I ask myself at the start of this post, “What’s my point in writing it if I can’t say that I know what I hope to accomplish by doing so?” There can only be one point to this post and that is to begin to illustrate how complex the topics are that this blog discusses and that its readers are personally concerned about. At this point in the history of science, and correspondingly to this point in the evolution of the human species, not one persona actually has ‘the answer’ to the questions we ask. So what this post simply intends to do is to present the results of one most-recent research study about Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) in its ‘purist’ state as connected to the operation of these people’s brain.
I am not going to try to decipher the findings of this research. I am not going to try to distill it into some kind of format any one of us lay people could begin to wrap our thinking around. I am going to present here the link to this article. Interested readers can follow this link and then spend some time trying to plow their way through it! I don’t believe any of us can begin to understand what is being said here except in these simplest of terms: Borderline Personality Disorder includes within it changes in brain operation that are beginning to be narrowed down as they are discovered.
I would guess that any one of the many brain changes that researchers can now SEE and detect in BPD would be enough to change the way a person operates in the world. The particular brain change that is highlighted in this research I mention today has to do with regions of the brain that are being found to concern the brain’s physiological relationship to and with what we commonly refer to as ‘the self’.
When you click on this link you will be taken to a readable version of this entire research article:
[PDF] Aberrant connectivity of resting–state networks in borderline … [personality disorder]
this article is written by a team of psychiatrists from Germany and Italy. It was early-released on March 15, 2011 and is probably the most current research article on this topic.
Most of the terminology used in this article will be foreign to lay readers. The basic premise is that any human brain shows various patterns of operation depending upon what it is doing. There are regions – “the default mode network” — that normally-ordinarily show up in combination with one another as being at REST when the person-brain is not being called upon to respond to a specific task that demands action. Researchers are discovering that these resting brain regions ‘seem’ to correspond to the brain’s perception of a ‘self’.
All that this information really tells me is that for all the current attempts being made to define, diagnose and treat many so-called ‘mental illnesses’ current science is mostly shooting at a hoped-for target in the dark. The importance of this suggestion for me personally is that my efforts to understand how maltreatment during the first 33 months of life (conception to age 2) creates traumatic stress in little ones that in turn changes body-brain development comes the closest to providing me information that can matter most – both in terms of coming to glimpse what happened to ME at the same time it begins to tell me what happened to my mother to turn her into the abusive monster that she was.
All the information that science can glean about what maltreatment of infant-toddlers (in particular) is and about what it does to alter physiological development of the body-brain of survivors directly relates to the best-of-the-best in human attachment research and its findings. In my thinking any research about BPD and about all so-called ‘mental illnesses’ including Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) that does not include in its considerations the quality of the earliest caregiver-infant attachment environment will be missing the point and will NOT connect directly to the ‘bigger picture’ that we all need to understand.
Most research I am alluding to is in effect studying a glass turned upside-down. The characteristics of the bottom of the glass are meticulously observed and described. What is seen of an individual, in effect its phenotype, has to be connected to the forces and influences in an individual’s earliest life that set in motion the direction of physiological development that can be observed (and is experienced) at the end of this earliest developmental process.
When the proverbial glass is placed correctly with its bottom on the bottom, this bottom rests firmly on the platform that is the environment that influenced its formation in the first place. Everything that is put into this glass and that comes out of it throughout the lifespan of an individual is actually connected to how this glass itself was created in the first place.
I mention this today in part because of two books on trauma that a post reader found in the library and is reading. I found the titles for sale at Amazon.com:
I am not familiar with these books (have not read either one), but I notice immediately the date range of their publication and know that all current developmental neuroscientific information will be missing from their pages. While I would suspect that they both contain good and helpful information, I also know that this information will not be presented specifically for adult survivors of early infant-toddler neglect, abuse, maltreatment who suffered Trauma Altered Development at the start of their life and during the most critical body-brain formative stages.
Any book that survivors of extreme stress, maltreatment and trauma during especially the first 33 months of life reads will NOT contain the information we most need to know unless the early infant-caregiver patterns of attachment are included within the book’s covers. This does not mean that these ‘other’ books are not useful. It just means that there are monstrous holes in the information they present. It is within these holes and within the missing information these holes contain that our truest understanding about our own self and the self of our abusers is most likely to be – NOT found.
This missing information, for the most part, is still being discovered. What we do know still lies mostly within the fields of study of attachment and developmental neuroscience. That information is still being translated into terms that the lay public (including survivors) can begin to comprehend. This means to me that we survivors know as much about what really matters as any expert does because our trauma-changed body-brain is living the consequences of what the researchers are attempting to discover and describe.
A human body-brain is designed (one way or the other) to process information through the equivalent of our two brains – our left brain and our right brain. Information that is NOT jointly and cooperatively processed by BOTH of our brains is not WHOLE information.
Any attempts we might make to understand our self in our own reality by reading information presented by ANY source outside of our own self has to be processed this same way.
I consider ‘outside’ information to be the equivalent of left brain information (most often presented in words that the left brain assumes to comprehend). This information means NOTHING if it is not EQUALLY considered by our right brain – and I mean OUR RIGHT BRAIN.
We are the only person who can do this task of understanding for our own self. No matter what any other human being tells us about ANYTHING – it has no meaning to us personally until we ‘eat it up’ with BOTH of our brains.
The other important point here is that it is mostly our RIGHT BRAIN that gives us the information that our BODY knows about anything we consider in our lifetime. In other words, when we read what anyone else has to say we HAVE TO listen to what our body tells us!!
We can call this body information our ‘gut reaction’. Our body-based reaction (which is intimately connected to every memory of every experience we have ever had) will (I believe) appear as feeling translated into images that our right brain will attempt to ‘put on the table’ for the left brain’s edification (enlightenment). (These images can be body sensations, smells, senses of movement and motion in time and space, music, etc.)
So in essence, outsider information will mean nothing to us any more than information presented just to our left brain will. For information to make sense to us it has to ALWAYS be processed in its whole form as we take our left brain-right brain-body factors into consideration. I don’t care where we find ‘facts’, who wrote them down as they discovered them in the first place, or how ‘scientifically valid’ and up-to-date the source is.
I do believe that ‘truth has a ring to it’. I believe when we hear/read something that is true for us our body will tell us, not just our intellect. It is that resonating ring-of-truth that I found when I discovered attachment and developmental neuroscientific research such as Siegel’s, Shore’s and Teicher’s (all mentioned frequently on this blog).
Reading ‘self-help’ information that left me feeling befuddled and muddled felt entirely different to me in my body. I am very happy that I now know the difference!
But I have work to do outdoors now finishing the roof of my chicken coop. It is a beautiful day!