Category Archives: Borderline Personality Disorder And Its Link To Childhood Trauma

Articles about how severe and protracted childhood trauma is linked to borderline personality disorder (BPD), symptoms of which include : unstable relationships, fear of abandonment, impulse control problems, unclear self-image, emotional dysregulation, explosive anger and chronic feelings of emptiness.

Borderline Personality Disorder Test

borderline personality disorder test

Controversy Surrounding The Diagnosis Of Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) :

Diagnosing borderline personality disorder (BPD) is often regarded as controversial. There are several reasons for this which you can read about by clicking on the links that I provide at the bottom of this article.

The DSM V Criteria For The Diagnosis Of Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) :

However, currently, borderline personality disorder is most commonly diagnosed by psychiatrists according to the criteria listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (usually referred to as DSM V and sometimes informally and, perhaps, a little disparagingly, described as ‘The Psychiatrists’ Bible).

The NINE criteria from the DSM V for the diagnosis of borderline personality disorder (BPD) are listed below. I have also created a slideshow of the nine criteria which is featured immediately below :

SLIDESHOW : THE NINE CRITERIA USED TO HELP DIAGNOSE BORDERLINE PERSONALITY DISORDER (BPD) :

  • 1) INTENSE AND FLUCTUATING EMOTIONS.

1) Extreme fluctuations in emotions
2) Outbursts of explosive anger
3) Intense fear of abandonment which can lead to frantic efforts to maintain a relationship
4) Impulsive behavior
5) Self-harm (e.g. cutting skin with sharp objects, burning skin with cigarettes)
6) Unstable self-concept / weak sense of own identity
7) Chronic and profound feelings of ’emptiness’ (often leading to excessive eating/ consumption of alcohol/ illicit drug-taking etc ‘to fill the void’)
8) Dissociation (click here to read my article : Symptoms Of Dissociation – Mild And Severe)
9) Highly volatile and intense relationships

NB These symptoms must have been stable characteristics present for at least six months

AND, TO BE DIAGNOSED WITH BPD : the individual must suffer from AT LEAST FIVE of the symptoms listed. (N.B. BPD can’t be self-diagnosed – only a suitably qualified professional can make such a diagnosis).

 

Important Reasons Why Borderline Personality Disorder Diagnosis Is Considered By Many To Be Controversial :

As I pointed out in the introductory paragraph to this article, the diagnosis of borderline personality disorder (BPD) is considered by many to be controversial. In order to learn more about these controversies, you may wish to read my previously published articles relating to this which I list below. Please simply click on the titles of any of the articles you wish to read.

 

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eBook :

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

Borderline Personality Disorder Tests

 

borderline personality disorder tests

Borderline Personality Disorder Tests And Self Diagnosis

Many people who believe that they may have borderline personality disorder (BPD) search out self-diagnosing tests on the internet, or borderline personality disorder tests. Whilst it is very important to exercise extreme caution when it comes to self-diagnosing, a doctor may diagnose you as having BPD if you suffer from 5 or more of the following symptoms and these symptoms are sufficiently severe to adversely affect your everyday life and functioning. The symptoms below are in line with UK government guidelines (NICE – National Institute for Medical and Clinical Excellence, 2009).

1)  difficulty in forming and maintaining relationships

2) emotions which fluctuate between extremes (eg elation and despair) and often feeling empty and angry

3) prone to reckless behaviour, taking risks without considering the consequences

4) unstable and confused sense of own idenity

5) fear of abandonment, rejection and of being alone

6) prone to carrying out, or thinking about, self-harm (cutting self or attempting suicide)

7) sometimes believing things which are not true (doctors call these delusions) or seeing or hearing things which are not there (doctors call these hallucinations).

DISCLAIMER – ‘Self-diagnosis’ and ‘borderline personality disorder tests’  can only give a rough indication as to the probability of having a certain condition. If you suspect you have BPD, or any other psychiatric illness, it is imperative to seek the opinion of a fully qualified professional.

Other conditions which often exist along side BPD :

People with BPD often also have other mental health conditions which include, in particular :

– depression

anxiety

– eating disorders

substance misuse

BPD is a sensitive and controversial diagnosis, so it is important to remember that, if you do not agree with the first diagnosis you are given, it is sensible to seek a second opinion.

borderline personality disorder tests

Above eBook available for immediate download on Amazon. $4.99 CLICK HERE for further details.

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

Borderline Personality Disorder: Raising Our Self-Esteem.

childhood-trauma-fact-sheet

WHAT IS THE EFFECT OF THINKING BADLY ABOUT OURSELVES?

Individuals with low self-esteem constantly criticize themselves. We may even META-CRITICIZE ourselves (criticize ourselves for criticizing ourselves). We oftemn focus on mistakes and over-generalize from them, believing that these mistakes completely define us as a person (thus losing perspective and ignoring the positive things about ourselves; in other words, being biased against ourselves, often because we have been programmed to dislike ourselves during childhood).

This faulty thinking style leads to depression, guilt and low confidence. We may think of ourselves as: -stupid -unlikeable -inferior -weak -incompetent etc,etc…

We need to question our negative beliefs about ourselves and ask ourselves: ARE WE CONFUSING OUR THOUGHTS ABOUT OURSELVES WITH THE ACTUAL FACTS? One of the biggest dangers of self-criticism is that it can PARALYZE and DEMORALIZE us, taking away our confidence to try to develop ourselves in life. We feel doomed to perpetual, unremitting failure.

CONSTANTLY CRITICIZING OURSELVES IS UNFAIR:

We would not follow a friend around all day and focus his attention on his every little mistake by loudly announcing it to the exclusion of everything else, so why do we think it fair to do it to ourselves – undermining ourselves, chipping further away at our own precarious confidence?

CONSTANT SELF-CRITICISM IS COMPLETELY UNREALISTIC:

Often, we criticize ourselves with the benefit of hindsight – overlooking the fact that it was not possible to have this perspective at the time, and that we reacted AS THINGS APPEARED TO US THEN.

When we criticize ourselves in RETROSPECT, we do so with the benefit of information that was not available to us at the time we acted. CONSTANT SELF-CRITICISM PREVENTS US FROM LEARNING:

By constantly criticizing ourselves we take away our confidence to tackle problems in the future that could help develop us as a person; we keep ourselves ‘stuck’. We learn much better by PRAISING OURSELVES FOR WHAT WE DO RIGHT, NOT CRITICIZING OURSELVES FOR WHAT WE DO WRONG.

If we conclude we’re a hopeless failure, condemned to be eternally incompetent and useless, when we get things wrong, we will lose all incentive to perservere and make constructive changes in our lives.

CONSTANT SELF-CRITICISM IS MASOCHISTIC:

By constantly criticizing ourselves, we are kicking ourselves when we are down. We might be criticizing ourselves for such things as lacking confidence or always being miserable. It is important to remember, though, that other people, too, would probably see themselves in the same way if they had had the same experiences as us. It is a NATURAL and COMMON response to stressful events and does not mean that there is anything fundamentally wrong with us.

OVERCOMING OUR CRITICAL THOUGHTS:

-Spotting our self-critical thoughts: self-critical thoughts can become automatic, a routine we have never actively tried to change. We may not even have considered that we can change, assuming they were an essential and intransigent part of our nature.

But changing the way we think about ourselves changes the way we feel and behave, so it is necessary for us to stop being so hard on ourselves and focus much more on our positive qualities an our potential to grow as a person as we would like to.

We need to stop feeling excessive guilt and disappointment in ourselves and realize such thoughts are most probably the result of depressed, faulty self-judgments and do not accurately reflect the person we actually are.

We need to gradually distance ourselves from these erroneous, negative self-descriptions that we have, up until the time we undertake to change, imposed upon ourselves.

Challenging our negative thoughts about ourselves:

When we have negative thoughts about ourselves we can do the following:

-tell ourselves our thoughts about ourselves could be completely mistaken, unrealistic and unfair. Also, they may be caused by an irrational guilt complex and a subsequent unconscious wish to punish ourselves.

-concentrate on all the evidence AGAINST our negative view of ourselves.

-consider other perspectives: are we taking the most negative one possible?

-remind ourselves that our negative thoughts are keeping us stuck in our life situation, making us too depressed, unmotivated and lacking necessary confidence to develop our full potential and to change our lives for the better.

-remind ourselves that we are almost certainly judging ourselves too harshly; much more harshly, say, than we would judge a friend. -remind ourselves that it is irrational to write ourselves off as a person due to some past mistakes and weaknesses. -make more of our strengths and less of our weaknesses.

-stop feeling disproportionately guilty about mistakes made in relation to great stress.

RESOURCES

TEN STEPS TO SOLID SELF-ESTEEM MP3CLICK HERE

CHALLENGING NEGATIVE THOUGHTS MP3CLICK HERE

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

BPD : Effective and Simple Self-Help.

childhood-trauma-fact-sheet

In this article I will suggest some very simple, yet highly effective, things that individuals who suffer from borderline personality disorder (BPD) can carry out to alleviate symptoms of the condition.

It should first be stated that it is extremely important, as far as is possible, for sufferers of BPD to avoid, or minimize, stress. This is because it is well known that stress triggers symptoms of BPD. Stressors include : problems with family members ; problems with partner ; financial pressures ; important events ; and other forms of mental illness such as anxiety and depression.

Also, and I will give this piece of advice a paragraph all to itself because of its importance, one’s living environment should be as stress-free and secure as possible. Of course, this cannot usually be achieved immediately, but, if this is indeed the case, should be borne in mind for the future.

imagesb

None of us can avoid stress completely, of course; and, because people with BPD react much more intensely to stress than others, and, also, take much longer to calm down again once they become stressed, it is useful for sufferers to have a variety of techniques at their disposal to increase their ability to deal with stress. Such techniques include :

 

– meditation (click here for one of my articles on this, entitled ‘The Brain, Neuroscience and Meditation’)

– taking a warm bath, going for a walk or having a massage

– getting the right amount of sleep (on average, this is about eight hours ; however, there are individual differences and some people may require significantly more, especially if unwell). Often, people with BPD suffer sleep problems such as early morning waking, difficulty getting to sleep, shallow and disturbed sleep with frequent waking etc. However, it is worth remembering that getting upset because one can’t sleep only makes getting to sleep more difficult still.

– try to keep to a healthy diet and lifestyle (click here for my article on this)

– avoid excessive drinking (click here for my article entitled ‘The Link Between Childhood Trauma and Alcoholism).

– whenever you cope well with a stressful event, or in a way which improves upon how you normally cope, give yourself a reward

– take up an interest or hobby. One benefit of this is that it can act as a distraction and prevent you from obsessively, negatively ruminating and dwelling upon morbid thoughts. Furthermore, it can provide opportunities to meet others

– take exercise regularly. It is known that exercise elevates a person’s mood. In the UK, doctors recommend about 20 minutes of mild to moderate exercise per day

– avoid illicit drugs

– talk to others about whatever is causing stress to gain an alternative perspective, eg friend, counsellor, doctor etc

– read books about the condition and educate yourself about it. Understanding why one behaves in the way one does is a vital step towards getting well and can alleviate the feelings of irrational guilt that are so frequent in those who suffer from BPD. (Reading and learning about one’s condition for therapeutic reasons is sometimes referred to as bibliotherapy.)

– carry out research online relating to recovery from BPD

 

Why Borderline Personality Disorder Sufferers Should be Optimistic

Mercifully, the days of mental health professionals believing that borderline personality disorder (BPD) is an untreatable condition are over. Empirical studies are rapidly accruing, demonstrating that there ARE now effective therapies (for example, dialectical behaviour therapy, also known as DBT – click here to read my article on this).

Furthermore, it is now acknowledged that BPD is an extremely serious condition. This acknowledgement is important as it increases the likelihood of research into the illness attracting greater funding. Indeed, research into both the causes of BPD and therapies to treat it is really beginning to take off.

Also, in the days when BPD was poorly understood and more highly stigmatized, psychiatrists were reluctant to give their patients with the condition. However, in these rather more enlightened times, those who meet the DSM (diagnostic statistical manual) criteria are much more likely to be given the diagnosis than before. This is vitally important as it allows the patient to know what s/he is up against, seek appropriate treatment, gain an understanding of what may have caused the condition, and generally research it for the purposes of self-help and informed decision-making.

As public awareness of BPD grows, too, there are likely to be an increasing number of support groups for not only sufferers, but for their families, as well. In relation to family education, it is becoming increasingly acknowledged, too, that early professional intervention into highly dysfunctional families may well help lower the incidence of members of such families going on to develop BPD.

imagesM0N3B3KL

There is also reason to be encouraged about what future research into BPD might find. For example :

– building up more empirical evidence for the effectiveness of currently available therapies

– matching patients to the therapy type which is likely to be of most benefit to them (as there are many possible treatments for BPD).

– discovering which factors in particular make some individuals more vulnerable to BPD than others

– discovering more about which factors help protect individuals from developing BPD.

– learning more about the contribution of genes to the condition (there is already evidence suggesting that a person’s genetic make-up does play a part).

Whilst, then, there are already effective treatments for BPD, these will inevitably improve as time goes on, giving those who suffer from the condition every reason to be optimistic.

BPD_eBook

 

Above eBook available on Amazon now for immediate download. CLICK HERE.

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

 

BPD And Rigid Thinking

inflexible thinking

bpd and rigid thinking

One of the main hallmarks of borderline personality disorder (BPD) is the pronounced tendency of those who suffer from it to display marked rigidity in relation to both their thought processes and behaviors. 

This means that, when events occur, the way in which the BPD sufferer interprets them tend to be habitual and fixed and it is very difficult indeed for him/her to adopt a more flexible view or alternative perspective ; instead, once the rigid way of interpreting events formulated in his/her mind, it becomes a kind of idée fixe (the problem is compounded, of course, because, very frequently, such rigid thinking also leads to rigid, inflexible behavior) that s/he, terrier-like, refuses, seemingly at all costs (even if such incurred costs are extraordinarily, perhaps tragically, high), to relinquish (sometimes, it has to be said, provoking great exasperation, pain and frustration in others, particularly those who are not well versed in the disorder).

Rigid thinking patterns are associated with poor mental health, not least because it can give rise to obsessive worry and rumination (intensely and chronically focusing on one’s problems) and a dysfunctional way of interacting with others.

rigid thinking

RIGID THINKING EXAMPLES :

Examples of rigid beliefs include :

  • others should always agree with me and see things from exactly the same perspective as I do
  • others should never behave in ways of which I disapprove
  • if others don’t agree with me it’s because they’re stupid
  • I need to always be right
  • things must go perfectly
  • I must be liked and approved of by everyone at all times
  • others can NEVER be trusted and will always eventually screw you over

cognitive rigidity

Core Beliefs :

Our fundamental core beliefs about ourselves, others and the world in general develop early on in childhood and this period of development is closely related to how flexible / inflexible our ‘thinking style’ becomes. If this period is traumatic, stressful and involves chronically dysfunctional relationships with significant others (most of all, our primary carer) we are at high risk of developing negative core beliefs and a rigid way of thinking that can very seriously harm our adult lives including our intimate relationships, friendships and career. To read my article, previously published on this site, which explains more about core beliefs, click here

Possible Therapies :

Therapies that can help you change your core beliefs and correct a dysfunctional, rigid thinking style that derive, at least in part, from the theories of Albert Ellis (a pioneer and expert in this field of psychology) include rational emotive behavior therapy (REBT)cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)  and dialectical behavior therapy (DBT).

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RESOURCES :

FLEXIBLE ATTITUDE – SELF HYPNOSIS DOWNLOADS

STOP HAVING A CLOSED MIND – SELF HYPNOSIS DOWNLOADS

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

Choosing An Online Psychiatrist – click here.

BPD and the Science Behind Self-Harming Behavior

childhood-trauma-fact-sheet

Those who sought to stigmatize the very serious and distressing psychological condition known as borderline personality disorder, or BPD, used to like (and perhaps still do) to put forward the theory that self-harming behaviour in those suffering from BPD is ‘merely’attention seeking (ridiculous when one considers the stark and brutal fact that one in ten people suffering from BPD end up dying by suicide ; a statistic which is bewilderingly, and, in my view, disgracefully, often conveniently overlooked).

reasons-for-self-harm

 

Clearly, suicide is the ultimate form of self-harm ; however, at times of stress those with BPD often engage in other forms of self-harm which include: cutting the skin, picking at skin to prevent healing, burning the skin with cigarettes/lighters/matches etc, hitting oneself, and even banging one’s head against a wall or jumping from dangerous heights.

Whilst the idea of self-harm is difficult for mentally healthy individuals to understand, science (see theory two, below) is now beginning to shed further light upon why BPD sufferers in distress may do it. I outline two of the theories which have been put forward below :

 

THEORY ONE – SELF-PUNISHMENT THEORY :

Those who have suffered severe childhood trauma, and have subsequently gone on to develop BPD, very often have been conditioned/brain washed to view themselves as a ‘bad’ person (click here to read my article explaining the psychological process which causes this to happen). It is therefore possible that the self-harming behaviour which the majority of those who suffer from BPD sadly carry out may be DRIVEN BY AN INTERNAL, UNCONSCIOUS NEED TO PUNISH THEMSELVES DUE TO DEEP SEATED FEELINGS OF SELF-HATRED AND SHAME.

 

THEORY TWO  – THE RELIEF FROM INTENSE EMOTIONAL PAIN THEORY :

When an individual inflicts physical harm upon him/herself, NEUROPEPTIDES are released in the brain (Stanley et al.) ; these are molecules which help neurons (brain cells) communicate with one another, and, in so doing, they influence our behaviours, thoughts and feelings. One important group of neuropeptides are OPIODS and these are thought to help explain why individuals might self-harm.  But why should this be so?

The answer is that research has found that individuals who suffer from BPD tend to have ABNORMALLY LOW LEVELS OF BASELINE OPIODS. Because opiods act as natural pain-killers (in connection with both physical and emotional pain), and physical harm to the body causes more of them to be released, it is possible individuals in severe emotional pain self-harm to BOOST THEIR LEVELS OF OPIODS AND THUS REDUCE THE INTENSITY OF THE EMOTIONAL PAIN FROM WHICH THEY ARE SUFFERING.

Other neuropeptides released into the body as a result self-harming behaviour ,and which may also help explain why BPD sufferes are driven to inflict self-injury are oxytocin and vasopressin.

 

 

EBOOK :

neuroplasticity ebook

 

Above eBook now available on Amazon for instant download. Other titles also available. CLICK HERE FOR DETAILS.

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

Can Children Be Diagnosed With Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD)?

Borderline personality disorder (BPD) is usually diagnosed in adulthood or late adolescence. But can children suffer from this serious psychiatric condition?

Unfortunately, there exists a paucity of academic research published on this particular topic, but some research and evidence relating to the question does exist, some of which I look at here.

Anecdotal Evidence Reported By Parents Of Adult Children With A BPD Diagnosis :

Whilst anecdotal evidence is not scientific, many scientific theories, hypotheses and research projects are preceded by, and have their foundations in, anecdotal evidence, so it shouldn’t automatically be contemptuously dismissed. So what is the anecdotal evidence that has been collected from parents?

Many parents with (now grown-up) children who have been diagnosed with borderline personality disorder (the adult children, not the parents) have reported that signs of BPD in their offspring started to show in early childhood and included the following :

  • particular proneness to worry
  • particular proneness to bouts of sadness
  • a greater than normal need for attention
  • hypersensitivity, especially in relation to criticism
  • proneness to becoming very easily frustrated
  • a susceptibility to developing physical symptoms in response to stress (called psychosomatic illness) such as headaches and stomach upsets
  • proneness to irritability, anger, rage and temper tantrums
  • easily upset

However, it is important to point out that not all parents of adult children diagnosed with BPD reported that these offspring had such childhood symptoms.

Image result for bpd

Studies Related To The Question Of Whether Children Can Be Diagnosed With Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD).

In 1983, Cohen et al. (Yale University) devised a set of diagnostic criteria for children suffering from what they called borderline syndrome; however, after further research they renamed the condition multiple complex developmental disorder (MCDD). This disorder incorporates three main categories of symptoms which are as follows :

  • poorly controlled (regulated) emotions
  • impaired perception and thinking
  • markedly disturbed relationships

NB The above symptom categories also occur in borderline personality disorder and complex post-traumatic stress disorder. (It should be noted, too, that MCDD has not been included in either DSM V or ISD-10).


MCDD is also associated with anxiety conditions, psychotic thought processes and disruptive behaviour (de Bruin et al, 2007)

Physiological Basis :

Cohen also pointed out that many of these children were found to have physiological brain disturbances and believed that there was a biological basis to MCDD. This adds further to the obvious argument that children affected in such a way are in crucial need of understanding, treatment and therapy – not judgment.

Vital Importance Of Early Detection And Treatment:

Whilst it may well be stigmatizing to be ‘labelled’ with borderline personality disorder (or similar condition), early detection of the disorder, or of symptoms displayed in those at risk of developing such conditions, is vital so that effective therapy may be started. The earlier detection and effective, sensitive, expert treatment begin, the better are likely to be the results of treatment (indeed, if left untreated, such conditions are likely to become more severe, entrenched and complex).

 

Finally, it must once again be reiterated that environmental factors / childhood trauma / childhood abuse are strongly linked to the development of BPD and similar conditions. In other words, a child with a genetic/biological predisposition that puts him/her at risk of developing BPD, or similar condition, may not do so if s/he grows up in a secure, loving stable family, whereas a child similarly genetically/biologically predisposed is at far greater risk of doing so.

 

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Above eBooks now available from Amazon for instant download. Click here.

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

Childhood Trauma Leading to Self-Hatred and Intense Self-Criticism

childhood_trauma_effects

Origins Of Self-Hatred :

Following a childhood in which we had the experience of neglect, abuse, abandonment or a combination of  these, it very frequently follows that we grow up to become intensely self-critical and even consumed by feelings of self-hatred. Indeed, these are both key symptoms of clinical depression and also of complex post-traumatic stress disorder (CPTSD) – both of these conditions, as I have frequently discussed in other articles, are strongly associated with severe childhood trauma.

self crit

When an individual’s childhood is traumatic, there is, for him or her, a constant sense of being in danger; lack of  emotional support, encouragement and affection from the parents leaves the child feeling perpetually anxious and fearful.

One psychologically defensive reaction to this can be for the individual to develop what is termed PERFECTIONISM – on an unconscious level this is an attempt to finally gain the parents’ approval.

self crit2

However, because perfection is generally impossible to achieve, a sense of constant failure develops which can develop into self-hatred. This is because (again, on an unconscious level) the individual believes it is this ‘constant failure’ that is the root cause of the parental rejection (although, of course, this belief is erroneous – the real problem is the inability of the parents to bond in an emotionally healthy way with their son or daughter).

CHILDHOOD ANXIETY AND FEAR LEADING TO HYPERVIGILANCE AND DREAD OF CRITICISM :

As the child growing up in a traumatic environment will perceive that environment (either consciously or unconsciously) to be unsafe -or, to put it more bluntly, dangerous – s/he, as survival technique, will tend to  become HYPERVIGILANT (constantly on the alert for any sense of imminent threat).

This tendency, as the child gets older, will tend to become DEEPLY EMBEDDED INTO THEIR PERSONALITY and they are likely to GENERALIZE THEIR CONSTANT SENSE OF DANGER ONTO THE WORLD IN GENERAL.

In other words, s/he is likely to develop a CORE BELIEF that THE WORLD IS A FUNDAMENTALLY UNSAFE AND THREATENING PLACE. This leads to a psychological process that psychologists have termed ENDANGERMENT (projecting a sense of danger onto situations which are, in reality, essentially safe).

self hatred

All of this means that the individual will have a marked tendency to constantly attempt to analyze how others are reacting to him/her and to then frequently presume that they are evaluating and judging him/her in negative ways (even if there is, in fact, little or no evidence that this is the case). In relation to this, CLICK HERE to read my article entitled  How a Child’s View of Their Own ‘Badness’ is Perpetuated.

Also, it is likely that the individual will develop PERFORMANCE ANXIETY; this entails constant self-criticism and self-castigation for ‘not doing well enough.’ The individual’s perceived parental view of him/her ( ‘ you are not good enough’) becomes INTERNALIZED and transformed into the (false) belief : ‘I am not good enough.’

RESOURCES :

 

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

Childhood Trauma, BPD, Carl Jung and ‘The Peter Pan Syndrome.’

 

What Is Peter Pan Syndrome?

First, it should be stated that the so-called ‘Peter Pan Syndrome’ is not an official psychiatric term and will not be found in the DSM (diagnostic statistical manual). However, many psychologists find it a useful concept and I include reference to it on this site as it shares many elements in common with borderline personality disorder, or BPD , and both conditions are linked to adverse childhood experiences.

 

The Jungian Concept Of ‘Puer Aeternus’

One of the Jungian personality archetypes (basic personality types that the psychologist Carl Jung described in his theories) was the PUER AETERNUS (Latin for ‘eternal boy’) and this idea is closely linked to the concept of the ‘Peter Pan Syndrome.’ However, the term ‘Peter Pan Syndrome’ was first made popular when it was used in the title of a book on psychology by Dr Dan Kiley : ‘The Peter Pan Syndrome – Men Who Never Grow Up.’

Perhaps the best known person in modern popular culture who was frequently described as suffering from a ‘Peter Pan Complex’ was Michael Jackson, the details of whose life are too well known to warrant repeating here.

The main features commonly described as being associated with individuals with the complex are as follows:

– avoidance of adult responsibilities as far as possible

– a preference for living in a fantasy world/in own head, rather than in reality

– possessing an attitude of ‘entitlement ‘(i.e. the belief that ‘the world owes them a living.’)

– tendency to lack any real direction in life

– tendency to put in the minimum of effort in order to get by

– prone to tantrums/tendency to employ negative behaviour to get attention/own way

– impulsive

– hedonistic/will tend to prioritize gaining pleasure and instant gratification over behaving responsibly and achieving long-term goals (a sort of ‘eat, drink and be merry, for tomorrow we die’ attitude)

– tendency to live in the past/romanticize and idealize the past rather than look to the future

– tendency to have employment problems/difficulties in staying in jobs for long due to lack of responsibility/lack of long-term planning/resentment of having to actually work for a living etc

– tendency to seek pleasure irrespective  (up to a point) of moral considerations

– emotionally stunted/trapped in an adolescent mentality

– tendency to develop intense ‘crushes’ and to idealize potential romantic partners (click here to read my article on OBSESSIVE LOVE DISORDER)

– tendency to deal with problems by what has been termed ‘PRIMITIVE DENIAL’, a kind of ‘if I don’t think about it, the problem doesn’t exist’ attitude, and/or to blot out problems with drink and/or drugs (psychologists refer to this as ‘DISSOCIATION’).

– a tendency to perpetually blame others for own problems

– a strong need to ‘belong’

– high sensitivity to rejection

– high level of emotional vulnerability/lacks the necessary skills to protect own feelings – therefore easily hurt

– tends to have fragile self-esteem and is prone to react with rage when feels it is under threat

INDIVIDUALS WITH ‘PETER PAN SYNDROME’ IN LATER LIFE :

In later life, often around middle-age, such individuals may suddenly change when hit by the reality that it is not usually possible to just sail through life and have everything go your way. As a result, these individuals may suddenly feel overcome by a sense of guilt due to having wasted their talents, and, consequently, become DRIVEN TO ACHIEVE AS A FORM OF OVER-COMPENSATION FOR THEIR EARLIER LACK OF APPLICATION – this can , for some, lead to a dramatic kind of social/vocational ‘come-back,’ although, for others, it can, sadly, be too late.

 

RELATED BOOK : 

Kiley, Dr. Dan (1983). The Peter Pan Syndrome : Men Who Never Grow Up. Avon Books. ISBN 978-0380688906

RELATED ARTICLE :

eBook:

Above eBook, Childhood Trauma And Its Link To Borderline Personality Disorder now available on Amazon for immediate download.

(Other titles available)

 

Dr Kiley’s Book :

 

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

Childhood Trauma: The Five Main Personality Disorders.

Because childhood trauma has frequently been linked to the later development of borderline personality disorder (BPD), I have devoted a whole category of this blog to the analysis of that particular condition (see CATEGORIES section). However, as childhood trauma can also contribute to other personality disorders, I have decided it might be of help to outline the symptoms of those I have not yet covered.

The five main personality disorders are:

– PARANOID
– SCHIZOTYPAL
– ANTISOCIAL
– NARCISSITIC
– BORDERLINE

I elaborate on these below; first, however, it is worth pointing out that it is estimated 14% of the population suffer from one of the personality disorders. Let’s look at them now:

1) PARANOID PERSONALITY DISORDER: it is thought that as many as one in twenty people could suffer from this disorder. Individuals who suffer from it find it very hard to trust others and view the world in general with suspicion. Some important features of the condition suffered by individuals include:

– a feeling others relentlessly victimize them
– a feeling of being unacceptable to society
– an expectation others will betray them / being on the look out (perhaps obsessively) for signs of such betrayal
– feelings of intense jealousy (particularly in relation to partner)
– a marked tendency to hold onto resentments against others
– a marked tendency to be excessively critical of others

Often, such individuals will not seek professional help as they will frequently have a deep distrust of therapists and may, too, lack insight into their condition. Whilst environmental factors are at play in the development of this disorder, genes are also believed to have a significant role.

2) SCHIZOTYPAL PERSONALITY DISORDER: about 2% of the population are thought to suffer from this. Those affected suffer social anxiety, lack social skills and avoid close relationships. Also, they frequently have strange ideas and bizarre ways of behaving. Key features of this condition suffered by individuals include:

– bizarre fantasies and superstitions (e.g belief in telepathy)

– ‘ideas of reference’: this is the belief that events relate to the sufferer when, in reality, they do not. For example, a sufferer might believe that a newspaper headline refers to him/her or that a TV news item is about him/her.

‘poverty of speech’: this refers to speech which is vague, confused and difficult to follow or make sense of (over-use of inappropriate and odd metaphors is not unusual).

– paranoia (see above)

– beliefs that parts of their body (e.g an arm) are being controlled by outside or supernatural forces

With this disorder, too, genetics are thought to play a significant role. It is linked to schizophrenia, a more serious condition, but does not necessarily lead to full-blown symptoms of this.

3) ANTISOCIAL PERSONALITY DISORDER: about 2% of the population is thought to suffer from this condition; it is much more common amongst males. It is also believed that up to 80% of the prison population, at any one time, comprises individuals with this condition. Individuals with the disorder lack empathy, feel little or no remorse (ie lack what is commonly referred to as a conscience), care little about the generally accepted rules of society and can frequently be violent. However, not all are violent and many can function, even excel, in society by capitalizing on personality traits such as ruthlessness, manipulativeness, and, not infrequently, a superficial charm, to become, for example, successful politicians or CEOs. Key features of the disorder include:

– frequent lying
– lack of feelings of guilt
– aggression
– irresponsible behaviours
– indifference to the suffering of others/lack of compassion
– irritabilty and hostility
– frequent impulsivity

Individuals with the disorder very frequently crave power and this ‘power lust’ will usually take precedence over forming long-term, meaningful relationships.

4) NARCISSISTIC PERSONALITY DISORDER: some have speculated that this disorder is becoming more common in what is sometimes referred to as the current ‘ME-GENERATION’ or ‘X-FACTOR GENERATION’ (I never watch it. Honestly). At present, however, it is estimated about 1% of the population suffer from it. Individuals who are affected by it tend to be what many might term ‘attention-seekers’. They will also tend to have a grandiose self-image, believing that they are somehow entitled to special treatment. Their enormous self-regard and sense of self-importance can lead to them behaving in a very arrogant and off-hand manner. Key features of the condition include:

– self-absorption/self-obsessiveness
– a sense of great specialness
– a grandiose self-view
– a lack of empathy for others
– frequent feelings of great envy or jealousy
– a predisposition towards the exploitation of others
– intense competitiveness

These individuals may, too, greatly over-estimate their own talents, perhaps expecting to become an enormous success, rich and famous (X -FACTOR comes to mind again here, for some reason). Rather than engaging with others on a ‘normal’ emotional level, they may uniformly see others, essentially, as merely providing them with an audience.

5) BORDERLINE PERSONALITY DISORDER (click here).

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

Deep Feelings Of Shame Resulting From Emotionally Impoverished Relationships With Parents

cause of shame

shame due to dysregulating oyjers

According to DeYoung, author of the excellent book : ‘Understanding and Treating Chronic Shame : A Relational / Neurobiological Approach‘, the experience of shame comes about as a result of dysfunctional relationships with other people (in particular, of course, with our parents when we are growing up) who are of emotional importance to us as opposed to affecting us as isolated, independent individuals. Because of this, DeYoung describes the experience of shame as being RELATIONAL (i.e. linked to the quality of our relationships with others who are important to us).

More specifically, DeYoung proposes that we can develop a deep and pervasive sense of shame in early life when ‘we experience our felt sense of self disintegrating in relation to a dysregulating other.’

What Is Meant By A Dysregulating Other?

According to DeYoung, a ‘dysregulating other’ is :

‘A person who fails to provide an emotional connection, responsiveness and understanding of what another needs in order to be in order to be well and whole.’

And, of course, if this ‘dysregulating other’ is a parent when we are very young and that parent behaves in a chronic and consistently ‘dysregulating’ way towards us, then we are especially likely to grow up into adults with a deep, pervasive and abiding sense of shame.

DeYoung also states that a dysregulating other (who, as already stated, is important to us, especially a parent) is someone we ‘want to trust‘ and, indeed, ‘should be able to trust‘, but, when we turn to that person because we are in emotional distress and need to be comforted and soothed, the way the dysregulating other responds to us / fails to respond to us leaves us feeling WORSE STILL. This is because the dysregulating other is emotionally misattuned to / disconnected from us ; the relationship is emotionally impoverished.

cause of shame

In turn, this, according to  DeYoung, can lead to us developing ‘core feelings of shame‘ as we conclude, ‘consciously or unconsciously, that there is something wrong with our neediness and that we are somehow ‘bad’ because of the painful and troubling nature of our ongoing interactions (or lack thereof) with this dysregulating other.

However, we may not be consciously aware (see above) of the fact that such feelings of shame are directly attributable to our early relationships with our parents / important others and may, therefore, erroneously attribute these profound feelings of  shame to factors that, in truth, are NOT their primary source of origin (such as our physical appearance, sexuality, perceived lack of intelligence /abilities, social status or a vast array of other factors).

What Is Meant By A Sense Of Self Disintegration?

DeYoung states that such emotionally impoverished interactions with parents / important others, when sustained and chronic, make us feel that our sense of self is disintegrating. 

This sense of disintegration can include feeling of our ‘self’ being  ‘shattered,’ ‘incoherent’ ‘blank’, ‘fragmented‘, and, furthermore, can make us vulnerable to feelings of deep humiliation (even in response to small, objectively trivial events), under threat of ‘psychological annihilation’ or induce strong desires in us, metaphorically, to be ‘swallowed up by the ground’ or ‘disappear.’

In order to emphasize just how powerful the effects of shame can be, DeYoung offers the extreme example of the Japanese suicide ritual of hari-kiri which used to be carried out by warriors who had been ‘disgraced.’

RESOURCES :

  • DeYoung’s Book / eBook (Click on book’s title below) :

Understanding and Treating Chronic Shame: A Relational/Neurobiological Approach

 

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

 

 

Dialectical Behavior Therapy for Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD).

childhood-trauma-fact-sheet

DIALECTICAL BEHAVIOR THERAPY (DBT) is an exciting new treatment option for those suffering with BPD. It is a therapy which has elements in common with cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT).

It is an evidence-based treatment (ie it is backed by scientific research).

In the past, BPD was considered to be extremely difficult to treat, but, with the development of therapies such as CBT and DBT, the prognosis is now far more optimistic.

DBT was originally created by the psychologist Marsha Lineham; at first, it was developed with the treatment of females who self-harmed and were suicidal in mind. However, since then, its possible applications have become much broader; it is now used to treat both males and females suffering from a large array of different psychological conditions.

As already stated, DBT has many elements in common with CBT; in addition to this, it also borrows from ZEN and a therapy, which is becoming increasingly popular, called MINDFULNESS.

DBT has been particularly successful in the treatment of BPD (for information about BPD see Category 3 of the main menu : BORDERLINE PERSONALITY DISORDER AND ITS RELATIONSHIP TO CHILDHOOD TRAUMA). It is thought that one of the main CONTRIBUTING FACTORS of BPD is a traumatic childhood in which the child grows up in an INVALIDATING ENVIRONMENT (eg made to feel unloved and worthless). Such a childhood environment is especially likely to result in the child developing BPD in later life if he/she also has a BIOLOGICAL VULNERABILITY (carries certain genes making him/her particularly vulnerable to stress).

When a person is suffering from BPD the condition causes him/her to REACT WITH ABNORMAL INTENSITY TO EMOTIONAL STIMULATION; the individual’s level of emotional arousal goes up extremely fast, peaks at an abnormally high level, and, takes much longer than normal to return to its baseline level.

This condition leads to the affected individual – a victim of his/her uncontrollable, intense emotional reactions – prone to stagger in life from one crisis to the next and to be perceived by others as emotionally unstable. It is thought that, due to the invalidating environment which the sufferer experienced in childhood, the normal ability to develop the coping strategies needed to regulate emotions is blocked, leaving the person defenceless against painful emotional feelings and leading to maladaptive (unhelpful) behaviors.

It is this problem which DBT was is now used to address. The therapy teaches individuals how to cope with, and regulate, their emotions so that they are no longer dominated and controlled by them. This is vital as the inability to control feelings will often wreck crucial areas of life, including friendships, relationships and careers. It is because of these possible effects that DBT also helps individuals develop SOCIAL SKILLS to help reduce the likelihood of them occurring.

DBT has been found to be effective in helping people suffering from a large range of psychiatric conditions; these include;

– self-harming
– depression
– suicidal ideation
– bipolar
– anxiety
– ptsd
– eating disorders
– substance abuse
– low self-esteem
– problems managing anger
– problems managing relationships/friendship

eBook :

borderline personality disorder

 

Above eBook now available on Amazon for immediate download. CLICK HERE

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

Dialectical Behavioral Therapy

DIALECTICAL BEHAVIORAL THERAPY (DBT) has been found to be particularly effective in treating those who, in part due to their childhood experiences, have gone on to develop BORDERLINE PERSONALITY DISORDER (BPD).

Five skills are central to dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT); these are as follows:

1) CORE MINDFULNESS
2) TAKING THE’MIDDLE PATH’
3) DISTRESS TOLERANCE
4) EMOTIONAL REGULATION
5) INTERPERSONAL EFFECTIVENESS

 

1) CORE MINDFULNESS:

DBT describes the mind as having 3 components (these are concepts, not actual distinct physical part of the brain, obviously). The 3 components are:

a) the reasonable mind
b) the emotional mind
c) the wise mind

Let’s examine each of these in turn:

a) the reasonable mind: this can be summed up, according to DBT, as the part of the brain which acts according to reason, logic and rationality

b) the emotional mind: according to DBT, this is the part of the brain which operates on the basis of our feelings (when the ‘heart controls the head’)

c) the wise mind: ideally, according to DBT, we should allow this part of the brain to guide us; it is A BALANCE BETWEEN 1 and 2 above, when the reasonable and emotional brain are operating in effective HARMONY.

If we are able to operate in ‘wise mind mode’, this will mean we can maintain control and prevent ourselves from becoming a victim of our own intense emotions. In order to see the importance of this, we need only consider times in our lives when our behaviour has been dominated by our emotions and the negative effects this may have led to. Indeed, not learning to control emotions can leave our lives in ruins, not least due to the frequent self-destructive effects of our emotional outbursts.

2) TAKING THE MIDDLE PATH:

This is a metaphor for avoiding the trap of constantly seeing issues in terms of BLACK AND WHITE (eg all good/all bad and a marked tendency to perpetually think IN TERMS OF EXTREMES). DBT stresses the importance of teaching ourselves to FOCUS MORE ON THE GREY AREAS and to try to take A BROADER RANGE OF PERSPECTIVES when considering issues, to think more FLEXIBLY and to THINK LESS IN ABSOLUTE TERMS.

Taking the middle path, according to DBT, also involves BOTH VALIDATING OUR OWN THOUGHTS/FEELINGS AND THOSE OF OTHERS. Even if others don’t understand, DBT stresses that we need to comfort ourselves when distressed by reminding ourselves that how we are feeling is real and makes sense under the current circumstances we find ourselves in. We can remind ourselves, too, that no matter what others may think, NOBODY UNDERSTANDS US AS WELL AS WE UNDERSTAND OURSELVES (others can’t understand what it is ‘to be in our heads’; we should not be ashamed of how we feel). By applying this compassion and understanding to ourselves, as part of ‘taking the middle path’ it seems fair that we should extend similar understanding to others – we can accept what they feel, as non-judgmentally as possible, irrespective of whether we approve or not.

 

3) DISTRESS TOLERANCE

Practitioners of DBT try to instil the view in their clients that sometimes it is easier, and psychologically healthier, to stop struggling against reality, and,(they tell us) we need to accept that we, nor anybody else, for that matter, can prevent painful events from occurring in life (sometimes extremely painful ones, if we’re going to be up-front about it), nor can the painful emotions they bring with them. It is hardly a new idea, but practitioners of DBT also remind us that some painful things in life cannot be changed and that the only viable option we really have, therefore, is to accept the fact. This, of course, is difficult and requires considerable inner strength. By accepting the things which cannot be changed, though, it is reasoned, we free up energy which could have been wasted (by, say, being angry and bitter about the existence of these unchangeable facts) to deal with what CAN BE CHANGED.

DBT therapists tell us that there are certain skills we may wish to develop which will INCREASE OUR ABILITY TO TOLERATE DISTRESS; these are:

a) distraction/improving the moment
b) self-soothing
c) considering pros and cons of the situation
d) radical acceptance

Let’s briefly look at each of these in turn:

a) distraction/improving the moment – eg distracting ourselves with activities we enjoy, keeping our minds busy ; reminding ourselves of the good things in life ; reminding ourselves that it is better to think clearly and in a focused way about our problems ‘after the storm has passed’ (rather than try to make decisions when in the middle of an intense crisis which may be over-determined by our emotions) ; remind ourselves that difficult periods will pass

b) self-soothing – eg we can use postive self-talk (see my posts on cognitive behavior therapy for more on this – to access the posts just type ‘CBT’ into this site’s search facility) ; meditation/relaxation activities/breathing exercises ; using our imaginations to recall a soothing and comforting memory or place (if recalling a place it can be helpful to imagine, for a while, actually being there) ; thinking of things in life which are meaningful to us and give us the motivation to get through the difficult period.

c) considering the pros and cons of the situation : eg we may wish to consider how getting through a very difficult period may benefit us – for example, we may learn from it, it may strengthen us, it may make us more compassionate and sensitive towards others, we may be able to pass on the benefit of our experience to help others, it may even open up completely unexpected avenues in life which may not otherwise have been available to us (bad events do sometimes lead to positive outcomes, however indirectly – it is often worth keeping that in mind).

d) radical acceptance : this might involve trying to view what is happening, however undesirable, from as objective and detached a perspective as possible – a bit like watching the events unfold around somebody else in a movie ; another, perhaps surprising, technique suggested by DBT therapists is to try to, literally, half-smile. This sounds strange and even rather silly, but research shows that just as the mind can affect the body (eg thinking about something embarrassing and going red in the face) so too can the body effect the mind – in this case, the idea is that the half-smile ‘fools’ the brain into ‘believing’ things aren’t as bad as all that. It is obvious, however, that in certain situations this technique would be highly inappropriate (I need hardly list examples).

4) EMOTIONAL REGULATION :

The fourth skill that DBT teaches is how to cope with intense and overwhelming emotions – this skill is referred to by practitioners of DBT as emotional regulation.

This skill is made up of three sub-skills : a) increasing one’s understanding of one’s emotions; b) decreasing one’s emotional vulnerability; c) lessening the degree of distress caused by one’s negative emotions.

5) INTERPERSONAL EFFECTIVENESS

The final skill of interpersonal effectiveness helps the person undertaking DBT to communicate with others effectively when interacting with others in a way that helps to improve his/her relationships.

In order to achieve this, s/he is helped to communicate with others in a more controlled manner and to be less prone to speaking impulsively and without forethought due stress or overwhelming emotions (such as anger).

 

Research Suggests That DBT Can Beneficially Alter Brain Functioning :

THE STUDY :

Research conducted by Schnell and Herpertz (2006) involved looking at the effects of DBT (specifically, training in emotional regualation, see number 4, above) on female patients’ brain functioning (this was done by taking magnetic resonance images, or MRIs, a type of brain scan) after they had spent 12 weeks undergoing an inpatient treatment program.

RESULTS OF THE STUDY :

The female, BPD patients who improved following the DBT / emotional regulation skills 12 week inpatient program were found (by analysis of their MRIs) to show:

REDUCED ACTIVITY IN CERTAIN BRAIN REGIONS ASSOCIATED WITH THE GENERATION OF INTENSE EMOTIONS, INCLUDING THE AMYGDALA AND THE HIPPOCAMPUS.

Such a reduction of activity in these brain regions is associated with an increase in the individual’s ability to prevent themselves from overreacting to stressful situations (overreacting to stressful situations, also known as impaired emotional regulation, is one of the hallmark features of BPD).

Conclusion :

The above can be interpreted as further evidence for the effectiveness of DBT for treating patients suffering from borderline personality disorder (BPD).

 

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

 

 

 

Did Kurt Cobain Suffer From Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD)?

In the early nineties, whilst I was a student at Goldsmiths College, University of London, I was a big fan of Nirvana, and, in particular, Kurt Cobain (and I remember where I was when I heard of his not altogether unpredictable suicide by taking a massive heroin overdose, and, just to be on the safe side, shooting himself in the head).

Clearly, this was not a cry for help as to which some suicide attempts (often disparagingly, dismissively, even scathingly and contemptuously) are referred.

I still am a fan if Kurt Cobain, albeit a somewhat diminished and less impassioned one; if Smells Like Teen Spirit comes on the radio, I might even be moved to turn the volume up half a notch (mustn’t annoy the neighbours).

It is over twenty years since I first read the biography on Kurt Cobain, Heavier Than Heaven, but, from it, we gain a rich insight into the roots of Cobain’s grave adult psychological difficulties.

In fact, his early life experiences resemble my own to a degree that I can only describe as eerily uncanny; I summarize these experiences below:

Kurt Cobain was born in 1967, as was I.

When very young, he was described as ‘excitable and sensitive’.

However, his parents divorced when he was nine (mine divorced when I was eight) and he became withdrawn, rebellious, confrontational and defiant.

He also lost his confidence and felt ashamed that he came from a ‘broken home’ (when my own parents divorced whilst I was at prep school, I, too, felt deeply ashamed and lived in terror that my classmates would find out [divorce was far less common at the time]; like all young children, I didn’t want to be seen as different, but to be ‘just like everyone else. I assume Cobain experienced similar painful sentiments).

Cobain’s father remarried, as did mine, but Cobain deeply resented his stepmother who lavished attention upon her own child whilst neglecting him (again, this mirrors my own experience – my stepmother, who was a religious fundamentalist, regarded her own son as a kind of mini-messiah and myself as spawn of the devil (going so far as to shout at me in ‘tongues’ during an argument I had with her when I was thirteen).

Meanwhile, Cobain’s real mother’s new partner was abusive towards her and Cobain witnessed domestic violence. (When I was about ten my mother let a habitual criminal, possibly schizophrenic man move in with us as her sexual partner; whilst he was in and out of Pentonville prison, he was not physically violent though, to the best of my knowledge).

Cobain’s behaviour became increasingly disturbed during his adolescence (as did my own) and eventually his father made him move out to live instead with friends. Yet again, this mirrors my own experience; my own father, too, eventually threw me out.

When he was about sixteen, Cobain moved back in with his mother; however, one day, a couple of years later, he returned home to find she had packed up all of his belongings into boxes and demanded he leave (my own mother had chucked me out of the house when I was even younger – a mere thirteen).

Symptoms Of BPD That Cobain Displayed As An Adult.

First of all, let us remind ourselves of the main symptoms of BPD:

BPD sufferers experience a range of symptoms which are split into 9 categories. These are:

1) Extreme swings in emotions
2) Explosive anger
3) Intense fear of rejection/abandonment sometimes leading to frantic efforts to maintain a relationship
4) Impulsiveness
5) Self-harm
6) Unstable self-concept (not really knowing ‘who one is’)
7) Chronic feelings of ’emptiness’ (often leading to excessive drinking/eating etc ‘to fill the vacuum’)
8) Dissociation ( a feeling of being ‘disconnected from reality’)
9) Intense and highly volatile relationships

For a diagnosis of BPD to be given, the individual needs to suffer from at least 5 of the above.

 

The Strong Association Between Childhood Trauma And The Later Development Of BPD:

It is now established beyond dispute that there exists a strong association between the experience of significant childhood trauma and the development of BPD in adulthood. We can easily infer from this that Kurt Cobain would have been at high risk of developing the disorder; indeed, he displayed many of the symptoms which I elucidate below:

highly volatile relationships: epitomized by his relationship with Courtney Love

self harm: Cobain was a heroin addict and, of course, carried out the ultimate self harming act : suicidd

feelings of intense emptiness : Cobain stopped deriving any pleasure from performing on stage, contrasting himself with Freddy Mercury who relished performing (Cobain was the opposite and said that he refused to ‘pretend to be enjoying himself’).

impulsivity : epitomized by his drinking and drug taking. Also, as an adolescent, he indulged in vandalism

extreme mood swings : he experienced the profound depths of suicidal, existential despair

feelings of dissociation – exacerbated by his drinking and drug taking

unstable sense of self – for example, although he was not gay, he pretended to be when at school (or, at least, let others assume he was) and wished he was in order to ‘piss off homophobes’

These are just some examples. There are also, of course, countless references to his disturbed state of mind in his lyrics.

 

RETURN TO BPD AND CHILDHOOD TRAUMA MAIN ARTICLE – CLICK HERE

 

Heavier Than Heaven : A Biography Of Kurt Cobain (click image below):

 

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

Do BPD Sufferers Have A ‘Split Personality’?

do BPD sufferers have a split personality?

do people with BPD have a split personality?

Do BPD Sufferers Have A ‘Dr Jekyll And Mr Hyde’ Personality?

In terms of symptoms, there exists a clear overlap between the psychiatric conditions of borderline personality disorder (BPD) and dissociative identity disorder (DID). DID used to be referred to multiple-personality disorder.

Borderline Personality Disorder, Dissociative Identity Disorder And ‘Splitting’

‘Splitting’ is a psychological defense mechanism in which one ‘part’ of the personality becomes separated / un-integrated with / isolated from another ‘part’ of the personality. In the case of individuals suffering from BPD, these two parts can, in simple terms, be described as PART ONE and PART TWO, where :

PART ONE represents the part of the person’s personality which is relatively accepting of him/herself and others

whereas :

PART TWO represents the part of the person’s personality which is full of self-hatred, as well as anger and hostility (and, underlying the latter two emotions, fear of being psychologically harmed) in relation to others.

When PART ONE is ‘operational’, it tends to enter a state of denial about the existence of PART TWO.

This may be because when PART ONE is ‘in charge’, the individual develops a state of mind similar to amnesia regarding  the existence PART TWO ; alternatively, the denial may be underpinned by feelings of profound shame. However, more research needs to be conducted in relation to these possibilities.

‘Splitting’ and amnesia (when one part of the personality is unaware of how another part of the personality has manifested itself) are also symptoms of dissociative identity disorder.

do BPD sufferers have a split personality?

Borderline Personality Disorder And ‘Switching’ Between ‘Part One’ And ‘Part Two’

As stated above, ‘PART ONE’ and ‘PART TWO’ have become un-intergrated in the personality of individuals suffering from BPD (the BPD sufferers personality, in this respect, may be described as having ‘disintegrated’). A more formal way to put this would be to describe the BPD sufferer as having an un-integrated ego-state (in contrast to the relatively integrated ego-state that psychologically ‘healthy’ individuals enjoy).

Those with BPD ‘switch’ between ‘PART ONE’ and ‘PART TWO’ and this can occur quite suddenly (but is not usually dramatically instantaneous).

Furthermore, these un-integrated ego-states interfere with each other (because they are not completely separate from one another) and this may cause symptoms such as the following :

 

How ‘Splitting’ Affects The BPD Sufferer’s Relationships With Others :

When ‘PART ONE’ is ‘in charge’, the BPD sufferer desires emotional attachments with others. However, when ‘PART TWO’ is dominant, s/he becomes hostile towards others and withdraws from them – this leads to the classic ‘love-hate’ scenario.

 

Why Does This Unintegrated Ego-State Arise In Those Suffering From BPD?

The two separate parts can develop in a person who has suffered severe and prolonged abuse as a child.

When the abused child becomes an adult, PART TWO (hostility etc) can be kept in abeyance for much of the time to allow daily social functioning. However, PART ONE makes itself apparent when the BPD sufferer is reminded of the abuse s/he suffered as a child (such a reminder is called a ‘trigger’).

This reminder/trigger may be detected by the BPD sufferer consciously or unconsciously and occurs as a defense mechanism against real or perceived psychological threat (especially the treat of betrayal, rejection or abandonment as occurred in the individual’s childhood).

If the individual had not developed this defense mechanism as a child, s/he faced what may reasonably be termed as ‘psychological destruction.’ In other words, the development of the ‘splitting’ defense mechanism makes complete evolutionary sense as it allowed the individual to survive childhood – it is a normal, predictable, adaptive response to childhood loss, fear, distress and betrayal.

 

Conclusion ;

There is an overlap between symptoms of borderline personality disorder and dissociative identity disorder in as far as they both involve ‘splitting’ and ‘dissociating‘. However, in the case of DID, the separation between the different PARTS of personality are MORE DISTINCT AND CLEAR CUT THAN THEY ARE IN THE CASE BPD. Those suffering from DID may have more than two un-integrated / separate PARTS of their personality / ego-state ; however, arguably, this can also be the case in those suffering from BPD (although this is beyond the scope of this article).

In conclusion, though, we can say, with some confidence, that BPD sufferers do have a ‘split personality’, but the division between these two parts is more nebulous than in the case of DID sufferers.

RETURN TO BPD AND CHILDHOOD TRAUMA MAIN ARTICLE

eBook :

BPD ebook

Above eBook now available on Amazon for instant download. Click here for further details.

 

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

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