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Doc@DrIrene.com

Borderline Personality & Anger

About Borderline Personality Disorder

by Irene Matiatos, Ph.D.

Life, we learn too late, is in the living, in the tissue of
every day and hour. - Stephen Leacock

What's a Borderline?

There have been several reference to "Borderline Personality Disorder" on this site (for example Formerly Abused Guy and Elizabeth's Update). 

Please read the criteria for the disorder. Then come back. 

It is important to note that an individual may have borderline traits, but does not meet criteria for the Personality Disorder, which is more serious.  The same source (DSM-IV)1 qualifies what is meant by the term, "Personality Disorder" as opposed to "personality trait:

"Personality traits are enduring patterns of perceiving, relating to, and thinking about the environment and oneself that are exhibited in a wide range of social and personal contests. Only when personality traits are inflexible and maladaptive and cause significant functional impairment or subjective distress do they constitute Personality Disorders."  (p. 630)

Word of caution: Use this information as a guideline. Do not make lay diagnoses. You don't have the background. You will not be able to determine the difference between a "trait" and a "disorder." Also, be aware that other disorders may mimic or account for the phenomena. For example, situational stress and transient mental states resulting from  Mood or Anxiety Disorders or Intoxication may mimic, but do not constitute a Personality Disorder. 

About the Borderline

People with Borderline Personality disorder are usually, but not always, female. They are often angry, manipulative, and abusive. One day they may be depressed, the next day hyper and seeking to self-medicate with alcohol and/or drugs. Self-mutilation or suicidal threats or gestures are typical. the Borderline individual is a high maintenance, though exciting, partner. 

The Borderline individual's suicidal threats or gestures have a more dramatic quality than those of the deeply depressed person, who means business. The threats are often manipulative and are a call for attention.  When this individual does succeed in the suicide threat, the 'success' was often an accident - a miscalculation. They have gone a little further than they intended to. Manipulative gesture or not, any death threat should be taken seriously and immediately brought to the attention of a crisis team or the police.

There is a pervasive pattern of disturbed interpersonal relationships. This individual's thinking is characteristically black or white with few shades of gray. They love you or they hate you, depending on the mood they are in. They find it very difficult to love you and be very angry with you at the same time.

Note that the Borderline diagnosis is not only reserved for the abuser, the context in which the disorder has been brought up in the two articles cited above. Victims may also fit Borderline criteria.  

For More Information

The clearest description of the underlying thinking inherent in the various personality disorders is found in Beck & Freeman et al. Cognitive Therapy of Personality Disorders.

You may also want to read this exchange with a reader who had some choice words for Dr. Irene!

 

1The Diagnostic and Statistic Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition (DSM-IV). American Psychiatric Association, 1994.