Self-Disgust In Teens May Be An Early Sign Of Borderline Personality Disorder

A new study published in Personality and Individual Differences recognizes the presence of ‘self-disgust’ in adolescents as a telling sign that they might be in danger of developing Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) in adulthood.

“Although personality disorders are usually diagnosed in adults, they present a developmental path and initial symptoms that can be detected at early ages,” explain researchers Diogo Carreiras, Marina Cunha, and Paula Castilho. “This was why we decided to study borderline symptoms in adolescence.”

Past research has identified the following emotional patterns and behaviors to be among the most common symptoms of BPD:

  • Feelings of abandonment and hyper-reactivity to rejection
  • Emotional instability
  • Impulsivity
  • Feelings of emptiness
  • A negative self-view often with harsh self-criticism
  • Risk behaviors, including self-harm

Precursors to BPD that tend to present themselves in adolescence are as follows:

  • High impulsivity
  • Suicidal behaviors
  • Emotional instability
  • Uncontrolled anger
  • Paranoid ideation (i.e., being suspicious about others’ intentions)

Tracking the development of 158 adolescents over a six-month time period, the researchers found self-disgust — defined as the emotion of disgust/revulsion directed at personal aspects and characteristics — to be another important risk factor in developing Borderline Personality Disorder.

“If adolescents view themselves as undesirable, repulsive and bad, they have increased risk to grow borderline symptoms,” say the researchers. “Our results raise evidence that self-disgust should be targeted by psychological interventions to prevent adolescents’ borderline features from evolving into a personality disorder.”

In people with BPD, self-disgust is typically related to a persistent feeling of being irrevocably bad, repulsive, or flawed. This results in harsh self-criticism, self-hatred, or self-loathing. It can sometimes be explained by previous experiences of invalidation, insecurity, or abuse.

For anyone experiencing feelings of self-disgust, or for guardians who might notice these behavioral patterns in loved ones, the researchers have the following words of advice:

  1. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. This takes courage, but there are qualified people who can help you find answers to the problems you or your loved ones are facing.
  2. Your feelings are valid and true but they don’t define who you are. There are many research-backed ways of managing BPD symptoms, but it all starts with self-acceptance and self-respect.
  3. Learn to love yourself from the bottom to the top. All humans are imperfect. Embrace who you are, as you are, and fight for being more of what you want to be. There is much more goodness in all of us than we realize.

According to the researchers, early signs of BPD require professional intervention when people suffer intensely because of it, isolate themselves from other people, give up on their dreams or ambitions, or engage in self-harming behaviors. In some cases, BPD can exist alongside other disorders — for example, depression, anorexia, and/or post-traumatic stress.

In the future, the researchers hope to design group intervention programs for at-risk adolescents to be implemented in schools.

“This intervention program would be designed to teach practical skills and cultivate self-compassion in adolescents,” say the researchers. “We believe that a kinder and more positive self-relationship could counteract the harmful effect of self-disgust and may help prevent the development of Borderline Personality Disorder. Prevention is better than cure.”

A full interview with the researchers discussing their work on BPD and self-disgust can be found here: This one trait in teenagers might lead to Borderline Personality Disorder

Reference-www.forbes.com

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