Borderline personality disorder (BPD) is a psychological condition that affects our thoughts, feelings, moods, and behaviors. It makes us feel unstable, impairs our daily functioning, and negatively affects our relationships.
What is borderline personality disorder (BPD)?
BPD is primarily a personality disorder marked by emotion regulation problems, unpredictable behavior, distorted self-image, and unstable relationship patterns. Often identified as an emotionally unstable personality disorder (EUPD), it is a Cluster B Personality Disorder characterized by unpredictable, highly emotional, and dramatic thought and behavior patterns. Sufferers usually experience strong emotions for long periods of time and find it hard to manage or stabilize their feelings and mood. Onset typically occurs during adolescence or early adulthood.
“BPD is characterized by extreme sensitivity to perceived interpersonal slights, an unstable sense of self, intense and volatile emotionality, and impulsive behaviours that are often self-destructive,” explains a study. When left untreated, a borderline personality disorder can impair a person’s ability to function in daily life and adversely affect their education, career, personal life, social interactions, and personal relationships. It can also lead to risky behavior including self-harm and suicidal tendencies. However, with early diagnosis and effective treatment involving psychotherapy and medication, the symptoms can be managed over time.
What are the characteristics of borderline personality disorder?
A person suffering from this condition may experience –
- Hypersensitivity to rejection
- Rapid mood swings
- Impulsive behaviors
- Episodes of severe anxiety, depression and anger
- Poor self-image and identity issues
- Interpersonal relationship problems
- Extreme emotional reactions to stressors
- Difficulty with self-regulation
Is borderline personality disorder a mental illness?
BPD is a serious mental illness and a personality disorder that involves an unhealthy and rigid thought pattern. It is a “psychiatric syndrome” which involves fear of abandonment, feelings of emptiness, impulsivity, emotion dysregulation, irritability, risk-taking behavior, and self-injury “as well as unstable interpersonal relationships,” explains a 2016 study. Although it is widely experienced by people with psychiatric disorders, healthy individuals can also experience the symptoms. Hence, it is considered “ an important public health issue.” According to recent research, the condition is observed in about “1.6% in the general population and 20% in the inpatient psychiatric population.” It is also associated with different medical and psychiatric comorbid conditions.
People with BPD also suffer from considerable mortality and morbidity compared to other healthy individuals, states a 2018 study. It adds “Borderline personality disorder (BPD) is a chronic psychiatric disorder characterized by pervasive affective instability, self-image disturbances, impulsivity, marked suicidality, and unstable interpersonal relationships as the core dimensions of psychopathology underlying the disorder.”
Why is borderline personality disorder called “borderline”?
As healthcare professionals initially believed that BPD lied “on the border” of two distinct conditions, namely psychosis and neurosis, the label “borderline” was used to define the psychological disorder. The term was originally used in 1938 in the United States by psychiatrists Stern and Knight to identify patients who were believed to have a tendency to relapse to “borderline schizophrenia.” A 2009 study explains “By identifying the tendency of certain patients to regress into ‘borderline schizophrenia’ mental states in unstructured situations, these authors gave initial clinical meaning to the borderline construct.”
Until the 1970s the term was an “inconsistently used colloquialism within the psychoanalytic fraternity.” By 1980, borderline personality disorder was officially recognized as a personality disorder by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders III (DSM-III). However, today some experts feel that there is a need to rename the condition as the label “borderline” seems to be stigmatized and outdated.
What famous person has borderline personality disorder?
Although most celebrities and famous people do not typically speak out about their mental illness, here is a speculative list of well-known individuals who are suspected to suffer from certain symptoms of BPD:
- Vincent van Gogh
- Princess Diana
- Jim Morrison
- Marilyn Monroe
- Angelina Jolie
- Britney Spears
- Brandon Marshall
- Amy Winehouse
- Ricky Williams
- Courtney Love
- Lindsay Lohan
It should be noted that this is primarily a presumptive diagnosis and it is unclear if these individuals actually suffer from a borderline personality disorder.
Related: 7 Surprising Positive Aspects Of BPD