On the director’s blog at the NIMH (National Institute of Mental Health), Director Dr. Thomas Insel discusses the name of borderline personality disorder:
April 19, 2010
What’s in a Name? — The Outlook for Borderline Personality Disorder
In Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet,” the question is posed to illustrate that a name doesn’t define a person’s feelings or intent. In psychiatry, the same may be said of that which we call borderline personality disorder. Noted primarily for symptoms such as impaired mood regulation, unstable relationships with others, and self-harming behaviors, the name “borderline personality disorder,” fails to capture the essence of this serious mental illness.
As currently defined, borderline personality disorder is considered a reflection of an essential aspect of a person’s character that influences his or her way of seeing and being seen in the world. Recent research, however, has shown that symptoms of the disorder aren’t constant and may not always be as enduring as some researchers and clinicians may think. Yet fluctuating moods and behavior also happen to define another mental illness, bipolar disorder, with which borderline personality disorder may be confused….
He concludes with this:
…Whatever the outcome of reclassification efforts, however, we must keep in mind the essence of the question — that “borderline personality disorder” by any other name would still be as real, as disabling, and as necessary to treat, as other serious mental illnesses.