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 criteria from the DSM V for the diagnosis of borderline personality disorder (BPD) are listed below. It is important to note that, in order to be diagnosed with the disorder, the individual must suffer from AT LEAST FIVE of the symptoms listed.

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

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.

eBook :

childhood trauma

Above eBook now available from Amazon for immediate download. Click here for further details.

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

‘Shattered Vase’ Theory : Posttraumatic Growth

shattered vase

Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) was first incorporated into the third edition of the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders – DSM III – (sometimes informally referred to as the psyciatrists’ bible) in 1980.

Although, without appropriate and effective therapy, PTSD can devastate lives (including, of course, variants of PTSD resulting from severe childhood trauma), as the disorder has become increasingly studied by clinicians it has also become more and more apparent that some individuals affected by the disorder not only overcome their suffering, but, also, report positive changes to their lives that have derived from working through the effects of their traumatic experiences ; indeed, many have reported  that they went on to function better, and extract more meaning and fulfillment from life, than they had been able to prior to developing PTSD.

As a result of this discovery (i.e. that some individuals not only recover from PTSD but go on to thrive), the psychologists Tedeschi and Calhoun coined the term POSTTRAUMATIC GROWTH (PTG). Indeed, studies now suggest that up to seventy per cent of those who have suffered from severe trauma may, at least, gain some significant benefit from their experience. Such benefits frequently include the following :

  • a greater appreciation of the importance of supportive relationships
  • an awareness of their courage and mental strength (as demonstrated by having survived extreme adversity)
  • a deeper appreciation of life and a determination to ‘seize the day’

The ‘Shattered Vase’ Metaphor :

shattered vase

The ‘shattered vase‘ metaphor was devised by the psychologist Stephen Joseph. It is based on the idea that after a severely traumatic experience we can feel as if our lives have been ‘shattered’ and that our very being has become fragmented.

However, just as one could rearrange the broken pieces of the shattered vase into a new work of art, such as a mosaic or sculpture, so too, suggests Joseph, may we be able to ‘rebuild’ ourselves.

Like the shattered vase refashioned into a different art piece, our ‘rebuilt’ self will also be different from the original, but may well possess new qualities that did not exist in our former selves, such as those listed above. Indeed, the new, rebuilt self may well be a significant improvement upon the old one and as such would constitute posttraumatic growth.

We can, therefore, draw some solace from the shattered vase metaphor, even if our suffering has been great.

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

Infanticide And Mental Illness


What Is Infanticide?

At the severest end of the spectrum of childhood maltreatment lies the extremely rare and tragic act of infanticide which is defined as the killing of the child in his or her first year of life. The main focus of this article will be to examine parental infanticide (i.e. cases in which the infant is killed by a parent) together with how mental illness is frequently associated with this deeply disturbing phenomenon.

How Common Is Infanticide?

Infanticide is extremely rare. In the U.S., it is estimated that approximately 350 to 700 acts of infanticide are committed each year which is the equivalent of between about one and two cases per day on average.

Five Categories Of Perpetrators Of Infanticide :

According to the researchers Meyer and Oberman, there exist five main categories of women who commit infanticide (the sample they used for their study was made up of females from the U.S.). These five categories are as follows :
1) Those who kill their baby during the twenty-four hours immediately following birth (this is technically known as neonaticide). The researchers also suggested that the females in this category can be further divided into two, more specific, sub-categories :
  • those who have kept their pregnancy a secret and do not want it discovered that they had ever had a baby.
  • those who are severely afflicted by the psychological states of denial, dissociation and depersonalization

2) Women who kill their infant, aided and abetted by a physically abusive partner.

3) Women who kill their infant indirectly through gross neglect.

4) Women who have lost control of ‘disciplining’ their infant to such an extreme degree that this has actually resulted in his/her death (e.g. angry and violent shaking of the infant in a fit of frustration and rage).

5) Deliberate infanticide which may be linked to severe mental illness in the mother such as :

  • postpartum depression
  • postpartum psychosis
  • schizophrenia (especially in cases in which the individual has discontinued their medication against medical advise).

N.B. However, it is worth reiterating the fact infanticide is an extremely rare crime and that in the vast majority of cases those suffering from mental illness pose no danger to others.

Infanticide, Mental Illness And Legal Implications :

Spinelli (2004) points out that in the UK the Infanticide Law provides probation and makes psychiatric treatment mandatory in the case of mentally ill mothers who commit infanticide, whilst, in the United States, similar individuals may face the ultimate punishment – the death penalty.
Furthermore, Spinelli informs us, recent neuroscientific research demonstrates that women afflicted by postpartum psychosis and who commit infanticide require treatment rather than punishment and that such treatment is effective in reducing the probability that the individual will repeat her crime in the future.

Conclusion :

Finally, Spinelli concludes that, in light of the above, psychiatrists play a crucial role in diagnosing postpartum psychosis (and similar psychiatric conditions) and then providing appropriate treatment. Additionally, she suggests that there should be greater sharing of knowledge between the psychiatric community and the legal community about the effects of mental illness on behavior so that, where appropriate, punishment of individuals is replaced by effective treatment.


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

When Is BPD Diagnosed? The Continuum Of Personality Problems.


The Nine Personality Problems Associated With Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) :

There is no clear demarcation between those who have borderline personality disorder (BPD) and those who do not ; this is because the personality problems that contribute to a BPD diagnosis lie on a continuum. I have described the symptoms of BPD in numerous other articles that I have previously published on this site, but, for the sake of convenience, will list them again :

Three Criteria That Contribute To A Diagnosis Of BPD :

According to DSM V (The Diagnostic And Statistical Manual Of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition) an individual must display at least five of these symptoms to be diagnosed as suffering from BPD.

However, as implied above, an individual does not either have these personality problems or doesn’t have them – things are not that clear cut or black and white. So how is it decided whether or not each symptom is serious enough to count towards a diagnosis of BPD?

Essentially, it is a question of three considerations. For each of the above nine key symptoms, it is necessary to ask :

  1. Is the symptom chronic?
  2. Does the symptom cause the sufferer, or other people, significant problems?
  3. Does the symptom adversely affect multiple areas of the sufferer’s life?

peronality continuum

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

Conclusion :

Essentially, the more of the above nine symptoms an individual has (as stated above, it is necessary to have a minimum of five to be diagnosed with BPD), and the more chronic, the more problematic and the more pervasive these symptoms are are, the more likely the individual is to be diagnosed with BPD.

However, diagnosis is not an exact science so there is always the possibility of unreliable diagnoses ; for example, person A may be diagnosed as having BPD by Dr X whereas person B may NOT be diagnosed as having BPD by the same doctor.

However, if both seek a second opinion from Dr Y, the diagnoses may be reversed (i.e person A is diagnosed as NOT having BPD whilst person B is diagnosed as having BPD. Of course, in the case of individuals suffering from particularly extreme (even within the context of the disorder) symptoms, diagnoses are likely to be more consistent and reliable.

eBook :

BPD ebook

Above eBook now available on Amazon for immediate download. Click HERE for further information.

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

‘Avoidant’ Parenting And Its Possible Effects

avoidant attachment

We have seen from other posts that I have published on this site that we develop different kinds of attachment styles as we grow up which depend upon how stable and secure our early life relationship with our primary caretaker (usually the mother) was. In simplified terms, if this early life relationship WAS secure and stable we are likely to develop a SECURE ATTACHMENT STYLE as we get older and pass through adolescence to adulthood; however, if it WAS NOT, we are likely to develop an INSECURE ATTACHMENT STYLE which persists throughout our lives (in the absence of effective therapeutic intervention).

There exist three main types of insecure attachment style which are :

You can read more about insecure attachment and how to overcome it here ; however, in this article I want to concentrate on adult individuals who have developed an ‘avoidant attachment style’ and how this is likely to affect their interaction with their own offspring.

Those with an ‘avoidant attachment style’ tend not to regard emotional closeness within their relationships as being of an special kind of importance. They may well eschew close friendships and intimate relationships, and, in general, prefer not to be emotionally dependent on others.

Furthermore, they tend to be cut off from their emotions and mistrustful of others.

insecure attachment

How Might An ‘Avoidant Attachment Style’ Affect The Individual’s Interactions With Their Child?

Despite the above considerations, some people who have an ‘avoidant attachment style’ do get married and have children. But how do they treat these children?

In general terms, they may keep their children ‘at arm’s length’, emotionally speaking. Indeed, I remember my own relationship with my father during adolescence and beyond – it was rather as if we were two magnets with similar poles : whenever I tried to get emotionally close to him he backed away and distanced himself, seemingly repelled by forces beyond his control.

Parents with an ‘avoidant attachment style’ may utilize various strategies (consciously or unconsciously) to keep a ‘safe emotional distance’ between themselves and their offspring. For example, they may constantly criticize their child over insignificant, trivial and trifling matters.

I recall such a perpetual torrent of such criticisms emanating from my father : I would, for example, be corrected, with tiresome regularity, for my ‘bad table manners’  (eating too fast, talking with mouth fall, failure to hold fork correctly, failure to hold knife correctly, failure to keep elbows off table, making too much noise swallowing…) ad infinitum. These criticisms represented my father’s only verbal interaction with me at the meal table; he was either criticizing me or there was a tense silence between us. Sometimes the stress of these mealtimes would induce in me the symptoms of mild hyperventilation which would, in turn, provoke the all but inevitable criticism from my father that I was ‘making rather a lot of unnecessary noise with my heavy and laboured breathing.’ (delivered in a witheringly condescending, and mildly disgusted, tone). Of course, there are myriad other petty, critical observations the creative, ‘avoidant’ parent can manufacture.

The ‘avoidant’ parent, too, will tend to express little or no affection towards the child, either physically or verbally. And, any such expressions that they do attempt are likely to come across as stilted, artificial and hollow.

Attachment Disorders Get Passed Down The Generations :

Just as ‘avoidant’ parents have developed their maladaptive attachment style as a result of their early life insecure attachments to their own parents, the children of ‘avoidant’ parents are at risk of themselves developing a maladaptive attachment style which, further down the line, will inevitably adversely affect their own children and so on and on…In this way, insecure / maladaptive attachment styles may be passed down through several generations unless this relentless cycle is broken by effective therapeutic intervention.


Overcome Insecurity in Relationships | Self Hypnosis Downloads


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


Online Therapy

online therapy

If we have experienced significant and protracted childhood trauma in the early part of our lives we may, as adults, have many unresolved issues relating to this that can manifest themselves in psychological conditions such as, for example, anxiety, depression, low self-esteem, feelings of worthlessness, intense feelings of shame, self-hatred, addictions, self-harm, dissociation, relationship problems, hypervigilance and emotional dysregulation (and this is not an exhaustive list). Indeed. in severe cases the adverse effect upon our psyche may have been so profound that we have gone on to develop a personality disorder (such as borderline personality disorder, often abbreviated to BPD). All of these conditions, together with explanations as to how they are linked to the experience of childhood trauma, are covered on this website (see MAIN MENU at the top of this page).

And if, indeed, we have been unfortunate enough to have incurred psychological damaged as a result of our dysfunctional childhood, we may well require some form of therapy such as dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) or cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) (see MAIN MENU above and click on THERAPIES AND SELF-HELP to view the numerous articles that I have previously published about these and many other types of therapy). However, in this article I am going to focus specifically upon the topic of online therapy.

We have already seen from other articles that I have previously published on this site that online therapy has numerous advantages, and, for the sake of convenience, I will very briefly list them again here :

– direct (i.e. physical, face-to-face) contact with a therapist is not required which may be particularly beneficial for those suffering from social phobia or agoraphobia in the initial part of their treatment

– cost, inconvenience and time involved in travel is avoided

– instant access is often available to online therapy services (e.g. by SMS text – see below)

– therapy is available from anywhere in the world as long as we have access to an internet connection and a device (laptop, tablet, smartphone etc)

– often, it is less costly and less time consuming to undertake online therapy than it is to undertake face-to-face therapy

What Specific Methods Can Online Therapy Incorporate?

The specific methods used will depend upon the particular online therapy website you choose to use; however, in general the main methods are as follows :

  • SMS texting : SMS texts can be used both for communication between ourselves and our therapist and also as a means for delivering applications which the therapist may consider helpful to us during the course of our therapy.
  • Computerized Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CCBT) – the use of this system has increased since it was endorsed by NICE (National Institute for Clinical Excellence) as an effective means of treatment.
  • Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) and videoconferencing
  • Websites – there are a plethora of websites that our therapist might direct us to, depending on the nature of our particular psychological condition, to help as learn about, and gain insight into, our problems (this is sometimes referred to as psychoeducation
  • Therapeutic Computer Games – such therapeutic games our currently in their infancy but will be of increasing benefit (particularly to adolescents) in the future
  • Therapeutic  Virtual Reality Environments and Avatars are also set to become more available in the future.




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


Eighteen Maladaptive Schemas BPD Sufferers Might Experience

dysfunctional schema

What Are Maladaptive Schemas?

The term ‘schema’ can be defined as basic, fundamental beliefs we have in relation to ourselves, others, and the world in general. They are very deep rooted, persistent, enduring and difficult to change.

Our schemas develop during our childhood and, if our childhood involves significant and chronic trauma, abuse or neglect, resulting in our core emotional needs going unmet, these schemas can become extremely negative, maladaptive and dysfunctional, leading to myriad severe problems in adult life.

Research conducted by Young et al., (2003) provides empirical evidence for the existence of eighteen maladaptive schemas that may be displayed by individuals who, as a result of their disturbed and emotionally turbulent childhoods, have gone on to develop borderline personality disorder (BPD) or other personality disorders.


Schema Domains :

Young and his colleagues also proposed that these eighteen maladaptive schemas fit into five categories which they called SCHEMA DOMAINS. These five schema domains reflect the basic emotional needs of the individual which went unmet during his/her childhood ; I list each of the five below :


maladaptive schemas

The Eighteen Schemas Grouped Within Their Corresponding Schema Domains :

  • DISCONNECTION AND REJECTION (First schema domain) :

Abandonment : The belief that significant others cannot be depended upon to provide support and will, sooner or later, abandon one.

Shame : The belief that one is a bad person, inadequate, deeply flawed in character and inferior to others.

Alienation : The belief one does not fit into society and that one is doomed to be a permanent outcast and social pariah

Emotional deprivation : The belief that one will never receive the emotional support that one requires.

Mistrust : The belief that others will always manipulate, use, take advantage of, mistreat and betray one

  • IMPAIRED AUTONOMY AND PERFORMANCE (Second schema domain) :

Dependence : The belief that one is incompetent and incapable of functioning adequately in life without substantial help and support from others

Vulnerability : The excessive and abiding fear that some disaster or catastrophe is imminent and that one is utterly powerless to prevent it

Undeveloped sense of self : The belief one must be deeply emotionally close (sometimes referred to as ‘enmeshment’) to others at the expense of one’s own sense of an independent identity.

Failure : The belief that one is an utterly inept and ineffectual person who will never be able to achieve any significant goals

  • IMPAIRED LIMITS (Third schema domain) :

Self-control : The belief that one cannot control one’s impulses or tolerate frustration.

Grandiosity and sense of entitlement : The belief that others are inferior to oneself and that one’s own behavior is exempt from being dictated to by societal norms, rules and conventions.

  • OTHER-DIRECTEDNESS (Fourth schema domain) :

Approval Seeking : The belief that one always needs to be approved of, and accepted by, others, at the expense of developing one’s own sense of an independent identity.

Self-sacrifice : The belief that one must meet the needs of others at the expense of meeting one’s own needs.

Subjugation : The belief one must subjugate (suppress) one’s own needs, desires and feelings to avoid the disapproval of others.

  • OVERVIGILANCE AND INHIBITION (Fifth schema domain) :

Extreme self-criticism : The belief that one must achieve exceptionally high (and unrealistic) standards in everything one undertakes (perfectionism) fueled by a fear of criticism or of not being accepted.

Punitiveness : The belief that others should be severely punished for their mistakes.

Emotional inhibition :  The belief one needs to inhibit spontaneous action to an excessive degree in order to avoid negative repercussions such as bringing shame upon oneself, being disapproved of by others or losing control over of one’s impulses.

Negativity : Excessive pessimism involving obsessively focusing on the negative aspects of life whilst ignoring, or greatly minimizing, its positive aspects.


SCHEMA THERAPY aims to help the individual suffering from maladaptive schemas such as those described above by :

  • identifying the individual’s maladaptive schemas (caused by his/her unmet emotional needs)
  • to change these maladaptive schemas into more helpful ones
  • to change the individual’s maladaptive life patterns into more helpful ones
  • to improve the individual’s coping styles / coping strategies / life skills

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

Dismissive Parents : Effects Of Being Largely Ignored As A Child

dismissive parents

My Experience :

As I have written elsewhere, after my mother threw me out of her house when I was thirteen, my father and his new wife reluctantly permitted me to live with them ; they did not particularly endeavour to conceal this reluctance even from the very first day of my arrival. : ‘When she [my father’s new wife] married me, she didn’t realize you’d be part of the deal’, my father coldly informed me. In other words, my moving in was most unwelcome and I should count myself inordinately fortunate that they were, under sufferance, prepared to tolerate my (implicitly, from their perspective, in some way malignant) presence. I remember my face burning red with shame when my father imparted this invidious piece of information.

Their method of toleration was, essentially, to ignore me for the following several years, the detrimental effect of which was intensified by the sharply contrasting behavior my step-mother elaborately and ostentatiously displayed towards her own (biological) son (i.e. intensely warm, loving, doting and affectionate, almost to the point of idolatry – the diametric opposite, in fact, of her behavior towards me).

dismissive parents

What Are ‘Dismissive’ Parents?

Dismissive parents are prone to discounting their child’s views, beliefs, opinions, thoughts, needs and feelings as of little or no importance or interest ; indeed, some dismissive parents may respond with contempt, disdain or derision in relation to their child’s expression of such views, beliefs, opinions, thoughts, needs and feelings.

Possible Effects Of Dismissive Parents On Their Children :

As a result, children of such parents tend to feel ignored, unseen and invisible, almost as if they were not physically present at all, but, rather, mere apparitions, banished by some as yet undiscovered law of physics perpetually to inhabit some abstruse spatial dimension.

Such children are constantly receiving tacit and subliminal (or, sometimes, far less subtle) messages from their parents that they are essentially unimportant and valueless.

The long-term, corrosive, ‘drip-drip‘ effect on the child is insidious and the cumulative repercussions upon the child’s emotional development can be quite devastating in terms of their damaging effects on his/her self-esteem, self-belief and confidence (especially social confidence).

‘Acting Out’ In Response To Being Constantly Treated Dismissively :

Children may also externalize their frustrations by acting out‘ ; such ‘acting out’ may well entail behavior that is likely to provoke a negative response from the parent – this can occur because the child is driven to behave in such ways by unconscious forces predicated on the principle that negative attention is preferable to no attention whatsoever ; after all, at least negative attention is cofirmation of the child’s existence.

Driven To ‘Over-Achieve’ :

Another possible response to  being made to feel of little or no value by one’s parents is desperately to try to (over)compensate by achieving great ‘success’ (in terms of money, status, power etc). The problem with this, however, is that such a person’s self-esteem is overly reliant upon external validation (which, of course, is never quite enough) so that, when such external validation ceases to be forthcoming, the individual has no internal resources upon which to fall back.

Other Possible Effects :

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

BPD Sufferers Need To Be ‘Held’ According To Theory


Buie And Adler :

Buie and Adler propose that the pathology displayed by sufferers of borderline personality disorder (BPD) such as instability, uncontrolled rage and anger, can be attributed, primarily, to early dysfunction in the relationship between the individual as a young child and his/her mother.

More specifically, Buie and Adler hypothesize that, as a young child, the BPD sufferer was insufficiently ‘held’ by the mother, particularly during the rapproachment phase of interactions.

What Is Meant, In Psychotherapy, By ‘Holding’?

In psychotherapeutic terms, the word ‘holding’ does not necessarily entail literal, physical holding (although, ideally, of course, a mother would physically hold her young child when s/he was distressed and in need of comfort), but can also involve its emotional equivalent (verbally comforting and soothing the child, for example).

However, because of the mother’s failure to sufficiently ‘hold’ (physically, emotionally or both) the BPD sufferer when s/he was a young child in distress, s/he never had the opportunity to internalize adequate maternal ‘holding’ behavior so that now, as an adult, s/he lacks the ability to self-soothe in response to the further distress that s/he will inevitably experience as an adult.


Profound Feelings Of Aloneness :

Buie and Adler further propose that the BPD sufferer’s inability to ‘self-sooth’ at times of high stress leads to a pervasive and profound sense of aloneness ; indeed, Buie and Adler consider this deep sense of loneliness to be a core feature of the BPD sufferer’s psychological experience and describe it in the following manner :

‘an experience of isolation and emptiness occasionally turning into panic and desperation.’

Projection :

Also, according to Buie and Adler, BPD sufferers use the psychological defense mechanism of projection in relation to their profound feelings of inner isolation which means, in short, that they project these feelings onto the external environment, and, as a result of this, perceive the outside world, and life in general, to be empty, meaningless and devoid of purpose.

Longing To Be Held By Idealized Others :

Furthermore, Buie and Adler propose that this inability to self-soothe and self-nurture (due to the original failure to internalize maternal holding behavior, itself a result of the mother’s dysfunctional interaction with the BPD sufferer when s/he was a young child) leads to intense, desperate longing and desire to be ‘held’ by idealized others.

Separation Anxiety :

Additionally, according to Buie and Adler, such longings perpetually leave the BPD sufferer vulnerable to feelings of extreme separation anxiety.

Rage :

Because of the BPD sufferer’s proneness to idealize others (see above), Buie and Adler point out that this can lead to him/her (i.e. the BPD sufferer) to develop extremely exacting expectations of such idealized others that it is not possible for them (i.e. the idealized others) to live up to.

This inevitable failure of the idealized others to live up to the BPD sufferer’s stratospheric expectations can then induce feelings of extreme rage and anger in him/her (i.e. the BPD sufferer) directed at the ‘failed’, idealized other.

Implications For Therapy :

In line with their theory, Buie and Adler put forward the view that it is the role of the therapist to provide the holding and soothing functions that the BPD sufferer is not capable of providing for him/herself. The ultimate goal of this is that the BPD sufferer is eventually able to internalize these functions (holding and self-soothing) so that s/he learns to provide them for him/herself in a way that s/he was unable to as a child due to the defective nature of the mothering s/he received.

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


Childhood Trauma And Revictimization

childhood trauma and revictimization

What Is Meant By Revictimization? :

Revictimization can be defined as harm done to an individual as a result of his/her inability to self-protect. It has also been viewed as an unconscious form of self-harm.

Why Are Survivors Of Traumatic Childhood Abuse At High Risk Of Revictimization?

Survivors of traumatic childhood abuse are at high risk of being revictimized. Indeed, sometimes such individuals seem to actually actively seek out situations within which revictimization is likely to take place (although this is likely to occur on an unconscious level). Why should this be?

Several theories have been advanced in an attempt to elucidate this, on the face of it, rather perplexing phenomenon.

Sigmund Freud (1856-1939) proposed that revictimization could be explained by his theory of REPETITION COMPULSION whereby individuals are unconsciously driven to ‘re-enact’ past traumatic experiences in an attempt to ‘gain mastery’ over them – to read more about this you may wish to read my previously published article : SELF-DEFEATING PERSONALITY? ITS LINK TO CHILDHOOD TRAUMA.

Briere (1992) suggests two possible explanations. First, survivors of traumatic abuse have grown up ‘getting used to’ living in the context of problematic relationships so that, when they experience further dysfunctional relationships with others in later life, even if these again result in them being on the receiving end of further abuse, they are liable to accept it as ‘just the way things are’ ; indeed, they may assume that such relationships are an inevitable part of life and can’t be escaped (see my previously published article on LEARNED HELPLESSNESS, which is relevant here).

Second, those who have suffered childhood abuse frequently experience low levels of self-esteem as a result (see my previously published article : CHILDHOOD TRAUMA : A DESTROYER OF SELF-ESTEEM for more about this) which may lead them to develop a false belief that they are somehow unworthy of being part of a healthy, non-exploitative, mutually loving relationship (see my previously published article : THE PROCESS BY WHICH OUR ADULT RELATIONSHIPS MAY BE RUINED).

It has also been pointed out (e.g. Finkelhor, 1979), and this would seem a matter of common sense, that those who are abused as children are also at greater risk of being revictimized as they are liable to place themselves in dangerous situations when trying to escape their home environment.

Self-Revictimization :

In a desperate attempt to escape emotional pain , those who have experienced significant childhood trauma may attempt to dissociate from their suffering by becoming dependent upon dysfunctional coping techniques such as excessive alcohol intake, gambling or risky, promiscuous sex ; such self-harm may also take on a more direct guide in the form of self-cutting, self-burning etc.



ESCAPE A VICTIM MENTALITY – click here for further details.


David Hosier BSc Hons; MSc; PGDE(FAHE)