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What causes BPD?
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What causes BPD?

Hi,

I have been diagnosed with borderline personality structure / disorder very recently although supposedly I have had it for years.  I'm very confused about it.  As far as I can remember, I have not been sexually abused.  I'm turning myself inside out trying to work out how and why I developed this.  I'm trying to work out if I have repressed the memory of being sexually abused.  But I don't know if this is because I'm getting a bit psychotic at the moment.  Apart from sexual abuse, what else causes BPD?  A doctor told me that I could have it because I was bullied at school and my parents didn't validate my feelings growing up.  These seem like pretty insignificant things to cause such a debilitating problem.  I can't quite believe him.  I had some traumatic experiences with an ex-boyfriend of mine committing suicide because I broke up with him but this wasn't till I was 17, and I thought to get BPD you had to have trauma at a very early age.
Could the fact that I have bp structure rather than bp disorder be why the cause is a bit milder than full on abuse?  What is the difference between borderline personality structure and borderline personality disorder?  Another doctor told me the difference is negligible.
I have looked at the DSM criteria for BPD and as far as I can tell I have all of the symptoms.

Please help.
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no one knows what causes it, i'm surprised your doc even said that about bullying - the truth is he doesnt know.

no one ever mentioned borderline personality structure to me, but i was diagnosed with bpd several years ago. i was never sexually abused, physically abused or bullied as a child. my childhood was pretty much sunshine and rainbows all the way.

some studies do suggest that there is a connection between early childhood trauma and bpd - that could be anything from a situation where you might have been "abandoned" (whether real or perceived), or abused. right now the general consensus is that bpd is probably the result of a number of things, including genetic predisposition, brain chemistry, and traumatic experiences.

i wouldnt stress about the cause - you can't change that anyway - focus on dealing with the effects.
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Thank you so much for your reply, I really appreciate it.  
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Sexual abuse is said to occur in a large percentage of people with bpd but it isn't a pre-requiste for being diagnosed as such.
Abuse can come in other forms too such as physical, mental and emotional.

What does your gut instinct tell you?  In your case it almost certainly sounds as though you weren't sexually abused.  Looking for memories that aren't there can cause you to form memories that aren't based in fact.

Sometimes when we do look back over our past we can trivialise our experiences.
Bullying and being invalidated by family can cause significant problems.
With the family invaldiating your thoughts and feelings and experiences this can cause you not to have a strong sense of self.  You can question yourself and not have a particularly strong identity.

I know that my parents have been unable to validate me because I see them as struggling to accept me unconditionally.  If your parents invalidate you, you'll know what it feels like.  To me it feels like them not getting me.  I can also say that I want to do this or do that and they will respond with, you don't need this or you don't need that.  To me, they're not listening to what I'm saying.

The doctor is right.  An invalidating envirnoment can be hugely damaging and can cause these problems.

For me, I believe that symptoms of bpd were present for a long time.  I would say early childhood, at least.  I also believe that I may have just had bpd traits, say four out of the nine diagnostic criteria, and it wasn't until some severely stressful and traumatic events pushed me over the edge that I developed true bpd.  Like feeling broken and everything starting to contradict itself.

I think what they are referring to is Borderline Personality Organisation or BPO.
I haven't read about this for ages but I think it's based on the theory that our personality is made of both good and bad parts.  In BPD or BPO these good and bad parts are split off or separate.  In healthy people the good and bad parts are integrated.  For example, a person can have both good and bad parts.  Your mother can say something hurtful, a bad part, but you still like her, a good part.  In BPD or BPO you may likely see her as either all good, the good part, or all bad, the bad part.  In healthy individuals, this integration occurs at a very young age.

I think that BPO was a concept by Otto Kernberg and it could be worth researching his stuff if you're interested.

If the cause were milder then I would expect to see less diagnostic criteria.
BPD and BPO are essentially the same, from my perspective anyway.  If you think that BPD is caused by a chemical imbalance then BPD will be seen as different to BPO.
I personally believe that BPO is the cause of BPD.  Meaning how our personality is structured or organised causes us to perceive things a particular way, which in turn causes us to behave a certain way.  I think that an invalidating environment when we're young may affect us being able to integrate those split off parts (the good and the bad).

I think that the important thing with bpd is to work through the symptoms and not get caught up with all the implications of everything that may not even be applicable.

If they say you have BPO then psychoanalytical psychotherapy could be helpful.  If you don't have the personality structure to support the learning of skills, as in dbt skills for bpd by Marsha Linehan, then they're only going to impinge on your sense of self.

You should be able to do a search on BPO.

Others causes that have been proposed are our temperament, goodness of fit between us and our caregiver.  Most of the causes focus on bio-social factors.

Just a thought but a perfect childhood may also not give the opportunity to experience things you need to in order to develop emotionally.  Sounds a bit sheltered.
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Thanks for your reply.  There's a lot there for me to think about.

I definitely think my family was invalidating of me and it really hurt.  I saw that someone elsewhere on the forum mentioned that people with BPD can get angry when they don't feel heard, and a hangover from my childhood is certainly that I'm very, very sensitive to feeling unheard.  It's like with my family, my Mum in particular, everything I said was wrong.  This still happens now.  It makes me want to scream!

Thank you for encouraging me not to trivialise my experiences.  It sounds small to say that your feelings weren't validated, but when it happens day in, day out for your whole life, it adds up to something big - you're right, it makes you question yourself.  I really have no idea who I am.  

I'm already seeing a psychoanalytic psychotherapist, and she's very good, so I know I'm on the right path.  The only difficult thing is that she doesn't seem to like me referring to diagnoses or symptoms - she wants to talk in plain language about how I feel and my patterns from my perspective.  I can see that there's a sound logic to this, but it's hard for me because I have so many questions about the diagnosis, what caused the disorder in me, etc.  No one's really educated me about BPD and because I've changed doctors a few times I've had three or four versions of things.

I was diagnosed with another mental illness 15 years ago and have worked very hard in psychotherapy for 15 years to get better - now that I've recovered from that, the BPD has become more visible and I've been diagnosed with it as well.  This is hard to accept for me because I thought, after all that time, that I'd done most of the work!

Anyway, thanks again and thanks for hearing me.  It means a lot to me.

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I dont know why doctors act like they know what causes BPD. I think that it is important to find a doctor that wants to help you manage it. I read a great book that help me it is called Borderline Personality Disorder Demystitified. I dont think it matters where it came from you just do... good luck medication and therapy has helped me!!!
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Thanks, I'll look that book up.  Sounds good.

I think you're right - I need to get on with getting better rather than worry too much about the cause.  It's not always easy though.  I think it's human nature to want to know why.

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I think that's what your doctor means when he says that your parents invalidate you.
It does seem trivial sometimes when we think about it, probably because we are devaluing ourselves, but it does have far-reaching consequences.

Me too sometimes but then you know that screaming only reinforces their opinion of you being ? (fill in the blank I guess.  Crazy, lazy, stupid.  Everyone has a somewhat different label for us.).

Maybe she's trying to avoid the prejudical labels?  I think that discussing the diagnosis and how it makes you feel is important.
I think that during the course of therapy you start to know what you believe caused the disorder.  What do you think and feel?  Trust that.
Sometimes I'm not sure there is ever an answer as to how we became the way we did.

I learned that B= P x E.  Behaviour equals the person times their experiences.  from that I take it to mean that BPD is a result of me interacting with my environment.  I think trying to understand, and many of us at some stage of recovery desperately need that understanding, only takes us further away from achieving stability.  We can never truely know and that, until we learn acceptance, will drive us nuts.

I would probably advise putting the stuff out there, thrashing it out and then moving on.  I would trust your T above all else though.  trust her to guide you through this.  But talk to her and be honest with her about how you feel, etc.

Do you mean, what caused you to be broken or imperfect?  Or some version of that?

You're welcome.  My belief is that everything happens for a reason.  In dbt for bpd that would be to find meaning in it.  Growth and development are the main things I take from having bpd.  It has been a hugely humbling experience and one I would not wish on anybody.

My personal opinion is to stay away from health professionals who want to manage the disorder.  There is so much more to life than just managing it.  There is no reason, without good treatment and support, that we can't work through this and be asymptomatic.
Having said that, I always say that recovery is a process and has to meet the individuals needs.  What works for one may not work for another.

Worrying about it gives your T lots of good material to work with.  You can learn a lot about yourself when you look into why it's so important to you.
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More wise and considered comments.

I'm blown away by this forum - all of the replies have been so thoughtful and honest and valuable to me.

So thanks to everyone.  It really helps to have the perspectives of people who have been through what I'm going through and have obviously reflected on the experience and come away (or stayed with it!) with some great insights.

Cheers.
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I spent a long time wondering why me? Whats wrong with me? Why cant I just be normal? It all just made it worse! I got physically ill... Please for all of you remember that your emotions are very powerful and that your mental well being can actually affect your physical well being.
I met an 84 year old man that helped me to understand and to help myself. He taught me that ACCEPTANCE is the key to all of my problems! He had a prayer that goes with it... I am not religious by the way but it helps just try it. "God Grant Me The Serenity To Accept The Things I Can Not Change.  The Courage To Change The Things That I Can.  And The Wisdom To Know the Difference." Sometimes I just repeat it over and over again. Pushing out the bad thoughts and making room for the good ones. It is called renewing of the mind. I read and fill my head full of new information... discarding as many old ideas, thoughts, and as much negativity as I can. Music is big with me too! Go in the car or in a room turn up the music and just sing! I cant sing at all but it helps to get out all of the emotions. One of my favorite lines of a song "Life is a journey not a destination!"
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I think that people need to be careful with feedback they receive on the net, and on bpd forums.  Just be careful and challenge what you read.
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