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Shapiro, E.R. Zinner, J. Shapiro, R.L. Berkowitz, D.A. (1975). The Influence of Family Experience on Borderline Personality Development. Int. R. Psycho-Anal., 2:399-411.

(1975). International Review of Psycho-Analysis, 2:399-411

The Influence of Family Experience on Borderline Personality Development

Edward R. Shapiro, John Zinner, Roger L. Shapiro and David A. Berkowitz


Parents of borderline adolescents fail to provide the holding environment necessary to facilitate their offspring's integration of positive and negative internalized relationships. This failure results from their own residual symbiotic ties to their families of origin and their unresolved conflicts over autonomy and dependency. In these families, autonomous or dependent behaviour from the child confronts the parents with denied aspects of themselves and evokes in them an aggressive response. Parental interpretation of the child's instinctual needs as aggressive assaults constitutes a developmental interference. Conflicts over separation-individuation evoke a family group regression in which critical aspects of intrapsychic conflict in each of the parents are re-enacted in their relationship with the adolescent. In this paper we have examined a case of a borderline adolescent girl—transference, retrospective history, and current family interaction—in order to define more specifically these experiential aspects of the interplay between environment, drive and ego apparatus in the formation of the borderline ego deficit.

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