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childhood trauma Archives - Suzanne Wallach

The Link Between Childhood Trauma and BPD


Borderline personality disorder (BPD) is a chronic, complex psychological condition that is listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5). It is characterized by a pervasive pattern of high affective instability, impulsive behaviors, unstable interpersonal relationships, and an inconsistent self-concept. Borderline personality disorder is associated with a diverse range of signs and symptoms. The cause of borderline personality disorder remains unknown. However, the National Institute of Mental Health (NIH) alludes to research that “suggests that genetics, brain structure and function, and environmental, cultural, and social factors play a role, or may increase the risk for developing borderline personality disorder.” Recent research has shown that 1.6% of the population in the United States has BPD, which amounts to over four million Americans.

Trauma is defined as any type of distressing event or experience that can have an impact on a young person’s ability to cope and function. According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), childhood trauma is defined as “the experience of an event by a child that is emotionally painful or distressful, which often results in lasting mental and physical effects.” Childhood trauma may be caused by examples such as abuse (such as sexual or physical), witnessing domestic violence, neglect, accidents, chronic or sudden medical illness, a death in the family or parental illness, substance use, divorce, or incarceration. Any experience that threatens a child’s sense of security and leaves a young person feeling overwhelmed and isolated can be traumatic. Data indicates that one in four children living in the United States experiences a traumatic event before reaching adulthood.

Childhood Trauma and BPD

Empirical evidence confirms the notion that humans store memories, experience, and emotions on a cellular level. Hence, early childhood experiences play a large role in how the brain develops and functions. A report from the Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University asserts that childhood trauma can derail healthy development and cause damaging effects on learning, behavior, and health across the lifespan. Trauma and adversity in childhood raise the risk of numerous health problems (e.g., diabetes, heart disease, cancer, mental illness, etc.) in adulthood. Further, the effects of childhood trauma have repeatedly been linked to the development of maladaptive personality traits and personality disorders. According to University of Manchester research, people with borderline personality disorder are 13 times more likely to report childhood trauma than people without any mental health problems.

Treatment In Calabasas

Calabasas is a city in California. It is a well-known suburb of Los Angeles, located west of the San Fernando Valley and north of the Santa Monica Mountains. Over the past decade, the city of Calabasas has grown in its reputation for luxury as well as for privacy which makes it a hidden gem for residential living for society’s elite, and one of the most desirable destinations in Los Angeles County. It is also home to a plethora of highly qualified mental health clinicians providing an array of therapeutic services and treatment options. 

The information above is provided for the use of informational purposes only. The above content is not to be substituted for professional advice, diagnosis, or treatment, as in no way is it intended as an attempt to practice medicine, give specific medical advice, including, without limitation, advice concerning the topic of mental health. As such, please do not use any material provided above to disregard professional advice or delay seeking treatment.

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