When you say that the cause of Borderline Personality Disorder for some people doesn’t “seem” to be their parents, you are correct. It only does not seem to be.
The primary reasons for this are denial and ignorance. The children are in denial because they have a powerful emotional aversion to seeing their parents in any way that makes them emotionally uncomfortable, and they wouldn’t know what they’re seeing anyway without some sort of reference. Also, most therapists and psychologists do not seem to be insightful enough to both look through the denials of their clients, and then work to help their clients see the true nature of that relationship and redefine it.
So what happens is that the children speak of their parents in reverent, affectionate terms, and paint a picture of them as only loving and caring, and the therapist incompetently takes this at face value. The therapist then goes on to write a book about how many of her patients with Borderline Personality Disorder have had wonderful upbringings, so Borderline Personality Disorder must have multiple causes, and similar bullshit.
The therapist does not have the insight to understand that it is impossible that the parents were emotionally healthy, and therefore completely reject her client’s assertions from the very start - on the basis that the client is both in denial and ignorant (couldn’t recognize the types of abuse we’re talking about even if they wanted) - and then do the work to dig deeper below the surface to truly analyze the subtleties of the client’s relationship with his or her parents, and then help her client see this for himself or herself, and redefine those relationships.
Now pay attention to what I’m going to say here and give some real thought to it: In the vast majority of cases, the cause of Borderline Personality Disorder does not involve dramatic, obvious abuse. Instead, in by far the greatest majority of cases, the cause involves subtle abuse. So subtle that the words to properly convey this subtlety are failing me.
By the way, the children are not lying to the therapist. They truly do remember and view their parents as the model of what good parenting is. But they simply don’t know anything else. They have no healthy point of reference. During childhood, your family bubble is the entire universe for you, and whatever realities exist within that bubble, you don’t simply perceive them as your family’s way of doing things. No, that comes later, but by the time you begin to question certain aspects of your family realities, the damage is already done; certain perceptions are already cemented into place. For a long time, the realities inside your family bubble define not just the realities of your life, but reality in general for you - that is, the broader reality of the nature of the entire world around you.
For readers who are only now joining me, let me explain that I myself had Borderline Personality Disorder, unaware, until I was at least 35 years old. Over the course of roughly seven years, I managed to authentically rid myself of the disorder once and for all. During that process, I myself had to escape my own denial and ignorance in this particular aspect of the disorder. That is to say, I also viewed my parents as being wonderful parents, and if somebody had told me that my parents were unhealthy and abusive, I would have rejected this thought outright. It would have made me extremely angry to hear such ‘ridiculous’ things from people who couldn’t possibly know what it was like to be raised by my parents.
Now, on the other side of recovery, not only has my entire view of my parents changed (I can clearly see the myriad of ways I was mistreated and abused, which I was completely blind to for over thirty years) but I am also now the person trying to help others escape the same denial and ignorance. It’s a massive hurdle, for sure. But it is a hurdle that must be overcome if a person is to have any hope to be rid of Borderline Personality Disorder for real.
Back to the fact that we are dealing with things of an infinitesimally subtle nature. What is the true cause of Borderline Personality Disorder? In other words, what is the thing that parents do that causes their children to develop Borderline Personality Disorder in the first place?
Get a pen and paper and jot this down:
It is their unhealthy attitudes.
It is their unhealthy attitudes, which communicate the idea that their children’s feelings are irrelevant.
Notice what I did not just say. I did not say ‘trauma’.
‘Trauma’ is not the cause of Borderline Personality Disorder. The true cause of Borderline Personality Disorder is what I just told you it is: The unhealthy attitudes of our parents, which communicate the idea that our feelings are irrelevant, and devoid of inherent worth.
Now people will get in an uproar, and they will say, “That’s not true! I was raped! I was beaten! I was chained to a wall in a basement!” That’s true, some of you with Borderline Personality Disorder were. But not all of you were. In fact, not even the majority of you were.
The rest of us had ‘wonderful’ parents, remember?
But before we move on, let me ask you this: What allowed your parents to rape you, beat you, and chain you to the wall in the basement in the first place, if it was not their unhealthy attitudes?
Also, what message did being raped, beaten, and chained in the basement communicate to you? The same message my ‘wonderful’ parents communicated to me in infinitesimally more subtle ways: Your feelings are irrelevant.
After all, if your feelings mattered, would you have ever been raped? Beaten? Chained? No, you wouldn’t have been. The ‘trauma’ part of this is a decoy duck, and the professional community as a group does not seem to have the insight to understand this. Instead, they focus exclusively on this decoy duck and beat it like a dead horse. The only relevant thing is what the ‘trauma’ communicated, and how it was allowed to happen at all, and the way it was able to happen at all was because of your parents’ unhealthy, underlying attitudes.
Now let me ask you this: Do our parents have to rape us, beat us, or chain us to walls to communicate that our feelings are irrelevant? No, of course not. They only have to live with an unhealthy perspective of feelings themselves.
Did you catch what I just said? Parents merely have to live with the perspective, on some level, that feelings are irrelevant, and this is enough in itself to cause their children to develop Borderline Personality Disorder. Their unhealthy attitude on this one aspect of life is enough.
Children adopt their own perspectives by observing their parents’ attitudes and the messages that those attitudes convey. The mother who sweetly and consistently tells her daughter things like, “don’t cry”, and while laughing says, “that’s nothing to be scared about!” is communicating the exact same message as the mother who mercilessly beats her children for crying. The father who views his children’s feelings as a personal affront and gets upset or offended at them for what they feel is carrying around the same unhealthy, underlying attitude as the parent who burns his children with cigarettes: Your feelings don’t matter. You’re feeling the wrong thing. Your feelings bother me.
I often tell people that abuse, even when it is done sweetly, is still abuse. Just because it is done with a smile and a soft tone of voice does not magically transform abuse into something else.
Communicating unhealthy messages about children’s feelings to them through improper attitudes is abuse. It does not have to be accompanied by a cigarette burn or a slap in order to be abuse. The messages communicated in the unhealthy attitudes themselves is abuse.
Not all parents who raise children to have Borderline Personality Disorder traumatize their children with dramatic instances of physical, traumatic abuse. But all parents who raise children to have Borderline Personality Disorder do have unhealthy attitudes about the nature of feelings.
It is your parents’ unhealthy attitudes toward feelings which are the key to understanding, and eventually ridding yourself of Borderline Personality Disorder, not ‘trauma’. If you live with Borderline Personality Disorder, but you are currently unable to see how your parents are responsible in this way, I assure you that your parents are not the magical exception. There is no other possibility - your parents are responsible for the disorder you live with. You are either in denial about the role they played, or you are ignorant - meaning you need somebody else’s help to identify the subtle ways they reflect unhealthy, improper, underlying attitudes, how they have been communicating those unhealthy attitudes to you for your entire life, and the ways in which the messages in these unhealthy attitudes have powerfully and negatively affected you.