Borderline Personality Disorder And Its Links To Childhood Trauma

Recent findings suggest that borderline personality disorder develops through early childhood trauma.

The authors of a study led by Benjamin Otto of Ruhr-University Bochum in Germany and published in Frontiers in Psychology said the following:

“Borderline personality disorder (BPD) is a psychiatric disorder featured by intense fears of abandonment, difficulties in emotion regulation, feelings of emptiness, unstable interpersonal relationships, impulsivity, and heightened risk-taking behaviors, as well as high levels of interpersonal aggression. It seems that females are more frequently affected from BPD, at least in clinical settings, than males, with a ratio of about four to one.”

In order to get closer to the truth about what causes borderline personality disorder, the team got 99 adult women (44 of them were previously diagnosed with BPS) to take part in a number of psychological tests including a life history questionnaire, a personality test, a questionnaire on aggressiveness, a childhood trauma questionnaire, and a chronic stress questionnaire. In addition, the team also recorded the women’s “allostatic load,” body marks appearing due to chronic stress, by measuring indicators of stress such as blood pressure, waist-to-hip ratio, and body mass index.

The results

The researchers found that participants with BPD scored much higher on the childhood trauma questionnaire than those who did not suffer from the condition. These findings support other research according to which around 80% of people diagnosed with borderline personality disorder went through some kind of emotional neglect and physical or sexual mistreatment as children.

The research also goes on to pinpoint the series of events that ultimately lead to the development of borderline personality disorder. According to the experts, childhood trauma creates a “Pace-of-Life-Syndrome,” through which people grow quicker, develop faster metabolism, and are more likely to age visually faster and die early.

In addition, the authors said:

“In line with expectations, BPD patients had significantly higher scores suggestive of a fast Pace-of-Life-Syndrome than controls, they were more aggressive, more burdened with chronic stress and were exposed to more severe childhood adversity.”

The research also found strong personality differences between those who suffer from the disorder and those who do not. For example, the experts discovered that BPD individuals showed higher levels of neuroticism and lower levels, extraversion, conscientiousness and agreeableness. BPD participants were also found to be less open to new experiences.

The team concluded:

“To the best of our knowledge, this is the first study that has directly examined the question of whether the clinical condition labeled borderline personality disorder bears features suggestive of a fast Pace-of-Life-Syndrome and consequences including poorer body maintenance and repair. The findings could therefore be of particular relevance for public health, particularly in terms of prevention and risk reduction for deleterious outcomes that are not only psychologically determined, but also by means of physical health.”

What are your thoughts on these findings? Let us know by joining the conversation in the comments and please share this article if you’ve enjoyed the read.

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