Childhood trauma in the etiology of Borderline Personality Disorder: Theoretical considerations and therapeutic interventions. – Linda Baird

Childhood trauma in the etiology of Borderline Personality Disorder: Theoretical considerations and therapeutic interventions. – Linda Baird

A very interesting read:





Linda Baird, M.A., LPC, CHT

Editor’s Note: It is a pleasure to have Linda Baird’s helpful perspective on working with those who display the signs and symptoms of Borderline Personality Disorder in this edition of the Hakomi Forum. Normal Hakomi Therapy trainings concentrate on teaching the principles, methods, and techniques of the work with only passing reference to various clinical conditions. As the editorial policy of the Forum indicates, those who have had experience applying Hakomi Therapy to various client groups and disorders are encouraged to share their work in these pages.

Linda Baird, MA, LPC, CHT is in private practice in Denver and Boulder, CO. Linda received a B.S. in Business Administration, with additional education toward a B.A. in Biochemistry from the University of Colorado. She worked as a research scientist for 16 years, with particular interest in neuroscience, prior to beginning her path as a Hakomi therapist in 1995.

Linda received her M.A. from Regis University in Denver. This paper is taken, in part, from her primary research paper, which included an in-depth case study at Regis, and her presentation at the 2005 Hakomi conference, as well as from her work with clients over the last ten years.



ABSTRACT: Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) has notoriously been one of the most challenging conditions to treat in therapy. This paper addresses the etiology of BPD in childhood trauma, specifically in the lack of secure attachment. The effects of trauma on the development of limbic structures involved in attachment and affect regulation is discussed, as well as how traumatic events are encoded in implicit memory. The dysregulated affect states of BPD, which present as the diagnostic criteria, are considered in terms of state-dependent memory that is triggered by present day relational events. Shame is discussed as a foundation of attachment failures and BPD. Key elements of individual therapy with borderline clients are discussed, including mindfulness, development of resources, establishment of a safe container within the therapeutic relationship, addressing shame dynamics, and the resolution of past trauma. Therapeutic interventions are presented, both in theory and practice.


When I was introduced to the concept of “trauma” during my first psychotherapy training in 1996, while living in Boston, I had little interest. I thought it did not apply to me. I was more interested in character theory and childhood development. Then I attended my first workshop with Pat Ogden, founder of Hakomi Bodywork, with later became Hakomi Somatics Institute and recently, Sensorimotor Psychotherapy Institute. The workshop, called “Trauma and the Body”, was a week-long experiential workshop at the Omega Institute outside of New York City. As I learned about how the nervous system is affected by perceived lifethreatening events, and as I was guided through experiencing this in my own body, my interest and passion for working with trauma was awakened. This paper is an excerpt from a primary research paper written for the completion of my Master’s degree. It combines my passion for neuroscience with the study of personality development, addressing the etiology of Borderline Personality Disorder in early childhood trauma. In particular, repeated misattunement in childhood, when the neural circuitry is developing, can result in personality traits, or, in more extreme situations personality disorders

such as BPD and Antisocial Personality Disorder.

The full paper is available for download here: Linda Baird, Childhood Trauma

Comments are closed.
%d bloggers like this: