Traumatic events are reported in a large percentage of the population, however, only in some individuals it will lead to a diagnosable trauma-related disorder. Borderline personality disorder (BPD) is deemed to be a form of acute reaction to childhood trauma. Therein experiences of childhood abuse and neglect take on an important etiological role, generating severely disorganized attachment relationships, which in turn affect the development of emotional regulation systems, and significantly inhibit the development of mentalization and metacognitive skills. Furthermore, the last decade has seen important contribution of neuroscientific research in shedding light on the neurobiological correlates of traumatic experiences. A wealth of scientific literature links the onset of BPD to the combination between genetic and environmental factors (G×E), in particular between biological vulnerabilities and the exposure to traumatic experiences during childhood. Although no research can predict with certainty which trauma will translate into symptoms, there are indications as to who is more at risk of developing a trauma-related disorder. Herein we describe the psychological and epigenetic mechanisms affected by childhood trauma and altered in BPD patients.
Part of the book: Psychological Trauma