Early Childhood Trauma in the Development of Borderline Personality Disorder
An in-depth analysis of whether trauma in childhood may lead to the development of BPD.
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This paper includes an extensive literature review of the role of trauma in the development of BPD, along with a clinical case study of a girl with BPD, and a transcript of an actual conversation between therapist and patient. BPD is characterized by a combination of impulsive, emotional, and cognitive deficits in personality functioning. The disorder seems to develop as a result of early childhood trauma, especially traumatic experiences related to parental neglect and abuse. Children who are classified as being highly abused tend to have greater tendencies toward developing BPD than non-abused children. This paper explores the association between childhood trauma and the development of borderline personality disorder in adult females.
“Borderline Personality Disorder is characterized by an array of symptoms that are most prevalent in females. According to the DSM-IV, BPD is defined as: A pervasive pattern of instability of interpersonal relationships, self-image, and affects, and marked impulsivity beginning by early adulthood and present in a variety of contexts, as indicated by five (or more) of the following: 1. Frantic efforts to avoid real or imagined abandonment 2. A pattern of unstable and intense interpersonal relationships characterized by alternating between extremes of idealization and devaluation. 3. Identity disturbance: markedly and persistently unstable self-image or sense of self. 4. Impulsivity in at least two areas that are potentially self-damaging (e.g., spending, sex, substance abuse, reckless driving, binge eating). 5. Recurrent suicidal behavior, gestures, or threats, or self-mutilating behavior. 6. Affective instability due to a marked reactivity of mood (e.g., intense episodic dysphoria, irritability, or anxiety usually lasting a few hours and only rarely more than a few days). 7. Chronic feelings of emptiness. 8. Inappropriate, intense anger or difficulty controlling anger (e.g., frequent displays of temper, constant anger, recurrent physical fights). 9. Transient, stress-related paranoid ideation or severe dissociative symptoms. (American Psychiatric Association, 1995) ”