What is Borderline Personality Disorder?
Borderline personality disorder is a mental illness characterized by a repetitive pattern of disorganization and irresolution in self-conception, interpersonal relationships, mood, and demeanor. The instability associated with this disorder is often disruptive to the individual's personal and professional life, long term goals, and self identity. Webster's New World Medical Dictionary states, "Distortions in cognition and sense of self can lead to frequent changes in long-term goals, career plans, jobs, friendships, gender identity, and values." According to the Webster's New World Medical Dictionary, "Originally thought to be at the "borderline" of psychosis, people with borderline personality disorder (BPD) suffer from a disorder of emotion regulation." An individual with this disorder may often appear amicable and capable, and he or she is typically highly intelligent. The individual can often maintain this appearance for a number of years until a stressful situation, such as a breakup or a death in the family, causes an emotional collapse. "Sometimes people with BPD view themselves as fundamentally bad, or unworthy. They may feel unfairly misunderstood or mistreated, bored, empty, and have little idea who they are. Such symptoms are most acute when people with BPD feel isolated and lacking in social support, and may result in frantic efforts to avoid being alone." (medterms.com) According to Webster's New World Medical Dictionary, Borderline Personality Disorder is more common than schizophrenia or bipolar disorder, affecting two percent of adults, mostly young women. (medterms.com) "There is a high rate of self-injury without suicide intent, as well as a significant rate of suicide attempts and completed suicide in severe cases. Patients often need extensive mental health services and account for about 20% of psychiatric hospitalizations" (medterms.com).
What causes BPD?
Although the specific cause of Borderline Personality Disorder is unknown, many medical researchers believe that BPD is a result of stress, neglect, abuse, or dysfunction in a child's life which later resurfaces in his or her adult life. According to CureResearch.com, "Researchers believe that BPD results from a combination of individual vulnerability to environmental stress, neglect, or abuse as young children, and a series of events that trigger the onset of the disorder as young adults." Borderline personality disorder could develop due to an adverse early environment. For example, having an overly protective parent could prevent a child from feeling capable of doing things independently, whereas a neglectful parent could deny the child the necessary validation to form a stable sense of self. Abusive or dysfunctional relationships, specifically with parents or siblings, seem to be a common experience among individuals with BPD. Also, according to CureResearch.com, "Forty to seventy-one percent of BPD patients report having been sexually abused, usually by a non-caregiver." Childhood experiences are especially important in borderline personality disorder because the feelings, thoughts, and behavior of (adult) borderlines very much resemble those of a child, due to stunted emotional development.
Symptoms of BPD
According to MentalHelp.net, the symptoms of Borderline personality disorder include, but are not limited to the following: Frantic efforts to avoid real or imagined abandonment.
A pattern of unstable and intense interpersonal relationships characterized by alternating between extremes of idealization and devaluation. Identity disturbance: markedly and persistently unstable self-image or sense of self. Impulsivity in at least two areas that are potentially self-damaging (e. g., spending, sex, substance abuse, reckless driving, binge eating). Recurrent suicidal behavior, gestures, threats, or self-mutilating behavior. Affective...