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J Pers Disord. 1997 Spring;11(1):93-104.

Pathways to the development of borderline personality disorder.

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  • 1Laboratory for the Study of Adult Development, McLean Hospital, Belmont, Massachusetts 02178, USA.


The available empirical evidence concerning the etiology of borderline personality disorder is reviewed. A tripartite model of the development of BPD is then presented. This model has three elements: a traumatic childhood (broadly defined), a vulnerable (hyperbolic) temperament, and a triggering event or series of events. The authors conclude that each borderline patient has a unique pathway to the development of BPD that is a painful variation on an unfortunate but familiar theme.

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