What is Borderline Personality Disorder?
Borderline Personality Disorder is a condition in which a person feels perpetually unstable. People suffering from BPD typically have an unstable sense of self, unstable emotions, and unstable relationships. Desperate to be loved yet fearing abandonment, they have a tendency to quickly attach to others only to become enrage when others can’t meet their impossible expectations. Deep inside, people with BPD struggle with feelings of self-loathing, which can cause them to self-harm and become suicidal.
What causes Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD)?
The is a strong correlation between Borderline Personality Disorder and trauma in childhood. Specifically, many people with BPD report histories of neglect, abandonment, and/or abuse in childhood, including verbal, emotional, physical, and sexual abuse. People with BPD often report that as children their thoughts and feelings were invalidated by caregivers. They also report that their caregivers were either emotionally unavailable or treated them inconsistently—running hot and cold. It is theorized that abnormal attachment patterns with caregivers may be the basis for later developing Borderline Personality Disorder.
How common is Borderline Personality Disorder?
At any given time, approximately 1.6% of the general population is suffering from Borderline Personality Disorder. Women are three times more likely to suffer from BPD as men. This is possibly because girls are about three to four times more likely to suffer child sexual abuse than boy. BPD is more common in young adults than older adults, possibly because people outgrow the disorder as they age.
What are the symptoms of Borderline Personality Disorder?
The most noticeable feature of Borderline Personality Disorder is stormy personal relationships. People with BPD tend to be starving for love and affection, yet they have an inherent distrust of others and constantly fear disrespect and abandonment. Because of this, people with BPD are hypersensitive to any kind of insult or rejection and are notorious for becoming enraged with people who they believe have hurt them.
People with Borderline Personality Disorder suffer from feelings of shame and deep self-loathing. This make them susceptible to depression, substance abuse, eating disorders, and self-harm behaviors, including suicidality.
What are remedies for Borderline Personality Disorder?
Due to self-harm behaviors, suicide attempts, and substance abuse, people with BPD are frequent users of mental health services. Long-term psychotherapy is the preferred treatment for sufferers of BPD. Dialectic Behavior Therapy, either in a group or individually, has also been shown to be effective. In addition, people with BPD may benefit from medication to help with feelings of anxiety and depression. With proper treatment, most people with BPD can overcome the disorder completely and go on to lead satisfying and fulfilling lives.
Dr. Michelle Stevens is a psychologist, writer, and expert on trauma. She wrote the bestselling book, Scared Selfless: My Journey from Abuse and Madness to Surviving and Thriving (Putnam, 2017).