Tag Archives: Bpd Symptoms

Signs That A Parent May Have Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD)

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Borderline personality disorder (BPD) is an extremely complex psychological condition. Indeed, it is not infrequently misdiagnosed as some other type of disorder, such as bipolar disorder. For these reasons there is likely to be a very large number of individuals who have the condition but are not aware of it.

And the picture is further confused by the fact that BPD often exists alongside (comorbidly) with other psychiatric disorders such as depression and anxiety. Furthermore, many who have the condition do not seek psychiatric help for the problem.

Of course, a formal diagnosis of BPD can only be made by an appropriately qualified professional. However, there are many signs to look out for that may suggest a parent has the disorder. It is to these that I now turn.

Signs That A Parent May Be Suffering From BPD:

The parent :

– shows little emotional or physical affection for the child

– invalidates/ignores/minimizes/derides/dismisses feelings that are important to the child (eg. ‘Why or you upset? – for god’s sake stop blubbering you little cry-baby’)

– responds inconsistently to the child’s behaviour – gives the child ‘mixed messages’ (this is sometimes referred to as putting the child in a ‘DOUBLE-BIND’ – click here to read my article on this)

– subjects the child to verbal cruelty – my own mother referred to me as ‘scabby’ (I self-harmed) and ‘poof’ (I was highly sensitive). Often, when I returned home from school, she would glare at me and announce, ‘Oh Christ, the little bastard’s home’. She finally kicked me out when I was thirteen)

– makes the child feel unloved/unwanted

– expects the child to meet exacting/unobtainable standards – frequently changes expectations of the child

– hinders the child from developing his/her own identity

– disputes child’s version/recall of events if it involves criticism of the parent

– creates ‘role-reversal’ (i.e. the child is treated as if s/he is the parent’s parentthis is also sometimes referred to as ‘parentification’ of the child; it may include making the child take on responsibilities that are inappropriate for his/her age (for example, I frequently had to act as my mother’s personal counsellor from the age of about ten. She reinforced this by referring to me as her ‘little psychiatrist’).

– makes the child feel on-guard and defensive all the time

– over-confides in the child (e.g. provides intimate details of sex-life)

– expects the child to be the carer/provider of emotional support

– expects child to constantly demonstrate undying loyalty and unconditional love, but DOES NOT RECIPROCATE

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Of course, such treatment as described above can have a catastrophic effect upon the child. Indeed, if the child is seriously affected, these effects can last a lifetime unless proper treatment is sought. I list some of the possible effects on the child once s/he becomes an adult below:

Possible effects on the child’s future adult life of the kind of treatment described above:

The affected person may:

– suffer severe social anxiety

– feel inadequate, unlovable, of no value and guilty

– have pervasive and chronic feelings of emptiness

– feel incapable of enjoyiong him/herself (this condition is referred to by psychologists as ‘ANHEDONIA’ – click here to read my article on this) or feel guilty about enjoying self, believing him/herself to be undeserving of happiness

– expects always to be betrayed by others/be deeply mistrustful of others

– have no sense of direction in life

– have serious problems in relationships, perhaps due to ‘repetition-compulsion’ the tendency to seek out relationships in which one is abused in a way similar to how one was abused by parents (this acts on an unconscious level)

– question his/her intuition, judgment and memory as parent will not accept his/her view of his/her childhood

– have chunks of childhood missing from memory (for instance, I can remember almost nothing about what happened to me before the age of about eight years)

– have a deep rooted fear of rejection/abandonment so will not take risks with trying to form relationships

– have a low tolerance of own mistakes/perfectionism

It should also be noted that research shows that those of us brought up by a parent with BPD are of elevated risk of developing the condition ourselves. Currently, one of the main kinds of treatment for the condition is ‘DIALECTICAL BEHAVIOUR THERAPY’ (DBT) – click here to read my article on this form of treatment.

NB: It is worth reiterating that a formal diagnosis of BPD must be made by a professional – as I have already said, it is a very complex disorder.

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Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) – Four Subtypes

 

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Borderline personality disorder is frequently linked to the experience of severe childhood trauma (click here to read my article about how the two are thought to be connected).

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An expert on the subject of borderline personality disorder (BPD), Theodore Milton, has proposed FOUR SUBTYPES of this serious disorder. These four subtypes are :

1) THE PETULANT BORDERLINE

2) THE DISCOURAGED BORDERLINE

3) THE IMPULSIVE BORDERLINE

4) THE SELF-DESTRUCTIVE BORDERLINE

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Let’s look at each of these four subtypes in turn:

1) THE PETULANT BORDERLINE – Milton describes this category of individuals as:

– pessimistic

– resentful

– complaining and critical

– irritable and impatient

– unpredictable

– having a marked tendency to swing between expressing a deep need of others and pushing them away (this is known as AMBIVALENT ATTACHMENT STYLE – click here to read my article about this)

– possessing a deep sense of inadequacy

– prone to outbursts of explosive anger ( click here to read my article on INTERMITTENT EXPLOSIVE DISORDER)

2) THE DISCOURAGED BORDERLINE – this category of individuals have characteristics in common with those who suffer from DEPENDENT PERSONALITY DISORDER (click here to read my article about this). Milton also describes those who suffer from this subtype of BPD as tending to be :

– depressive

– prone to self-harming behaviours (click here to read my article on this)

– angry (although this can often be suppressed)

3) THE IMPULSIVE BORDERLINE – according to Milton, those individuals who fall into this category have characteristics in common with those who suffer from HISTRIONIC PERSONALITY DISORDER (click here to read my article on this). They also :

– tend to have a superficial charm

– have a marked tendency towards thrill-seeking (eg impulsive sex, gambling, dangerous driving etc)

– tend to be highly attention-seeking

4) THE SELF-DESTRUCTIVE BORDERLINE – Finally, Milton describes this subtype of BPD sufferers as :

– consumed by self-hatred

– particularly prone to self-harming behaviours

– prone to physical self-neglect

-attracted to indulging in risky behaviours

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Borderline Personality Disorder – Possible Psychotic Symptoms

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Occasionally, some individuals who suffer from borderline personality disorder (BPD) may develop transient (short-lasting) psychotic symptoms ; these are also sometimes referred to as : psychotic episodes, psychotic experiences or ‘breaks from reality.’

What is Psychosis?

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Psychosis can involve :

– seeing things which are not there (visual hallucinations)

– hearing things which are not there eg the sufferer might believe they can hear voices telling them to harm, or even kill, themselves

– having the feeling of touching things which are not there (somatic hallucinations)

– smelling things which are not there (olfactory hallucinations)

– derealization (a change of perception in which the world seems ‘unreal’)

– depersonaliztion (a change of perception in which one’s own self seems unreal).

Note : Both derealization and depersonalization are what are known as ‘dissociative’ symptoms – click here to read my article about dissociation.

– holding on to extremely odd and unusual beliefs that others cannot dissuade the sufferer from believing, especially paranoid beliefs, such as their family, or strangers, are trying to kill them ; believing they are irredeemably evil ; believing they don’t exist ; believing the government is going to kill them and they are being pursued by MI5 (UK) or the CIA (US) ; believing aliens have placed an implant in their brains which broadcasts all their thoughts. Sometimes, too, the bizarre belief may be a delusion of grandeur, such as ‘they are god’.

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Whilst such experiences can sometimes be severe, most frequently they are not long-lived. However, such symptoms are also a sign that the illness (BPD) is worsening, and, therefore, a person who has psychotic symptoms should always seek expert help as quickly as possible.

If a BPD sufferer is unlucky enough to experience a psychotic episode, when is it most likely to occur, and how can that person minimize their risk?

Sufferers of BPD are at greatest risk of experiencing a psychotic episode following a significant stressor. Such experiences are sometimes referred to as ‘reactive psychosis.’ It follows from this, of course, that those with BPD should avoid stress as far as it is possible.

Psychotic Depression

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guilt and childhood trauma

The depression which accompanies BPD can become so acute that it leads to psychotic symptoms. Extended dysphoria (the word ‘dysphoria’ refers to a highly distressing state in which the sufferer feels extreme emotional pain, restlessness, emptiness and agitation) can tip over into psychotic experiences ;These may include : feelings of extreme, irrational guilt and false beliefs about being responsible for things that they are, in fact, in no way responsible for (such as the abuse they suffered).

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Borderline Personality Disorder In Men

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The most up-to-date research shows that there are a number of differences between the symptoms of borderline personality disorder in men compared to borderline personality disorder in women.

 

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THE DIFFERENCES IN SYMPTOMS OF BORDERLINE PERSONALITY DISORDER IN MEN AND WOMEN:

– men with BPD are more likely than women with BPD to suffer from :

1) explosive temperaments (when this condition is pathological it is termed : INTERMITTENT EXPLOSIVE DISORDER, or I.E.D. – click here to read an article that I previously published on this site about I.E.D.)

2) abuse of alcohol/illicit drugs

3) anti-social personality

4) sadistic tendencies

5) paranoia

6) passive-aggressive behaviours

7) narcissism

– women with BPD are more likely than men with BPD to suffer from :

1) eating disorders

2) mood disorders

3) anxiety

4) post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)

As can be seen by reviewing the above two lists, men tend to become more anti-social if they have BPD than women ; as a consequence of this, men with BPD are more likely to go to prison than women with BPD (although this is also true of the general population who do not have BPD, of course, which, in my view, confuses the picture somewhat).

SYMPTOMS OF BPD THAT ARE ABOUT EQUAL IN MEN AND WOMEN :

1) research shows that there does not appear to be a significant difference between men and women in terms of the mental pain, anguish and distress they suffer as a result of their condition

2) levels of self-harm, too, seem to be about equal amongst men and women who suffer from BPD

DO MEN AND WOMEN WITH BPD SEEK THE SAME TREATMENT?

Whilst both men and women utilize mental health services about equally, it has been found that men are more likely to seek treatment for substance misuse whereas women are more likely seek psychotherapy and take medication.

IS THE PREVALENCE OF BPD EQUAL BETWEEN MEN AND WOMEN ?

Until recently it was thought that women were about 3 times more likely to suffer from BPD than men. However, the most up-to-date research suggests men and women are EQUALLY likely to suffer from the condition.

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Latest Research Leads to New List Of Main Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) Symptoms: The List

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Recent research has led to an expansion of the description of the main symptoms of BPD. Following the development of the Sheldern Western Assessment Procedure 200 (an assessment tool which includes 200 questions that aid in the diagnosis of BPD) experts, based on up-to-date research, have now developed a much more detailed and comprehensive list of symptoms of BPD than used to be the case. The list is published in a book by Patrick Kelly and Francis Mondimore -called Borderline Personality Disorder – New Reasons For Hope – who are experts in the field of BPD. I reproduce the list of symptoms in full below:

SYMPTOMS OF BPD SUFFERERS:

– FULL OF PAINFUL AND UNCOMFORTABLE EMOTIONS : unhappiness, depression, despondency, anxiety, anger, hostility.

– INABILITY TO REGULATE EMOTIONS : emotions change rapidly and unpredictably; emotions tend to spiral out of control leading to extremes in feelings of anxiety, sadness, rage, excitement; inability to self-soothe when distressed so requires involvement of others ; tends to catastrophize and see problems as unsolvable disasters ; tends to become irrational when emotions stirred up which can lead to a drop in the normal level of functioning ; tends to act impulsively without regard for the consequences

– BECOMES EMOTIONALLY ATTACHED TO OTHERS QUICKLY AND INTENSELY : develops feelings and expectations of others not warranted by history or context of the relationship ; expects to be abandoned by those s/he is emotionally close to ; feels misunderstood, mistreated and victimized ; simultaneously needy and rejecting of others (craves intimacy and caring but tends to reject it when it is offered) ; interpersonal relationships unstable, chaotic and rapidly changing.

– DAMAGED SENSE OF SELF : lacks stable self-image ; attitudes, values, goals and feelings about self may be unstable and changing ; feels inadequate, inferior and like a failure ; feels empty ; feels helpless, powerless and at mercy of outside forces ; feels like an outsider who does not belong ; overly needy and dependent ; needs excessive reassurance and approval.

Quite a list! These symptoms, in my case, ring all too familiar sounding bells ; so much so, in fact, that a set of ear-plugs would not go amiss. Actually, I feel exhausted just by having typed the list out! I think I’ll go and have a lie down.

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Above eBooks now available for immediate download on Amazon. $4.99 each. CLICK HERE.

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

Click here for reuse options!
Copyright 2013 Child Abuse, Trauma and Recovery