Borderline personality disorder (BPD) may be one of the mental disorders about which the psychology community disagrees and deliberates the most. It can be difficult to diagnose, as it doesn’t always have such clearly disruptive symptoms as better-understood disorders like obsessive compulsive disorder or schizophrenia.
Borderline personality disorder can be hereditary. In fact, the gene for it can be rather strong. There can also be environmental factors that contribute to it. Research has found that as many as 70 percent of those with BPD suffered some sort of maltreatment in their childhood such as physical or sexual abuse, or neglect. It’s also common to find in the history of someone with BPD that their parents had substance abuse problems or there were inappropriate boundaries within the family.
If you love someone or have someone close to you who has borderline personality disorder, you do learn some of the ways the disorder can cause dysfunction in the affected individual’s life, and those around them. Having a sibling who suffers from the disorder can be particularly trying since siblings often take on such a sense of responsibility for one another’s wellbeing. We spoke to Meghan Watson, a registered psychotherapist and founder of Bloom psychology, about how to manage a relationship with a sibling with BPD.
Validate their trauma
“BPD is really common with people who have experienced traumatic life events,” states Watson. “It’s not always the case. Not everyone who has had trauma will have BPD” nor does everyone with BPD have trauma, she added. But Watson says that if that is a part of your family history or you know that a sibling has experienced a traumatic life event, a key part of the relationship is paying attention to validating that experience.