Borderline personality disorder, or BPD, is a mental disease marked by pervasive feelings of self-loathing, unstable moods and impulsive behavior. People with BPD often experience erratic mood swings and engage in risky behavior. Often, they view themselves as bad people who deserve punishment. In some cases, they may not have a clear sense of self. Borderline personality disorder affects approximately 1.6 percent of American adults, according to the National Institute of Mental Health (2010). Women are more likely to be diagnosed with the condition than men.

While the exact causes of borderline personality disorder are unknown, scientists have several theories about its potential roots. Many studies point to biological factors, such as chemical imbalances in the brain and genetic contributions. Others point to environmental factors, particularly in childhood, as possible borderline personality disorder causes.

Symptoms of Borderline Personality Disorder

People with borderline personality disorder display a range of symptoms, which may include:

  • Chronic feelings of emptiness
  • Extremely unstable self-image and sense of self
  • Frantic or deperate attempts to avoid abandonment
  • Impulsive behavior, such as driving recklessly, gambling or overspending
  • Irrational and intense anger that is difficult to control
  • Paranoia
  • Self-harm or self-mutilation
  • Suicide attempts or threats
  • Unstable moods, including brief spells of intense depression or anxiety
  • Unstable relationships.

Borderline Personality and Genetics

According to some twin and family studies, borderline personality disorder seems to have a genetic link. Close family members of a person with borderline personality disorder are more likely to develop the condition.

Biological factors may also play a role in the causes of personality disorders. For example, chemical imbalances in the brain may contribute to the development of BPD. People with borderline personality disorder may also have an overactive amygdala, a part of the brain that regulates mood and emotions.

Borderline Personality Disorders Development

In addition to biology and genetics, environmental factors can often be causes of personality disorders. Many people with borderline personality disorders report a history of childhood trauma, which may include:

  • Emotional, physical or sexual abuse
  • Loss of a parent
  • Neglect.

For example, there appears to be a correlations between BPD and childhood sexual abuse, with victims of abuse at a greater risk of developing the disorder later in life. People who abuse alcohol as teenagers or have learning difficulties in childhood may also be at increased risk of developing BPD.


Encyclopedia of Mental Disorders. (2010). Borderline personality disorder. Retrieved August 5, 2010, from

Mayo Clinic. (2010). Borderline personality disorder. Retrieved August 5, 2010, from

Mental Health America. (2010). Factsheet: Borderline personality disorder. Retrieved August 5, 2010, from

Siever, L.J. (1997). The biology of borderline personality disorder. Retrieved August 5, 2010, from

 Posted on : June 23, 2014