Borderline Personality Disorder,  Lying,  Manipulation,  Self-Injury,  Shame

The strange case of Ashley Todd

Ashley ToddWhen I saw the backward-carved “B” in Ashley Todd’s face last week, I couldn’t help but think about Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD). And one Mental Health professional actually came out and said that Ms. Todd did, in fact, exhibit traits of the disorder. Personally, I have to disagree with the experts that have “diagnosed” her with BPD. While self-injury is a hallmark of BPD, the motivation behind self-injury in BPD is usually NOT to get attention. Clearly, Ms. Todd, who was the “victim” of an attack by a black man in Pennsylvania (which later she admitted was a hoax), carved the “B” in her own cheek and she must have known that this action and the made-up story about the attack would garner a lot of attention. Yet, what I have seen in most cases of BPD-related self-injury is that the motivation is typically pain-relief and not attention-getting. The mere act of self-injury is a shameful one, and, in BPD, which already fuels shameful feelings, the self-injurer usually hides the act from others, doing it in private and on places that are not detectable by others. That’s because the self-injury functions to stop private emotional pain. Cutting oneself on the face (especially a letter on the face) would seem to me to indicate a different disorder. While it is possible that Ms. Todd does have BPD, I personally think it is unlikely.


  • Maija Haavisto

    I know someone with a bad case of BPD and she constantly, intentionally seeks attention with things like suicide attempts and involuntary hospitalizations etc. What I mean is she actually _brags_ about them and constantly talks about such things in the public, as if they make her a more interesting person or something (no, she’s not a teenager). If she cut she’d probably show it off on Facebook and YouTube. I guess it’s possible she also has histrionic personality disorder, but she is definitely borderline too. In some people these two personality disorders may coexist.

  • Bon Dobbs

    Yes, two disorders could exist… which is why I didn’t completely rule out the case for BPD in Ms. Todd. However, I have met hundreds of people with BPD and their families and found that most don’t use cutting to get attention – because of the shame. This woman you know seems like a different case and I never discount the differences between people with BPD – they’re all unique, but there are some trends among the group. Sounds like this woman needs some treatment. In WHINE I talk about suicide attempts being BOTH real and a call for attention – but IMO the “call for attention” part is about communicating a deep pain.

    Thanks for your comment!

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