Friday, January 15, 2010

The BPD Family Revisited -- Partially Learned Behaviors

I've thought quite a bit about this and have researched it as well. The more I think it, the more I think that one's family and upbringing contributes significantly to their disposition to having borderline personality disorder. The DSM-IV indicates that many that have BPD came from a family where their parent suffered from the disorder -- given this, the fact that 75% of borderlines were sexually abused as a child and that most others came from overly controlling parents, you have the perfect storm for the making of a BPD.

The Making of A BPD

Many experts indicate that the making of a borderline is both nature and nurture, meaning that the person has to have a genetic predisposition for the disorder, but also have to be raised to acquire it.

Could most of us have borderline personality disorder? Probably. However, most of us are fortunate enough to be raised in homes where we were not sexually abused or raised by overly controlling parents.

In the instance of my ex borderline girlfriend, her mother had a brother die when in her care - she was 12 years old. As a result, she must have smothered her children, not letting them go up properly.

What's Happens When Someone Has Controlling Parents?

A number of things happen to someone with overly-controlling parents. Some of these could include:

Cannot Establish Healthy Boundaries

When someone tells us what to do, how to do it, and when to do it, we have difficulty thinking for ourselves. This is okay when we are quite young, but we as people must be given the opportunity to excel and fail as well, so we learn how to interact with the outside world. This is how we learn to tell others what we are willing and not willing to do. The person with overly controlling parents will have quite a difficult time saying no to people when they cross boundaries where others would clearly feel violated.

Under Developed Sense of Self

Like the lack of boundaries, when someone tells you everything to do as you get older, you lose the ability to be your own person and have differences with others. You want to agree with others for acceptance, losing your ability to be an individual.

Little or No Accountability
People who have been raised by someone who is controlling does not understand the impact of their actions, and will usually deflect responsibility as someone else has always shouldered responsibility for them. They learn to fly under the radar and have others be responsible for their actions. Unfortunately, in a relationship, we are accountable for our actions; if our partner is not accountable and does what they want and we accept this, our self esteem and self worth suffers.

Black and White, Judgemental Thinking

We live in a world where very little is black or white; there are extenuating circumstances surrounding most everything. When someone tells you yes or no for everything, you don't learn how to think about extenuating circumstances. The world is one way or another.

You Can't Change Your Family

Unfortunately, you can't change the people that had you. We're born into what we are born. All we can do is try to heal from our childhood scars and pain, become better people, and not repeat the patterns of dysfunction in our family. If we have done this, we're successful. Unfortunately, for some of us, there was too much damage done.

All we can do is try our best, try to get to our true self, love our true self, and strive for contentment.


  1. I'm not sure really about my ex's upbringing, I met her parents a few times and they seemed to be very nice, approacable, upper middle class folks. I knoe her father did not drink because he came from a dirt poor alcoholic home and her mother seemed to be very independent. For whatever reason they ended up adopting my ex and her older brother from Korea. My ex was found as a baby in an abandoned building before going into the orphanage and then becoming adopted. She never spoke about how that made her feel and said it was what it was but she was pretty adament that it had not impacted her (I as a psychology professional wondered how it couldn't impact her to some degree). I do know that after the second breakup when I went to her parents to tell them about how I just couldn't handle her anymore and that she had slashed her wrist...that her mom commented that she had always had some drama. I do know that my ex gave the appearance of being overly confident and proud that she would say what she had on her mind at any given time. I know that her behavior was so erratic once that even her best friend she's known almost 30 years once kicked her out of the car while they where out drinking.

    I'm not sure if there was sexual abuse but it's possible. I do know that her parents have taken care of her problems and that she never really had to work through any jam she got herself into. I know that she quit a private school without ever completing her degree and her parents paid for that. When she came home to finish her degree she stopped and decided to move to NY in the middle of the night having a cab pick her up and leaving a note on the table. When several years later she came back with some guy, her parents bought a home and they all renovated it into a renovated it and the two lived there together before he left and bought his own place. I know that this last time her parents paid off thousands of dollars of debt, fines, bought a new used car for her. I know that despite her making as much if not more money than me she could not save a dime, she still owed $400 on her cell bill, hadn't paid another speeding ticket, was late on her rent several times (I found out this to be the case when we lived together also),still owed her parents but I was not sure what kinda payment plan that was...I gues what I am trying to say is that she was abandoned as an infant and her parents probably where controlling to some extent (more so if she was displaying any of these traits as a child), she seemed to learn that she could control men through sex (she seemed very reminscent one time about me touching her and how she remembered her first boyfriend doing the same though she claimed to not be sexual as a young adult...but then again what CAN I trust is the truth?) and that SOMEONE would always take care of her. She certainly has established patterns!

  2. I did not meet my ex boyfriends family, but he would tell me stories of him mom "beating" him and treating him differently than his brothers. But he lived with her and he was 31 years old. And she paid his bills. So if she beat and treated him so horribly, why would he still be around her in that capacity as an adult. I spoke to by ex bpd's ex and she said his family is wonderful and that he wasn't "beat" as a child. His other 2 brothers seemed fine (no signs of a disorder). My ex did not graduate from high school and was into the drug scene, so could it be the environment that he chose that would cause these behaviors? He was somewhat of a low functioning bpd- so I am wondering if he ran with the wrong crowd in middle school/high school and just never developed into adulthood and break out of that way of life?? I guess possibly his mom did treat him poorly- but his ex said she was the nicest woman. She did say they did not get along well as my ex bpd would treat her very badly (rage at her, etc..). So I don't know. Any thoughts on it if the family isn't a possible reason?

  3. My BPD-ex came from a dysfunctional family. Her mother had BPD too. I noticed her father being called a loser all the time. I also saw him as a loser. I told myself not te be like him in the future. Now I have left the relationship and I have chosen another future for myself. Now I see her father was in fact a very good guy. That poor guy was blamed all the time for living his life a good as he could, bringing food on the table. But still was called a loser because he didn't was perfect. So sad for someone working so hard, and it's never enough. Well in fact he has recieved the borderline love his whole life. So his life was bad and good. He was the product of a long life borderline relationship. It looks like it didn't payed off. However, he did raise 4 beautifull children. They all are succesfull (expect that one daughter which was my gf) still he had a sad face. Sadness will overrun you in the end. Does the good every outwage the bad?

  4. I left my husband, a BPD, nearly 3 years ago, and I am still recovering from the trauma. I don't know how to value myself as an individual within the context of a healthy relationship. It hurts when your plan was to be with your mate forever and raise your children together. You don't want to abandon your mate--you just want the abuse to end. I know my healing will take years, but I am so happy I left. I need to find a support group for ex-mates of BPD's. Any suggestions?


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