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Child Dev Perspect. 2009 Apr;3(1):66.

Development in Children and Adolescents Whose Mothers Have Borderline Personality Disorder.

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University of Tennessee.


A mother's mental illness may have a profound effect on her child's development, including an increased risk of the child developing the same disorder. From a developmental psychopathology perspective, offspring provide an opportunity to examine pathways to disorder versus resilience. Borderline personality disorder (BPD) is a severe disorder diagnosed in early adulthood involving stormy relationships, an unstable sense of identity, and self-destructive behavior. Interestingly, the domains of dysfunction are conceptually similar to developmental tasks in early childhood reworked in adolescence: attachment, self development, and self-regulation. Early deviation may increase the risk for later disorder. There are five empirical studies of children whose mothers have BPD, two conducted from a developmental perspective. This article proposes a theoretical framework and an innovative methodology with which to extend this research, and suggests an intervention to bring development back on track if necessary.

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