Borderline Personality Disorder

Borderline Personality Disorder: Facts vs. Myths

Dialectical Behavioral Therapy is one of the most common and effective treatment approaches for BPD.

Borderline Personality Disorder: Facts vs. Myths
By Paula Durlofsky, PhD

Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) is a serious psychiatric condition marked by a pattern of unstable and stormy relationships, an unformed sense of identity, chronic feelings of emptiness and boredom, unstable moods, and poor impulsive control in areas such as spending, eating, sex, and substance use.

Fear surrounding real or imagined abandonment from loved ones is a profound concern for people with BPD and often is what underlies their destructive behaviors. Some people with BPD will go to dangerous lengths to avoid this fear, for example, by becoming suicidal or engaging in self-mutilation.

Below are five of the more difficult symptoms of BPD:

  • problems with relationships (fear of abandonment; unstable relationships)
  • unstable emotions (frequent emotional ups and downs; high emotional sensitivity)
  • unstable identity (unclear sense of self; chronic feelings of emptiness)
  • impulsive and self-damaging behaviors
  • unstable thinking/cognition (suspiciousness; tendency to dissociate when under stress)

Although this disorder may appear easy to self-diagnose, a valid diagnosis of BPD involves an extensive evaluation. BPD is a complex condition, but with appropriate treatment most people will show improvement within a year.

Here are some facts and myths concerning BPD:

FACT: Many people diagnosed with BPD also struggle with depression, anxiety disorders, substance abuse, and eating disorders.

MYTH: People diagnosed with BPD are always difficult to deal with, likely to be physically aggressive, untreatable, depressed, or unable to live fulfilling and productive lives.


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