Posted in Borderline Personality Disorder

What is Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD)?

I have already written several posts about my ‘Borderline Personality Disorder‘.  However, as yet I haven’t really given an explanation of the condition so readers will understand what I am talking about in my posts. So here is the ‘official’ description of Borderline Personality Disorder.

Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD)

What is it?

BPD is a serious mental health condition, it is a controversial diagnosis of a highly contested disorder and has co-morbidity with many other mental health conditions, depression, anxiety, eating disorders and substance abuse.  Alongside each of the DSM IV terms I have added a ‘laymen’s terms explanation of the criteria to help you understand the technical jargon.

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders fourth edition, DSM IV-TR, a widely used manual for diagnosing mental disorders, defines borderline personality disorder (in Axis II Cluster B) as:

A pervasive pattern of instability of interpersonal relationships, self-image and affects, as well as marked impulsivity, beginning by early adulthood and present in a variety of contexts, as indicated by five (or more) of the following:
  1. Frantic efforts to avoid real or imagined abandonment. Note: Do not include suicidal or self-injuring behavior covered in Criterion 5 (in laymen terms – fearing being abandoned or rejected or being alone)
  2. A pattern of unstable and intense interpersonal relationships characterized by alternating between extremes of idealization and devaluation. (difficulty in making and maintaining relationships)
  3. Identity disturbance: markedly and persistently unstable self-image or sense of self. (having an unstable sense of identity, such as thinking differently about yourself depending on who you are with)
  4. Impulsivity in at least two areas that are potentially self-damaging (e.g., promiscuous sex, eating disorders, binge eating, substance abuse, reckless driving). Note: Do not include suicidal or self-injuring behavior covered in Criterion 5 (taking risks or doing things without thinking about the consequences)
  5. Recurrent suicidal behavior, gestures, threats or self-injuring behavior such as cutting, interfering with the healing of scars (excoriation) or picking at oneself. (suicide attempts, self-harm)
  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). (having emotions that are up and down for example, feeling confident one day and feeling despair another)
  7. Chronic feelings of emptiness
  8. Inappropriate anger or difficulty controlling anger (e.g., frequent displays of temper, constant anger, recurrent physical fights).
  9. Transient, stressrelated paranoid ideation, delusions or severe dissociative symptoms (sometimes believing in things that are not real or true (called delusions) or seeing or hearing things that are not really there (called hallucinations).)
It is a requirement of DSM-IV that a diagnosis of any specific personality disorder also satisfies a set of general personality disorder criteria.

source’s: DSM IV-TR and Mind

I will examine each of the criteria as it applies to me in separate posts and update this post with links to each of these as they are published.

How the criteria apply to me –
  1. Abandonment issues – Abandonment and the borderline personality
  2. Unstable relationships – Splitting – Unstable relationships in Borderline Personality Disorder
  3. Unstable sense of self – Constant career changes – the BPD unstable sense of self and identity
  4. Impulsivity – Impulsivity and Borderline Personality Disorder
  5. Self injury/suicidal behaviour – *Trigger* Thinking about Self-Harm
  6. Unstable Mood – Unstable Moods in BPD
  7. Chronic feelings of emptiness – Chronic feelings of Emptiness in BPD
  8. Anger Management – Anger and Borderline Personality Disorder
  9. Short term paranoia’s, delusions or dissociation – Paranoia, delusion and dissociation in BPD

If you want to access all my posts about BPD you can find them listed on my ‘Borderline Personality Disorder‘ Page in the tabs across the top of the site.

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Self-published author whose first book Coffee Break Companion, a collection of short stories and poems is now available on Amazon. S.L.Grigg lives in Bromsgrove with her family. Working in the NHS and enjoying reading, Pilates and travel, amongst other things when she isn't too busy writing.

41 thoughts on “What is Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD)?

  1. Do you have any suggestions on how to help someone with BPD get the help they need? My ex-husband (with whom I do not have a good relationship with) displays all the symptoms of BPD, but refuses to get any help. I have tried to get a court ordered psych eval, but they won’t do it because he doesn’t have a condition that medication will treat. We have joint custody of a daughter and I’m concerned about the affect he will have on her if this continues to go untreated, knowing the affect it has had on me. I also have a client who is just discovering BPD and we both believe her husband has it as well.


    1. Unfortunately it is not something you can make someone do, getting help has to come from the person themselves, they have to believe they have a problem and want to get better by getting help. When a person refuses they are not ready and trying to push or even just encourage them to get help is likely to be met with aggression, anger and even denial and blaming you as the one with the ‘problem’ rather than themselves. It is down to him to want to get help 😦


  2. thank you for sharing this. i think this health condition is not yet elaborated and tackled in my area.. everyone should practically know a little or two about BPD. Meanwhile, keep smiling! 🙂


  3. I believe my boyfriend must be suffering from moderate depression, he also gets anxiety attacks. He’s been mentioning he feels empty and low. He’s become extremely irritable, likely to blow up and argue with me over the most trivial of matters. He’s become verbally and emotionally abusive towards me, blaming me for everything that does not go smoothly. Our arguments escalate so quickly now and he gets into a rage and breaks valuables. Then he will blame his irrational behavior solely on me and convince me that I have caused his depression and rage. Sometimes he can act normal and cheery for days, then will blow up if anything at all triggers his irritability. It breaks my heart to see how this has come to be, he is no longer the same person I fell in love with. We have gone through this happy, sad, rage, promises, broken promises cycle for 2 years now. I have now checked myself into a hotel as he kicked me out of our home (technically his home since the loan is under his name, so he likes to make that known by making me unwelcome). He has agreed to seek therapy with me every time it spirals out of control, then proceeds to take it back when it’s time to go. I can’t be the glue anymore, I’m falling apart myself and he has not been my solid support for as long as I can remember. I am so heartbroken, but my only choice is to move on as he refuses to seek professional help.


    1. Sorry to hear about your troubles. It is a shame he won’t get help, if he had been willing to stick it out things may have gotten better. I think you are making the right decision not to put up with it any longer, you can’t be his girlfriend, therapist and emotional punchbag all in one. Good luck and best wishes for a happier future once you have picked yourself up after all this xx


  4. BPD has a number of presentations; what affect’s 1 person may and probably is different to another person. my own BPD shows about 7.5 of the 9 criteria from the DSM, with a co-existing disorder of schizophrenia.

    Also the time when a person develops BPD is important as is the length of time the person has BPD [note we do not say ‘Suffers’ from BPD, I have BPD in the same way as someone else has blonde hair, we don’t say “that blond person is suffering” – unless its a ghastly haircut]

    Also it should be noted that some people with BPD have recovered!! its not an incurable condition.


    1. Hi Samantha,
      Thanks for your comment. Indeed each person is affected differently. I consider myself a ‘sufferer’ of BPD because it is not a condition I want to have, but I understand what you mean. I do hope that I will be able to recover!


    1. You don’t want it to be you, believe me! Also everyone could say it sounds like them, the difference that makes a diagnosis (which only a professional can do, dont self-diagnose anything, ever, it’s dangerous to do so) is the length of time you have had the problems, everyone can experience these things at some point in thier life but its the ongoing life restricting effects that make it BPD.


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