Exploring the Relationship between Borderline Personality Disorder and Parental

Exploring the relationship between Borderline Personality Disorder (BPS) and parental bonding requires an understanding of what BPS is, understanding signs and symptoms, and reviewing research concerning contributing factors of BPS.


Borderline personality disorder is a serious mental illness. People suffering with BPS show symptoms of persistent and all-encompassing signs of instability in moods, interpersonal relationships, self-image, and behavior. The National Institute of Mental Health has reported that BPD was originally thought to be a borderline of psychosis because people with BPD suffer from a disorder of emotion regulation.

Persons who suffer from BPS may experience intense sessions of anger, anxiety, and depression. Most of the time these bouts are experienced for many hours and times experienced for days. These episodes may be associated with impulsive aggression, self-injury, drugs use, or alcohol abuse. At times individuals with BPS feel misunderstood, mistreated, bored, and empty. BPD also usually occurs with other psychiatric problems such as, bipolar disorder, depression, or anxiety.

In the “Journal of Personality Disorder,” Swartz, Blazer, George, and Winfield reported approximately two percent of adults who are mostly younger females suffer from BPD. Self-injury is frequently noted with those who suffer from BPD. There are also a significant rate of suicide attempts and completed suicides in severe cases. Gardner and Cowdry reported in “Suicidal and parasuicidal behavior in borderline personality disorder,” BPS sufferers often need mental health services and 20 percent of psychiatric hospitalizations are from BPS sufferers.


The causes of BPS are still under investigation, and there is no known way to prevent BPS. Possible causes of BPS include genetics, environmental factors, and brain abnormalities. Some studies of twins and families have shown evidence that BPS may be inherited. BPS sufferers also have a history of childhood abuse, neglect, and separation from caregivers and/or loved ones. And research also shows changes in areas of a person’s brain who suffers from BPS. Mayo Clinic suggests that it is a combination of genetics, environmental factors, and brain abnormalities which causes BPS.

Because as Mayo Clinic has pointed out and studies conducted by Zanarini have shown many individuals who suffer from BPS have a history of abuse, neglect, and/or separation as a young child. Therefore, BPS and parental bonding may be linked. Researchers believe that BPS results from a combination of environmental stress, neglect or abuse during youth, and a series of events that trigger the onset of BPS.


Assessing the relationship between BPS sufferers and parental bonding does demonstrate some associations. Because genetics are inherited and environmental factors are altered by parental factors, one may conclude connections exist. However, there isn’t enough research conducted, continuous research is ongoing, and understanding many facets of the brain is an unending endeavor for a definitive answer.



National Institute of Mental Health: NIMH.hih.gov