Q. Is it possible to be diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder without having stormy interpersonal relationships or fear of abandonment? Or, if not that, then is it possible to be oblivious to the stormy relationships or abandonment fear? I ask because I feel as though I have most of the symptoms except these key factors – which I’ve heard is huge when diagnosing a Borderline. Either way, thanks for taking the time out to read.
A. Yes, it is possible to be diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) without having the stormy interpersonal relationships or fear of abandonment. I do also think it’s possible to be oblivious to stormy relationships and the fear of abandonment. It’s possible that you may not be accurately judging your contribution to a stormy relationship. Perhaps you end up in fights and place blame on the other person (s) involved for causing the problem. If you find yourself in this type of situation, then this pattern could be characterized as “stormy interpersonal relationships” and it is likely you were just not aware of it.
Self diagnosis is difficult. It’s common to read about a specific disorder and see similarities between your own personality characteristics and those of a particular mental disorder. If you seem to match some of the criteria yet the symptoms are not severe enough to cause problems in your life, it is unlikely you have a problem. In the case of BPD, in order to qualify for the diagnosis, the diagnostic statistical manual (DSM) that mental health workers use to diagnose mental disorders states that you need 5 out of 9 criteria to be officially diagnosed with BPD, and be at least 18 years old.
1) Working hard to avoid real or imagined abandonment; 2) a pattern of unstable and intense interpersonal relationships characterized by alternating between extremes (i.e. loving someone one minute and hating them the next); 3) unstable self-image or sense of self; 4) impulsivity in at least two areas that are potentially self-damaging (e.g., spending, sex, substance abuse, reckless driving, binge eating); 5) recurrent suicidal behavior, gestures, or threats, or self-mutilating behavior ( i.e. cutting ); 6) intense and extreme mood swings (irritability); 7) chronic feelings of emptiness; 8) frequent, inappropriate, intense anger or difficulty controlling anger ; 9) short bouts of being suspicious of others or severe dissociative symptoms (i.e. emotionally distancing self; emotional numbness).
To learn more about borderline personality disorder, check out the book I Hate You, Don’t Leave Me: Understanding the Borderline Personality by J. Kriesman and H. Straus. It’s a great read, not too long or technical and the title of the book says it all about borderline personality disorder.