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.
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
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
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.
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.