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Author Topic: What is the cause of Borderline Personality Disorder?  (Read 36249 times)
joe bfxlk
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« Reply #30 on: February 11, 2010, 11:30:53 AM »

Here's my hypothesis, and it's about brain structure.  We (and all primates) have a structure in our brains that causes us to internally mimic or replay events performed by those close to us.  This seems key to establishing social bonds.  Severe autistics have absence or significant deficiency of that structure, I've read somewhere.  Now I wonder, do BPD's also have a problem with that structure?  

The three disorders each probably have other brain defects that result in their unique manifestations (such as perhaps in the emotion-laden amygdala), but they all might have this common thread.

I guess it could be resolved by MRI'ing samples of the suspect population.  

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Health - even mental health - is a choice.

« Reply #31 on: February 11, 2010, 08:17:53 PM »

fwiw, this is my borderline timeline  grin

my blood family maternal history = alcoholism and ocd (my biomom's a hoarder & semi-agoraphobic)--->

biomom smoked whilst pregnant with me, and possibly drank (tho she denies) --->  

link between prenatal smoking and ADD [= brain damage, especially if paired with FAE/FAS] --->

adopted at 3 weeks old after 2 week stay in hospital [=attachment issues/break in bonding(?)] --->

anxious, caretaker adoptive mother and emotionally distant adoptive father with anger issues --->

emotionally/physically abusive older brother, very little protection from parents --->

traumatic events at puberty lead to depression, loss of innocence --->

difficult personality because of untreated ADD & depression estranges parents further and paradoxically triggers controlling behaviors in them as a reaction (they're teachers) --->  

alcohol abuse in adolescence possibly "switches on" addictive genes or damages brain further --->

promiscuity brought on by unwise substance use causes self-esteem issues and health issues --->

being "abandoned" again at beginning of adulthood when my parents moved overseas and I had to leave my childhood home --->

distructive, unhealthy, unstable romantic relationships --->

stopping of substance abuse after biological uncle's suicide (even with periods of non-sobriety) --->

staying in therapy and learning new skills like CBT (even with periods of not going)--->

faithfully taking my medication for years (even with periods of non-compliance) --->

hitting "rock bottom" after failed relationship one too many, getting properly diagnosed as BPD vs. Bipolar/depression --->

learning new coping mechanisms besides cutting/burning and using them consistently (exercise, proper sleep and nutrition, journaling) --->

mourning childhood losses and traumas (coming to terms, finding peace) --->

reaching out to others with BPD and learning interpersonal skills and some DBT --->

reaching out to those affected by BPD and making "abstract" amends and accepting personal responsibility ( BPDFamily.com!) --->

reaching out to those I hurt with my BPD behavior and making real-life amends --->

forgiveness of my parents' limitations and gratitude at the new relationship we've forged together --->

making good, healthy friends in real life --->

trying dating and setting boundaries (although still with people with some issues, too) --->

starting to forgive myself and learn self-acceptance and self-esteem --->

So, the next step ? ---> maybe getting involved in the world as my true self, not a false facade I constructed around me to protect myself. So, courage to be a real human being.

Wish me luck...

Act as if the future of the universe depended on what you did, while laughing at yourself for thinking that whatever you do makes any difference. ~a wise buddhist
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« Reply #32 on: February 11, 2010, 08:54:03 PM »

Wish me luck...

Good luck oceanheart! Your journey is inspiring to us Non's who think their BPDs or exBPDs will never recover. It takes a lot of courage and fortitude to get there. Doing the right thing xoxox
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we can all evolve into someone beautiful

« Reply #33 on: February 12, 2010, 10:36:05 PM »

In a previous study, Trull and research colleagues examined data from 5,496 twins in the Netherlands, Belgium and Australia to assess the extent of genetic influence on the manifestation of BPD features. The research team found that 42 percent of variation in BPD features was attributable to genetic influences and 58 percent was attributable to environmental influences, and this was consistent across the three countries. In addition, Trull and colleagues found that there was no significant difference in heritability rates between men and women, and that young adults displayed more BPD features then older adults.

the information i have read suggests that BPD are born with a predisposition to the disorder.  it can/may be set off by a traumatic experience and/or the onset of puberty.

in my BPD13's case she was a very happy child and we were a close family.  she was never abused, neglected, controlled or abandoned.  her problems started when she was 10 and had a very bad school year with a wacky teacher.  my mistake was not taking her out of the private school soon enough.  this was also the year when puberty began to set in.  she was dx with odd during this year as i took her to counseling to help her work through issues.

with the full onset of puberty at nearly 12 she was dx with BPD.

she had 2 head injuries as a toddler.  both resulted in trips to the er where no x rays were done.  they just sent us home after a 2-3 hour wait.  i will never know if this is where it all started or not.  

will be happy to answer any questions that you have if i am able.

i would advise you to remember that this board is for parents of BPD children and we are very sensitive about our children.  we know we are not perfect, as no one is, and we also know that we aren't guilty of causing our children to have BPD.  you are certainly welcome to post anywhere that you like, please understand that this particular board is a little different than the others.

good luck on your quest for understanding.


 BPDd-13 Residential Treatment - keep believing in miracles
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« Reply #34 on: February 13, 2010, 07:14:37 AM »

the information i have read suggests that BPD are born with a predisposition to the disorder.  it can/may be set off by a traumatic experience and/or the onset of puberty.

I, too, am inclined to believe the above.  I believe our granddaughter is beginning to show the traits of BPD.  I believe she was born with this mental health "defect" (inherited from her maternal side) and her disorder was "set off" by a trumatic event.  In our case, the "trauma" was school.  Our granddaughter was selectively mute in school for several years - her emotional and cognitive development was so deep and advanced UNTIL she began school; then it was as if everything stopped.  At this point she appeared to have no opinions, empathy or even conscience.  I believe trauma is involved but "trauma" does not necessarily mean "abuse".  In our granddaughter's instance, I believe the "trauma" was the extreme stress of school caused by her severe anxiety (which was being treated professionally at the time).  Today, she is a teenager but thinks and acts much, much younger.  By the way, her BPD "traits" have increased and intensified since puberty.  Such a tragedy!  Anyway - just another opinion ...
Randi Kreger
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« Reply #35 on: February 13, 2010, 08:52:20 AM »

The prevailing thought is that there is not a “cause” of BPD. Instead, there are a number of risk factors that create the likelihood that the disorder will develop. A risk factor is just what it sounds like: something that, when present, increases the risk that something else will happen. Risk factors can be both biological and environmental. The more risk factors that a person has for some type of physical or mental illness, the greater the chance he will develop that condition.BPD opinions tend to reflect the occupation of the expert.. Sexual abuse counselors think sexual abuse causes it because that's their patient load. Psychiatrists focus on neurons and synapses. Attachment therapists see a poor child-mommy connection. Marsha Linehan sees an invalidating environment. Someone on another thread sees a head injury, and another the effects of artifical sweetener. A parent with one BP child and one undisordered child is sure it must be genetic, too. A severly abused BP who has a web site attracts many other BPs who have been sexually abused. I spend three years investigating this issue. I spoke with the top experts at the National Education Alliance for Borderline Personality Disorder. My main source was Dr. Robert Friedel. Genetics and the BrainOne gene alone is responsible for a rare, incurable disorder called Huntington’s disease. If you have the gene, you’ll come down with Huntington’s eventually. But most inherited medical problems need several genes to converge before the disease develops. For example, more than twenty genes can play a role in diabetes. Typically, someone who inherits four or five of them becomes diabetic. The different ways in which those genes combine can influence how severe a particular person’s diabetes is, how easily it can be treated, and so on.BPD itself isn’t passed from one generation to the next. What are inherited are two to four traits that define this complex disorder. Two parents, neither of whom have BPD, might still have some of the genes that can lead to traits associated with BPD, such as•   aggressiveness•   depression•   excitability•   quickness to anger•   impulsivity•   a susceptibility to addiction•   cognitive (thinking, reasoning) impairmentsIs genetics a form of destiny? Yes and no. Psychologist Pierce Howard sees genetics as a seed, and personality as something that develops from that seed in response to its environment—sun, water, fertilizer, and so on. So genes play a role, but environment and lifestyle choices have a great impact as well.[7] OK, now let's talk about the environment and abuse:
Environmental Risk FactorsThe following environmental factors play a role in the development of BPD.Abuse: Myths and RealitiesIf you’ve researched borderline personality disorder for any length of time, you’ve read that abuse causes BPD. This belief partly comes from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), which states that 75 percent of people with BPD have been abused.The data, however, has a few flaws. First, if abuse causes BPD, than how do you explain the fact that one out of four BPs has not been abused? Second, a correlation is not necessarily a cause. Robert O. Friedel, MD, director of the BPD program at Virginia Commonwealth University, says, “None of the environmental risk factors I’ve discussed [early separation or loss, trauma, ineffective parenting, and adverse social customs] has been show to cause borderline disorder. Many people who are exposed to the same abuse, separations, and bad parenting do not develop borderline disorder, and some borderline patients have not experienced any of these environmental risk factors.its association with BPD].[11]Family and Peer InfluencesMany other environmental circumstances favor the development of BPD.All of our personalities are shaped by the surroundings we grew up in. Some influences are positive, such as a caring older brother, a good school system, and a family with good financial resources.Then there are negative influences: losing a grandfather, getting pneumonia, or living in a dangerous neighborhood—not to mention the “normal dysfunction” we all grow up in. Our culture—its norms and expectations—influence us, too.Some life circumstances may present a higher risk for the development of BPD. Some doctors refer to these as “environmental burdens” that can trigger the condition. They include•   emotional, physical, or sexual abuse•   ineffective parenting—or perceived ineffective parenting—of the borderline individual. This can mean anything from poor parental skills to a parent’s mental illness or substance abuse.•   an unsafe and chaotic home situation•   a poor match between the temperaments of parent and child•   the sudden loss of a parent or a parent’s attention (sometimes perceived by the child as abandonment). This can arise from the death of a parent, a divorce, or even the birth of a new baby.You might be thinking that this describes 99 percent of families. (About 50 percent of marriages end in divorce.) It probably does, so don’t feel guilty if this looks familiar. Also keep in mind that many people who are exposed to the same abuse, separations, and ineffective parenting do not develop BPD.Research is beginning to tell us that relationships with peers are crucial to the development of our personality—interesting, considering that most parents in the Welcome to Oz community say their child had a hard time making friends and lacked social skills. This could be because, compared to others seeking psychological help, people with BPD are especially likely to misinterpret or misremember social interactions.[12] With their deep fear of abandonment, people with BPD may need and expect more from friendships, even at a young age.Staying on the topic of the environment, let's take a look at Marsha Linehan's “Invalidating Environments” as a Factor in BP. This is more from The Essential Family Guide to Borderline Personality Disorder: New Tools and Techniques to Stop Walking on Eggshells .Marsha Linehan, the creator of dialectical behavior therapy (DBT), a method used to treat BPD and other disorders ) developed a “biosocial” model about the causes of BPD. The “bio” refers to biology and the “social” to the environment.She agrees with research that shows that people with BPD are hardwired to react more intensely to stress. Their emotional peaks are more pronounced. Once the stress is over, they take a longer time than most to calm down. Linehan calls this tendency “emotional vulnerability.” BPD, she says, can develop when an emotionally vulnerable child is raised in an “invalidating environment.” An invalidating environment is one in which caregivers•   tell children that their feelings and experiences are wrong or untrue•   find fault with children who fail to perform to the expected standard and caregivers make comments such as “you weren’t motivated enough”Children raised in this environment learn not to trust their own gut reactions and look to others to tell them how to feel and to solve their problems for them.But wait--there's more! Lots and lots of parents with BP kids are not bad parents.  There may be a Poor Parent/Child Fit.Perry Hoffman, president of the National Education Alliance for Borderline Personality Disorder, says that one risk factor for BPD is a poor match between a biologically vulnerable child and her caregivers who, for whatever reason, find it overwhelming to meet the child’s needs.For example, perhaps the mother develops post-partum depression or the family’s going through a crisis. Another example is a single mother who, for economic reasons, takes two jobs that limit the time she can spend with her child.Now let's go back in history and tell you the story of a man who changed the way we think about the development of personality for all time. Once again, this is from The Essential Family Guide to Borderline Personality Disorder: New Tools and Techniques to Stop Walking on Eggshells--a book I spent three years writing. Warning: this is a bit graphic. Think "CSI" here and shattered brain (not things like neurotransmitters, but the wrinkled grey stuff). Ignore the numbers, which are my footnotes.
The Physical BrainWe’ve known for more than a century that our wrinkled gray cells have a large role in shaping personality. This was demonstrated in the mid-1800s when an unfortunate railway worker named Phineas Gage was the victim of a freak accident that’s still discussed in science books today. (Warning: the next paragraph is graphic.)Gage was packing a load of explosives into the ground when the charge accidentally went off. The iron tamping rod he was using (4’ long and 1¼” in diameter) was propelled though his left cheek and brain and exited through the top of his skull. Incredibly, he walked away from the accident and lived another thirteen years.But the accident radically altered his personality. Gage’s physician, John Harlow, wrote:Before his injury, Gage possessed a well-balanced mind and was looked upon by those who knew him as a smart businessman, energetic and persistent. After the accident, Gage was fitful, irreverent, indulging in the grossest profanity (which was not previously his custom), exhibiting little deference for his fellows, and at times impatient, obstinate, capricious, and vacillating. . . . His mind was so decidedly changed that his friends said he was “no longer Gage.Yet MORE about the brain: this time the AMYGDALA (a physical structure inside the brain) and NEUROTRANSMITTER (problems which can be passed down genetically). This is from a NIMH website:AMYGDALANIMH-funded neuroscience research is revealing brain mechanisms underlying the impulsivity, mood instability, aggression, anger, and negative emotion seen in BPD. Studies suggest that people predisposed to impulsive aggression have impaired regulation of the neural circuits that modulate emotion.10 The amygdala, a small almond-shaped structure deep inside the brain, is an important component of the circuit that regulates negative emotion.In response to signals from other brain centers indicating a perceived threat, it marshals fear and arousal. This might be more pronounced under the influence of drugs like alcohol, or stress. Areas in the front of the brain (pre-frontal area) act to dampen the activity of this circuit. Recent brain imaging studies show that individual differences in the ability to activate regions of the prefrontal cerebral cortex thought to be involved in inhibitory activity predict the ability to suppress negative emotion.11NeurotranmittersSerotonin, norepinephrine and acetylcholine are among the chemical messengers in these circuits that play a role in the regulation of emotions, including sadness, anger, anxiety, and irritability. Drugs that enhance brain serotonin function may improve emotional symptoms in BPD. Likewise, mood-stabilizing drugs that are known to enhance the activity of GABA, the brain's major inhibitory neurotransmitter, may help people who experience BPD-like mood swings. Such brain-based vulnerabilities can be managed with help from behavioral interventions and medications, much like people manage susceptibility to diabetes or high blood pressure.
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« Reply #36 on: February 19, 2010, 07:07:28 AM »

Check this out with respect to developing a root cause theory. In the news two days ago,was a short mention about help for autism using oxytocin. The talk about problems with empathy, trust and social interactions triggered my interest. I did a brief search. This is fascinating in how it relates to BPD traits and abandonment.

'Cuddle chemical' could treat mental illness

Maia Szalavitz

IT has been called the love hormone, the cuddle chemical and liquid trust. It peaks with orgasm, makes a loving touch magically melt away stress and increases generosity when given as a drug. Oxytocin is the essence of affection itself, the brain chemical that warmly bonds parent to child, lover to lover, friend to friend, and it could soon be unleashing its loved-up powers far and wide.

Oxytocin has long been used to induce labour and assist the let-down of milk in breastfeeding. Now there is growing interest in its potential as a therapy for mental illnesses characterised by "people problems" - autism, personality disorders, depression, social phobia, psychosis and even impotence. Some tout it as an elixir that makes you more likeable, trustworthy and attractive. Decoding its mysteries could even lead to the development of a powerful new recreational drug that makes ecstasy look like a mild dose of cheerfulness.

Oxytocin was discovered in 1909, when British pharmacologist Henry Dale found that a substance extracted from the human brain could cause contractions in pregnant cats. He named it using the Greek for "quick birth", and for decades it was known only for its role as a pregnancy hormone, promoting contractions and aiding breastfeeding.

In the 1970s it started to become clear that oxytocin was more than just a hormone...

Read more:  www.oxytocin.org/cuddle-hormone/review.html


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There is no greater joy in life than to be able to help another human being.
Randi Kreger
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« Reply #37 on: February 21, 2010, 06:55:23 PM »

Low Emotional Intelligence Emotional intelligence (EI) is a measure of qualities such as self-awareness; personal motivation; empathy; and the ability to love and be loved by friends, partners, and family members. The concept of emotional intelligence helps explain why people with BPD can have multiple doctorates and be Mensa members in good standing, yet be unable to sense what other people are feeling. EI theories weren’t developed with BPD in mind. Nonetheless, it sure looks as if the social scientists who theorized about EI and those who formulated the concept of BPD must at least have been connected by two tin cans and some string. The best seller Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ revolutionized the way we think about why some people live happy, successful lives and some don’t. In the book, the author, Daniel Goleman, explains that EI falls into five domains: 1.   Knowing one’s emotions2.   Managing emotions3.   Motivating oneself4.   Recognizing emotions in others5.   Handling relationships[3]BPD seems to diminish a person’s skills in all five domains.[/i]You also mentioned the child-like developmental level, another thing I touch on in the new book and also SWOE.Primitive defense mechanisms include splitting, dissociation, denial, and acting out. As we grow older and become more sophisticated about social situations, most of us move from these “primitive” defense mechanisms to more mature and complex ones, like rationalization. People with BPD, however, keep using primitive defense mechanisms even in adulthood. That’s why interacting with a BP can be reminiscent of dealing with a child.
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« Reply #38 on: March 08, 2010, 08:36:40 AM »

I was wondering about the 6x more likely to develop BPD if the child had a BPD parent.  Knowing that the thinking is that it is 50% genetic and 50% environmental, is that 6x for a child who is genetically predisposed to BPD to develop BPD vs. another child who is predisposed (i.e. not including children not genetically predisposed)?

This article from Columbia University explains environmental transmission pretty well. https://bpdfamily.com/bpdresources/nk_a108.htm

Children of mothers with BPD show a significantly higher prevalence of ‘disorganized’ attachment than children of mothers without BPD.

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Two years out and getting better all the time!

« Reply #39 on: March 17, 2010, 09:27:39 AM »

The incidence of BPD in families with a BPD parent is higher than in the general population.

This article from Columbia University explains it pretty well. https://bpdfamily.com/bpdresources/nk_a108.htm

Children of mothers with BPD show a significantly higher prevalence of ‘disorganized’ attachment than children of mothers without BPD.

Skip, thanks for the link.

When I started fully understanding BPD and I was able to unprofessionally diagnose my wife with confidence, I realized that all the horrible stories of neglect and abuse by her mother pointed to BPD in her as well. In fact, her mother is the more "classic" case of BPD whereas I believe my W has some mix of disorders.

Then, turning to her sister, the stories of explosive anger outbursts, her rude and inconsiderate mannerisms, her isolating her husband and family, all started making sense.

The odds are very high that MIL, W, and SIL are all borderlines of varying severity, but I have been very careful in the past of posting it because I did not want to appear as somebody who wants to find a BP under every rock! But when the evidence is there...

"If your're going through hell, keep going..." Winston Churchill
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