The gift inside borderline personality disorder (BPD)
Why do I feel and see so much?
It is true that high empathy may be an outcome of growing up in a traumatic and unpredictable childhood environment. Indeed, many people with BPD have a history of abuse, neglect or prolonged separation as children. Some studies show that as many as 70% of the people with the disorder reported being sexually abused.
As a response to confusing or neglectful parenting, these children had to ‘amp up’ their empathic functioning in order to protect themselves. They were trained by their environment to become highly attuned to the subconscious cues given out by their parents so that they can be prepared for their unpredictable behaviours.
Environmental factors alone, however, do not explain why many siblings who grow up in the same household are not affected in the same way. Thus, we must also consider the biological and innate temperament-based factors that affect people’s distinctive reactions to traumatic events. As psychologist Bockian (2002) suggested: “It is extremely unlikely that someone with a placid, passive, unengaged, aloof temperament would ever develop borderline personality disorder.”
Child psychologists have found that there is a subset of children who has ‘heightened sensitivity to the social world’, whose developmental and emotional outcomes are critically dependent upon their early childhood conditions. (Boyce, Chesney, Kaiser, Alkon-Leonard and Tschann, 1991)
In most cases, serious difficulties in emotional regulation, or BPD, is a result of two combing factors:
A) Being born with heightened sensitivity and a gift in perceptivity, and
B) a deficient or vicarious childhood environment that fails to meet these children’s emotions needs.