Current Psychiatry Reports

, Volume 14, Issue 1, pp 45–53 | Cite as

Developmental Pathways to Borderline Personality Disorder

  • Andrew M. ChanenEmail author
  • Michael Kaess


This paper reviews recent studies of biological and environmental risk and protective factors and patterns of continuity leading to borderline personality disorder (BPD). It focuses on prospective studies of children and adolescents and studies of young people with borderline pathology, reporting findings from genetics, neurobiology, experimental psychopathology, environmental risk, and precursor signs and symptoms. Studies of individuals earlier in the course of BPD demonstrate relatively consistent environmental risk factors, but neurobiological and experimental psychopathology findings are still inconsistent. Also, temperamental and mental state abnormalities that resemble aspects of the BPD phenotype emerge in childhood and adolescence and presage the BPD syndrome in adolescence or adulthood. Further work is required to better understand the roles that all these factors play in the developmental pathways to BPD and to increase their specificity for BPD in order to facilitate prevention and early intervention.


Borderline personality disorder Development Developmental pathways Risk factor Antecedents Precursor Child Adolescent 



Orygen Youth Health Research Centre is funded by an unrestricted grant from the Colonial Foundation (Melbourne, Australia). Dr. Chanen has received grant support from the National Health and Medical Research Council (Canberra, Australia) and the Australian Research Council.


No potential conflicts of interest relevant to this article were reported.


Papers of particular interest, published recently, have been highlighted as: • Of importance •• Of major importance

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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Orygen Youth Health Research CentreCentre for Youth Mental Health, The University of MelbourneVictoriaAustralia
  2. 2.Orygen Youth Health Clinical ProgramNorthwestern Mental HealthMelbourneAustralia
  3. 3.Section for Disorders of Personality Development, Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Centre of Psychosocial MedicineUniversity of HeidelbergHeidelbergGermany

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