I could say that somehow the switch was flipped on the railroad tracks I was happily cruising along on yesterday as I wrote my reply to Question #5 that my daughter sent me for our book. Today I am off on another track, and so far my efforts to STOP my thinking in ‘this direction’ have proved not only ineffective, but have rather escalated my thinking in a direction that is not about what I am writing for the book!
The book is about MY STORY, not my mother’s! And yet here I am pondering Borderline Personality Disorder itself — again. So, I guess there is more I need to say on the subject right now and I might as well get on with it!
My current line of thinking is a combination of considerations both about my mother’s mind and about the comment made yesterday by a Borderline mother on a recent post about ‘parenting correctly. Of course the tie-in for all of this is that my mother wasn’t parented correctly, she sure didn’t parent me correctly — ad infinitum as we think about the transmission of the unresolved trauma through the generations of all of us who have contact with BPD.
Today I am thinking (because this appeared on the National Institute of Mental Health’s webpage about BPD) that under no circumstances do I consider it accurate to use the term ‘emotional dysregulation’ in any way that limits it to BPD. Emotional dysregulation is what happens IN ANY EARLY ENVIRONMENT OF UNSAFE AND INSECURE INFANT-CAREGIVER INTERACTION. This term simply describes body-brain changes that happen to a little one who suffers insecurely in these patterns of interaction. It in NO way is specific to BPD.
Any anxiety disorder, bi-polar disorder, all of the ‘personality disorders’, schizophrenia, ADHS, autism — you name it! All of these INCLUDE emotional dysregulation.
So, this being said I want to also mention that if Dr. Martin Teicher and his Harvard research group are correct in their assessment that early trauma can so change the development of a little one’s body-brain that they end up as an ‘evolutionarily altered’ individual, then what I just wrote in comment and post about Borderline parents (as well as all of us who parent even though we were altered through trauma in our beginnings) needs to be said much more clearly:
Evolutionarily altered means to me that the benefits that our species has reaped through our evolution into less troubled and troubling times simply did not exist for us. All of the ‘more highly evolved’ abilities that come to a body-brain that is raised from birth with the best or near the best safe and secure attachment conditions was not given to us.
Because I also believe as I’ve said that the greatest creative gifts in our human gene pool are directly tied to the highest risks for troubles if things go wrong in our earliest life, there is an important connection here.
Only in very modern ‘evolved’ times have humans even attempted to raise offspring alone — in dual parent let alone as single parent families. Old times, those ‘evolutionarily altered’ times as nature designed us ALWAYS meant that people lived collectively and they raised offspring collectively.
For those of us who were trauma altered it is therefore part-and-parcel of our resulting ‘conditions’ that we ALSO need collective help to raise our children.
Whether or not our society wants to accept these realities, the solution to Borderline parenting MIGHT be that those people never have offspring due to their inability to ‘parent correctly’ because their physiology of body-nervous system-brain-mind-self has been altered to a ‘more primitive’ condition in response to a ‘more primitive’ early environment.
The OTHER solution is NOT that these BPD parents have their children ‘removed’ from them as our society currently practices. It is ALSO not to leave the BPD parents to parent alone — because they do not physiologically have the ability to do so without passing trauma onto their kids – no matter how they wish not to.
The OTHER solution is to find ways to offer at risk, including BPD parents, a way to access the kinds of collective parenting environments that raised up our species in the first place.
Just because a solution to a problem might not be easy or popular does not mean it isn’t possible. If a nation considers its children to be just that — its children — creative ways CAN be found to resolve critically important problems that affect the future generations.
In my scenario, then, an emotionally escalating ‘dysregulated’ parent could simply walk away and take care of their self while someone else at that critical juncture in time takes care of the offspring. Not only that, but what a trauma-altered development person needs, BPD or not, is to carefully tended at the same time. This is social interaction. This is social life-support toward healing.
Emotionally dysregulated people (including PTSD) will NEVER be able to process anxiety/stress/distress stimulation in ordinary ways. It’s not hard to imagine all the complications FOR THE ADULT that enter into this picture. But being able to down-regulate emotional response, intensity, duration and appropriateness didn’t come to ANYONE just because they are a wonderful person. Those abilities were built into someone who has them in their body in safe and secure interactions within their caregiving environment by someone — or this person would not have them at all either.
If say a BPD parent could walk away and leave care periodically with the collective and go take care of their needs — including their needs for creativity and expression — this has nothing to do with loving one’s children or not! NOTHING!
The fact is that nature NEVER intended people to parent children alone – and I am talking about far more than just extended family connections as we think of them today. If BPD or some other trauma-altered development condition exists in a parent, it came from the environment that raised them — and it is very possible that the ‘disorder’ in the connected-extended family is NOT HEALTHY.
The collective needs to be a healthy one. True, given the parameters of the culture we live in I can’t envision how this COULD actually work, but that does not mean that this isn’t the best solution possible.