PSYCHOANALYTIC THEORIES OF THE PATHOGENESIS
OF BORDERLINE PERSONALITY DISORDER
James F. Masterson (1972) suggested that fear of abandonment is the central factor in borderline psychopathology. He believes that the mother of the future borderline patient interfered with her child's natural autonomous strivings by withdrawing emotionally when the child acted in an independent manner during the phase of development that Mahler (1971) has termed "separation-individuation" Later experiences that require independent behavior lead to a recrudescence of the dysphoria and abandonment panic that the borderline patient felt as a child when faced with a seemingly insoluble dilemma (either continue to behave dependently or lose needed emotional support).
Kernberg (1975) suggested that excessive early aggression has led the young child to split her positive and negative images of herself and her mother. This excess aggression may have been inborn or it may have been caused by real frustrations. In either case, the preborderline child is unable to merge her positive and negative images and attendant affects to achieve a more realistic and ambivalent view of herself and others.
In another theory, Adler and Buie (1979) suggested that failures in early mothering have led to a failure to develop stable object constancy. Because the preborderline child's mothering was inconsistent and oftentimes insensitive and nonempathic, the child fails to develop a consistent view of herself or others that she can use in times of stress to comfort and sustain herself.
Zanarini MC, Frankenburg FR.
THE ESSENTIAL NATURE OF BORDERLINE PSYCHOPATHOLOGY
Journal of Personality Disorders. (2007) 21 (5): 518-36