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Author Topic: CAUSE: Without childhood abuse and trauma?  (Read 7071 times)
RavenK

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« on: December 04, 2008, 01:10:30 PM »

So we keep hearing about BPD being a function of childhood trauma and abuse, having a rotten childhood and bad parents. But what about the people who seem not to have had that?

I almost wanted to post this on the "parents of kids with BPD" board, although I know that wouldn't be appropriate, because I partly wanted to ask, "Is your kid BPD because you gave them a lousy home life, or do some of them just come out that way no matter how good a parent you are?"

I've run into a couple of cases now where everyone involved, including siblings, other people who live with the family, etc. all agree that there is not a parenting or abuse or abandonment problem, and everyone else in the family is a psychologically solid person who is bewildered by the kid who showed BPD stuff from a young age. How often does this happen? And would it suggest a form of BPD that is less environmental and more brain-chemistry?

I'm thinking of at least one situation - BPD girl had solid non-abusive parents and grandparents, born on grandparents' farm where GPs sprayed so much pesticide that they eventually both died of cancer. BPD girl also had host of autoimmune trouble not shared by anyone else in the family. Next two kids were born off the farm, and have neither BPD nor the physical ailments, are solid, and confirm that "she was just always really weird behaving". Yeah, yeah, I know, people cover up and believe what they want to believe, but it rang true to me when I talked to them all. (BPD-girl's children all have the autoimmune stuff, and 1 is also BPD. Other siblings' kids don't have any of that.) Could this be chemically caused? One wonders.

I don't mean to downplay abusive situations - gods, no, I know better than that - but what are the experiences of people with it "just happening" to someone without the family markers?

Thank you,

-RK
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« Reply #1 on: December 04, 2008, 01:16:46 PM »

This goes back to the nature versus nurture argument. It seems possible for some people that have grown up in healthy environments to develop BPD, based on their genetic predisposition to it.
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RavenK

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« Reply #2 on: December 04, 2008, 02:07:57 PM »

It is also possible that the BPD person was abused as a young child by someone outside of the immediate family (teacher, counselor, neighbor, etc) who either didn't have access to the siblings or for some reason (age, gender, whatever) was only focused on this one child. The immediate family might never have known that it happened.

Also, a young child with chronic serious health problems might interpret the pain/illness as traumatic because they don't understand what is going on. They might not understand why the parents that seem to love them (and perhaps do) aren't doing anything to stop the pain, and are taking them for painful or invasive medical treatment. A child can experience trauma in circumstances that an adult who understands the cause and reason for the pain would not see as traumatic.

And if a child is abused and internalizes the idea that they deserve to suffer, and then develops a chronic debilitating or painful illness, they could see that as deserved punishment or proof of the abuser's power over them. The illness can provide ongoing re-traumatization.
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Bitzee
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« Reply #3 on: December 04, 2008, 02:17:28 PM »

They say it is the genetic predisposition plus INVALIDATION... .an invalidating environment is not necessarily an abusive one.  It is the inborn highly sensitive nature of the BPD combined with an invalidating environment.  The parents may be of a very different nature from the child, a poor fit.  Or the parents may be going through difficult times during the child's infancy or early years.

I think stressful events during a child's infancy often do not receive the credit they deserve.  A postpartum depression, any serious illness of the mother or the immediate family, chaotic events, also heavy drinking, drug use, divorce, etc., can interrupt the bonding process and produce a core feeling of abandonment.  And, as RavenK has noted, an illness in the child can also have the same effect.

I wouldn't think BPD is chemically caused, except in that if exposure to chemicals caused the child to be so different that a normally validating environment was incapable of being validating for her.
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boarderchic
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« Reply #4 on: December 04, 2008, 05:01:34 PM »

This is from BPDabout.com.  It basically recapitulates what others have said.  There may be a genetic component but most, although certainly not all, with BPD suffered abuse.

The development of borderline personality disorder (BPD) is complex; there are likely a variety of borderline personality disorder causes. Most experts believe that BPD develops as a result of biological, genetic and environmental factors. The factors that may cause BPD are discussed below. However, it is important to keep in mind that the exact causes of BPD are not known yet. Right now these are theories that have some research support but are by no means conclusive. More research is needed to determine how and why the factors discussed below are related to BPD.

Environmental Borderline Personality Disorder Causes

There is strong evidence to support a link between distressing childhood experiences, particularly involving caregivers, and BPD. The types of experiences that may be associated with BPD include, but are not limited to, physical and sexual abuse, early separation from caregivers, emotional or physical neglect, emotional abuse, and parental insensitivity. Marsha Linehan, the developer of Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) for BPD, believes that BPD is caused by an interaction between biological factors and an "emotionally invalidating" childhood environment (or an environment where the child's emotional needs are not met).

It is important to remember, however, that not everyone who has BPD has had these types of childhood experiences (although a large number have). Further, even if a person does have these types of experiences, it does not mean that they will have BPD.

Genetic and Biological Borderline Personality Disorder Causes

While early studies showed that BPD does tend to run in families, for some time it was not known whether this was because of environmental influences or because of genetics. There is now some evidence that in addition to environment, genetics plays a significant role.

In particular, studies have shown that a variation in a gene which controls the way the brain uses serotonin (a natural chemical in the brain) may be related to BPD. It appears that individuals who have this specific variation of the serotonin gene may be more likely to develop BPD if they also experience difficult childhood events (e.g., separation from supportive caregivers). One study found that monkeys with the serotonin gene variation developed symptoms that looked similar to BPD, but only when they were taken from their mothers and raised in less nurturing environments. Monkeys with the gene variation who were raised by nurturing mothers were much less likely to develop BPD-like symptoms.

In addition, a number of studies have shown that people with BPD have differences in both the structure of their brain and in brain function. BPD has been associated with excessive activity in parts of the brain that control the experience and expression of emotion. For example, people with BPD have more activation of the limbic system, an area in the brain that controls fear, anger, and aggression, than people without BPD. This may be related to the emotional instability symptoms of BPD.

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Bitzee
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« Reply #5 on: December 04, 2008, 09:37:09 PM »

In my own family, I do believe my sister is Borderline (un-dx).  My family was not an abusive one.  My mother was a sensitive person, prone to depression and high-strung, but neither she nor my father had a personality disorder.

My sister was born while my father was overseas in the miltary.  My mother was without support, and had an infant, a toddler, and a 4 year old to care for on her own.  She became clinically depressed, possibly as a result of a post-partum depression that went untreated, and she was unable to continue to care for her children.  At the age of 6 months, my sister was separated from the other two children and sent for an extended stay with my grandmother... .until my mother recovered. 

This scenario produced a Borderline.  Early separation from the caregiver and probably also emotional neglect due to my mother's depression... .  The rest of my sister's childhood was normal.

Genetically, my sister probably inherited my mother's sensitive nature and, in the first few months of her life, she was not properly nurtured.  Abuse was not a factor, but my mother was unable to cope with the difficult circumstances life had presented to her.

My sister went on to have a diagnosed Borderline daughter.  Interestingly, she repeated the scenario of separation from the caregiver when her own daughter was also 6 months of age.  She was going through a divorce and had to give her daughter to my other sister to care for. 

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RavenK

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« Reply #6 on: December 05, 2008, 01:10:25 AM »

Thank you, Bitzee, that was very helpful to hear about.

-RK
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Bitzee
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« Reply #7 on: December 05, 2008, 05:36:41 AM »

I'm glad it helped.  I thought it was a good concrete example of some of the points borderchic made.

I might also add, just to clarify, that the events I described occurred during wartime and my father had been drafted.  So, my parents' separation from each other was particularly stressful.  Also, it was back in the day before post-partum depression was a recognized condition... .and anti-depressants had not yet been invented.

My other sister, who was nearly two years old at the time did not seem to be adversely effected (she was sent to my other grandmother).  Whether that was due to a more nurturing infancy that she may have had or to a different biological nature, I can't say.  She is much more like my father, however.

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elphaba
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« Reply #8 on: December 17, 2008, 01:06:17 PM »

Everything I know about DB's childhood, shows no signs of abuse, abandonment or any real trauma... .all of his siblings are fairly well adjusted, responsible caring adults.  His behavior problems started at a very young age from what his family had told me in the past.  His sister closest in age to him is one of the most positive, loving, upbeat people I have ever met.

So, yes... .I think it is entirely possible for this illness to develop without major abuse/trauma... .
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Mousse
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« Reply #9 on: December 17, 2008, 08:11:50 PM »

I think with mine, it was hypersensitivity, traumatized by childhood physical illness, and an invalidating environment. 
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« Reply #10 on: December 17, 2008, 08:29:44 PM »

how people feel depends on their perception of the events at hand.  in addition to the organic/ genetic causes, we also have to account for the fact that no two people will react the exact same way to the same stimulus... .who can say where we get our temperment?  some babies are more fretful and clingy no matter what... .just like some children and adults have personalities that are more high strung and volatile then others.

not only your genes but your take on the outcome... .nature AND nurture as everyone else is saying.

working with young kids, some of whom are extremely spoiled, i wonder now to myself when they have a tantrum, are we cultivating a generation of BPD's (as a society as a whole, not us responsible as individuals)?

example.  kid gets in trouble in school.  kid texts mom from outside office, mom rides up to save the day for her precious, the teacher's word/ side is taken lightly, and the school, admin. and faculty are undermined by the parent refusing to believe the child could of possible done something... .this has happened even though there was actual hard evidence to prove the contrary... .what is that doing to a child that is already prone to having a manipulative nature?

sorry for the sidebar but think how differently kids today are being raised then 20, 30, 50 years ago, and how the focus has shifted to focus on the child's self esteem and ego,  more then personal responsibility and respect for adults/elders.



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kellykk

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« Reply #11 on: December 17, 2008, 09:31:06 PM »

My 15 year old daughter was put in the hospital for a month when she was 6 mos old.  Could this be the reason for her problems?  She had a tumor in her trachea, it was lasered out and she was kept on steroids for a couple of years.  I have always wondered if this was part of the reason for her behavior.
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Rose1
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« Reply #12 on: December 18, 2008, 05:57:43 AM »

There is some evidence too that bi polar illness and BPD may be related in some people.  I wonder if we are actually dealing with two manifestations of the condition with two different causes - one abuse, and one childhood onset bipolar coupled with either emotional abuse, unstructured home life and BPD developing in response to the bad emotions and feelings often associated with bi polar/depression?  These kids can be quite difficult (I've got one).

To further add to this, there is a familial aspect to bi polar as well as an inherited brain chemical imbalance, although with environmental factors - some theories around environmental factors (ie stress, drug abuse, alcohol abuse) switching genes on or off.  Given that, there is then often indifferent or at least erratic parenting right up to outright full on BPD modelling going on as well.  The child who has issues already, grows up in an environment where BPD behaviour is the norm, and models their responses on what they see.  The behaviour is rarely moderated or as in the case of my BPDexh there were 2 extremes - an overindulgent but simultaneously emotionally distant BPD mother, and an overbearing, unvalidating co dependent father.  I guess emotional abuse was there.  Certainly it was disfunctional.

Now my bil (no relation) has a father with bi polar, not BPD. He was brought up by his grandparents. His sister on the other hand remained with parents who couldnt cope, were alcoholic, and at least one of them was seriously mentally ill with something (probably bi polar) as well as some nasty PD's of some type.  His sister is seriously disordered. Her daughter is into drugs.

My personal feeling - seeing this side of BPD where there was no physical or sexual abuse involved, is that some form of brain chemical imbalance combined with a disordered childhood and a BPD role model can also cause the condition.  It's not always the case - my D is not BPD for example but I believe may well have been if her BPD father had stayed around longer - she was 6 when he left.

Rose

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