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Can Ptsd Cause Personality Disorder

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Complex Ptsd And Emotional Flashbacks

Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) – causes, symptoms, treatment & pathology

If you have complex PTSD you may be particularly likely to experience what some people call an ’emotional flashback’, in which you have intense feelings that you originally felt during the trauma, such as fear, shame, sadness or despair. You might react to events in the present as if they are causing these feelings, without realising that you are having a flashback.

See our sections explaining what flashbacks are and tips for coping with flashbacks for more information.

Traumatic Events As Deep As Personality

Posted December 13, 2012

Psychologists know that some aspects of personality are virtually unchangeable. These traits are described as deep, meaning that they are biologically based and difficult to change . You cannot turn a sociopath into a saint or crush the ego of a narcissist.

Such change is theoretically possible but it would require profound changes in brain biology. For instance, researchers shifted polygynous mountain voles to monogamy by altering brain receptors for the hormone oxytocin .

Deep means hard to change not hard to acquire

A trait does not have to be genetically inherited, or even present at birth, to be deep. If you ever felt nauseated by eating porridge as a child, the chances are that you skip the oatmeal when you go out for breakfast decades later. Food aversions are deep, but they can form after a single unpleasant meal, according to experiments on rats.

One of the curious features of personality change is that we are more profoundly altered by highly unpleasant experiences than by highly pleasurable ones, possibly because painful experiences signal imminent threats to survival.

Fear of physical harm is one important source of psychological problems. Fear of social rejection is less obvious but potentially just as important. A great deal of evidence suggests that corporal punishment, and scolding, make children turn out more aggressive and antisocial .

Implications for clinical psychology

Links Between Trauma Ptsd And Dissociative Disorders

Carly Snyder, MD is a reproductive and perinatal psychiatrist who combines traditional psychiatry with integrative medicine-based treatments.

There is a very strong link between trauma and dissociative disorders, and the relationship is important in both directions. It’s thought that long-term trauma is a root cause of dissociative disorders, with dissociation occurring as a coping strategy that allows people to distance themselves from a trauma that may otherwise be unbearable.

When dissociation continues when real danger no longer exists, however, it can prolong or even prevent recovery from abuse and neglect. There is also a connection between dissociation and post-traumatic stress disorder . Changes in brain function may further explain the connections among these causes and conditions.

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Narcissistic Parents And The Formation Of Cptsd

It is not hard to see why children of narcissistic parents often form complex post-traumatic stress disorder . These kids are subjected to repeated and horrific abuse at the hands of people they should be able to count on for their care.

CPTSD forms as a response to chronic traumatization that lasts for months or years. The traumatization includes physical, sexual, and for our needs in this article, emotional abuse. Unfortunately, narcissistic parents might be part of human trafficking or another ring of abuse and use their children for their financial gain.

Malignant narcissistic parents attempt to destroy the lives of their children, causing them to exhibit all the signs of someone who has CPTSD.

Avoidant Personality Disorder Causes Environment

The Correlation Between PTSD and Substance Abuse Disorders

The previous paragraph already explained that 39% of the avoidant PD traits can be explained by environmental influences. But what are these environmental influences? Environmental influences could be upbringing and experiencing traumatic events . On the avoidant PD facts page you can read all kinds of interesting facts regarding the type of traumatic events. On this page we stick to childhood abuse .More than 75% of the people with avoidant PD experienced a traumatic event in the past. At least 22% of the people with trauma history experienced childhood sexual abuse/assault . Childhood neglect also increases the chance of developing avoidant PD later in life , . These studies, and others, suggest that experiencing childhood abuse and neglect are avoidant personality disorder causes. And if we take a look at the AVPD symptoms, then we see why this is very likely: people with Avoidant PD usually feel inadequate, inept, and are preoccupied with rejection. Growing up in a family where the parents arent there for you , can give children the idea that they are not important, do not matter, are not good enough, and basically feel rejected. Parents are the most important figures for a child. Not being able to rely on their love, attention, and affection can result in withdrawn children.

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Socialemotional Profiles Of Ptsd Complex Ptsd And Borderline Personality Disorder Among Racially And Ethnically Diverse Young Adults: A Latent Class Analysis

Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Medical University of South Carolina, Charleston, South Carolina, USA

Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Tanya Saraiya, Ph.D., Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Medical University of South Carolina. E-mail:

Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Medical University of South Carolina, Charleston, South Carolina, USA

Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical Center, Charleston, South Carolina, USA

Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Medical University of South Carolina, Charleston, South Carolina, USA

Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Tanya Saraiya, Ph.D., Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Medical University of South Carolina. E-mail:

Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Medical University of South Carolina, Charleston, South Carolina, USA

Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical Center, Charleston, South Carolina, USA

Prevalence And Comorbidity Of Bpd Ptsd And Cptsd

The estimated prevalence in the adult population in the United States of BPD is 6% . By comparison, across a range of post-industrial nations, the estimated lifetime prevalence of PTSD in adults ranged from 1-10% . cPTSD prevalence estimates have not been reported in community or primary healthcare samples.

PTSD is often noted as a common comorbidity of BPD . In nationally representative samples in the United States, approximately 30% of adults meeting criteria for either PTSD or BPD also met criteria for the other disorder, and closer to 40% of adults diagnosed with BPD had an episode of PTSD at some point in their lifetime . A 10-year follow-up of adults diagnosed with BPD found that most who initially were diagnosed with PTSD continued to meet criteria for BPD but experienced a remission of PTSD . However, almost half of remitted PTSD cases experienced a recurrence. Individuals with childhood histories of sexual abuse were least likely to remit on PTSD. More than one in four of the BPD cohort had a new diagnosis of PTSD over the 10-year period, most often following a sexual assault . These findings closely parallel those for remission, recurrence, and new cases of substance use disorders , suggesting a need for examination of the course and risk factors for complex comorbid combinations of PTSD, SUD, and BPD. They also speak to the risk of revictimization that has been found to be associated with complex traumatization in childhood .

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Who Is Likely To Get Borderline Personality Disorder

Women are more likely than men to get a borderline personality disorder diagnosis. Men are often misdiagnosed with depression or post-traumatic stress disorder instead. Although anyone can develop the disorder, its more common if you have a family history of BPD. People with other mental health disorders are at higher risk.

Dissociative Identity Disorder Treatment And Prognosis

Can PTSD cause sufferers to break from reality? What is a dissociative state?

It can take a long time to correctly identify the existence of dissociative identity disorder. But once it has been diagnosed, treatment methods will be adopted that have a proven track record of success when applied to this unusual condition.

Psychotherapy is the primary form of treatment for DID. Sessions normally take place in an individual format, where therapist and patient can create bonds of trust and privacy.

Dealing with dissociative symptoms is a delicate procedure, and the purpose of therapy is not to eliminate the various personalities but to help them all find peace, resolution, and self-acceptance. A history of trauma lies at the root of dissociative identity disorder, and only by coming to terms with their terrible memories can people with DID find peace, contentment, and freedom.

Multiple personalities may be reintegrated into a single healthy, functioning personality eventually. But that process takes time and cannot be rushed or forced.

Recovery from DID takes time, patience, courage, and expert assistance from mental health professionals who understand the nature of the disorder and know how to deconstruct the foundation of bad memories upon which it is built. Happier, healthier, and more peaceful days await people with dissociative identity disorder who get the comprehensive services they need, and despite the severity of the condition its most debilitating effects can be successfully managed.

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What If Im Not Happy With My Treatment

Patient Advice and Liaison Service

You could call the Patient Advice and Liaison Service at your NHS trust if you:

  • feel unhappy with how your treatment or care is being handled,
  • You are struggling to get the right treatment, or
  • feel that the relationship between you and a professional is not working well.

They can try to sort out any problems or questions you have. You can find your local PALS details at


You can also complain if you arent happy. You can find out more about Complaints by clicking here.


You might find an advocate helpful if you are unhappy with your treatment. You can get help from an NHS Complaints advocate.

An advocate is independent from mental health services. They can help to make your voice heard when you are trying to sort out problems. They might help you write letters or support you in appointments and meetings.

You can search online for a NHS Complaints advocate or the Rethink Mental Illness Advice Service could search for you.

You can find out more information about Advocacy by clicking here.

Complex Ptsd: Symptoms And Treatments For Veterans

As a veteran, you are probably familiar with post-traumatic stress disorder . But what exactly is complex post-traumatic stress disorder ?

This article will explain the differences between PTSD and CPTSD and how you can get help for this mental health issue.


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Symptoms Of Ptsd Vs Cptsd

The symptoms of PTSD might be what veterans feel are most familiar to them. PTSD is a panic disorder or anxiety disorder that can cause:

  • Flashbacks to the traumatic event
  • Nightmares and sleep difficulties
  • Mood and behavioral changes
  • Avoiding situations that remind you of the traumatic event

As stated above, post-traumatic stress disorder happens commonly in veterans who have gone through a traumatic event, such as combat injury, sustained deployment, and witnessing bodily harm or death.

If you have been diagnosed with PTSD but you feel as though you are still struggling with the symptoms and the emotional pain of this mental health problem, you might have further traumas that you need to process to fully heal.

The main difference between PTSD and complex post-traumatic stress disorder involves the trauma itself.

In cases with repeated trauma, veterans are much more likely to develop CPTSD because they had traumatic experiences over a long period of time. This chronic trauma is incredibly hard to heal from and often leads veterans to unhealthy coping mechanisms, like substance abuse, to try to numb the emotional pain of reliving the traumas.

CPTSD comes with the same classic symptoms of PTSD that are explained above. However, they usually last for a longer period of time and sometimes they can be more severe and harder to treat.

Environment Influences And Borderline Personality Disorder

Borderline personality disorder

Environmental factors, which in this case means exposure to childhood trauma, loss, and neglect, also plays a role in the onset of borderline personality disorder. While genetic influences may be somewhat more important, only a small percentage of BPD sufferers will develop the disorder despite having no past history of abuse and neglect.

Because children are still in a stage of transition, mentally and physically, negative experiences can have a devastating impact on their course of development. They may be diagnosed with numerous mental health problems in later life, including borderline personality disorder.

The list of childhood experiences that make a person vulnerable to BPD in adulthood includes:

  • Emotional abuse
  • Witnessing of abuse within the family

Multiple studies have been carried out investigating the prevalence of childhood abuse and neglect among adult borderline personality disorder sufferers, and the results are striking: between 40 and 86 percent of BPD sufferers report sexual abuse, up to 75 percent say they were emotionally abused, up to 73 percent report physical abuse, and between 17 and 25 percent experienced severe emotional neglect.

Children depend on parents and other trusted caretakers to provide a safe, loving, and supportive environment, and when that does not happen the long-term consequences can be devastating.

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Treatment For People With Complex Ptsd

Treatment for CPTSD has come a long way in recent years. Currently, the United States Department of Veterans Affairs encourages veterans to find a mental health professional to truly begin to heal from the experienced traumas.

Therapies such as cognitive behavioral therapy or cognitive processing therapy can be extremely helpful for people with complex PTSD.

Moreover, there is a unique therapy for people with complex PTSD. This therapy is called eye movement desensitization and reprocessing . According to the Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing Institute, EMDR therapy has been effective in helping nearly 80 percent of veterans diagnosed with PTSD heal from their traumatic experiences in only a dozen sessions.

These statistics might seem exaggerated or you might feel that it would take a miracle to cure your PTSD. But theres a science behind EMDR.

Heres how EMDR works:

EMDR is a great and effective therapeutic approach for people with CPTSDespecially if you are a person with CPTSD who would like to recover from traumatic experiences as well as struggles with substance abuse disorders.

Common Causes Of Ptsd

Post-traumatic stress disorder gets a lot of press, especially regarding military veterans who return from combat. For example, its estimated that 11-20% of veterans who served in the recent wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have PTSD in a given year.

However, you dont have to see combat in the military to be vulnerable to PTSD, a potentially debilitating condition that can lead to intrusive thoughts and flashbacks, avoidance of reminders of the traumatic event, feelings of guilt, a sense of being on edge at all times, being easily startled, anxiety or depression, problems sleeping, as well as other symptoms.

You may be surprised to discover that PTSD canaffect anyoneany ethnicity, nationality, or agealthough women are 2-3 times morelikely to develop the condition than men. Approximately 3.5% of adults in theU.S. are affected by the condition, and about 7-8 people out of 100 will havePTSD in their lifetime.

Whats even more surprising is that in somecases, you dont even have to be involved first-hand in a traumatic event. Simplyhearing about a traumatic event or repetitive viewing of violent news storieson television can increase the risk of PTSD.

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Borderline Personality Disorder Vs Complex Post

Borderline personality disorder and complex post-traumatic stress disorder are both mental disorders that can seriously affect a persons everyday life. They have a significant overlap in symptoms and can be diagnosed simultaneously, but there are a few key differences.

BPD is a complex disorder and affects every person differently. Common symptoms are emotional instability, erratic behavior patterns, and intense feelings of emptiness as well as a poor sense of self.


Unlike PTSD, which is understood to be a fear-based disorder, complex PTSD is believed to be rooted in shame. It is characterized by a low sense of self-worth, flashbacks to traumatic events, and intense feelings of fear, sadness, and shame.


BPD is not a fully understood condition, and research on its causes is conflicting. Some studies have shown that those diagnosed with BPD have a history of trauma or neglect, particularly as a child, suggesting an environmental cause. Other research has suggested a genetic link through familial history.

PTSD, of which C-PTSD is a subset, is believed to develop due to long-term exposure to trauma. It is commonly diagnosed in survivors of child abuse and long-term relationship violence. Children exposed to abuse are particularly at risk for developing C-PTSD as the feeling of being unable to escape the abuse, or being reliant on the cause of trauma, is linked to the development of C-PTSD.



Making A Correct Diagnosis For Bpd Or Ptsd

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder explained (PTSD)- causes, symptoms and treatment

BPD can sometimes be mistaken for PTSD or C-PTSD, and vice-versa. C-PTSD is a subset of PTSD which is associated with long-term or chronic exposure to trauma much like BPD. Both can cause emotional distress, mood swings, flashbacks, anxiety and anger.

Its thought there are some generalised key differences to look out for, but of course, everybody is different:

  • Although both conditions can lead to problems maintaining personal relationships, people with BPD tend to fear abandonment, whereas people with C-PTSD may avoid intimacy or relationships altogether because of feeling somehow unlovable or undeserving because of the abuse they endured.
  • People with BPD are more likely to self-harm, than people with PTSD or C-PTSD.
  • While both those with BPD and C-PTSD struggle with emotional regulation and often experience outbursts of anger or crying, those with C-PTSD may experience emotional numbing, emptiness, or a detachment from emotions.
  • Someone with PTSD may be calmed by going to a familiar environment and being reassured that they are safe. This might irritate someone with BPD, who may respond more positively to being told their feelings are valid.
  • People with PTSD are more likely to be triggered by a specific external trigger and think and behave rationally outside those triggers. For people with BPD, the triggers tend to be internal thoughts and feelings, which can be less predictable.

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