New research suggests that bullying and victimization by other children during the elementary school years should be acknowledged as another important risk factor.
Bullying and borderline personality disorder: a missing link
04 April 2013
Children abused by adults are known to be at increased risk of developing the serious and persistent mental illness known as borderline personality-disorder (BPD). New research suggests that bullying and victimization by other children during the elementary school years should be acknowledged as another important risk factor.
Psychologists in Britain, Germany and the United States base their conclusions on an analysis of data from the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC) which has followed the development of more than 6,000 mothers and children in south west England since pregnancy in the early 1990s.
After comparing the results of diagnostic interviews with the children when aged 11 with reports of bullying gathered when they were aged 8 and 10, they conclude that intentional harm inflicted by peers is a significant precursor of BPD symptoms – although it could be a “marker” for the increased level of risk, rather than a direct cause.
Dieter Wolke of Warwick University and his colleagues note that BPD is a chronic psychiatric condition estimated to affect between 0.7 per cent and 5.9 per cent of the adult population. Its characteristics include poor mood and impulse control, unstable and intense personal relationships, and severe difficulty trusting the actions or motives of others.
Threats, rumors and lies
Existing studies have linked BPD to childhood experiences of physical and sexual abuse, neglect and exposure to domestic violence. In addition, bullying or “peer victimization” in childhood has been associated with the emergence of psychotic symptoms and suicidal thoughts as well as adverse neurobiological changes in the brain.