(ORDO NEWS) — Researchers from Portugal observed 158 adolescents for six months. They concluded that self-loathing can lead to borderline personality disorder in adulthood.
Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) is a personality disorder that typically begins in adolescence. According to the Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders, BPD affects up to 6% of all people, with 10% of them dying by suicide.
Patients diagnosed with BPD usually experience symptoms such as feelings of abandonment and emptiness, emotional instability, marked impulsivity, excessive self-criticism, risky behavior (up to self-harm).
By tracking the development of 158 adolescents over a period of six months, the researchers found that disgust directed at personality aspects or characteristics of a person is an important risk factor for developing borderline personality disorder.
“When teens see themselves as unwanted, repulsive, or bad, they are at increased risk of developing borderline symptoms,” the authors write in the journal Personality and Individual Differences.
“Our results suggest that psychological intervention should be directed at self-loathing to prevent adolescent borderline traits from developing into a personality disorder.”
In people with BPD, self-loathing is usually associated with a constant feeling of being irrevocably bad, repulsive, or deficient. This leads, among other things, to sharp self-criticism or hatred. Sometimes this can be explained by previous experiences of devaluation, insecurity, or abuse.
According to the researchers, early signs of BPD require professional intervention if people suffer greatly because of it, isolate themselves from others, give up dreams and ambitions, or engage in self-damaging behavior. In some cases, BPD may co-exist with other disorders such as depression, anorexia, and/or post-traumatic stress disorder.
In the future, the scientists hope to develop group therapy programs for at-risk adolescents that will be introduced in schools. “This therapy program will be designed to teach practical skills and develop self-compassion in adolescents,” the researchers said.
“We believe that a kinder and more positive attitude towards yourself can neutralize the harmful effects of self-loathing and help prevent the development of borderline personality disorder. Prevention is better than cure.”
Many of the symptoms are the same in both adults and adolescents. For example, fear of abandonment, unstable interpersonal relationships, identity disturbances, feelings of emptiness – they tend to be the same at all ages.
Other symptoms are more present in adolescents than adults: increased impulsivity, emotional instability, uncontrollable anger, and paranoid ideas (suspicions of other people).
Although BPD is usually diagnosed in adults, initial symptoms can be detected at an early age. Adolescents with pronounced borderline traits often seem to other people to be very unpredictable in feelings and behavior.
Sometimes they can be sad or upset, and sometimes they can be happy for no apparent reason. In addition, they can be extremely sensitive. In romantic relationships, these teenagers often show a pronounced fear of being abandoned, rejected, or left alone.
Left on their own, they may try to do something to feel less alone or to prevent other people from abandoning them. Adolescents with BPD resort to self-harm (cuts, burns, and scrapes) to drown out or block difficult emotions, feelings of emptiness, or emotional pain that they cannot handle.
These are just some general considerations about adolescent borderline traits, and there are several combinations of symptoms. Therefore, it is necessary to evaluate each specific case.
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