(On April 1, 2008, The House of Representatives passed a resolution declaring May as Borderline Personality Disorder awareness month in favor of The National Education Alliance for Borderline Personality
Disorder (NEA.BPD)). (x) (x)
[Sponsored by Representative Tom Davis and Chris Van Hollen].
People with Borderline Personality Disorder (Emotional Regulation Disorder) are described by Dr. Linehan as, ‘third degree burns over 90% of
their bodies. Lacking emotional skin, they feel agony at the slightest
touch or movement.’
BPD is still generally unknown to most people, and if they have heard of this condition, most are not aware of the actuality of it. Lack of awareness from over the years have led to high numbers of maltreatment, misunderstandings, and lack of resources.
-Research has verified that due to the intense symptoms/impairments, complexity, and lack of awareness, at least 1 out 10 of people with BPD
complete suicide, while another 8 out of 10 attempt it an average of 3
times. Further, 8 out of 10 individuals self-harm.
-Unfortunately, this condition particularly has a boundless extent of stigma attached to it, if not above all, mental illnesses, in addition to the severity and lack of awareness. To name a few examples:
-Some hospitals and mental health workers have refused patients that self-harm out of an attempt to avoid people with BPD particularly because of the discriminatory assumptions they had about them (as such high rates with the condition struggle with self harm).
Goodwin illustrated that a patient was diagnosed with borderline
personality disorder (but really had dissociative identity disorder).
Due to their assumptions that “people with BPD were liars” and their
disbelief of what she described in the trauma she experienced in her
childhood that led to extensive pelvic pain, they diagnosed her with
BPD. The patient then received surgery to help to with such pelvic pain
and let the physicians know of their allergy to adhesive tape. Because
of such assumptions towards people with BPD, they ignored the patients
claim, believing it to be a lie, only to later realize the patient was, indeed, allergic to the
tape (which then caused immense difficulties in surgery).
-Lots of professionals refuse diagnosing someone with BPD
-Lots refuse treating them with the belief it is ‘not possible’ to improve and do not even try to. (Example)
-Another example (x)
-People with BPD are at a huge, increased risk to experience violence, abuse, and rape due to stigma and symptoms effects.
- And much, much more
Spreading awareness about the stigma and facts to educate people about this condition is an important part of reducing the maltreatment while raising the resources, care, and education/understanding.
Borderline Personality Disorder/Emotional Regulation Disorder is a chronic mental disorder caused by emotional hypersensitivity + dysregulation.
In BPD, neurobiological emotion and systematic reactions fire off rapidly, longer, easily, and with more intensity as they are hypersensitivity and do not regulate, balance out, or process well and the same as others.
As it is a chronic disorder, it is life-long, cannot be ‘cured’ so to speak, though systemology may be managed through treatment.
BPD has been known to be an extremely complex, debilitating, condition overall. As it is a personality disorder, this means it affects multiple baseline areas of one’s every day life- functioning, behavior, emotion, thought pattern, perception, and interaction (Rather than in discrete mood episodes like depressive disorders/manic-depressive disorders or an anxiety disorder, etc).
Research has verified many of the neuro and systematic factors that contribute to the causes are:
-A result of an overactive autonomic nervous system (fight or flight system- easily triggered by panic, anxiety, anger, etc).
-An under-active parasympathetic nervous system (The system that is responsible to regulate the autonomic nervous system/fight or flight system)
-Less active and smaller in volume abnormalities in the limbic system which has functions linked to: emotional reactions, memory, decision making, motivation, behavior, learning and developmental ability, thought pattern, instincts, psychotic symptoms, seizures, and senses/the way the body perceives external stimuli.
-Reduced volume in frontal lobe which has functions linked to: decision making, communication responses, ability to comprehend consequences, emotional-based memories and triggers, and relations to people, events and situations.
-Abnormal blood flow to parts of the brain that control emotions, resulting in one to be more reactive
-Emotional reactions firing off 20% longer
-And other factors (genetics, reinforced through trauma/environmental factors, etc).
They frequently occur as a reaction to an outside stimulant.
As the reactions fire off rapidly, longer, easily, and with more intensity, this leads to a series of severe symptoms: Depression instead of sadness, humiliation instead of embarrassment, rage instead of anger, euphoric reactions instead of excitement/happiness. Particularly, main symptoms include:
-Persistent depressive symptoms: Dysphoria (depression, anxiety, sorrow, anguish) despair, detachment, numbness/emptiness, weariness, shame, and feelings of inferiority.
-Anger/rage symptoms: Unbearable discomfort, extreme rage and discomfort in response to ‘minor’ situations or events, Active opposition, aggression.
-Identity and sense of self based symptoms: Dysphoria (Dissatisfaction, uselessness, worthlessness), radical behavior and/or appearance changes, despising ones self, fluctuating between life aspects, no direction with goals, values, morals.
-Extreme reactions to real or perceived abandonment, rejection, and criticism: Lack/loss of autonomy, feeling intense grief, despair, and torment.
-Impulsive and reckless based symptoms: sense of urgency to engage in impulsiveness, extreme intrusive thoughts and compulsions for a relief of emotional turmoil, lack of care for well-being, denial of one’s limits, danger, and outcomes, and engagement in behaviors such as substance abuse, reckless driving, or spending.
-Thought pattern based symptoms: Splitting, Idealization and devaluation,etc (x).
-Suicidal ideations (gestures, preoccupied thoughts, role playing, attempts) and self-harm.
Furthermore, extreme dissociation, paranoia, hallucinations, delusions, etc, may be experienced in a response to an intense emotion. Symptoms and affected areas also go beyond these main symptoms (example x).
Because of the complexity and since the reactions affect ‘all’ emotions,
it is often described as ‘on the borderline’ of multiple different
conditions and symptoms (depression, anxiety, dissociative, OCD
As they frequently occur as a reaction to an outside stimulant, the reactions are quick happening, and can last intense minutes, hours, or even extreme seconds, and sometimes days (though, they continue to have an affect on the individual). Other times, symptoms tend to be persistent and occur frequently.
Some known statistics and facts:
-At least 10% (1/10) complete suicide
-Up to 80% (8/10) attempt suicide
-An average of 3 times
-Up to 80% (8/10) self harm
-Approximately 1-2% of people in the population have BPD.
rarely stands alone. At least half have a depression disorder, while
around 15% have bipolar disorder. It also often co-occurs with anxiety
disorders, eating disorders, other personality disorders, and substance
-20% of psych hospitalizations are BPD patients
-11% of outpatients are BPD patients
-There are no FDA approved medications for BPD; however, anti-depressants, mood stabilizers, and other medications may benefit some people to an extent.
professionals believe BPD to be related seizure like reactions because
of the rapid, emotional firing off in the brain. Seizures actually do
sometimes occur with BPD.
-Migraines and severe headaches are common.
-Celebrities diagnosed with (or strongly thought to have) BPD include: Doug Ferrari, Angelina Jolie, Kurt Cobain, Courtney Love,
Marilyn Monroe, Pete Doherty, Brandon Marshall (NFL wide receiver),
Susanna Kaysen, Zelda Fitzgerald, Princess Diana, and Amy
-Characters that have been discussed to have BPD and are
often used as an example include: Susanna Kaysen in Girl Interrupted
(true story of a girl with BPD), Sam in Life as a House, Catwomen in
Skywalker in Star Wars, Tiffany in Silver Linings Playbook, and John
Bender in The Breakfast
-People with BPD are still individual people. It
is a complex disorder that can present itself differently in each
individual that has it, as shown by the variety of examples listed
(despite having the obviously similar causes and core reactions). It is
crucial to not discriminate based on assumptions and personal preference. They all suffer.
-To say that people that have BPD and are hypersensitive are all the same is like saying everyone without it is the same, too. Do not place assumptions and stereotypes on people with BPD. They have the same disorder, but they are not the same person.
Given the immense amount of severe stigma, assumptions, discrimination, symptoms, and complexity, this month was chosen to help raise awareness about these issues and concerns. It is generally unknown to most people.
It is critical to spread the facts and accurate information vs the stigma and unfamiliarity for the sake of understanding, support, care, awareness, treatment, and resources.
Mental health doesn’t stop at depression and anxiety folks! Get to know your friendly neighborhood personality disorders!