Psychologists have been debating over the years the possible reasons for borderline personality disorder (BPD). However, there is no conclusive answer to the exact causes of BPD.
The origin and development of BPD have related to various individual causes and co-related factors. Some of the studies pinpoint the causes of borderline personality disorder to multiple environmental and psychological factors.
Leading psychologists opine that BPD gradually develops in a person because of biological, psychological, genetic, and environmental factors.
Unfortunately, most studies only project a few assumptions but fail to find proven causes of BPD.
When one person has BPD his/her other siblings who live in the same conditions may not develop BPD. For this reason, BPD causes indicated by various research are not correct always.
Currently, most experts who deal with mental health agree upon possible reasons for BPD. Let us look at these reasons for BPD that have wide acceptance among most psychologists and psychiatrists.
Biological and Genetic Causes of BPD
In the past, psychologists doubted the impact of biological factors in borderline disorder. Contrary to traditional thinking, genetic factors have a substantial influence on the development of BPD.
Gene and Inheritance
Recent studies have shown enough evidence on the influence of genetic and biological factors in the development of BPD. A specific variation in a gene can influence and control the way the brain uses serotonin related to BPD. Any persons with this specific variation of the serotonin gene are more likely to develop BPD. A combination of this specific gene variation and negative childhood experiences is an ideal condition for the borderline disorder.
Some studies of twins and families suggest that BPD may be inherited. BPD in one person may have links to any close relatives who suffer from other mental health disorders.
Researchers have used magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans to study the brains of people with BPD. As you already know, MRI scans utilize powerful radio waves and magnetic fields to produce a vivid image of the body.
A report of research using MRI can suggest, BPD patients’ 3 parts of the brain are smaller than the usual size. The report also suggests unusual levels of activity in 3 parts of the brain. These parts were:
- the orbitofrontal cortex – decision making and planning
- the hippocampus – regulate self-control and behavior
- the amygdala – regulates emotions (like aggression, anxiety, anger)
Therefore, these three parts of the brain are responsible for producing most of the symptoms of BPD. These parts of the brain are also responsible for mood regulation which plays a crucial role in relationships and productivity.
Different Brain Function and the Limbic System
Some other studies suggest that most BPD patients have different brain functions and brain structures. In addition, they are stressed with too much activity in the parts of the brain dealing with emotional experience and expression.
Another biological factor that may cause BPD is the excess activation of the limbic system, the area that regulates aggression, fear, and anger. BPD symptoms like aggression and emotional instability could be arising from stress on the limbic system.
The latest studies also point out the relation between the hormone oxytocin and the development of BPD.
Environmental Causes of BPD
Evidence from studies suggests the close linkup between bitter childhood experiences and BPD. Ill-treatment of the child by parents or caregivers works as a catalyst for the borderline disorder. Such experiences include:
- Poor care and concern given by parents
- Sexual or physical abuse
- Early separation from close caregivers
- Neglect of the child both physical and emotional
The effects of environmental factors are crucial when biological and genetic factors also exist. Unfulfilled emotional needs of the child may deteriorate the mental health of the child.
An invalidating environment is hardly obvious to those who have faced it or others around them. The painful experiences, especially in childhood, can be undiscoverable and even disguised as praise.
It should be noted; every BPD patient does not necessarily have painful childhood experiences. Similarly, only a few percentages of the people who have bitter childhood experiences develop a borderline personality disorder. Usually, a combination of biological and environmental factors leads to borderline disorder in a person.
The Bottom Line
Mental health experts have been making continuous research to find the causes of BPD. It is still unclear why some people experience difficulties associated with BPD.
Unlike other mental disorders, the causes of borderline personality disorder are not clear and conspicuous.
Without a doubt, most psychologists agree that environmental factors, such as child neglect or abuse, as the topmost reasons for BPD. A combination of genetic and environmental factors must exist to trigger the borderline disorder.
BPD is a complex mental disorder with multiple symptoms overlapping to other mental disorders and substance abuse issues. A lot more research is necessary to understand and unearth the causes of BPD fully.
Discovering the actual reason for BPD can help in preventing and managing the disorder at the initial stages itself.