Can you have PTSD from a Borderline Mother?

In this blog, we will answer the question, “Can you have PTSD from a Borderline Mother?”, and also cover what Borderline Personality disorder (BPD) is, symptoms of BPD, what does the research say about this, and how to recover from the PTSD caused by your borderline mother.

Can you have PTSD from a Borderline Mother?

Yes, you can have PTSD from a Borderline mother because when you are a kid and your mother is someone who has Borderline Personality disorder which includes erratic behaviour, extreme mood swings, impulsive and self-harming behaviours that can be extremely traumatizing for a child and later develop into Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). 

Parent with BPD

Having a BPD parent, whether a mother or father, can inflict unspeakable pain. Their immaturity and instability may prevent you from separating from them, limit your emotional expression, and obstruct your development and growth.

Having a parent with BPD, on the other hand, does not indicate you will follow in their footsteps. You have all of the strength and freedom to break free from the cage of control and confinement and restore your independence and health.

What is Borderline Personality Disorder?

Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) is a condition that leads to difficulty in regulating emotions. People with BPD may behave in an erratic manner. They seem unable to create and maintain connections. People with BPD often act in an impulsive manner and can also engage in self-harming behaviours. People with a history of childhood trauma are more likely to develop BPD.

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders categorizes Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) under the category of Personality disorders. BPD is a mental health illness marked by emotional instability (the inability to control one’s emotions), an unstable sense of self, difficulties creating and maintaining relationships, and a proclivity for impulsive, frequently self-harming behaviours and urges.

 It’s also worth noting that BPD is rather common. BPD affects about 1.6 percent of the adult population in the United States, but the number might be as high as 5.9 percent, with women accounting for over 75 percent of those diagnosed.

Patients with BPD mothers are considerably more common than patients with BPD fathers. That isn’t to argue that men are immune to this personality disorder; it’s only that this diagnosis is statistically more common in women and, by extension, mothers.

If you’re facing this, it may be a good idea to seek the help of a therapist or other mental health professional. You can find a therapist at BetterHelp who can help you learn how to cope and address it.

What causes borderline personality disorder?

BPD is a relational trauma disorder. According to research, have a history of childhood trauma.

Childhood trauma, as we all know, can show in a multitude of ways depending on the circumstances, the individual who experienced it, and the subsequent aid and support (or lack thereof) that the individual received in the years after the traumatic start.

This trauma can sometimes show as a set of symptoms and responses that fit the BPD diagnostic criteria and when it occurs, it can have a significant influence on the sufferer’s children. It is important to ask ourselves a question “ what would have let someone behave in this way?”

Individuals with BPD have often suffered relationship trauma in their lives, and their responses (maladaptive as they may be) emerge and emanate from that place.

More importantly, you can have compassion for someone with these characteristics and this diagnosis while also feeling rage, grief, and despair as a result of their actions.

What does the research say about BPD and PTSD?

Lara Petfield conducted a research on Parenting in mothers with borderline personality disorder and impact on child outcomes. The research aimed to examine what parenting difficulties are experienced by mothers with borderline personality disorder (BPD); and what impact do these have on their children? The study included mothers with a diagnosis of BPD, who was the primary caregiver to a child/children under 19 years.

Results of the study

Mothers with BPD were found to be more likely to parent in the presence of major extra risk factors such as depression, substance abuse, and a lack of support. Interactions between mothers with BPD and their infants are prone to low sensitivity and intrusiveness, and mothers struggle to recognise their emotional states.

Self-reported competence and satisfaction are low, while parenting stress is high. Mothers with BPD have low levels of mind-mindedness but high levels of overprotection of older children, and the home setting is often antagonistic and deficient in cohesion.

Children’s outcomes are low when compared to both healthy mothers and mothers with various diseases. Infants whose mothers suffer from BPD have less good interactions with their mothers (eg, less positive affect and vocalizing, more dazed looks, and looks away). Older children have more cognitive–behavioral risk characteristics (such as harm avoidance, dysfunctional attitudes, and attributions) and have less positive ties with their moms. Given these findings, it’s not unexpected that children of mothers with BPD have lower mental health in a variety of areas.

Borderline mother and PTSD

Being raised by a mother who suffers from BPD might cause a child to have persistent traumatic experiences. As a result, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) could develop. Here are some examples of what a child with a borderline parent may face:

  • Emotional Abandonment and Neglect

Children are bred to deal with parents that are inconsistent, unpredictable, and unpleasant. The parent may be completely oblivious to their child’s requirements. They’ll then demand to be heavily involved in all of the child’s decisions and behaviours without explanation. Furthermore, if a BPD mother believes her child has disobeyed or disappointed her, she will withdraw love and attention as a punishment.

  • Isolation and Withdrawal by Force

If their child thrives, a BPD mother’s life is jeopardized. Positive occurrences and moments will be sabotaged by them. They have the authority to prevent a child from spending time with anyone with whom they like spending time. It’s the cruelest version of “misery loves company.”

  • Feeling Afraid and Threatened

The on-the-edge mother accuses and blames. Every child experiences periods of rage or frustration. Normal feelings are interpreted as a personal attack if your mother suffers from BPD. Out of dread, such children learn to suppress their feelings. They also keep their views and opinions to themselves rather than risking their mother’s disapproval. It can also prevent youngsters from acquiring any sense of autonomy or individuality.

  • You internalize their aggressiveness as chronic guilt and shame

You’ve absorbed their aggression as a source of constant remorse and shame.

If you have a parent who is emotionally unstable or has Borderline Personality Disorder, you may be repeatedly blamed for things you did not do, and you may be subjected to unwarranted fury.

The truth is that your BPD mother has experienced significant relational trauma. As a result, even seemingly innocuous and trivial events might cause trauma reactions.

When they are triggered, they automatically think that the cause was you, even though the true source of their misery goes back before you were born.

Their empathy is significantly harmed when they are reliving their experience. Even if they are acting irrationally, they believe their wrath is justifiable at the time.

You may feel as if you have no firm footing to stand on if you live with an emotionally unstable and immature parent. They make you feel cherished one minute and then give you the cold shoulder or a bombardment of criticism the next. You may have assumed your entire life that you were doing something wrong, or even that your existence was invalid because children typically blame themselves for what happens.

  • BPD parents are extremely needy

Parents will urge grown children to expand their wings and fly in a healthy family environment. A  mother with BPD, on the other hand, may feel excessively threatened when you need to grow and show your individuality because of their intense fear of abandonment.

They may have criticised you, minimised your thinking, and made you feel guilty for having a thought apart from theirs as you were developing and attempting to form a sense of self. They may threaten you with abandonment or suggest that they wouldn’t be able to survive without you.

Your mother with BPD may experience feelings of abandonment and loneliness if you try to detach from them, even if it’s something as simple as leaving home for a few days to be with your friends. All in an attempt to keep you close, they may throw a tantrum, threaten to hurt themselves, or become unhappy and unable to function on their own.

The parent-child roles are reversed in instances like these, and instead of being a tower of strength for you, they become a source of weakness. This is referred to as ‘parentification.’ Their demands for affirmation, affection, and stability have become not only your responsibility, but a lifelong burden as well. Despite the fact that rescuing your parents from their misery has always been and will always be an unattainable undertaking, you may be haunted by the persistent feeling that you are failing at something you should be doing.

How to Start Recovering from Your PTSD From Your Borderline Mother

  • Accept What Happened to You and Why

When you practise acceptance, healing becomes more likely. It can be humiliating to have gone through so much. Few people are at ease when it comes to pinpointing the source of their suffering.

  • Take a look at your mother for the person she is (or Was)

You could feel bad for blaming your mum. Who is it that does that? You may be concerned that others may perceive you as scapegoating and refuse to accept your role. You may also be afraid of doing anything that defies your mother after years of indoctrination. It’s critical that you acknowledge her situation rather than blaming yourself.

  • Do not take her criticisms to heart.

It’s reasonable to take your mother’s statements seriously, even if she has or has Borderline Personality Disorder. Internalization of years or decades of criticism is possible. In your mind’s ear, you hear her voice. You may also hear your mother’s words spoken by your own voice. In order to get back on track, this cycle must be questioned and broken.

  • Seek professional help

PTSD is not something that can be cured on one’s own. Self-help techniques such as those listed above can assist you to improve your situation. But, to be clear, you should consult a mental health professional. 

It is critical to seek the help of a qualified therapist. It puts you in a position to investigate the circumstances around your condition. Furthermore, your weekly lessons will assist you in gaining fresh insights and techniques. 

It may have seemed hard and unfair at times to be raised by a borderline mother. But you don’t have to live with the consequences indefinitely.


Growing up with a BPD parent has a wide range of implications, from relationship issues to how you treat yourself, but you don’t have to live with them for the rest of your life. Whether or not your parent with BPD seeks help for their mental health, you have the option of moving on from the past and achieving a more rewarding life by working on yourself, seeking therapy, and doing whatever is best for you. 

Frequently asked questions (FAQs): Can you have PTSD from a Borderline Mother?

How do you survive a borderline mother?

You can survive a borderline mother by setting and sustaining your boundaries with her. You should also go to therapy and work through your issues. 

Can you get BPD from your mom?

Yes, genes from your mother who has BPD can predispose you to this condition but environmental factors also play a vital role. Growing up with a mother who has BPD can definitely put you at risk for mental health concerns including BPD. 

What does BPD look like in a mother?

Mothers with BPD can often display over indulgence, intrusion, withdrawal, and erratic behaviours. She can also be extremely emotional at a point of time and becoming controlling after a while. The behavioural pattern is very erratic in nature and often poses a threat to the kid in terms of physical, psychological, and emotional well-being. 

What is a borderline mother like?

Mothers with BPD may alternate between being too involved and intrusive and being withdrawn and avoidant. These behaviours can also take the form of aggressive control and mood swings.

How do you deal with a borderline mother?

With your borderline parent, establish and reinforce boundaries. Keep a notebook to record your thoughts and feelings, especially after a traumatic encounter. Be conscious of your own and your parents’ triggers and do your best to avoid them. Make time for yourself and socialise with individuals who aren’t BPD parents.


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