Babies Of BPD Mothers Have Problems Regulating Stress Even At 2-Months-Old.

 

A study published in the British Journal Of Psychiatry (2003) was conducted to investigate differences between the quality of interaction between and the effects of such differences upon the babies’ behavioural and emotional responses towards their respective mothers.

A) Mothers WITH BPD and their babies

AND

B) Mothers WITHOUT BPD and their babies.

INTRUSIVE AND INSENSITIVE:

The study was observational in nature and the researchers carefully watched and recorded how the mothers interacted with their infants.

These observations revealed that, compared to the mothers WITHOUT BPD, mothers WITH BPD intended to interact with their offspring in ways that were MORE INTRUSIVE and LESS SENSITIVE TO  THE BABY’S NEEDS.

FLUCTUATION BETWEEN THE EXTREMES OF HOSTILE CONTROL PASSIVE ALOOFNESS:

The researchers also noted that mothers with BPD had a marked tendency to fluctuate between the extremes of HOSTILE CONTROL over their offspring and PASSIVE ALOOFNESS.

EXPRESSIONIST FACE EXPERIMENT:

The researchers also asked both mothers with BPD and mothers without BPD to interact with their babies with an expressionless face.

t It was found that babies of mothers WITH BPD found the sight of their mothers with an expressionless face more stress-inducing than did the babies of mothers WITHOUT BPD. For example, the babies of BPD mothers spent more time looking away from their expressionless mothers in a dazed-like state.

WHAT CONCLUSIONS MIGHT BE DRAWN FROM ABOVE?

It is reasonable to infer from the above that dysfunctional interactions between the BPD mother and her baby may adversely affect the baby’s ability to regulate his/her stress responses and that such effects are observable in the infant as early as 2-months-old.

IMPLICATIONS FOR INTERVENTION AND TREATMENT:

As it seems possible that the bay’s of BPD mothers may already be displaying signs of psychological damage at such an early age, the need for early therapeutic intervention is emphasized.

 

EVALUATION OF A GROUP TRAINING PROGRAM TO HELP MOTHERS SUFFERING FROM BORDERLINE PERSONALITY DISORDER IMPROVE THEIR PARENTING SKILLS:

This research was conducted by and involved helping BPD mothers to enhance their parenting skills using a training program; the program was based on principles derived from cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) and dialectical behaviour therapy (DBT).

The duration of the training program was 12 weeks. 15 mothers with BPD took part and the ages of their children ranged from 0 – 6 years old.-years-old.

BEFORE THE TRAINING PROGRAM:

Before the training program started, the 15 BPD mothers were assessed to establish their level of dysfunction by measuring their levels of parental stress and psychological distress.

AFTER THE TRAINING PROGRAM:

After the 12-week training program was completed the trainers assessed the changes in the way the BPD mothers interacted with their infants.

RESULTS:

The 15 BPD mothers’ acceptance of the training course was very [positive and, in particular, they rated the role-playing exercises as helpful.

Overall. the trainers rated the whole program as beneficial and they recorded several positive changes in how they behaved as parents as well as in their attitudes towards parenting.

This demonstrates that therapeutic intervention that helps BPD mothers cope with parenting and teaches them parenting skills can be both welcomed by them and prove beneficial to them in terms of helping them interact with their offspring in ways that are less likely to damage the child’s psychological health.

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

REFERENCES:

Renneberg, B., Rosenbach, C. “There is not much help for mothers like me”: Parenting Skills for Mothers with Borderline Personality Disorder – a newly developed group training program. bord personal disord emot dysregul 3, 16 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1186/s40479-016-0050-4

Stepp SD, Whalen DJ, Pilkonis PA, Hipwell AE, Levine MD. Children of mothers with borderline personality disorder: identifying parenting behaviors as potential targets for intervention. Personal Disord. 2012;3(1):76-91. doi:10.1037/a0023081

 

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

Psychologist, researcher and educationalist.

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