Tag Archives: Childhood Trauma And Bpd

Borderline Personality Disorder And Childhood Trauma

Borderline Personality Disorder And Childhood Trauma :

We can say, with a very considerable degree of confidence indeed, that there exists a strong link between borderline personality disorder and childhood trauma; a large body of research has shown that individuals who have suffered childhood trauma and/or neglect are far more likely to develop borderline personality disorder (BPD) as adults than those who were fortunate enough to have experienced a relatively stable childhood.

Before we look at how borderline personality disorder and childhood trauma are linked, it is first useful to briefly describe the main symptoms of this most serious psychological disorder.

WHAT IS BORDERLINE PERSONALITY DISORDER (BPD)?

Borderline personality disorder 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 meet at least 5 of the above borderline personality disorder criteria.

 

Above : Borderline Personality Disorder And Childhood Trauma – frequently rejected in childhood, BPD sufferers live their adult lives in terror of abandonment.

A person’s childhood experiences has an enormous effect on his/her mental health in adult life. How parents treat their children is, therefore, of paramount importance.

Borderline personality disorder is an even more likely outcome, if, as well as suffering trauma through dysfunctional parenting, the individual also has a BIOLOGICAL VULNERABILITY.

In relation to an individual’s childhood, research suggests that the 3 major risk factors are:

– trauma/abuse
– damaging parenting styles
– early separation or loss (e.g due to parental divorce or the death of the parent/s)

Of course, more than one of these can befall the child. Indeed, in my own case, I was unlucky enough to be affected by all three. And, given my mother was highly unstable, it is very likely I also inherited a biological/genetic vulnerability.

 

EXAMPLES OF DAMAGING PARENTING STYLES:

1) Dysfunctional and disorganized – this can occur when there is a high level of marital discord or conflict. It is important, here, to point out that even if parents attempt to hide their disharmony, children are still likely to be adversely affected as they tend to pick up on subtle signs of tension.

Chaotic environments can also impact very badly on children. Examples are:

– constant house moves
– parental alcoholism/illicit drug use
– parental mental illness and instability/verbal aggression

 

2) Emotional invalidation. Examples include:

– a parent telling their child they wish he/she could be more like his/her brother/sister/cousin etc.
– a parent telling the child he is ‘just like his father’ (meant disparagingly). This invalidates the child’s unique identity.
– telling a child s/he shouldn’t be upset/crying over something, therefore invalidating the child’s reaction and implying the child’s having such feelings is inappropriate.
– telling the child he/she is exaggerating about how bad something is. Again, this invalidates the child’s perception of how something is adversely affecting him/her.
– a parent telling a child to stop feeling sorry for him/herself and think about good things instead. Again, this invalidates the child’s sadness and encourages him/her to suppress emotions.

Invalidation of a child’s emotions, and undermining the authenticity of their feelings, can lead the child to start demonstrating his/her emotions in a very extreme way in order to gain the recognition he/she previously failed to elicit.

 

3) Child trauma and child abuse – people with BPD have very frequently been abused. However, not all children who are abused develop borderline personality disorder due to having a biological/genetic RESILIENCE and/or having good emotional support and validation in other areas of their lives (eg at school or through a counselor).

Trauma inflicted by a family member has been shown by research to have a greater adverse impact on the child than abuse by a stranger. Also, as would be expected, the longer the traumatic situation lasts, the more likely it is that the child will develop borderline personality disorder in adult life.

 

4) Separation and loss – here, the trauma is caused, in large part, due to the child’s bonding process development being disrupted. Children who suffer this are much more likely to become anxious and develop ATTACHMENT DISORDERS as adults which can disrupt adult relationships and cause the sufferer to have an intense fear of abandonment in adult life. They may, too, become very ‘clingy’, fearful of relationships, or a distressing mixture of the two.

This site not only focuses upon the link between borderline personality disorder and childhood trauma, but, also, a wide range of related topics including complex posttraumatic stress disorder, neuroplasticity, therapies and self-help. The complete range of topics can be found in the main menu (above).

 

 

Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) Statistics, Facts and Figures :

 

– about three quarters of those who suffer from BPD have a history of self-harm 

– about 10% of those who suffer from BPD eventually commit suicide 

– the majority of those who suffer from BPD improve over time (over 70% go into long-term remission). 

– about 50 -60% of those with BPD have a history of having been sexually abused

– one of the main hallmarks of BPD is severe dissociation 

– a diagnosis of BPD does not define the person nor detract from their positive qualities

– psychotherapy, especially Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (DBT), has been shown by studies to be the most effective treatment 

– if a person suffers from BPD, s/he is likely to have other mental health issues that run along side it (known as co-morbidities). Often, these other conditions include depression, psychotic symptoms and bipolar disorder

– about half of those who suffer from BPD have experienced a history of having been the victim of violence

– about 1% of the population suffers from BPD ; whilst it is just as likely to affect men as women, the condition is under-diagnosed in men who are more likely to become caught up in the justice system or to use substance abuse services instead having their BPD directly addressed.

 

 

Neuroimaging And Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) :

Are the brains of people with borderline personality disorder (BPD) physically different from the brains of those without BPD? Neuroimaging techniques can help to answer this question.

What Is Neuroimaging?

Neuroimaging incorporates various techniques which take images of the brain’s structure and functioning. However, there is controversy surrounding just how accurately such images may be interpreted.

Neuroimaging techniques include :

  • Magnetic resonance imaging, or MRI (this technique uses magnetic fields and radio waves to produce two or three dimensional images of the brain).
  • Positron emission tomography, or PET (this technique also produces two or three dimensional images by measuring emissions from radioactively chemicals that have been injected into the bloodstream)
  • Magnetoencephalography (this technique measures the magnetic fields produced by electrical activity in the brain).

Meta-analysis Of Neuroimaging Studies Relating To Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) :

Researchers at  the University of Freiburg (2006) conducted a meta-analysis (an  overarching analysis of relevant, previously published studies) of all the research to date (i.e. 2006, see above) relating to BPD and neuroimaging.

They found that all of these studies found abnormalities in :

Conclusion :

These abnormalities in these two regions of the brain, given the functions of those regions, are consistent with symptoms found in individuals suffering from BPD. It can therefore be inferred that the limbic system and frontal lobes are involved with the disorder.

However, research (at the time of writing) is not advanced enough to enable actual diagnosis of BPD using neuroimaging techniques.

 

 

Common Misunderstandings About Borderline Personality Disorder : 

 

Due to the fact that borderline personality disorder (BPD) is a highly complex condition, there are, notoriously, many misunderstandings and misconceptions surrounding the true nature of this extremely serious psychiatric illness ; they include the following :

1) The condition is untreatable – unfortunately, until relatively recently, many of those working in the field of mental health regarded BPD as essentially untreatable. It is very sad that this meant a lot of individuals were left to suffer extreme distress which could, with proper treatment, have been alleviated.

Fortunately, there is now much research showing that, in fact, treatment can be very effective for those suffering from BPD (for example, dialectical behaviour therapy (DBT) click here to read my article on this).Other therapies for BPD, include :

  • STEPPS
  • Mentalization-Based Therapy (MBT)
  • Intensive Short-Term Dynamic Therapy
  • Dynamic Deconstructive Therapy (DDT).

Indeed, approximately three-quarters of those who receive proper treatment will improve so significantly that they no longer meet the criteria to be diagnosed with BPD (click here to read my article about how successful treatment can be).

2) Stigmatization – It is true that there is still significant stigma surrounding the diagnosis of BPD, but things are improving.

It  used to be the case that many mental health professionals even refused to work with BPD sufferers because they were regarded as too difficult and challenging. This situation has greatly improved due to the much better understanding that now exists surrounding what compels BPD sufferers to behave the way they do and how this behaviour is very often linked to intense feelings of distress and having suffered a deeply painful childhood.

3) Diagnosis –  In the past, psychiatrists frequently did not even like to diagnose their patients with BPD because they did not wish to stigmatize them. Again, now, with the accruing of much greater understanding and knowledge about both the causes and true nature of the condition, psychiatrists are not so likely to be deterred from diagnosing the illness.

There is, in fact, great value in receiving a correct diagnosis of BPD, as it allows the sufferer to understand the source of his/her difficulties and what may have caused them (click here to read my post about the link between childhood trauma and the subsequent development of BPD,) therefore making it far more likely that these difficulties can be effectively addressed. Learning about one’s illness and its likely causes means that an individual no longer needs to fight it with ‘one hand tied behind their back’

4) The misconception that those who suffer from BPD are deliberately manipulative – it used to be claimed by some that individuals with BPD had a tendency to be deliberately manipulative. In fact, however, when BPD sufferers become intensely angry, for example, or otherwise ‘act out’. it is generally the case that such behaviour is impulsive, spontaneous and completely unplanned.

Indeed, because one of the symptoms of BPD is an impaired understanding of how social interaction operates, they are unlikely to have the necessary skills to plan out the intricacies of how to approach others in a manipulative and self-serving way.

5) The misconception of ‘attention-seeking’ suicide attempts – the fact of the matter is, an absolutely astounding ten percent of individuals with BPD ultimately end their lives by suicide. THIS SUICIDE RATE IS ONE THOUSAND TIMES GREATER THAN IN THE GENERAL POPULATION IN THE UK! That statistic speaks most eloquently for itself, I think. Given this horrendous figure, one is left wondering, and deeply bewildered, as to why those with BPD do not demand MUCH MORE ATTENTION, LEFT AS THEY ARE, SO OFTEN, TO FEND FOR THEMSELVES WITH NO PROPER MEDICAL INTERVENTION.

 

 

Study Shows 73% Recover from Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) :

Until recently, it was frequently suggested that borderline personality disorder (BPD) was very difficult, if not impossible, to treat. During my research for this article, I have been disturbed to discover, also, that in the recent past some clinicians did not regard BPD as an illness at all – instead, they put forward the view that those diagnosed with BPD were not mentally disordered, but, rather, simply ‘bad’ and ‘manipulative’ people!

This reminds me of a time I made a very serious and determined suicide attempt and the psychiatrist I saw afterwards (who knew very little about me) tried to make the case that I had not really intended to kill myself but was seeking attention and sympathy. When I protested and tried to explain the attempt had been made very much in earnest (one might even say, ‘deadly earnest), he responded (and I quote him verbatim) : ‘It sounds like you’re talking bullshit to me!’

Highly professional.

In connection with the cynical and deeply insulting attitude that my psychiatrist displayed, I would also point out that, in my own personal view, some individuals (in my case, certain family members and former friends) like to take the view the BPD sufferer is not really ill as this, in their minds, absolves them of any responsibility to provide help and support.

Despite such pessimism, a study funded by Columbia University found that 73.5% of the participants who took part in their study recovered from BPD within 6 years. Even more encouragingly, it was found in the same study that more than half actually recovered within just 2 years.

Another encouraging finding of the study was that only 6% of those who had recovered relapsed (and, even if they did, this was mainly due to the effects of an extremely stressful event/s).

FURTHER RESULTS FROM THE STUDY :

– 1.4% of the participants committed suicide in the first 2 years of the study

– 1.7% of the participants committed suicide in the next 2 years of the study

– 0.7% of the participants committed suicide in the final 2 years of the study

(This gives a total of 3.8%, or about 1 in 25, who committed suicide during the study).

– 65.9% achieved good psychological functioning by the end of the study (32.4% after 2 years, 48.3% after 4 years, 65.9% by end of study).

SPECIFIC SYMPTOMS THAT IMPROVED IN THE INDIVIDUALS IN THE STUDY :

– Impulsiveness (this symptom improved best of all)

– Mood/affect (although this improved least well)

– Interpersonal functioning

Self-mutilation

– Suicidal behaviors

Psychotic symptoms

The study also showed that the two factors which most helped the individuals to recover were :

1) Ending a destructive relationship

2) Determination to get well.

 

LIST OF ALL OTHER BPD ARTICLES :

 

RETURN HOME TO ABOUT CHILDHOOD TRAUMA RECOVERY : CLICK HERE.

 

Related eBooks :

bpd and neuroimagingbpd and neuroimaging

Above eBooks available for immediate download from Amazon. Click here for further details or to view other available titles.

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

 

 

 

A Closer Look at the Link Between Childhood Experiences and BPD.

childhood trauma and bpd

BPD And Childhood Trauma

One of the things that frequently marks the childhood of individuals who later develop BPD is LOSS, especially when the loss has occurred as a result of death, divorce or serious illness (necessitating long periods in hospital). In one particular research study looking at this, it was found that three-quarters of those suffering from BPD had experienced such losses in childhood.

Abuse also plays a large part in the development of BPD. One study found that 75% of those suffering from BPD had experienced sexual abuse during their childhood compared to 33% of those who suffered from other psychiatric conditions.

However, it is not just obvious trauma in childhood that is linked to the later development of BPD. More subtle forms of problematic parenting also put the child at risk. Examples of this include:

– the parent/s emotionally withdrawing from the child
– inconsistent parenting (eg praise and punishment being distributed in an UNPREDICTABLE manner)
– parent/s discounting, belittling or ignoring the child’s feelings

Another form of problematic parenting which has been linked to the child later developing BPD include:

– the parent behaving too much like a friend rather than a responsible, caring figure
– turning the child into a CONFIDANT
– role reversal : treating the child like a parent

OBJECT RELATIONS THEORY:

Parenting problems are so closely tied to putting the child at risk of later developing BPD because as illustrated, for example, by object relations theory, the way a parent brings up a child has a critical influence on the way the child develops, especially in relation to the following:

– how the child goes on to see him/herself (self-identity, self-concept)
– how the child goes on to view others
– how the child goes on to deal with relationships (functioning in this area often becomes deeply impaired).

The theory suggests, then, that problematic parenting can lead to the child developing identity problems later on together with problems of self-image (affected children will often later develop a view of themselves as ‘bad’, or, even, ‘evil’) with concordant effects upon behavior. Often, also, a feeling of profound HELPLESSNESS will develop.

In relation to how the affected child sees others, certain patterns have been found to emerge. For example, the child may develop into an adult who deeply mistrusts those in authority, viewing them as overwhelmingly vindictive, malicious and punitive. Interestingly, also, however, there can develop a tendency to IDEALIZE people of importance to him/her in the initial stages of knowing them; because, however, this is likely to lead to UNREALISTIC EXPECTATIONS of the one who has been idealized (especially in relation to them – the idealized one, that is – being able to protect and nurture them) when these high expectations are not lived up to the failure gives rise to feelings of having been BETRAYED in the one who had those expectations.

In conclusion, it should be pointed out that a very difficult childhood does not guarantee the later development of BPD, but risk is elevated if the individual also has a genetic disposition to developing emotional problems.

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

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

Childhood Trauma, Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) and Dissociation.

childhood trauma

I have previously published articles on this site articles explaining the connection between childhood trauma and borderline personality disorder (BPD). An important symptom of BPD is DISSOCIATION, which this article will examine in greater detail.

Dissociation is generally considered to be a COPING MECHANISM in response to severe trauma (including, of course, childhood trauma) or stress. The phenomenon of dissociation can involve feeling disconnected from one’s emotions, one’s memories, one’s thoughts or even from reality itself.

Dissociation is, essentially, a way of ‘mentally escaping’ from the stressful situation, or memory of the stressful situation, by changing one’s state of consciousness (this often occurs automatically and without intention). sometimes people describe the experience of dissociation as a feeling of psychological ‘numbness.’ or ‘deadness.’

In situations of terror, one may dissociate, and, paradoxically, feel a detached state of calm. It may feel, too, that the traumatic event is not happening to oneself, but that one is ‘observing the traumatic event from outside of the body’, leading to passivity and emotional detachment.

Dissociative feelings of ‘being outside of oneself’ are described as DEPERSONALIZATION and dissociative feelings of being disconnected from reality are described as DEREALIZATION.

Some experts have described dissociation as working a bit like morphine – dampening down emotional and physical pain. However, the exact biological mechanisms are that underpin the dissociative experience are yet to be fully explained.

images

The four main types of dissociation are:

1) DISSOCIATIVE AMNESIA
2) DISSOCIATIVE IDENTITY DISORDER
3) DISSOCIATIVE FUGUE
4) DEPERSONALIZATION DISORDER

Let’s look at each of these in a little more detail:

1) Dissociative Amnesia: here, large parts of, or all, the traumatic event/s cannot be remembered.

2) Dissociative Identity Disorder: this is also known as MULTIPLE PERSONALITY DISORDER. Here, the person adopts two or more distinct, utterly different personas. The different personas talk in different voices, use different vocabularies etc (they can also actually differ in handedness). The different personas do not have access to ‘each others” memories, studies have shown, so they have distinct ‘personal histories’. It is likely that each persona represents a different strategy for coping with stress.

3) Dissociative Fugue: in this state, individuals can disconnect from their previous personalities, and, then, often, travel far from home to take on, and live under, a completely new persona. They may appear normal to others who have never met them before, even though they are living under a completely new identity, having left a whole life and set of memories behind.

4) Depersonalization Disorder: in this state, individuals can feel detached from their bodies or experiences. A phrase I read in a novel recently may aptly illustrate the sensation: ‘it’s like living in a dream underwater.’

A large number of people who have suffered extreme childhood trauma report experiencing such automatic dissociative states. Furthermore, they may often seek to induce dissociative states, deliberately and artificially, as a way of escaping the constant psychological pain resulting from the initial trauma by, for example, USING ALCOHOL TO EXCESS, USING NARCOTICS, SELF-HARMING or GAMBLING. The kinds of psychological state from which the individual is seeking to escape through dissociation include INSOMNIA, NIGHTMARES, FEELINGS OF RAGE and INTENSE ANXIETY.

LONG-TERM PROBLEMS OF DISSOCIATION:

Dissociation may be helpful (adaptive) in the short-term but problems develop when the state persists long after it has served any beneficial purpose. The psychologist, Lifton, described prolonged states of ‘psychic numbing’ and ‘mental paralysis’ often resulting from a dissociative response to severe trauma. This can make even basic day-to-day functioning extremely problematic and requires professional intervention.

 

 

eBook :

childhood trauma

Childhood Trauma And Its Link To Borderline Personality Disorder.

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

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

Top