What Are The Causes Of Borderline Personality Disorder?

Over the years, psychologists have debated the causes of borderline personality disorder (BPD). However, there is no conclusive answer to the exact causes of BPD.

The origin and development of BPD have been related to various individual causes and co-related factors. Some 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 make a few assumptions and fail to find proven causes of BPD.

When one person has BPD, their other siblings who live with the same conditions may not develop BPD. For this reason, the BPD causes indicated by various research are not always correct.

Most experts dealing with mental health currently agree on possible reasons for BPD. Let us look at these reasons for BPD, which have wide acceptance among most psychologists and psychiatrists.

Biological and Genetic Causes of BPD

In the past, psychologists doubted the impact of biological factors on the borderline disorder. Contrary to traditional thinking, genetic factors substantially influence the development of BPD.

Genes and inheritance

Recent studies have shown enough evidence of the influence of genetic and biological factors on the development of BPD. A specific variation in a gene can influence and control how the brain uses serotonin, which is related to BPD. Any person with this particular variation in the serotonin gene is more likely to develop BPD. Combining this unique gene variation and adverse childhood experiences is an ideal condition for borderline personality disorder.

Some studies of twins and families suggest that BPD may be inherited. Those suffering from BPD may have close relatives suffering from other mental health disorders.

Brain abnormalities

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.

According to MRI studies, BPD patients’ three brain parts are smaller than usual. The report also suggests unusual activity levels in three parts of the brain. These parts were:

  • The orbitofrontal cortex—decision-making and planning
  • The hippocampus regulates self-control and behavior
  • The amygdala-regulated emotions (like aggression, anxiety, and anger).

Therefore, these three parts of the brain produce the most signs and symptoms of BPD. These brain parts are also responsible for mood regulation, crucial in relationships and productivity.

Different Brain Functions and the Limbic System

Some studies suggest that most BPD patients have different brain functions and structures. In addition, they are stressed by too much activity in the parts of the brain dealing with emotional experience and expression.

Another biological factor that may cause BPD is excessive limbic system activation, which regulates aggression, fear, and anger. BPD symptoms like aggression and emotional instability could arise from stress on the limbic system.

The latest studies also point out the relationship between the hormone oxytocin and the development of BPD.

Environmental Causes of Borderline Personality Disorder

Evidence from studies suggests a close link between bitter childhood experiences and BPD. Ill-treatment of the child by parents or caregivers is 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 influences are crucial when biological and genetic factors also exist. Unfulfilled emotional needs of the child may deteriorate the child’s mental health.

An invalidating environment is hardly apparent to those who have faced it or to others around them. The painful experiences, especially in childhood, can be undiscoverable and even disguised as praise.

It should be noted that every BPD patient does not necessarily have painful childhood experiences. Similarly, only a tiny percentage of people with bitter childhood experiences develop a borderline personality disorder. Usually, a combination of biological and environmental reasons leads to borderline disorders in a person.


The causes of mental disorders can be childhood trauma, neurobiological factors, brain abnormalities, genetics, environmental conditions, social factors, or psychological factors. A combination of two or more factors is responsible for severe bipolar and personality disorders. By the way, the symptoms and causes can be different in men and women.

The patient experiences a deep sense of abandonment and mood swings. They are at a higher risk of suicidal attempts, impulsive behavior, self-harm, unstable relationships, reckless actions, drug addiction, and unsafe sex.

Their mental health condition can get worst with post-traumatic stress disorder which leads to higher impulsivity and tantrums.

People with borderline personality disorder should get help and treatment from an expert psychotherapy specialist or mental health professional.

The Final Thought 

Mental health experts have been conducting 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 reasons for borderline personality disorder are not clear and conspicuous.

Most psychologists agree that environmental factors, such as child neglect or abuse, are the top reasons for BPD. A combination of genetic and environmental conditions must exist to trigger borderline disorders.

BPD is a complex mental disorder with multiple symptoms overlapping with other mental illnesses and substance abuse issues. Much more research is necessary to understand and uncover BPD’s causes fully.

Discovering the cause of BPD can help prevent and manage the disorder at its initial stages.

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