Self-disturbance is recognized as a key symptom of Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD). Although it is the source of significant distress and significant costs to society, it is still poorly specified. In addition, current research and models on the etiology of BPD do not provide sufficient evidence or predictions about who is at risk of developing BPD and self-disturbance, and why. The aim of this review is to lay the foundations of a new model inspired by recent developments at the intersection of social cognition, behavioral ecology, and developmental biology. We argue that the sense of agency is an important dimension to consider when characterizing self-disturbances in BPD. Second, we address the poorly characterized relation between self-disturbances and adverse life conditions encountered early in life. We highlight the potential relevance of Life-History Theory—a major framework in evolutionary developmental biology—to make sense of this association. We put forward the idea that the effect of early life adversity on BPD symptomatology depends on the way individuals trade their limited resources between competing biological functions during development.
- borderline personality disorder
- early life adversity
- life history theory
- social cognition