectiveness for Treating Symptoms of Trauma.


Recent Studies On Propranolol :

Recent studies on the beneficial effects of the beta-blocker medication PROPRANOLOL on REDUCING THE ADVERSE SYMPTOMS OF TRAUMA are very encouraging and exciting.

One study, by Dr Roger Pitman, involving 22 patients, found that anxiety associated with trauma was greatly reduced in those patients given the drug compared with those who were not given it.

In another study, conducted in France, it was found that anxiety in patients suffering the effects of trauma was halved compared to those patients to whom the drug was not administered.


What is particularly exciting about this drug is that it is thought to actually WEAKEN THE NEURAL MEMORY TRACE OF THE MEMORY ITSELF.

The drug blocks beta receptors in the brain, reducing the effects of adrenaline on neurons (neurons are brain cells).

The drug works on the SYMPATHETIC NERVOUS SYSTEM which has the effect of reducing physiological symptoms associated with anxiety such as a pounding, racing heart and rapid, shallow breathing (also known as hyperventilation).

Individuals suffering from the effects of trauma often report having vivid and intense memories of the traumatic event/s. It is thought that the drug addresses this problem by acting on the memory trace, causing it to fade away and decay normally, thus greatly weakening its grip on the individual and ameliorating symptoms of anxiety.

One study has even demonstrated that just a single dose of propranolol, in certain, specific cases, can be of benefit (although it is usually prescribed over the long-term).


As stated above, research into the uses of this drug to treat the effects of trauma is at an early stage; more studies are being conducted. It should be pointed out, though, that the drug is not effective in every case.

Anyone considering taking the medication should discuss it with their doctor.

David Hosier BSc Hons; MSc; PGDE(FAHE).

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Copyright 2013 Child Abuse, Trauma and Recovery

How Childhood Trauma Can Reduce Life Expectancy By 19 Years.


childhood trauma's effect on life expectancy

This article aims to briefly explain how childhood trauma can reduce life expectancy by 19 years but, also, why this need not be the case.

Childhood trauma clearly puts the child who experiences it under great stress; the more protracted and intense the traumas, and the more traumas the child suffers, all else being equal, the more stress is inflicted upon the child.

A recent study has shown that an especially traumatic childhood (in which the child experiences several types of trauma) may reduce life expectancy by about 19 years (from approximately 79 years for those who experienced no significant trauma, to about 60 years for those who experienced many significant traumas).

In the study, the traumas experienced included the following:

– witnessing domestic violence
– emotional/verbal abuse
– physical abuse
– parental alcohol/drug misuse
– parental imprisonment
– parental separation/divorce

childhood trauma reduces life expectancy


– those who had suffered 6 or more traumas, on average, lost about 19 years of life (dying, on average, at about 60 years, rather than at about 79 years, as was the average age of death of those who had suffered no significant trauma).

– those who had suffered 3 to 5 traumatic events lost, on average, 5.5 years of life, dying, on average, at 73.5 years.

-those who had suffered 2 traumatic events lost, on average, about 3 years of life, dying, on average, at about 76 years.


One theory is that childhood trauma can lead to CELL DAMAGE (specifically, inflammation and premature aging of the cells). It is also thought that exposure to high and sustained stress in childhood can also DAMAGE DNA strands; this, in turn, can lead to increased risk of disease and premature death.

Furthermore, extreme stress in childhood (which makes it far more likely the child will go on to have a stressful adult life) leads to greater production in the body of ADRENALINE (a neurotransmitter which prepares the body for ‘fight or flight’) and also of CORTISOL (a stress hormone); these biochemical effects increase the individual’s likelihood of developing disease.


Because individuals who suffer childhood trauma tend to have much more stressful adult lives, as adults they are more likely to utilize coping strategies which are, in the long-term, damaging (these are known as MALADAPTIVE COPING STRATEGIES). They include:

– smoking
drinking alcohol to excess
– illicit drug use
– ‘comfort eating’ of junk food

All of these behaviours, linked to childhood trauma, can dramatically reduce life expectancy.


Although the study shows that there is an association (or correlation) between childhood trauma and lower life expectancy, this does NOT mean that childhood trauma directly and inevitably leads to losing years of life.

Rather, the link is indirect: childhood trauma tends to lead to more stress and harmful behaviours (as already outlined) and it is these which can lower life expectancy, NOT the childhood trauma in and of itself taken in isolation.

The good news that follows from this is that we are able to address our stress and harmful behaviours (such as excessive drinking, overeating etc) either through self-help or with the aid of professional therapy; therefore, the childhood trauma we experienced need NOT lead to a shorter life.

If you would like to view an infographic which illustrates the relationship between childhood trauma and heart disease in later life please click here.


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David Hosier BSc Hons; MSc; PGDE(FAHE).

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Copyright 2013 Child Abuse, Trauma and Recovery

How Adult Children Can Manage Their Relationship With Parents Who Have Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD). Part 2.


bpd mother

For Part 1, click here.



If we have been brought up as children with a parent who has BPD, it is often necessary to seek therapy to help resolve the trauma that we have suffered and to help us come to terms with our loss – in effect, our ‘stolen childhood’.

the unpredictable mood swings of the BPD sufferer

Above : the unpredictable mood swings of the BPD sufferer

In therapy, it may often be necessary to work through the resentment we might well feel (particularly as this feeling of resentment can be deeply painful for us to carry around) and consider how our lives have been adversely affected.

Also, we may want to work with our therapist to consider what positive or useful things we may have learned from our difficult childhood, perhaps through strategies we adopted to deal with this problematic period of our lives, or from other, more positive, role models (eg teachers, friends, counselors etc).

Reviewing things in such a way can bring to the surface very painful feelings, and, if we do not have a therapist to speak to, talking things over with a sensitive and compassionate friend can be valuable.

Releasing emotions connected with our past through ‘talking them out’ can help us to move forward in our lives. Until we do this, our emotional development can remain arrested (‘stuck’), as I am quite convinced happened in my own case for more years than I care to recollect.

One way in which we can express our, perhaps, long pent-up feelings towards the parent with BPD is to write them a letter describing how their behaviour made our lives so stressful and painful. (It is usually better not to actually send the letter as this runs the risk of making matters worse still; however, some therapists may have different views.)


Individuals with BPD find it very hard to understand that others have personal boundaries, thus it is necessary to put more effort into establishing such boundaries with a parent with BPD than might otherwise be the case.

In some cases, it may be necessary to cut off completely from the parent with BPD, as the relationship is mutually destructive and it appears that this is beyond remedy. That, very sadly, was the decision I had to take with my own mother.

However, such drastic action may not be required; it might, instead, be necessary to make it clear we are unable to cope with constantly supporting the parent with BPD with their endless emotional problems as we have our own to deal with; that we need time alone/personal space/privacy; or that we are not prepared to discuss certain topics which always give rise to unpleasantness, hurt and pain.

These are just examples; there may be several other areas in which we need to make clear our boundaries. A parent with BPD will often put their own emotional needs ahead of ours; we need to be clear in our own minds that we have a right to have our own needs respected.

Indeed, we have a duty to ourselves to meet our own needs, especially as so much emotional damage was done to us as children. We need to ASSERTIVELY make this clear.

Of course, our parent with BPD is very likely to respond by trying to make us feel guilty and bad about ourselves for expressing our own needs, so we need to be prepared in advance for this reaction and not to give in to emotional blackmail. We need to maintain our strength and confidence – a good view to take is that we have a duty to protect the hurt child who still resides within us.

As I have said, it is extremely advisable to have support when thinking about making such changes as I have written about, ideally professional. If, however, this is not possible, there are many support groups for people affected by BPD, both online and offline.






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David Hosier BSc Hons; MSc; PGDE(FAHE).

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Copyright 2013 Child Abuse, Trauma and Recovery