What causes a person to develop Borderline Personality Disorder? It is one of the four Cluster B personality types classified and identified by mental health experts in the DSM-V.
Scientists, mental health experts, and medical professionals are not 100% sure what causes BPD but here are the suspicions they are trying to confirm.
Borderline Personality Disorder Demystified shares, “For many years, it was commonly believed that the main cause of borderline personality disorder was poor or uninformed parenting. It now seems most likely that both environmental and biological factors, especially genetic ones, place a person at risk for developing the disorder.”
According to NAMI, the National Alliance on Mental Illness, the causes of BPD vary. They include but are quite possibly not limited to any or all of the following:
The causes of borderline personality disorder are not fully understood, but scientists agree that it is the result of a combination of factors:
- Genetics. While no specific gene has been shown to directly cause BPD, studies in twins suggest this illness has strong hereditary links. BPD is about five times more common among people who have a first-degree relative with the disorder.
- Environmental factors. People who experience traumatic life events, such as physical or sexual abuse during childhood or neglect and separation from parents, are at increased risk of developing BPD.
- Brain function. The way the brain works is often different in people with BPD, suggesting that there is a neurological basis for some of the symptoms. Specifically, the portions of the brain that control emotions and decision-making/judgment may not communicate well with one another.
There is no real way based on current science to determine the root cause of BPD to date, but parents and relatives of such people are optimistic that a cause will be officially figured out someday. Finding the cause is not as important as realizing that people with Borderline Personality Disorder who do NOT have comorbid conditions like Narcissistic Personality Disorder can in fact control and improve their own social behaviors.
[It takes about two years of weekly Psychotherapy and a lifetime of dedication to working with Behavioral Specialists, but someone with BPD who is motivated to change can do it with the help of a tough-love style family and positive, non-toxic peer group support system.]
While BPD Demystified writes, “Research studies now suggest that 60% of the risk of developing borderline disorder is conveyed by genetic abnormalities... These abnormalities appear to affect the proper functioning of those brain pathways or circuits that serve the behavioral functions of emotion information processing, impulse control and cognitive activity such as perception and reasoning…”, they also say, “Current research suggests that there is not a single, specific gene for borderline disorder.”
“It appears that the genes that increase risk for the disorder may be passed on by people who have the disorder itself, or a related disorder, such as bipolar disorder, depression, substance use disorders, ADHD and posttraumatic stress disorder…” claim the academic website writers. But they follow up their discussion of the biological inheritance factors with a serious claim that environment — as much or more than genetics — help the disorder fully manifest and remain in a personality fully formed.
Of all environmental factors that place a person at risk for developing borderline disorder, those associated with poor or uninformed parenting appear to be the most critical.
These include early separation from one or both parents, repeated emotional, physical or sexual abuse by someone within or outside of the family itself, and inconsistent, unsupportive care. Poor parenting can also include failing to protect the child from repeated abuse by the other parent, another member of the family, or an outsider.
It is important to understand that children who have not been exposed to such environmental traumas can still develop borderline disorder. This suggests that in some people the biological risk of developing the disorder is very high, and may be sufficient in the absence of environmental traumas.