Where did BPD come from, and how was it passed down to modern humans? This is one of the more vexing questions of our age. For an answer, we must turn to the all-knowing wisdom of American psychiatry, which proclaims:
- “Scientific studies on BPD suggest that the illness is strongly inherited.”
(see the NIMH’s view – http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/borderline-personality-disorder/index.shtml)
“BPD is strongly inherited.” This seems like an answer to where BPD comes from. But is it? According to psychiatry, BPD is mostly in the genes. But how could this dreaded disease have originally developed? It didn’t magically appear out of thin air. This begs the question: From whom was BPD first inherited? Who – or what – was the real “first borderline”?
In this essay, I will take psychiatry’s thinking to its logical conclusion. If BPD is “inherited”, we should be able to track down the ultimate source of this nefarious malady. Prepare to embark on a fascinating journey of discovery. My theories are based on exciting new research by paleo-psychiatrists – scientists who study mental illness in prehistoric creatures.
Early Speculations on BPD’s Origin
Early paleo-psychiatrists raised questions like the following in their search for the first borderline:
Was the first borderline an Egyptian slave who began to have mood swings under the stress of building the pyramids, 4,000 years ago?
Was the first borderline a Bronze Age Mesopotamian mother who, traumatized by hard farm work, began to view her fellow Sumerians as saints or devils, 8,000 years back?
Or was the first borderline an Aboriginal hunter-gatherer who, after too many attacks by dingo dogs, developed identity diffusion in the Australian outback 12,000 years ago?
Did one of these ancient people first become borderline, and then transmit the invisible plague to their prehistoric children and on to us?
(Aside: Recent genetic studies by paleo-geneti-psychiatrists have suggested that, in addition to the normal gene-coding letters A, C, G, T, the nucleobases B, P, and D are present in the genomes of people with BPD. So genes in a healthy person, which originally read GATCGGCAGGAACAT, would come to read GATBPDCAGBPDGAABPD. This is why I’ve been terrified to get my genes mapped, for fear those cursed combinations will appear in my DNA strands, to be inevitably passed on to my children.)
BPD and Early Man
Returning to the main story, the answer is no. BPD extends back far past early Egyptians, Mesopotamians, and Aborigines. Paleo-psychiatrists recently found that cavemen exhibited Borderline Personality Disorder. Witness the following image, found on prehistoric cave walls at Laschaux, France, but concealed from the public until now:
With this life-like painting revealed, it is scientifically proven that BPD extends at least to our caveman ancestors. This is so easy to figure out, even a caveman can do it.
So perhaps BPD originated with these forward-thinking cavemen, who would have been traumatized by living in rotten, damp caves. But couldn’t cavemen have inherited BPD from earlier humanoids?
Through the theory of evolution, we know that humans evolved from early apes (or at least, people who think the earth is more than 6,000 years old know this). So maybe the situation looks more like this:
These monkeys are not going to tell us anything definitive, but that bonobo looks suspicious.
Prehistoric Megafauna and BPD
Early apes are an interesting potential source of BPD. But other evidence suggests that the vile pathology worms its way back further. Each of these early humans and apes evolved from other life-forms, any of which could have been the first carrier of the abominable affliction. The plot thickens, and if we want to know where BPD truly came from, we must gaze deeper into the past.
Paleo-psychiatrists recently found this fossilized face-off between the last saber-toothed tiger and the first prehistoric mountain lion. From their facial expressions, it was deduced that they were snarling the following at each other:
But of course, if prehistoric big cats had borderline symptoms, it begs the question of where they inherited them from. Peering further over the horizon, here is cave art drawn by a Paraceratherium, revealing fantasies it was having about the cause of its family’s BPD symptoms:
So in this image, we have evidence that BPD existed at least 15 millions years ago, in the age of the megafauna or giant mammals. But there’s more.
Psychiatry’s Return to the Days of the Dinosaurs
Excited by their study of the megafauna, paleo-psychiatrists dug ever deeper into forgotten times. The two creatures below were recently unearthed from a prehistoric swamp after being buried by a 65-million-year old mudslide. Paleo-psychiatrists determined that they were saying the following:
Well, this picture is not exactly about BPD. But given the high comorbidity between Avoidant PD, Narcissistic PD, and Borderline PD, it can be said with confidence that BPD dates back at least 65 million years. If avoidant and narcissistic dinosaurs roamed early Earth, then giant reptilian borderlines would have been lumbering around too.
Indeed, all sorts of personality-disordered dinosaurs must have existed in the Cretaceous, Jurassic, and Triassic eras. This makes it much more difficult to trace who the first borderline was. But it does enable us to watch The Land Before Time and Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs with a new understanding of these monsters.
The search begins to seem endless. Who was the real first borderline? This situation brings to mind the Where’s Waldo? books, when you can never find the little guy in red and white stripes. Or perhaps it should be Where’s the Borderline?:
Sorry. Back to the topic at hand.
Early Avian and Mammalian Ancestors
As I was saying, paleo-psychiatry keeps making new discoveries. To trace the passage of the fearsome plague that is BPD into humans, we should also investigate the earliest birds and mammals, who shared common ancestors and lived alongside dinosaurs. Early mammals lived in a traumatic environment, which we know is a risk factor for BPD. Perhaps the trauma of living with big, scary dinosaurs was transmitted into their genes, creating a vulnerability that led to BPD in humans.
One can imagine the following scenario:
As well as this one:
It makes sense that borderline traits might develop and be genetically transmitted in such an environment. But couldn’t BPD have developed in pre-dinosaur times, and been transmitted from an even earlier starting point?
A Never-Ending Goose Chase
We must commend paleo-psychiatrists for their efforts to trace the early animal origins of BPD, efforts which are as scientific and respectable as those of modern-day psychiatrists to study BPD in humans.
But despite heroic efforts, paleo-psychiatrists have not traced BPD’s ultimate origin, which remains shrouded in mystery. It seems straightforward to follow the evolution of BPD from modern day humans, past cavemen, through early mammals and dinosaurs, all the way to the earliest forms of life. But this process never reaches a satisfying conclusion. With evolution working as it does, there would always be another creature from which to inherit BPD.
We can even imagine unicellular cells, flitting around the primordial fires of early Earth, transmitting their borderline traits to the first multicellular organisms:
But let’s not go there.
Creationism – A Solution to the Conundrum?
There is another possibility. What if evolution is wrong, and another theory explains BPD’s origin and heritability? What if Earth is only 6,000 years old, as creationists solemnly preach, and as some of our finest public schools teach as an alternative to evolution?
Creationism would elegantly explain how BPD developed. Under creationist teaching, BPD would be a result of the trauma that early humans experienced living alongside dinosaurs and other “prehistoric” creatures. If God created the Earth 6,000 years ago, he would have put all the creatures in history together, even if it resulted in strange alterations to traditional Biblical stories, like this:
No wonder the authors of the Bible wanted to cover up this sordid state of affairs. Living alongside dinosaurs would have made things scary and unpredictable for early humans. And as we know, such traumatic environments are a prime cause of BPD. Therefore, 6,000 year-old dinosaurs may have been the primary reason that BPD developed and was genetically passed down from early to modern humans.
Thus, the trauma of living alongside these monstrosities would have affected mankind’s genes such that BPD would quickly develop as a distinct disease. As Jonathan Swift might have said, this is “a modest proposal”, but a convincing one.
Just imagine the following scene, which would have been a daily occurrence 6,000 years ago:
Who would not develop borderline symptoms in such conditions?
And imagine having to live alongside abominations never preserved in the fossil record (the fossil record having been planted to trick creationists into believing in evolution, of course), like this:
How horrifying! Thank goodness the dinosaurs and swamp-monster abominations were finally wiped out in an almighty Ragnarok-like battle against invading aliens:
If dinosaurs and aliens had not annihilated each other a few thousand years ago, then modern civilization would never have developed. If dinosaurs did not die out, we poor humans would have been stuck with dinosaur-induced BPD symptoms, but without the gentle ministrations of modern psychiatry to help us manage them. So let us give thanks that aliens and dinosaurs wiped each other out, because DBT wouldn’t be possible with Tyrannosaurs constantly chasing us.
For me then, creationism provides the best explanation of BPD’s origin. It seems that we must renounce evolution, and accept the fact that the Earth is only 6,000 years old, since no other theory explains BPD’s origins so simply and elegantly. Remember Occam’s Razor – the simplest explanation is usually the correct one.
Alternate Explanations: Pastafarianism
However, there are other explanations. I was recently contacted by a Pastafarian paleo-psychiatrist, who suggested that the Flying Spaghetti Monster might be the cause of BPD. (For those of you who don’t know, Pastafarianism is the religion which teaches that a Flying Spaghetti Monster created the universe. Visit the Church of his Noodly Appendage at http://www.venganza.org )
So, instead of this scenario leading to BPD:
The following scenario would have accounted for the illness:
However, try as I might, I cannot think of a real reason why the Spaghetti Monster would want to create BPD. His job is to create the universe and feed people pasta, not generate mental illnesses. So this doesn’t fly with me, even if the Spaghetti Monster “flies” in another way.
The Scientific Integrity of My Research
For those of you who think this is a joke, it is not. Do not hurt my feelings by commenting that these theories are unscientific. I am earnestly supporting the efforts of our nation’s finest psychiatrists in tracing the source of BPD, a pathology which even they admit “the causes and origins of are unclear”. What could be more noble than shedding light on the origins of such a misunderstood affliction?
The Learning Doesn’t Stop Here
Despite their confusion around the inheritance issue, there is much more to be learned from psychiatry’s penetrating insights into BPD.
Psychiatry wisely teaches us that BPD is a “severe illness”, that BPD has a “course” and an “outcome”, that a certain percentage of the population “has it”, how psychotherapy and medications can “manage it”, and so on.
We must give thanks to psychiatry for creating such a wonderful and sympathetic way of understanding human emotional problems. Hearing the pontifications of psychiatrists on BPD is like listening to beautiful classical music.
If you want to learn more about these encouraging, scientifically-sound ideas via our government’s finest websites, as well as from many forums about BPD, make sure you are prepared. Before you research BPD’s cause and origins on Google, you will need:
- A good sturdy chair.
- A thick pillow to keep your ass from getting sore.
- Pain relief ointment for your mouse-clicking finger.
- Headache medications.
And take heart: Everything you learn about BPD from traditional psychiatry will be just as scientifically valid as my research above. Good luck!
The Scientific Process by which BPD Sprang Into Being
Now, if BPD first developed in early humans living alongside dinosaurs – who wouldn’t have referred to their symptoms as “Borderline Personality Disorder” – it is interesting to consider when the term BPD first emerged in modern psychiatric usage. Below is an imagining of the scientific process by which BPD may have developed.
A Conversation Between Two Medical Doctors of the Mind (i.e. Psychiatrists)
Date: March 1st, 1939
Setting: Psychiatry Conference, somewhere in WW2-era America…
The players: Dr. Chillingworth and Dr. Hadley
(Setting – Drs. Chillingworth and Hadley are smoking it up outside a beautiful hotel, discussing the current state of the psychiatric art..)
Dr. Chillingworth: “I’m so thrilled to be back at our nation’s premier psychiatry conference. Our catalogue of mental afflictions is crying out for new names. You know, my dear Hadley, I don’t think we’re upsetting people enough by calling them neurotics and hysterics. The masses need to know when there’s something wrong with them, and those labels just don’t do it for me anymore. We need something to really get the blood boiling.”
Dr. Hadley: “I agree, dear Chillingworth. I call the crazy ones schizophrenic, but they don’t even react! It’s most disturbing. I wonder where we’ve gone wrong.”
C: “Ok, let’s put our minds to it. What name will really upset people?”
H: “How about “Weirdo Syndrome”? You know, for the bizarre folks who aren’t totally crazy, but we don’t know what else to call them?”
C: “Oh humbug! Is that the best idea you have?!”
H: “Forget that. What about “Queer Disorder”. It could be a brand new affliction. We know there’s something wrong with the homos; everyone suspects there’s a malignant germ plasm in their blood!
C: “No dice! Our friend Dr. Beavis beat you to the punch – he’s presenting this idea tomorrow. Don’t worry, homosexuality will be an official disorder. Come on, we need something original!”
(Historical note: Homosexuality was an official DSM disorder until the mid 1970’s).
H: “How about….. “borderline”? We can use it on the ones who aren’t neurotics, but aren’t raving psychotics? You know, the people who are always pissing me off.”
C: “Yes!! Yes. That’s it. … “Borderline!” Wow…. It’s a bunch of bullshit – it doesn’t mean anything. But that’s why it’s brilliant. People won’t know what it means, so it will work perfectly. Let’s use it!”
H: “But how can we be sure that people will buy it, Chillingworth?”
C: “That’s easy. We list things about people who aren’t raving psychos, but are “messed up”. We say if you fit enough of the criteria, you’re a borderline! We make it all sound very scientific and official. The criteria could be things like being irritable, having mood swings, having relationship problems, being impulsive, etc. etc. Things anyone can have, taken to an extreme. Anything we can make up about people we don’t like.
H: “But do you really think people will believe that? I don’t know…”
C: “Of course they will! Give yourself some credit, Hadley; stop overestimating your fellow human beings. Most members of our species are uneducated idiots. If psychiatrists repeat a made-up label loudly and often enough, people will believe it. Remember, the public think we’re experts.”
H: “This is great! But you know, I just realized something, Chillingworth. You’re pretty messed up yourself.”
C: “Tell me something I don’t know!”
H: “Indeed. Moving on… do you think that, many decades years from now, people might think this “borderline” label we dreamed up is real, and a whole industry will be based around labeling and managing these “borderlines”? I don’t know if I would feel good about that.
C: “Oh stop whining! The Borderline affliction will become real, because we say it is. We became psychiatrists so we can be exalted as experts and given bundles of money. Who cares if we have no idea why people act like they do? And who gives a damn about people in the future? Our genius is that we have no idea what we’re talking about, but people pay us anyway. Have faith, my friend.”
And thus was born “Borderline Personality Disorder.”
(Historical note: BPD was in fact “born” after psychiatrists in the late 1930s invented the term out of thin air. Perhaps not exactly like this. But close enough…)
My thanks go to Sameer Prehistorica (http://sameerprehistorica.deviantart.com) and Harry Wilson (http://harry-the-fox.deviantart.com) for allowing the use of their beautiful art. Also, credit to http://www.speechable.com, a great, free resource for attaching captions to pictures).
I welcome any correspondance at firstname.lastname@example.org
If you are struggling with BPD yourself or would like to more effectively help someone who is borderline, I would be happy to listen to your story and provide feedback if possible. Feel free to provide constructive criticism of this site also.
This article is the opinion of a non-professional layperson, and should not be taken as medical advice or as the view of a therapist who is professionally qualified to treat Borderline Personality Disorder or any other mental health condition. Readers should consult with a qualified mental health professional before undertaking any treatment
– Edward Dantes