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Spotlight on Borderline Personality Disorder

Borderline personality disorder, like dissociative identity disorder (which used to be called multiple personality disorder), is a disorder that has gained much attention since the advent of the Internet. Whether people with this disorder never sought each other out, or whether because of its characteristics, it seems the Internet has enabled people with borderline personality disorder (BPD) to find one another, share information, and gain support for the condition.

The Los Angeles Times has a nice piece about what BPD is, what it’s not, some possible explanations for it, and the current treatment regimen used to help treat it (psychotherapy). People with borderline personality disorder are characterized by intense emotions, impulsive behaviors, and a fear of abandonment combined with messy interpersonal relationships:

As in the case of Sooki, people with the disorder make a mess of their relationships — and no wonder, given the hallmark symptoms: mood instability, fear of abandonment, impulsive behavior, anger and suicidal or self-injurious acts. People with the disorder may misperceive the actions — even the facial expressions — of others.

“You can’t regulate your emotions despite your best efforts,” says Marsha Linehan, a University of Washington psychologist and leading expert on the disorder.

Borderline personality disorder occurs equally as often in men and women and sufferers often also have other mental illnesses or substance abuse problems. The composite of an angry, unstable, clingy, substance abuser is not a pretty one, and people with the disorder suffer greatly because they drive away even the people who love them most, experts say.

That old belief that BPD mainly occurs in women is simply not true. Men can have borderline personality disorder too. Recent research suggests that the lifetime prevalence rate is doubled than what it was previously thought to be (6% versus 3%).

In terms of treatments, no drug is approved for borderline personality disorder. Thankfully, we have psychology and psychological treatments, namely dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT):

There are several helpful therapies, experts say, notably dialectical behavioral therapy, and all share common elements. The bond between the patient and therapist is strong — important for a long-term, therapeutic relationship. And the therapy focuses on the present rather than the past, on changing one’s behavior patterns now regardless of how patients feel about the past or if they see themselves as victims.

After Sooki’s diagnosis, her mother Patricia began to change the way she communicated with her daughter by remembering that Sooki is ultra-sensitive and easily misperceives others’ feelings.

Sooki began seeing a therapist who specialized in borderline personality disorder. She attended group support meetings, took medication for depression and began to exercise to battle her depression in a positive way. She is now in a healthy relationship with an understanding, supportive boyfriend, her mother says, and is taking college classes.

There is hope for people with borderline personality disorder, but treatment is slow and arduous. Articles like this one help people understand the disorder more clearly and remove some of the stigma and misconceptions surrounding it. Kudos to Shari Roan who wrote the article for the LA Times — great job!

Read the full article: Borderline personality disorder grows as healthcare concern

Spotlight on Borderline Personality Disorder

John M. Grohol, Psy.D.

Dr. John Grohol is the founder of Psych Central. He is a psychologist, author, researcher, and expert in mental health online, and has been writing about online behavior, mental health and psychology issues since 1995. Dr. Grohol has a Master's degree and doctorate in clinical psychology from Nova Southeastern University. Dr. Grohol sits on the editorial board of the journal Computers in Human Behavior and is a founding board member of the Society for Participatory Medicine. You can learn more about Dr. John Grohol here.

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APA Reference
Grohol, J. (2018). Spotlight on Borderline Personality Disorder. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 21, 2020, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 Jul 2018 (Originally: 6 Sep 2009)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 Jul 2018
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