Borderline Personality Disorder

What is BPD?

Borderline personality disorder is one of ten personality disorders recognised by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manuel of Mental Disorders (DSM IV). Listed as emotionally unstable personality disorder under the ICD-10 system. Personality disorders are a mental health condition marked by beliefs and behaviours which cause longstanding disturbances in life.

To be diagnosed with BPD you need to meet 5 out of 9 symptomatic criteria.

  1. Frantic efforts to avoid real or imagined abandonment (Feeling worried about people leaving and doing anything to stop that happening).
  2. A pattern of unstable and intense interpersonal relationships characterized by alternating between extremes of idealization and devaluation. (Finding it difficult to make and keep stable relationships).
  3. Identity disturbance: markedly and persistently unstable self-image or sense of self
  4. Impulsivity in at least two areas that are potentially self-damaging (e.g., spending, sex, Substance Abuse, reckless driving, binge eating).
  5. Recurrent suicidal behaviour, gestures, or threats, or self-mutilating behaviour.
  6. Affective instability due to a marked reactivity of mood (e.g., intense episodic dysphoria, irritability, or anxiety usually lasting a few hours and only rarely more than a few days).
  7. Chronic feelings of emptiness.
  8. Inappropriate, intense anger or difficulty controlling anger (e.g., frequent displays of temper, constant anger, recurrent physical fights).
  9. Transient, stress-related paranoid ideation or severe dissociative symptoms. (Feeling paranoid, seeing or hearing things other people don’t, feeling numb or ‘checked out’ and struggling to remember things properly after they’ve happened).

If you’ve been given a diagnosis of BPD, it’s understandable to feel that something is wrong with you. You may feel like your core self is being challenged or told that it is defective. But having BPD doesn’t mean something is wrong with our personality, it just means that some thoughts and behaviour patterns are not very useful. Diagnosis can be the first step to learning how to cope with them.