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Sunday, 11 Apr 2021

Analysing the 4 Different Types of Borderline Personality Disorder

By Dr Becky Spelman
Different Types of Borderline Personality Disorder | Private Therapy Clinic

Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) is – as the name implies – a personality disorder that is generally diagnosed in early adulthood. Unlike other mental health conditions, it tends to affect far more women than it does men with a ratio of about 3:1. The cause of this gender discrepancy has been much debated for years. But what has added some much-needed clarity to a condition that is often misdiagnosed or missed altogether are the four variants of the disorder that have stemmed from the work of Theodore Millon. Mental health conditions rarely present as an absolute but are most often multifaceted.

General Symptoms of Borderline Personality Disorder

If you’re new and/or unfamiliar with the basic symptoms of BPD and how they present in an individual, in order to be diagnosed with the condition, you would need to be exhibiting at least five of the following symptoms:

  • A persistent and extreme fear of rejection and/or abandonment
  • Chaotic Interpersonal relationships that flip from idealisation to devaluation
  • Unstable and often changing self-image
  • Uncontrollable and inappropriate episodes of intense anger
  • Chronic feelings of boredom and apathy
  • Constant emotional instability (irritability and anxiety)
  • Experiencing paranoid and dissociative thoughts
  • Impulsivity which can lead to risky and destructive behaviour

The Four Borderline Personality Disorder Types

While the following sub-categories are helpful in recognising certain traits in people who may have BPD, they don’t necessarily hold true for everyone. They might not apply at all, and some people may even fall into two categories.

Discouraged Borderline Personality Disorder

The discouraged form of borderline personality disorder is rooted primary by dependent facets of the condition. So, how an individual thinks, feels, and behaves will see them very much exhibit all the hallmarks or co-dependency. This can often be so much the case that this form of BPD can appear to be dependent personality disorder (DPD). The full nature of the discouraged sub-type is only truly noticed when an individual enters into a co-dependent style relationship with someone whom it’s either inappropriate or rejects their advances. This is usually the case with casual friends and acquaintances or perhaps a girlfriend or boyfriend that they’ve just started dating.

Signs of Discouraged Borderline Personality Disorder

There’s actually a host plethora of signs that are indicators of discouraged BPD. But some of the most common include:

Impairments in Self-Functioning: These might include but are not exclusively limited to poor self-image, persistent self-criticism, chronic feelings of emptiness, and stress-induced dissociative states. There also might be a distorted or unrealistic view of goals, values, career, and outlook.

Impairments in Interpersonal Functioning: These types of impairment are where more issues tend to arise as they’re related to and have a direct impact on the wellbeing of others. Again, these include but are not limited to decreased empathy, an inability to see other’s point of view and a heightened sense of drama and am extreme aversion to criticism.

Some other signs that are commonly associated with discouraged BPD include:

  • Extreme loyalty to the point of it being a detriment or biased
  • Easily swayed by the opinion of others and led by a crowd
  • A tendency to be passive even when there is a desire to take the lead
  • Can display false modesty as a result of poor self-esteem
  • The experience of chronic feelings of being vulnerable
  • Excessive dependence on others

Impulsive Borderline Personality Disorder

Of all the four subtypes of BPD, the impulsive form of the condition is by far the most outgoing and charismatic. In some ways, it subverts the expectations of what someone with borderline personality should look like. So much so, this subtype has been compared to histrionic personality disorder according to psychologist Theodore Millon.

Signs of Impulsive Borderline Personality Disorder

An individual with impulsive borderline personality disorder may display a variety of the following signs and symptoms:

  • Being excessively flirtatious with others
  • Exudes a natural magnetism that draws people to them
  • Can often appear elusive and mysterious
  • Very good at surface level interactions but lacks real depth of character
  • Exhibits high levels of energy and can easily get bored
  • Can be extremely thrill-seeking, taking extreme risks to do so
  • Is overtly attention-seeking by nature

Petulant Borderline Personality Disorder

This subtype of BPD sees the individual in question flipping from explosive outbursts of anger on one side of the spectrum to feeling unworthy or unloved on the opposite side. They often have a strong need to manipulate and control others, which can see them become very possessive and guarding of their inner world and thought-processes. As a result, they can often find themselves stuck in deeply unsatisfying relationships. This can then sometimes lead to situations of substance abuse amongst other self-destructive behaviours.

Signs and Symptoms of Petulant Borderline Personality Disorder

  • An inability to express your feelings
  • Unpredictable outbursts of anger
  • Feeling unworthy or unloved
  • Extreme fear of abandonment
  • Co-occurring disorders such as eating disorders and substance abuse issues
  • Engaging in self-harm
  • Suspicion of others and paranoia

Self-Destructive Borderline Personality Disorder

Those who suffer from this subtype of BPD are very much ‘on the brink.’ That’s to say that, as the name of this variant implies, they’re extremely volatile and are prone to displaying dangerous and self-sabotaging behaviours. The self-destructive border will either consciously or unconsciously seek to sabotage their own progress just it feels like they’re about to achieve success in whatever area of life they’re striving to make headway in.

Signs and Symptoms of Self-Destructive Borderline Personality Disorder

  • They will experience intense feelings of self-hatred and self-loathing
  • Can often be prone to attempts of self-harm
  • They often present as being depressed as their baseline emotional state
  • There can be feelings of bitterness
  • Can be prone to suicidal thoughts and tendencies
  • Might be prone to substance abuse issues
  • Will engage in reckless behaviour to impress others
  • Will often find themselves sabotaging their success out of feeling unworthy

About the author:

Dr Becky Spelman is a leading UK Psychologist who’s had great success helping her clients manage and overcome a multitude of mental illnesses.

***If you think you’re struggling with Borderline Personality Disorder and think you might benefit from speaking to someone, we offer a FREE 15-MINUTE CONSULTATION with one of our specialists to help you find the best way to move forward. You can book yours here.


Very Well Mind (23th Sept 2020) Research on Borderline Personality Disorder Subtypes? Retrieved on 26th February, 2020 from,

Psychology Today (3rd May 2020) Do You Know the 4 Types of Borderline Personality Disorder? Research Explains Why. Retrieved on 25th February, 2020 from,

Optimum Performance Institute (2020) THE FOUR TYPES OF BORDERLINE PERSONALITY DISORDER. Retrieved on 25th February, 2020 from,

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