What is borderline personality disorder

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Trigger warning (this article may contain information not suitable for everyone since it mentions sensitive subjects like suicide).

Since psychology is the main focus of my website, I intend to focus at least one article a month on a particular mental disorder by researching complex and often misunderstood conditions. The science behind mental health topics can be confusing, so I usually attempt to discuss it in an understandable and digestible format. I also enjoy writing about complex issues, not solely because I am pursuing a career in psychology but because complex subjects often fascinate me, mainly when related to the brain, since neuropsychology is a particular area of interest.


NPD ( Narcissistic personality disorder) and APD (anti-social personality disorder) fall into the Cluster B group of personality disorders. However, this article will focus primarily on BPD since it is one of the most commonly known personality disorders and most widely misunderstood.

For information on personality disorder clusters, you will click the link below https://style-health.com/index.php/2021/05/31/can-your-guess-which-category-type-of-sociopath-would-fall-into-a-brief-overview-of-the-3-personality-cluster-type-disorders-by-sharilynn-h/

What is BPD and how is it diagnosed?

A borderline personality disorder is classified as a pervasive pattern of instability in interpersonal relationships, self-image, and emotion and marked impulsivity beginning by early adulthood and present in various contexts, as indicated by having five (or more) of the nine following symptoms
The following criteria must be met to diagnose a personality disorder.—significant impairments in self-identity or self-direction, empathy, or intimacy functioning.

The impairments in personality functioning and the person’s personality trait should not be due to the direct physiological effects, such as drugs or alcohol.

  1. Fear of abandonment. 
  2. Unstable relationships. 
  3. Unclear or shifting self-image. 
  4. Impulsive, self-destructive behaviors.
  5. Self-harm.
  6. Extreme emotional swings. 
  7. Chronic feelings of emptiness. 
  8. Explosive anger. 
  9. Feeling suspicious or out of touch with reality. 

The big five

The essential features of a personality disorder are impairments in personality, such as cognition, self and interpersonal functioning, and pathological personality traits. Pathological traits are explored in Psychometric focus studies like the big five. https://www.simplypsychology.org/big-five-personality.html Pathological personality traits are maladaptive variants of the Big Five personality dimensions of emotional stability.

low extraversion (detachment)

low agreeableness (antagonism)

low conscientiousness (disinhibition)

Eagerness to learn new things (Openess)

sadness, moodiness, and emotional instability (Neuroticism)

NB- never self-diagnose yourself or someone based on information found on the internet or in this article. The information in this article is not intended to be used as a substitute for professional diagnoses. A medical diagnosis can and should only be done by a qualified health professional specializing in mental health who has evaluated your case respectively.

(DSM 5) How is BPD medically classified

BPD (borderline personality disorder) was officially entered the DSM classification system in 1980. However, it is also referred to as (EUPD) Emotionally unstable personality disorder (EUPD). The General Criteria for a Personality Disorder as listed in the DSM-5 Criteria – Revised June 2011 is listed as a pattern of behavior that deviates markedly from the expectations of what is considered normal or socially acceptable.

Although research is still done to pioneer more effective treatments, Its validity rested primarily on its clinical research that still stands today. The (DSM5) Is the American Psychiatric Association’s standard reference for psychiatry, which includes over 450 different definitions of mental disorders. For more information regarding mental disorders vs. personality disorders, click on the article PERSONALITY DISORDERS VS. MENTAL DISORDERS. IDENTIFYING THE DIFFERENCES. The article briefly explores the key psychometric differences between personality and mental disorders.


BPD risks factors

Although the precise cause of personality disorders is unknown, certain factors seem to increase the risk of developing or triggering personality disorders, such as a family history of personality disorders and exposure to trauma. People who suffer from BPD are at high risk for self-harm and suicide.

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People with BPD become at high risk for suicide or self-harm. They may also hurt those around them as they are prone to extreme and terrifying anger episodes that are incredibly destructive and can affect them. The result of untreated mental illnesses can be harmful to the person suffering from BPD and close partners and family members. Mental health problems can often create a vicious cycle of psychological l distress. People with BPD who enter into relationships may cause their partners to develope depression, PTSD, ASD if they do not seek treatment. Untreated mental illnesses may lead to a society of people affected by those who never sought treatment.

Nature vs nurture, Is BPD heridatary?

In addition to environmental factors — such as a history of child abuse or neglect — borderline personality disorder may be linked to Genetics. Studies suggest that personality disorders may be inherited or strongly associated with other mental health disorders, mainly if there is a history of mental health in the family.

However, based on numerous studies, Heritability is thought to be 40-60 %. About 70% of people diagnosed with BPD have suffered some form of child abuse. This would indicate that environment and genetics determine BPD. However, trauma and abuse are often associated with BPD, thus increasing the likelihood of environmental factors rather than genetic predisposition.

What is the main cause often associated with BPD?

High-functioning BPD is the result of trauma—an overwhelmingly painful experience in your life. Previous studies have found links between early-life trauma and the increase of developing BPD. Specifically, research has linked experiences of abuse, abandonment, extreme adversity, violence, or conflict in one’s family life to BPD. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/327084

This trauma may not be visible but comes in the form of chronic emotional abuse or neglect. It’s important to know that many people with BPDs are on a spectrum, so many may not be as extreme as others. However, there’s also a possibility that people may have it without knowing since BPD may be co-morbid with other disorders. Comorbidity is the term we use when when one disorder overlaps with another.

What constitutes childhood trauma?

Early exposure to toxic, unhealthy environments often leaves a traumatic scar that’s permanently imprinted on a child’s subconscious and psyche. In addition, traumatic experiences are often relived through triggers or exposure to situations that may remind a victim of a, particularly traumatic time. In some cases, a trauma victim may forget the experiences but experience residual flashbacks. Hence, trauma victims are often co-morbid with more than one disorder, such as anxiety or PTSD. Trauma can also occur due to multiple factors such losing a family or living with a parent

  • Domestic violence
  • Death of one or both parents
  • When parents Divorce
  • neglect
  • Physical abuse
  • Sexual abuse
  • Emotional abuse

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If you are someone you know is experiencing thoughts of suicide, click the link below.



Can a therapist refuse to treat someone with BPD?

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There are particular guidelines A psychiatrist/ Psychologist has to follow when deciding whether to treat a patient or not; This often involves legal and ethical considerations. However, psychologists can refuse to treat a patient for various reasons, such as not wanting to take on a particular case if they do not feel they have enough experience or do not cooperate or comply with the treatment recommended. In cases such as this, a therapist may decide to terminate therapy and refer you to someone more qualified. This is done with the sole intent of ensuring a patient receives the best treatment by finding a therapist more experienced in a particular area related to mental health disorders.

You are a survivor of trauma

his article explores personality disorders like BPD (Borderline personality disorder) to identify their primary cause. In comparison, people with BPD struggle to regulate emotions. While living with BPD can be challenging for people with the disorder, they are still responsible for their actions.
It’s important to acknowledge that you may need help.
They can improve if they are willing to admit that their behavior affects them and the people in their lives negatively.
The first step to self-improvement is to acknowledge that there are areas that require professional help. The second step is to seek professional help. In contrast, most people diagnosed with BPD have endured some form of trauma its essential to seek thread to help you process trauma and help you see yourself as a survivor of trauma as opposed to a victim of it. With therapy, people with BPD can contribute positively in areas such as interpersonal relationships. They also earn vital skills that allow them to function better in social situations.

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This article is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice: diagnoses or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or a qualified health care provider with questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking treatment because of something you read on the internet.

For information regarding the most effective treatment for BPD, refer to the article below

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Sharilynn Hanslo
About the author: Shari enjoys writing about topics that interest her. She is a Bachelor of science - psychology major with a background in nutrition and fitness. She enjoys travelling to new countries and immersing herself in a new culture. She's also taught English in Cambodia and Thailand as well as spent some time in Europe."I'm biracial, born in South Africa, and have an identity crisis at least once a year"

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