Disorganised Attachment as a Reframing of Borderline Personality Disorder

In this talk Ruthie Smith explains how a person with a disorganised attachment (Type D) has suffered from wounding and complex attachment trauma in early infant development, which adversely affected their subsequent personality development. Such clients attract less empathy than those with other emotional difficulties or behaviours, not least because as a result of their fragmentation and weak ego boundaries, they unconsciously project painful and uncomfortable feelings into others. Clients who exhibit disorganised attachment patterns have traditionally diagnosed as suffering from ‘borderline personality disorder’.

Ruthie proposes that it is helpful to view and work with this client group through the lens of trauma, working with the body as well as the mind. Good results in facilitating affect-regulation and gradually transforming relational patterns have been found using Energy Psychotherapy techniques in combination with talking therapy, which can also be used as self-help tools by the client. Since these methods work at the level of cellular memory in the body they have the capacity to help break down otherwise seemingly intransigent patterns, although this is long term and complex work. Ruthie’s talk is informed by neurobiology.

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Ruthie Smith

Attachment Based Psychotherapist and Energy Psychotherapist with 30 years’ experience in private practice and 10 years as a Principal Individual Psychotherapist and Supervisor in the NHS.


This video presentation is from Fragile Selves: Working with Narcissistic and Borderline States of Mind. To find out more about this module click here.