I’ve had conversations with several BPD “experts” about borderline behavior. There seems to be an assumption that many people with BPD are “silent” or “high-functioning” and do not engage in dangerous and/or ineffective behavior often attributed to the “typical” borderline.
In my group recently, a non-BPD was questioning his own “sanity” (I put it in quotes because I don’t believe that people with BPD are insane) and speculating that he was the one with BPD. One of our longer-time posters replied:
If you’re not throwing full-blown temper tantrums, freaking out because EVERYONE is out to get you, threatening to hurt or kill yourself, running away from those who love you because you’re afraid they’re going to leave you first, complaining that NOBODY loves or respects you AND popping pills and guzzling alcohol all at the same time… then, I think, you can go ahead and disqualify yourself.
Based on the polls that I have conducted over the past few months, I believe that she is right on the money. Here are the poll results from the last few polls about borderline behavior:
As you can see by these polls results, more than 73% responded that their borderlines (or themselves if they have the disorder) indicated that they have engaged in self-injury, suicide attempts and/or substance abuse. While these polls are certainly not scientific and it’s pretty much impossible for me to understand the profile of a person that responded, they results are, for me, striking. If 7 out of 10 (or more) individuals engage in these “low functioning” or ineffective borderline behaviors at some point in their lives, what should that tell us?
I believe that it tells us that the “typical” profile of someone with BPD is the “low functioning” or “classic” borderline. While I am sure there are others out there that operate in pretend mode (and pretend everything is ok while they “white-knuckle” their way through life), the vast majority of people with BPD seem to be caught in a spiral of ineffective and often dangerous behavior. They seem to me to be sending the message that they are in a great deal of emotional pain and are suffering greatly – that they will do anything to stop the pain that they feel. It also indicates to me that it is vital for parents of child with borderline-like traits and feelings do their best to get the child into appropriate treatment before their teenage years.