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Author Topic: Is a personality disorder a mental illness or a character flaw?  (Read 44110 times)

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« on: January 10, 2009, 01:18:35 PM »

My question is:

Is this behaviour really a Mental Illness or just character flaws, or lack of good parenting of values, or anger management issues, petty or superficial or wrong thinking, or deficiency in cognition ... are some of us (on some lists) too quick to label normal ups/downs, disagreements, or even some upsets or conflicts in a marr/rel as BPD? [small (non-physical) fights & arguments are normal, o/w it is not a normal rel]!

Mental Illness implies somewhat psychotic or non reality or simply paranoia type of mindset... too harsh a term?

...whereas - what we see in BPD is more about extreme sensitivity about rejection (aren't we all, non-BP's also, a little afraid of being rejected?) OR ...Anger Management (A/M) issues, OR few character flaws to "lie" or misrepresent, ... and we all ( non-BP's and/or "normal") perceive things differently  (basic Pysch 101 course tells us that),... so are we too eager s/t on some posts to label such thinking or behaviour as MI?


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Posts: 284

« Reply #1 on: January 11, 2009, 06:38:06 AM »

You raise some interesting questions.  The nature vs. nurture debate is as old as time.

In the midst of your ponderings, don't forget that parents are not the only influence in a child's life.  We have many sincere and good people represented on the "Raising a child with BPD" board who are bewildered as to how this happened to their family.  There's no doubt that research shows that abuse correlates with BPD.  But that can come from many directions, not just FOO.

I can relate though.  With my uBPD SIL, an unrelated adult, it's easy to think, she's not sick, she's just a selfish jerk.  It's certainly a complicated disorder.

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« Reply #2 on: January 11, 2009, 11:32:52 AM »

I believe behavioral scientists made some headway toward an answer to this question in 2008.

People with borderline personality disorder suffer from an inability to understand the actions of others. They frequently have unstable relationships, fly into rages inappropriately, or become depressed and cannot trust the actions and motives of other people.

"This may be the first time a physical signature for a personality disorder has been identified," said Dr. P. Read Montague, professor of neuroscience at Baylor College of Medicine and director of the BCM Brown Foundation Human Neuroimaging Laboratory.

"For the first time, to my knowledge, we have a specific brain association for people with a personality disorder," said Dr. Stuart Yudofsky, chair of the Menninger Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at BCM. "It's new and different because it's not a lesion (or injury to the brain) but it is a difference in perceiving information that comes from an interaction." That is the area where people with borderline personality disorder have the most problem.

"It's important that this biological signature has been identified," said King-Casas. "It's not just a matter of bad attitudes or a lack of will."



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« Reply #3 on: July 09, 2009, 07:48:28 PM »

I don't want to make anyone upset or angry but it seems to me a lot of the behaviors of the BP's are choices.  Could a person to some extent just decide not to act that way?
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« Reply #4 on: July 09, 2009, 08:33:01 PM »

I don't think any of BPD is a choice. No one would choose to be that kind of crazy.

But I believe that there *are* choices they can make that can lead away from BPD. They can choose to admit to themselves that they have a serious problem--they know it, but it can be hard for them to admit because it's so scary. Then they can make the choice that they don't want to live this way anymore, they want to try to feel better. Which is also terrifying--they are used to being as they are, they don't know another way and fear they *can't* be happy, so why bother? Then they have to move past this and choose to seek help, again terrifying because it means they have to deal with all their issues. And then they have to choose to take the help that they have sought--really work their DBT program, and that's *hard*. For all of these things they have to get past really strong defenses and tricks they play on themselves--they have to choose to be really brave and motivated and hopeful and open and introspective.

So, I don't think their behavior is a choice, nor are their feelings. But to stay there, to not seek help, that is a choice.


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« Reply #5 on: July 10, 2009, 07:10:44 AM »

The therapist I am currently seeing, who has a great deal of experience with BPD and other PD's, has often said, "They do have a choice in how they behave"

Possibly what they may lack is the skills to behave in a more positive way. And that is where therapy comes in. My understanding of BPD is that their whole thinking/feeling/emotional processess are skewed, usually as a result of abuse in childhood. The styles of therapy that are known to be very beneficial to BPD sufferers such as CBT and DBT, aims to identify the skewed thoughts etc, and to try and change them to more positive and realistic ones ( this is a very simplistic explanation)

I suppose at the root of BPD is fear, and fear is an incredibly powerful thing. The choice I suppose, for any of us, is to  CHOOSE to confront and overcome our fears, whether we have BPD or not.

The BPD I had in my life, WAS very aware of her past behaviours with relationships, but CHOSE to do very little about it. She just carried on repeating the same old destructive patterns of behaviour, as in her mind, that was easier than confronting her fears and seeking long term therapy. And that was her CHOICE

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« Reply #6 on: July 12, 2009, 02:56:24 AM »

Does anyone know if the genetic predisposition for BPD has ever been specificially identified in those who do not go on to develop the disorder? Surely a genetic predisposition to hypersensitivity means that you will  develop the disorder regardless of a good home environment. I'm thinking here of outside factors such as a competitive/bullying, invalidating school environment (from age 4 in my part of the world). Then again does psychological theory not cite that personality disorder is irreversibly developed in infancy, by age 2 I believe. ?
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« Reply #7 on: July 12, 2009, 11:31:44 PM »

I don't think the genetic predisposition has been specifically identified in anyone.  I believe it's only a theory... not a biologically proven fact.

Thy say the predisposition to sensitivity need not develop into BPD if the child is properly validated... they will then be able to learn to regulate their emotions.  There is much speculation that BPD results from an inborn sensitive nature in combination with a lack of certain early developmental needs being met.  If this is the case, then outside factors, such as school, would come after the fact.
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« Reply #8 on: July 13, 2009, 06:49:07 AM »

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.

As far as I know, genetic predisposition causes a bigger probability of BPD developing. Some pro's say that someone with the disposition doesn't necessarily have to become BP but bad circumstances (emotional or physical abuse) are a guarantee if the genetic stuff is there. And because it's there parent's or one of thme are likely to show BP or inadequate behavior of some sorts themselves, the problem is passed on. I also think that BP can develop without genetic disposition, I think as a result of severe abuse.

I tend to look at it as a mental illness but also as a way of being: they grow up in that world are or become that way and live that way, it's their universe and reality. No wonder it is so difficult for them to get out... Image you are always taught that the sky is green, are raised by people who think the sky is green and manage to always find poeple around you who will tell you and affrim you that it is so (mainly because they are not interested in you as most people aren't really inetersted in most other people and so they say "sure it's green" to get rid of the discussion" and I would tell you that it is blue, what would you do? Believe me? Critize your own world when you don't need to? and if you would then what, recreate an entire new world? So we love them. promise them to take them seriously and tell them what they can't handle: you are strange, act normal please...

I think it's blue...;-)


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« Reply #9 on: July 13, 2009, 11:20:40 AM »

I'd think frequent hospitalizations with invasive procedures at a very early age when one is pre-verbal and incapable of forming conscious memories of the events could have quite an impact on an individual.  For instance, how does a parent validate the feelings of a child who is not yet capable of reasoning?  And how does a child incapable of conscious memory or verbal expression ever process these events?  This must also be an upsetting and highly stressful experience for the parents, as well.  For a child with the predisposition, I'd think a history of early hospitalizations and surgeries could definitely be a significant environmental trigger. 

Early separation from the caregivers is also cited frequently in the histories of those who develop BPD. 

I think some children and the situations that arise are very difficult to validate... very difficult for ANYONE to validate.  There is definitely not always abuse, or intentional neglect or invalidation.  There can be very disruptive circumstances and if the child is predisposed to the Borderline type temperament/nature,  they will develop the disorder.  Whereas, a child of a different nature would not develop the disorder.

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