If so-called ‘borderline personality disorder’ symptoms are really responses to an unpredictable and perhaps unsafe environment then the real shame of it is that we are stigmatizing people that disclose the pain of our human world. We are judging people who have sensitive dispositions and absorb the world around them; people who are essentially struggling with basic life issues. And as a system – the mental health system – that sort of prides itself on exploring human behavior without judgment, this is a failure — not on our client’s part, but on the part of professionals and systems that are supposed to be caring for them.
The Scarlet Label: Close Encounters with ‘Borderline Personality Disorder’
Jacqueline Simon Gunn, Psy.D.and
Brent Potter, Ph.D.
October 22, 2014
To help my non-recovery oriented colleagues understand the stigma/resentment associated with ‘borderline personality disorder,’ I simply mention this: “Let’s say I call you and say, ‘Hey, I’ve got a referral for you. She’s been diagnosed with borderline personality disorder . . .’” I need to go no further; without fail, my colleague will smile or laugh. We both know that such a referral is a no-no, so much so that it doesn’t even have to be mentioned; it is a given.
Irvin Yalom, at a recent APA division conference, was asked if he continues to work with clients. He responded with something to the effect of, “Well I am not taking any borderline clients.” The audience exploded with laughter. From celebrity to average clinician, it is known that ‘borderline’ people are to be avoided. But wait, it’s not just professionals in the field. A simple Google search for ‘borderline personality disorder’ gets more than 248,000 hits. There are countless best-sellers on Amazon dealing specifically with the ‘disorder.’ The vast majority of the books out there, as a matter of fact, aren’t even for clinicians. Most of them are about how to live with (or otherwise be with) someone afflicted, or how to accept that you’re the one with the disease and how to get proper professional help.