A telltale sign of BPD is a person's erratic and unstable relationships, caused by outsized reactivity when feeling threatened and/or rejected.
“I couldn’t trust my own emotions. Which emotional reactions were justified, if any? And which ones were tainted by the mental illness of BPD? I found myself fiercely guarding and limiting my emotional reactions, chastising myself for possible distortions and motivations. “ Rachel Reiland
But what if BPD is an understandable response to experiencing high levels of interpersonal trauma in childhood and adolescence? In a 2014 study on trauma and BPD symptomology, researchers discovered that the emotional hyperreactivity found with BPD “is specifically related to interpersonal triggers” often connected to sexual and physical abuse in childhood (Sauer et al., 2014). In fact, it can be hard to distinguish between Complex-Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome (C-PTSD) and a personality disorder like BPD and are thought to co-occur. The benefit of looking at BPD as the result of trauma is a more compassionate way for both sufferers and those that love them to understand their high reactivity and compulsive behaviors.
Schema Focused Therapy (SFT), Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT), and Eye Movement Desensitization Therapy (EMDR), mindfulness practices (like yoga) and art and music therapies have all been shown as beneficial treatments for both PTSD and BPD. Although the experience of the symptoms of BPD can sometimes be devastating for sufferers and their friends and family, healing can and does happen with proper therapeutic interventions and a better understanding about the effects of trauma.
Real Caring Integrative Therapy is excited to now offer arts-based DBT therapy, an integration of expressive arts through embodiment and experiential activities led by Shannon Simonelli, PhD, AT-R of the Neuroimaginal Institute. Find out more about this program here.
By Krista Clement