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Understanding Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD)
Individuals with Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) are often portrayed negatively in the media scene. In fact, BPD is more than it meets the eye. Beyond the label, there are many causes, symptoms and treatments. In this article, we will delve into the person behind this disorder, and debunk the myths behind BPD.
BPD can look like…
- They experience episodes of inappropriate and intense anger
- They have an inability to tolerate distress and find it difficult to control their anger
Fear of abandonment
- They get extremely sensitive and overreact over trivial matters
- Because they are afraid of the idea of abandonment, they put in much effort to avoid it, hence they will start exhibiting behaviors such as recurrent suicide or self-harm threats
Lack of sense of self
- You will also see a frequent change of appearance, goals, jobs, relationship partners or friends
- Because they have a very low self esteem, they tend to mimic desirable traits of others in the hopes of becoming more favorable and welcomed by the masses.
How BPD affects relationships
Firstly, due to their fear of abandonment, they want to prevent it from happening, thus they become desperate to avoid it at all costs. This results in unstable and intense emotions such as anger and distraught, which causes extreme reactions and heightened reactions. This severely affects relationships because the people around BPD victims will become emotionally drained and tend to pull away and distance themselves. Thus, relationships with BPD victims are often unstable and unpredictable.
Is BPD really just a ‘Female disorder’?
While BPD is more commonly diagnosed amongst females, men also do get diagnosed with BPD.
- has a higher likelihood of getting comorbid depression, anxiety, and eating disorders
- and a higher tendency to be in unstable relationships
- has an inability to commit in relationships
- tendency to shift its blame to others
- and display self-serving and controlling behaviors
Behind the label
Individuals with BPD are often found to have experienced childhood trauma such as:
- physical, sexual, emotional abuse or neglect
- long term exposure to instability, fear or distress in childhood
Unresolved traumatic experiences and negative emotions from childhood can lead to a distorted sense of self and negative thinking patterns, resulting in behavioral traits that affect the way that they interact with others.
Intervention for BPD
Psychotherapy is an integral part of treatment.
Some approaches include but are not limited to:
- Dialectical behavior therapy
- Metallisation based therapy
- Psychodynamic psychotherapy
- Schema therapy
Therapy can help the individual:
- Address and resolve past hurts
- Improve capacity for emotion regulation
- Understand the self in relation to others which helps improve interpersonal relationships
- Develop a better sense of self
A painful label for a response to trauma
Borderline Personality Disorder is more than just a diagnostic label. Let's seek to understand and support the person and their lived experiences.
Dr Shawn Ee.
BSc. BPsych. DPsych.(Clinical), Clinical Psychologist & Psychoanalytic Psychotherapist, Registered Psychologist (AHPRA; Australia)