Mothers with Borderline Personality Disorder & the Effects they have on their Children

Essay by mely_qCollege, UndergraduateA-, May 2004

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Borderline personality disorder (BPD) is defined as "a pervasive pattern of instability of interpersonal relationships, self-image, and affects, and marked impulsivity" (Lawson, p.xi), and clinically it can be described as bordering between sanity and insanity (Kaufman, p.4). BPD is a mental illness that has been around for decades but unknown to most people. It was not until 1980 that the American Psychiatric Association formally recognized BPD in its Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, also referred to as the DSM (Mason, p.19). Many psychiatrists miss signs of BPD because they are not educated enough on the disorder or may disagree with the information in the DSM (Ibid). It could also be that no celebrity has admitted to having the disorder, so BPD has not gotten media attention other illnesses and disorders have, such as eating disorders, AIDS, depression or breast cancer (Ibid). BPD affects six million Americans and women out number men two to one (Wirth-Cauchon, p.57),

so it is reasonable to think that children living under the care of BPD mothers will be affected by their behavior patterns. From the minute a child is conceived, they have an instant connection with the mother because they are inside her womb for a nine-month period. Erikson stated that, "the infant's first developmental achievement is the ability to tolerate the mother's absence without undue anxiety because she has become an inner certainty" (Lawson, p.6). Consistency, continuity and sameness of experience are important to the development of trust and security for children, but children growing up in the care of a BPD mother live in a confusing and contradictory emotional world (Kreisman, p.93). Living in a confusing environment like that throughout your whole childhood can have serious long-term affects, so being able to identify BPD, understanding it and knowing how to...