News & Research

Borderline Personality Disorder and Childhood Bullying Linked in Study

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Childhood bullying BPDBullying in childhood may do more than just emotionally and physically harm your child. A new study in the Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry suggests that childhood bullying in elementary school may increase a child’s risk of developing Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD).

In a study of 6,050 mothers and their children, researchers found that children who were bullied when they were 8 and 10 years old had a higher risk of developing symptoms of Borderline Personality Disorder. This was true no matter what type of bullying the children experienced.

The study took into consideration other factors that contribute to Borderline Personality Disorder, including parental hostility and sexual abuse. While these factors are relevant to a diagnosis of BPD, researchers report the relationship between childhood bullying and BPD holds despite the presence of other factors.

When childhood bullying was chronic, meaning it occurred when a child was 8 and 10, the risk for developing Borderline Personality Disorder was five times higher than in children who weren’t bullied. Children who experienced both physical and psychological bullying were more than seven times as likely to develop BPD symptoms.

For the full study, published in the August 2012 issue of the Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, click here.


  1. When I was growing up, I was teased constantly – all through public school and all through high school. I was beaten up once in Grade 9 for speaking up about it, so I never did that again. After Graduation, I became agoraphobic for a few years. I started therapy. It was several years later that I was diagnosed with BPD. It was because of this bullying that I had these thoughts ingrained in me that I was not good enough. I attended a DBT program and got better. We need more awareness of BPD and reduce the stigma associated with it.

  2. Pingback: BPD and Bullying | MAKE BPD STIGMA-FREE!

  3. Mr Intosh

    I am slowly coming to terms with the possibility I may be suffering from BPD, due to several factors from my youth. Where do I start? Which event from my childhood ushered in this disorder? Could it be suffering 7 years of intense bullying which accumulated to an attempt from several bullies to drown and kill me? Perhaps it was my so called “friends” walking away when I was getting beat up in front of several other kids? Every time I tried to stick up for myself I got in more trouble than the bullies doing the bullying.
    Or perhaps, it was when my mother caught me doing something (naughty) that she literally beat me up to, strangling me, holding me up against the wall and frantically searching my pockets (for god knows what) or whipping me with my stepfathers belt while making me kneel down and pray to “god” for forgiveness AND telling me that my father had raped me as a baby, she told me an uncle of mine that I liked had also raped someone years ago, she told me horror stories of her own childhood, stuff no child should have to hear (or even experience)
    I wound up in a mental hospital years later, and tried to tell her that her upbringings may have led me there, then she turned it around and said how horrible my telling her this made her feel.
    She has gone as far as to proclaim on Facebook that “even though she made mistakes he did the best she could have done” implying publicly that she should be forgiven.
    To this day I have very few family relationships, the few I do have are only on social media and on the other side of the country. I haven’t been able to keep a job for more than 1 year at best, I have no friend that I hang out with regularly, suicide is something I think about daily, for many years I life’s as another personality to try to forget about my past and be accepted in another social society, thousands of dollars of my money was spent on any form of narcotic I could get my hands on while trying to overdose and die. (Thankfully I never achieved my goal)
    Though I am not clinicodiagnosed with BPD, I do suffer from depression which has been clinically diagnosed, and even though I a. Not diagnosed I believe I am suffering from anxiety as well.
    There is much more traumatic events in my life that I won’t go into here, and I am trying to find the courage to get the proper help. Thankfully I have a loving wife, and 2 great children to keep me partially sane in the meantime.

  4. Given BPD patients’ tendency to be very sensitive to rejection (I actually think mere criticism, even from those who accept/love the BPD patient), they may ATTRACT bullies because they’re easier to hurt.

    We hypothesize that bullies enjoy the distress their victims display and a BPD patient would likely produce the greatest reaction and thus the greatest reward for bullies.

    Might this be a reversal of cause and effect?
    Screening for rejection/criticism sensitivity may offer school staff an important tool towards preventing bullying by reducing the sadistic incentives bullies seek.

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