who am i

Introduction

I think we all have that friend that is a little more sensitive to things than everyone else.  Borderline personality disorder (BPD) is that sensitivity to the extreme.  BPD is a mental disorder that is marked by an inability to regulate emotions which leads to impulsive behavior.  BPD impairs a person’s ability to process the outside environment in a realistic way.  A person with BPD reacts to this unrealistic environment with unrealistic expectations.

BPD affects a person’s ability to think, behave, and react appropriately; if someone gives a critical remark, then that person must detest her and if someone is nice to her, then they must be in love with her.  They also suffer from self-loathing, feeling misunderstood and alone, and feeling hopeless which combines with suicidal thoughts and behavior.  A person with BPD has poor self-image and is very sensitive emotionally, mentally, and socially.  As stated before, everything that happens to them they feel to the extreme.

Social Behaviors

Someone with BPD has unstable social relationships; they may believe that the other person is dishonest, cruel, or will leave them at any moment.  This person has a great fear of abandonment so they will exhibit behaviors of being clingy with current relationships or become stalking of relationships that have ended.

A person with BPD can be irritated easily and will express themselves in socially inappropriate ways including throwing tantrums, crying melodramatically, reacting to others bitterly or with sarcasm, and even getting into physical altercations.  They read others’ facial expressions quickly and inaccurately, often jumping to the wrong conclusion.  For example, they may ask someone if they like their new dress, and if the other person takes too long (or what the person with BPD considers too long) to answer, then the response will be that the other person hates the new dress and thinks it looks awful, even if that’s not what the other person has said.

Other Symptoms and Behaviors

The symptoms and behaviors of someone with BPD include being sexually irresponsible, driving recklessly, partaking in heavy drug or alcohol use, and addictive behaviors such as excessive shopping, gambling, eating, etc.  There are feelings of emptiness, depression, panic, and paranoia.  A person with BPD is unable to truly define who they are, which makes them conform to whomever they are around (yes, they may actually jump off a bridge if their friends did).  Their lack of self-image can make this person suddenly change their opinion about someone else, loving them one day then extremely hating them the next.  Because of their deficiency of self-knowledge, a person with BPD has frequent job changes and can lack any realistic goals.

Numbers

About 5 million Americans are affected by this disorder, many of them not seeking help.  Of those afflicted, 80% of them have suicidal tendencies, with anywhere between 3-6% actually committing suicide; many self-mutilate or cause self-harm.

Both sexes can be diagnosed with this disorder; however, women are about three times diagnosed more than men.  20% of the prison population of both sexes suffer with BPD.  This is because their behaviors are reckless such as substance abuse, thefts, violence, domestic abuse, and other criminal behaviors.  Many people are actually diagnosed while in prison due to mandatory psychological evaluation.

Diagnosis, Causes, and Treatment

Many people are actually misdiagnosed when treating BPD. They are diagnosed with other disorders such as bipolar disorder or major depressive disorder. This may be due to BPD being a lesser known personality disorder and others being more known and treatable with recognized therapy and medication. Nonetheless, the prevalence of BPD is extremely high even though the rate of incident is relatively low (more people suffer from BPD while only a small portion are actually diagnosed and seek treatment).

Although there are many factors that may come into play when developing BPD, research has shown that many (not all) of those who are diagnosed with BPD have a history of familial neglect or lack of connection, sexual or physical abuse by family and non-family members, and were victims of other sorts of crime. Both environmental and genetic components are thought to aid in the development of BPD. This disorder is thought to be a combination of an abusive or neglectful childhood, a predisposition to a person’s susceptibility to environmental and personal stress, and traumatic events as teenagers or young adults that trigger the onset of BPD.

Treatment for BPD is a combination of therapy and sometimes medication to treat the anger or depression.  Many people with BPD do not always believe that they have a problem so they are reluctant to go on medication or even to seek therapy in the first place.  Even when someone with BPD does seek help, they have a difficult time relating to a therapist.  This is mostly because they do not trust the therapist and will believe that the therapist has some ulterior motive, is lying, or is insincere.  The symptoms do tend to decrease with age, even without therapy; however, the feelings and emotions can remain the same.