Characteristics of Borderline Personality Disorder

December 2, 2023

Characteristics of Borderline Personality Disorder

‘I think my girlfriend has Borderline Personality Disorder. What should I do?’ ‘My husband doesn’t trust me, and his obsession with me is too much. Could he have BPD?’ You might have heard about or encountered Borderline Personality Disorder once or twice. Recently, many posts have been shared on internet communities where individuals describe the personalities and behaviors of their lovers or spouses, questioning if they have Borderline Personality Disorder and how to cope with it.

A while ago, a particular celebrity courageously admitted to living with Borderline Personality Disorder. This led to a surge of news articles, raising more awareness about the disorder among the masses. So, what exactly is Borderline Personality Disorder? Are all people who fear breaking up and say, 'I don't know what I'd do without you’ diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder?

Indeed, extreme fear of abandonment or separation is one of the core symptoms of Borderline Personality Disorder. However, those with BPD are predominantly anxious about the fear of being abandoned, not the separation itself. Patients with BPD tend to display severe emotional anxiety and show a highly unstable and extreme stance in their interpersonal relationships.

When they feel cared for, such as by a lover, family, or friend, they tend to overly idolize and lavish praise on that person. However, they experience symptoms of depression, such as loneliness and emptiness, when the caregiver is not around. If for any reason, a signal that they could lose this relationship appears, the warm image of the caregiver that they had been idolizing collapses into the image of a brutal persecutor. Consequently, the fear of abandonment becomes more severe as the separation draws near, causing them to exhibit dangerous behaviors such as displaying anger, self-harming, or suicidal attempts to prevent it.

Another characteristic of BPD is that emotions and thoughts easily change. Particularly if they perceive a person who had previously been kind to them as being drastically different or neglecting them, they may experience rapid and intense changes in their emotions, such as becoming extremely angry. They also react very sensitively to rejection and criticism related to interpersonal relationships, and such situations can also cause emotional turbulence. However, these emotional changes usually revert back to normal within a few hours and hardly ever last for several days.

On top of this, as mentioned above, self-harming, suicidal attempts, and threats related to suicide are very common in BPD. However, it seems that these behaviors are impulsive actions intended to send a kind of warning message to the person they perceive as abandoning them, rather than a purpose to actually harm themselves or to end their lives. Regardless of the motive, they indeed frequently attempt self-harming and suicide, and the risk of suicide is about 40 times higher than the general public.

Those with Borderline Personality Disorder live on the "borderline," like walking on a tightrope when it comes to interpersonal relationships. Whenever they find someone who cares for them, they cannot fully enjoy the happiness and are swallowed by the extreme fear that they might be abandoned by that person, leading to emptiness and urgency.

For the treatment of Borderline Personality Disorder, psychotherapy through counseling is known to be very effective. The symptoms of BPD can be significantly improved by practicing developing reliable and stable relationships with the therapist through psychotherapy. The term 'personality disorder' may seem as if there is something wrong with the person's character, but personality disorder is a medical condition. It means that it's not just a person's 'personality' that's abnormal. It is only natural that proper treatment is needed, just like other disorders.

So, instead of delegating the issues as just personality problems, let’s not stigmatize them as being strange, but rather encourage them to seek appropriate treatment. For those struggling with such problems around us, it would be helpful to suggest seeking treatment. A warm perspective and helping hand would be a major turning point for those who are walking on a tightrope.

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