BPD Sufferers Likely To View Life As Meaningless

BPD and feelings of meaningless

Research carried out by Wiley et al has found that psychiatric patients suffering from borderline personality disorder (BPD) have feelings that life lacks meaning to a greater degree than do those who are suffering from mental disorders other than borderline personality disorder.

A separate study confirmed this finding by demonstrating that feelings that life has meaning are very significantly NEGATIVELY CORRELATED with symptoms of borderline personality disorder; in other words, the more symptoms a person has of borderline personality disorder, the less s/he is likely to feel that life has meaning.

So, to put it simply, people with BPD have a tendency to view life as essentially meaningless and as having no purpose.

Other research by Weibel et al supports the above findings; Weibel and colleagues conducted a study that found that there is an association between individuals suffering childhood abuse or neglect (which puts them at increased risk of developing BPD) and the subsequent failure, as adults, to find meaning in life.
meaningless life
Which Symptoms Of BPD Are Particularly Associated With Feelings That Life Is Meaningless?
The symptoms of BPD which seem to be particularly associated with feelings that life is meaningless, according to the research referred to above, are :

Conclusion / Implications :

Given the above findings, it has been suggested that therapy for borderline personality disorder (BPD) should include methods that help the individuals suffering from the disorder start to perceive life as more meaningful.

How Can A Meaningful Life Be Achieved?

Finding meaning in life is a subjective experience so nobody can give a definitive, objective account of what makes life meaningful. However, Baumeister and Vohs (2005) propose that we are more likely to perceive life as meaningful if :

1) what we do has purpose and helps to lead us towards a future goal that will bring us fulfilment

2) what we do is in line with our values

3) we have faith in our self-efficacy (i.e. ability to make a real, positive difference in the world)

4) we have firm feelings of self-worth

I will end this article with a quote from the American psychologist and expert in positive psychology, Martin Seligman, who defined a meaningful life as one in which you use ‘your signature strengths and virtues in the service of something much larger than you are.’ (Martin Seligman, 2002).



meaninglessness of life


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

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Long-Term Effects Of Childhood Trauma : Four Categories


long term effects of childhood trauma

The possible long-term effects childhood trauma (which, without effective therapy to resolve trauma, can last well into adulthood, or even for the duration of our entire lives) are myriad and can be split into four main categories :

1) Relationship problems / sexual problems

2) Psychological problems / mental illness

3) Behavioural problems

4) Physical problems / health problems

Let’s look at each of these four categories showing possible long-term effects of childhood trauma in turn:

1) Relationship problems / sexual problems ; these may include the following :

– great difficulties trusting others

– problems interacting with ‘authority figures’

– feelings of discomfort associated with showing/receiving tactile affection

fear of men or women (for example, if one was afraid of one’s mother, this feeling may generalize to women in general, if only on an unconscious level)

sexual problems including excessive promiscuity, avoidance of sex/fear of sex, sexual dysfunction (of psychological origin)

– difficulty forming healthy psychological attachments with others, including with one’s own children

– strong need for intimate relationships but simultaneous fear of such relationships

– unhealthy ‘relationship with self’ such as poor self-concept, poor self-esteem, self-hatred, excessive self-criticism, irrational dislike/hatred of own body

– confusion relating to one’s own sexual identity

2) Psychological problems / mental illness ; these may include the following :

– easily susceptible to feelings of intense stress

– anxiety disorders including panic attacks, social anxiety, agoraphobia, generalized anxiety disorder and phobias

– susceptibility to outbursts of extreme anger / explosive rage

– susceptibility to become violent / conduct disorder

– clinical depression

– suicidal ideation

– personality disorder, especially borderline personality disorder (BPD), though there is a growing belief amongst interested parties that many diagnosed with BPD have been misdiagnosed and should, instead, have been diagnosed with complex post traumatic stress disorder (Cptsd).

 – dissociative disorders

 – eating disorders (bulimia, anorexia nervosa)

PTSD / Cptsd symptoms, including hypervigilance, nightmares, flashbacks, intrusive memories, impaired ability to concentrate, heightened emotional arousal, feelings of being ’emotionally dead’ / ’emotionally numb’ / anhedonia, heightened startle response, emotional dysregulstion

3) Behavioural problems ; these may include the following :

 – excessive and detrimental use of alcohol / drugs

 – self-harm (e.g. cutting self, suicide attempts / suicide

– addictions (e.g. gambling, overspending/’shopping addiction‘)

 – inappropriate confrontations with others due to unresolved anger and a tendency to displace this unresolved anger onto others

 – workaholism

 – perfectionism

 – inappropriate risk taking

 – preoccupied with the needs of others / neglectfulness of own needs

 – criminal activity

 – tendency to make oneself vulnerable to revictomism due to failure to establish safe boudaries

 – lack of assertiveness

– under protectiveness of own children / over protectiveness of own children

4) Physical problems / heath problems ; these may include the following :

 – adverse neurological changes to certain brain regions including the amygdala and hippocampus

 – overproduction of cortisol and adrenaline

 – overactivation of fight / flight response

 – heart disease

 – liver disease

 – high blood pressure

 –  digestive problems (such as irritable bowel syndrome)

 – interstitial cystitis

 – dementia

 – chronic fatigue syndrome (also known as fibromyalgia)

 – autoimmune disease

 – headaches

 – other psychosomatic conditions

 David Hosier BSc Hons; MSc; PGDE(FAHE)

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Emotional Intensity Disorder

emotional intensity disorder

Many who have been diagnosed with borderline personality disorder (a condition strongly associated with a history of significant and long-lasting childhood trauma) resent the label, preferring instead to consider themselves as having complex post traumatic stress disorder (although this diagnosis has still to be formally acknowledged and is not yet included in the DSMDiagnostic And Statistical Manual Of Mental Illness) or, more recently, emotional intensity disorder.

This is largely due to the fact that many patients and clinicians consider the label borderline personality disorder to be stigmatizing, demeaning and even insulting as it seems to imply the person’s whole personality (and, perhaps, by extension, character), is fundamentally flawed, giving him/her the status of social outcast and pariah – this, of course, can only exacerbate their isolation, and illness, further. NOT HELPFUL! (Especially as it is the experience of profound rejection, often by parents and other family members, which has contributed to the illness in the first place.

emotional intensity disorder

Other terms have also been considered to replace the borderline personality disorder label; I list these below :

– emotionally unstable personality disorder (not much of an improvement, it has to be said!)

– emotional regulation disorder

– emotional dysregulation disorder

– impulsive personality disorder

– impulsive emotional dysregulation disorder

Emotional Problems Of Those With BPD :

So, what emotional problems do people with BPD suffer? Below, I attempt to summarize them:

– rapid and dramatic mood swings

explosive rage and anger, even in response to (objectively speaking) minor provocations

– emotions so intense the individual experiencing them feels ‘out of control’

– incongruous emotional displays (such as crying at times that the majority of people would find ‘inappropriate’).

– experiencing of strong emotions which seem to ‘come out of nowhere.’

– suicidal impulses


– feelings of ’emptiness’

intense psychological pain (often this leads to ‘self-medicating’ behaviour (i.e. excessive use of drugs and/or alcohol)

– extreme fear of abandonment


– impulsivity

(The above list is not exhaustive; to read my article on borderline personality disorder, click here).


What Causes These Emotional Problems?

– imbalances in the brain of certain chemicals ; in particular, dopamine and serotonin

– childhood trauma (such as neglect, abuse, rejection, loss, grief and abandonment)

– further research needs to be conducted on the contribution of genes

How Common Are These Problems?

About one in every fifty people suffer from these severe emotional problems I refer to above. Also, women are about three times more likely to suffer from them than men. For most sufferers, the condition improves once the individual approaches middle-age.

Currently, one of the most effective treatments for borderline personality disorder is dialectical behaviour therapy (DBT). Many sufferers also find mindfulness training and cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) helpful.

Resource (click on image below for details):

borderline personality disorder


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


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Effects Of Parents’ Own Unresolved Trauma On Their Children

unresolved trauma



Alice Miller (1923 – 2010), the world renowned psychologist and psychoanalyst, theorized that many victims of childhood trauma are unconsciously driven to deny and repress the psychological damage done to them by their parent/s as if the knowledge were to fully permeate their consciousness it would result in overwhelming and unbearable emotional pain (to read my related article : Why Children Idealize Their Parents, click here).

And, according to Miller, when such individuals become adults, the negative feelings associated with the unresolved trauma are :

1. Directed outwards at others (e.g. violent crime or war – to read my related post about Hitler’s Childhood, click here). This is also known as externalization or displacement.


2. Directed inwards against the self (e.g. self-harm, depression, addictions). This is also known as internalization.


3. Directed at their own children (by repeating the abusive parenting that they themselves originally experienced).


In this article, it is the third response above (when negative feelings associated with unresolved trauma are directed at the individuals own children) that I wish to expand a little upon :

Alice Miller’s view on how abusive behaviour can be passed on from one generation to the next can be elucidated by the following quote :

‘Children who are lectured to, learn how to lecture; if they are admonished, they learn how to admonish; if scolded, they learn how to scold; if ridiculed, they learn how to ridicule; if humiliated, they learn how to humiliate; if their psyche is killed, they will learn how to kill – the only question is who will be killed: oneself, others, or both.’

Alice Miller

unresolved trauma


Photo Above : Alice Miller

In the same book from which the above quote is taken, For Your Own Good (the title is ironic, obviously), Miller proposes that even when parents genuinely believe they are acting for the child’s ‘own good’, beneath the surface of consciousness lurk darker motives; she provides seven examples of these motives which I summarize below:

1) To displace the feelings of humiliation they (the parents) experienced as a result of their own parents’ behaviour onto their own children (to reiterate – this need not be conscious and frequently occurs on an unconscious level, according to Miller).

2) A drive to vent repressed emotions.

3) A drive to possess/manipulate the child (to read my related article about manipulative parents, click here).

4) An idealization of their own parents’ behaviour (the underlying thinking be along the lines of: ‘it [their parents’ way of bringing them up] never did me any harm…’ (to read my related article on why children idealize their parents, click here).
5) Fears about allowing the child freedom

6) The need to eradicate in one’s child behaviours/feelings/attitudes that remind the parents of aspects of themselves they fear and have repressed

7) Revenge for the emotional damage they suffered at the hands of their own parents (again, most frequently this occurs on an unconscious level).

Views Of Dr Saul Krugman

Another expert in this field, Dr Saul Krugman (1911-1995), an American pediatrician, echoed Alice Miller’s view in 1989 when he stated that many individuals who were abused in childhood do not consider themselves as victims and that this attitude is frequently found in those who go on to abuse their own children and contributes in part to the explanation to the question of how the intergenerational cycle of abuse is (sometimes unwittingly) perpetuated.

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


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Perfectionism Linked To Having Inflexible, Authoritarian Parents




Having excessively high standards, to the point we feel highly anxious unless whatever we undertake we get precisely right, can be self-defeating. Indeed, we might be so concerned we always perform ‘perfectly’ that we are reluctant to take on, and, therefore, avoid, challenges for fear of not meeting the highly exacting standards that we set ourselves (even though we may, in reality, have easily succeeded in the challenge).

Also, ‘perfectionists’ make life harder for themselves by being excessively self-critical, even when they make very small mistskes; this can produce anxiety which may, ironically, lower performance or cause the ‘perfectionist’ to abandon whatever task, project or activity s/he was involved in.


Some individuals may go through life never reaching their potential because their ‘perfectionism’ makes them so fearful of ‘failure’ (as they perceived it) that they never take on the necessary challenges. Such people may, at the end of their lives, regret this very much.

Rather than being a ‘perfectionist,’ a healthier and often more productive attitude is to set ourselves the goal of doing whatever it is we are doing ‘to the best of our ability.’

The Link Between The Development Of Perfectionism And Being Brought Up By Inflexible, Authoritarian Parents:

Several studies that were conducted in the early 2000s have shown that authoritarian parents who rigidly and inflexibly enforced rules with scant regard for their children’s feelings, who regarded unquestioning obedience as essential and rewarded their children for it, produced children prone to significant anxiety and, later, in adulthood, excessively fearful of making mistakes and errors.

In short, such children were significantly more likely than average to develop ‘perfectionism.’

Two Types Of Perfectionism:

Perfectionism can be of two types; these are :

Adaptive perfectionism (which helps performance)

Maladaptive perfectionism  : if suffering from this type of perfectionism the individual is unable to tolerate even minor flaws in performance (which harms performance)

Children brought up in the manner described above are more likely than average to develop both of these types of perfectionism.

Realistically High Standards Versus Maladaptive Perfectionism :

Individuals with standards that are high but are also realistic and obtainable tend to be effective and proactive when undertaking problematic, difficult and stressful tasks. However, maladaptive perfectionists tend to be less effective when faced with such tasks and are prone to what is termed ‘avoidant coping’ involving ignoring the problem or denying its importance.

What Kind Of Problems Does The ‘Avoidant Coping’ Style Of Maladaptive Perfectionists Lead To?

– high levels of stress

– impaired self-confidence

– indecisiveness

– unrealistic / unobtainable standards

– enervating obsessiveness

– procrastination

To minimize such effects, we need to cut ourselves some slack ; with the self-imposed pressure alleviated, our overall effectiveness and productivity is likely to improve.

Also, we can reduce our tendency towards maladaptive perfectionism by trying not to ‘see things in black and white’ (i.e. as either ‘perfect’ or ‘terrible’, with no gray areas).

It is also useful not to compare our solution to a task with an imagined, ideal solution, but, instead, to compare it with no solution whatsoever.

Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) can be a very effective way of addressing maladaptive perfectionism.

Resource :

overcome perfectionism. Downloadable self-hypnosis MP3 /CD : Overcome Perfectionism. Click here.

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




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Romanian Orphanage Study : Early Life Neglect Damages Brain

Romanian orphanage study

The Study :

This research studied 125 teenagers who lived in (adoptive) loving and stable families BUT had, as infants, lived in the NEGLECTFUL ENVIRONMENT of ROMANIAN ORPHANAGES (renowned for their extremely poor conditions).

The Findings :

Using brain scanning technology, it was found that these teenagers had brains which contained LESS WHITE MATTER than the brains of a comparison group of comparable teenagers who lived in similar family environments BUT HAD NOT LIVED IN ROMANIAN ORPHANAGES AS INFANTS.

The brain’s white matter is involved in learning and facilitates the communication between different brain regions ; it is located deep within the brain. (Its volume can also be depleted as a result of excessive use of alcohol and aging.)

Romanian orphanage study

Above : Brain scans showing anatomical differences between the brain of a normal three-year-old and that of a three-year-old who has experienced extreme neglect.

Deprivation :

It is suggests that the SENSORY DEPRIVATION that the teenagers experienced as infants in the appalling conditions in which they were kept (‘caretakers’ worked in factory- like shifts and the infants might have up to 17 such carers each week, thus depriving them of sustained, one-to-one, loving contact), anatomically, adversely affected brain regions involved in :

– cognitive processing

– attention

– emotional processing

Specifically, Which Brain Regions Were Damaged?

PET scans (PET scans – or positron emission topography scans – are a type of brain scan) revealed that the main regions of the brain that were damaged by this early life neglect and deprivation were :

– the amygdala

– parts of the hippocampus

– the brain stem

– parts of the prefrontal cortex

– the orbital frontal gyrus

The PET scan revealed that all of the above brain regions had abnormal activity in the teenagers who had lived in the Romanian orphanage during their early lives compared to the comparison group of teenagers.

To read my eBook on how neglect and other forms of childhood trauma can affect the physical development of the brain, click on the image below:

romanian orphanage study

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





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BPD, Algopsychalia And Examples Of Specific, Amplified Emotions


In my last article I wrote about how borderline personality disorder (BPD) sufferers are especially likely to suffer from intense, tormenting, psychological pain, a condition known as algopsychalia. Why is this?

What Are The Possible Causes Of This Pain?

The causes of this pain are highly complex; however, one interesting theory put forward by Schneidman is that algopsychalia comes about as a result of unfulfilled and frustrated psychological needs.


What Are These Unfulfilled And Frustrated Psychological Needs?

According to Schneidman, these include :

– affiliation / meaningful connection with others

– love

– personal autonomy / a sense of control over one’s own life

– achievement

– the need to avoid shame

Also, associated with such unfulfilled and frustrated needs, sufferers of BPD experience particularly intense, negative emotions. Indeed, all negative emotions felt by BPD sufferers are, in general, more amplified, and, therefore, generate more psychological pain, than is the case for the ‘average’ person.

Examples Of Amplified Negative Emotions In BPD Sufferers Contributing To Psychological And Emotional Pain :

amplified emotions

  • instead of becoming annoyed or irritated the BPD sufferer may well, instead, fly into an uncontrollable rage and fury from which s/he is not easily able to calm down.
  • instead of mild or moderate embarrassment, the BPD sufferer may experience on overwhelming and profound sense of shame
  • instead of feeling mildly apprehension, the BPD sufferer may experience a severe, full-blown panic attack, complete with hyperventilation and fear of imminent and impending death
  • instead of feeling sadness, the BPD sufferer may suffer a sense of deep and intense grief.

To make the adverse effects of these terribly painful emotions worse still, those suffering from BPD find it very difficult indeed to self-comfort or self-sooth when experiencing such feelings due to early life disruption to the development of certain critical brain regions. (To read my article entitled : ‘Three Critical Brain Regions Harmed By Childhood Trauma’, click here).

1) Article about DISTRESS INTOLERANCE – click here

2) Article about DIALECTICAL BEHAVIOUR THERAPY (a therapy specifically developed to help those suffering from BPD and difficulty controlling their emotions) – click here



David Hosier BSc Hons; MSc; PGDE(FAHE)

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BPD Sufferers Up To Ten Times More Likely To Be Homosexual

 BPD and homosexuality

A study conducted by Reich and Zanarini (2008) involving the interviewing of 362 psychiatric inpatients (290 of whom were suffering from borderline personality disorder ; the remaining 72 were included in the study for comparison purposes and had personality disorders other than BPD).


All of the 362 participants in the study were given interviews in which they were asked about their sexual orientation and the gender of their intimate partners.


1) Those individuals suffering from BPD were significantly more likely than individuals from the comparison group to identify as having a homosexual or bisexual sexual orientation.

2) Those individuals suffering from BPD were significantly more likely than individuals from the comparison group to report having same-sex relationships.

(The above results were not significantly different in relation to whether the interviewee was male or female).

BPD and homosexuality

In another study, published in the American Journal of Psychiatry, it was found that, from a sample of 80 individuals (nineteen of whom were male and sixty-one female) who had been diagnosed with BPD :

  • 21 % were homosexual (this percentage breaks down to 53℅ of the men with BPD and 11% of the women with BPD – quite a gender difference!)
  • 5 ℅ were bisexual
  • 11℅ were diagnosed as having a paraphilia

How Do The Above Figures Compare To The General Population?

According to this study :

Men diagnosed with BPD are TEN TIMES more likely to be homosexual than are men randomly selected from the general population.

Women diagnosed with BPD are SIX TIMES more likely to be homosexual than are women randomly selected from the general population.

The Velvet Rage :

In his book, The Velvet Rage, Alan Downs, PhD, examines the reasons that might explain why gay men are far more prone than straight men to suffering from mental health conditions, including depression, sex addiction, alcohol and drug dependence, as well as being at elevated risk of committing suicide.

In doing so, he suggests that the emotional pain of growing up gay in a predominantly heterosexual world, especially if it encompasses feelings of shame and invalidation, significantly contribute to the development of mental health problems. His book is available from Amazon :

Resource :

Let go of shame

 Let Go Of Shame – Downloadable MP3 / CD – click here.


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

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