Self-hatred 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 telltale sign that they may be in danger of developing borderline personality disorder (BPD) in adulthood.

“Although personality disorders are generally diagnosed in adults, they present a development path and initial symptoms that can be detected at an early age,” explain researchers Diogo Carreiras, Marina Cunha and Paula Castilho. “That’s why we decided to study borderline symptoms in adolescence.”

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

  • Feelings of abandonment and hyperreactivity to rejection
  • emotional instability
  • Impulsiveness
  • feelings of emptiness
  • A negative view of oneself, often accompanied by harsh self-criticism.
  • Risk behaviors, including self-harm.

BPD precursors that tend to present in adolescence include the following:

  • high impulsivity
  • suicidal behaviors
  • emotional instability
  • uncontrolled rage
  • Paranoid ideation (i.e. mistrusting the intentions of others)

Following the development of 158 adolescents over a six-month period, the researchers found that self-disgust, defined as the emotion of disgust/repulsion directed at personal aspects and characteristics, is another important risk factor in the development of the disorder. personality limit.

“If adolescents see themselves as undesirable, repulsive and bad, they are at higher risk of developing borderline symptoms,” the researchers say. “Our results add to the evidence that self-disgust should be targeted by psychological interventions to prevent adolescent borderline characteristics from developing into a personality disorder.”

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

For anyone experiencing feelings of disgust with themselves, or for guardians who may notice these behavior patterns in their loved ones, the researchers have the following 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 do not define who you are. There are many research-backed ways to manage BPD symptoms, but it all starts with self-acceptance and self-respect.
  3. Learn to love yourself from the bottom up. All humans are imperfect. Accept who you are, as you are, and strive to be more than you want to be. There is much more goodness in all of us than we realize.

According to the researchers, the first signs of BPD require professional intervention when people suffer intensely because of it, isolate themselves from other people, give up their dreams or ambitions, or engage in self-injurious behavior. In some cases, BPD can coexist with 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,” the researchers say. “We believe that a kinder, more positive relationship with oneself could counteract the deleterious effect of self-disgust and help prevent the development of Borderline Personality Disorder. Prevention is better than cure.”

A full interview with researchers discussing their work on BPD and self-loathing can be found here: This trait in teens could lead to borderline personality disorder


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