The 5 Things Most People Don’t Understand About Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD)
By Dr Becky Spelman
Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) is often mistaken by those who observe the condition in another as rudeness and even narcissism. And while it’s true that there is some cross over between both narcissistic individuals and those with BPD, the two are entirely separate conditions with their own particular set of unique traits. Since the BPD was only given its proper classification as a mental illness in the 1970s, there are still a lot of misconceptions about the workings of the disorder and how it causes the individual to act in the manner they do. Listed below are some points you may not be aware of concerning both the condition and the mindset of the sufferer.
The Individual With BPD Struggles With Inter-Personal Relationships
The individual with borderline tendencies isn’t just a difficult or disagreeable person, they simply have a hard time grounding themselves in their relationships. The borderline sufferer often views things at either one of the spectrum or the other. Everything is either all good (idealisation) or all bad (devaluation). These thought patterns tend to occur in cycles with idealisation of a spouse or partner displayed when their needs are being met, followed by the devaluation of another when they feel they’re being either let down, rejected or abandoned.
It IS Treatable With The Right Help
This can be especially encouraging for those who’re either a long-term sufferer or else are in a serious relationship with someone who they would like to see regain control over their mental health. Although BPD is classed as a complex and challenging condition, there are several evidence-based therapies that have proved to effective in Dialectal Behavioural Therapy (DBT) and Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT). Certain medications, such as anti-depressants and mood stabilisers, have also shown positive results when coupled with talk therapies.
It Isn’t a Gender-Specific Issue.
While it’s true that there are more well-documented cases of women who develop the disorder, a study has shown the susceptibility across both genders is surprisingly close with men displaying a 5.6% risk and women just slightly above that at 6.2%. The fact there are relatively fewer recorded cases of men with BPD could be attributed to them their symptom set being confused as signs of another disorder, such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or, even narcissism, as we mentioned early.
BPD Isn’t Just Caused By Childhood Trauma
Although childhood trauma can be a chief cause of mental health issues, it’s not solely responsible for the onset of BPD. Abandonment during childhood is often cited as one of the main causes of BPD. And it’s an idea that’s not without merit, given reimagining of the experience in future relationships. However, studies have also shown that genes could play a bigger role than was previously thought, as well as problems with neurotransmitters – particularly serotonin – and underdeveloped brains. A study found that portions of the brain such as the amygdala, hippocampus, and orbitofrontal cortex were all smaller than those found in the average non-sufferer.
Every Borderline Sufferer Has Their Own Challenges
In much the same way that we all have our own personal challenges, so too, do those with BPD have their own particular set of issues that they’re dealing with. To say because you’ve met one person with borderline personality disorder means you’re able to apply that experience to every other sufferer you meet in the future is more than a little naïve. BPD has a wide spectrum, and although there has been no official classification of subtypes, one of the more well-known models by American Psychologist Theodore Milton offers four distinct archetypes, which are: the discouraged borderline, impulsive borderline, petulant borderline and the self-destructive borderline. And again, just as these archetypes are different from one another, so will the people who are of the same archetype be unique, also.
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NHS UK. (22nd August 2016). Borderline Personality Disorder. Retrieved on 19th July, 2019 from,
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