Borderline: Understanding the Patients that Psychologists FearBorderline personality disorder (BPD) affects twice the amount of people who suffer from schizophrenia or bipolar disorder.

At least 20 percent of psychiatric inpatients are eventually diagnosed with the disorder. It is a persistent and exhausting illness characterized by deep emotional pain and instability in many areas of the sufferer’s life.

Ten percent of BPD sufferers succumb to suicide, a higher rate than any other mental illness. Those with BPD are often thought to be “chronically suicidal.”

Despite the seriousness of the disorder, or maybe because of it, borderline personality disorder remains greatly misunderstood.

8 Comments to
Borderline: Understanding the Patients that Psychologists Fear

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  1. I have the diagnosis of BPD and I hate that label.
    I also have Bipolar. At least 2 psychiatrists have told me that.
    I have been told that I am chronically suicidal as well.
    I wish I could turn off my feelings and that would be a lot easier than feeling the way I do. I would be interested in knowing how other people feel that have BPD

  2. I still feel that calling it a “personality” disorder is somewhat distant to what it is. Which is experiencial.

    I also highly suspect that getting help is difficult when no-one believes you. And the attempts are misconstrued as manipulation, rather than a symptom of trying to get help when no-one believes you!

    And psychologists are an awkward lot who often suffer from academic hubris (from experience). They don’t like failure in their skills, they’ll hate you for raising complaints if you haven’t been treated rightly. They like the easy ones. Moderate depression sufferers perhaps.
    But woe betide those who are fed up and angry at the system for failing them…. Dismissive diagnosis….

  3. If you have a diagnosis of BPD, try to find a therapist who is trained in Dial.ectical Behaviour therapy or get some of the video that explains some of the self-soothing techniques. They are often available at the public library The woman who created that therapy has herself suffered with BPD – don’t lose hope.

  4. Dear Ms O’Domnell,

    I do agree with many points of your article, however; the moment that I heard you refer to patients with the diagnosis of Borderline Personality Disorder as “borderlines”, it felt as if your article lost credibility at that moment.

    I know that this community of providers and patients has been working extremely hard in trying to not only to dispel the streo-types and educate about this disorder. However, by calling someone the name of their diagnosis, reinforces the stereo-type.

    People who have been dx with this disorder are not their disorder, just like a person with cancer is not referred to as ‘a cancer-er’ or something like that. As you are aware.

    It seems like psychictry is the only field of medicine that feels that has the right/privlede or entitlement to consider and belittle their patients as a diagnosis….not a person 1st, who happenes to have been given a diagnosis. And for me, this demonstates a lack of respect for the patients.

    I have had MS for about 13 years, and in that entire time I have never been called ‘a multiple sclerosis’ or ‘a multiple sclerosis-er’……or what ever.

    Breaking down the stereo-types of people who have psychiatric illnesses has a long way to go and in my opinion, one of the first steps is to start with the semantics.

    • While I agree with most of your points and there is a lot of room to grow in destigmatizing the illness and those with any mental illness….many other fields do refer to patients as their illness. It’s never appropriate but it still does happen…ie “diabetic”, “epileptic”, etc

  5. The single greatest book written on this subject is called “I Hate You Don’t Leave Me. Understanding the Borderline Personality”. It was published in 1989. The eerie almost predictions of the authors about our society in the chapter title “The Borderline Society” as a result of many of the causes of BPD becoming common practice (children being pushed into daycare earlier and earlier, frequent movement and changing peer groups, Parental alcohol and drug addiction, divorce causing absent parents, and many more) in our culture made them wonder what impact it would have on our society and its emotional state. It can be found online.*AnKhuc1nZqzw9LDI2FX*cYRmxwChWiG22twEbDjvriqzf-xzpENxGBHTNYKagsK0mMAifDo72mqPZTPE3p6teAt5-S2/IHateYouDontLeaveMe.pdf

  6. I have finally come to believe that after nearly 10 years on every medication and kind of therapy to help my “depression and generalized anxiety” that I indeed have BPD. I have been with one psychiatrist for nearly 8 years and although at times there’s been no question I’ve suffered deep depression I’ve never been diagnosed with anything. Now this Pyschiatrist has abandoned me. I could leave 4 messages for him and nothing. One time I got my mom to phone him and he returned the call in an hour. Anyways, it’s extremely difficult because no therapist I’ve been with believes that I have very serious problems in my emotional life that must be addressed, or they simply have no clue how to help me.

    I’m in the midst of reading BPD for Dummies, and I recognize myself in many of the descriptions.

    I think BPD can be very difficult to identify, and equally difficult to treat. Right now I take 100mg Seroquel to calm my nerves, and have asked my family doctor, my abandoning psychiatrist, and someone from CAMH (Toronto) to please get me off this drug and onto something more tolerable like Abilify. It’s near impossible to get them to listen. Have contemplated suicide many times, though no attempts.

    Summarizing though, I really wish therapists were better trained. Some of them are these silly PHD’s and others aren’t good with people. I hope all of you with BPD out there are helped.

  7. As a mental health worker for 27 years the one thing I can guarantee you that your providers have felt is frustration. As for hubris or superiority I doubt. For when a patient is not improved and a psychiatrist or psychologist feels is failure and impotence. Which is the opposite of why most entered the field. However placing blame on someone else for your recovery is erroneous thinking. There is no magic pill or magic fix. You are in charge of your mental wellness and must search for what builds you up instead of focusing on others doing it for you and being angry when they are not God. DBT is the best course of therapy there is currently.

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