What is Borderline Personality Disorder
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What is Borderline Personality Disorder

This article breaks down some characteristics of BPD and explains them in non-clinical terms

Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) is a personality disorder that is very misunderstood and stigmatized by both mental health workers and family members of those with the disorder. This article will break down the different symptoms of BPD and also hopefully explain some of the characteristics that are commonly misunderstood.

According to the National Education Alliance for BPD, people with this disorder show a marked instability in mood and relationships, and problems with impulse control. This disorder is most often diagnosed in women in their early twenties. People with this disorder show a fear of abandonment, whether real or imaginary, difficulty with emotions (especially anger), and chronic feelings of emptiness. Distorted thinking by the sufferer can lead to frequent changes in long term goals in career and personal relationships. This information is all well and good, however it does not clearly communicate exactly why a person may develop this disorder.

One of the biggest questions is why do people develop this disorder? Unfortunately, research has only been taking place just recently, but studies are starting to show that a distressing childhood can lead to the development of this illness. For instance, something like a family member dying or the divorce of parents can lead to feelings of abandonment. Children who develop this disorder often say that as children their emotions were stifled. As a result, they were never able to fully learn and understand what emotions are and how to express them in a healthy manner. Sexual trauma has also been associated with the development of this illness.

Another question people have is why are people with this disorder so unable to maintain relationships? A common myth is that people with BPD do not desire close relationships with others. The truth is exactly the opposite. A person suffering from this disorder probably craves the close companionship of a friend or loved one more than anyone else. However, the fear of abandonment can cause someone to push another person away so violently because in their mind they are saying "I'll get them before they get me." It is confusing and even people with BPD do not understand why they do this. The constant push and pull on someone eventually results in the dissolution of the relationship. Thus, the person with BPD once again feels abandoned. Patience and compassion from friends and family members can help someone with this disorder get through their fears of abandonment.

People with BPD often have what most would consider to be emotional outbursts. Often this is in the form of anger. Think about it for a second: as a child you are upset and you don't really know why. So what do you do? You throw yourself down and hit the floor. However, as an adult you have learned the tools to deal with any emotion. People with BPD never really learned what emotions are and how to handle them. So they revert back to that initial behavior. People with BPD are so confused about what emotions they are feeling and generally show emotions in one manner. For instance, even though someone is angry they may cry uncontrollably because that is all they know how to do. This is one of the most frustrating problems with mental health workers. They need to take special time with a person who has BPD because their outburst may be disturbing to you, but it is ten times as disturbing to the sufferer.

Someone suffering from BPD often feels alone and isolated and somewhat of a freak. What they really need is clinicians and family members who try less to understand the illness, and try more to understand the person suffering. Each person with BPD shows different symptoms, as well as different extremes of these symptoms. If you have a friend or family member dealing with this illness stop and think about what it may be like to walk in their shoes. This illness is very real and very disturbing to them. After receiving the diagnosis of BPD, clinicians very quickly suggest therapy aimed at teaching the sufferer what emotions are, how to express them in a healthy manner, and how to be mindful of the damaging effects of the illness. Basically, it is therapy to retrain the emotional system of the brain. This can be very scary and daunting to the sufferer. Be patient, compassionate, and try to understand exactly what it might be like to walk in the shoes of someone with this disorder.

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Comments (4)

excellent share friend

What an interesting article. I voted it up.

Harper Anne

I am 14 years old and i have BPD, my therapist told me i have something like that. I take medication for it and at first it was very hard to deal with. Multiple times I was almost arrested for violent outbursts towards my family members. It is not just violence, I was in the hospital until 2 am one day because I wanted to kill myself. They wanted to put me in a ward but my mom wouldn't let them. I am no longer suicidal and I am glad to say that. I really wish that i could take some of the things I did back but the sad fact is i can't. I don't know whats going on but I have learned to live with it, i rarely have violent outbursts and that is a major victory for me. I have feelings of uncertainty and loneliness. Like no one wants me and no one wants to be around me, I have been told I am a great poet and have one awards for my poetry but I still don't feel that I am good enough. It is so complicated and even with the help of medicine. I hope that by sharing my experience that you can get a further insight into a BPD's mind.

Hey! An interesting topic you chose! Love it!