What is a Borderline Personality Disorder and what are problems with the term?
Borderline Personality Disorder is a psychiatric diagnosis consisting of the following:
- Strong negative responses to real or perceived abandonment.
- A history of volatile relationships that cycle between idealization and devaluation.
- Reckless behavior that can include excessive spending, unsafe sex, and substance abuse.
- Suicidal ideation and urges to self-harm.
- Acute feelings of emptiness and boredom.
- Extreme changes in moods that can last for hours to days.
- Difficulty controlling feelings of anger.
- Stress induced paranoia or dissociation.
- Erratic changes in feelings, opinions, values, and future goals due to an unstable sense of identity.
At PCH Treatment Center we avoid the use of stigmatizing labels. “Borderline Personality Disorder” is probably one of the most stigmatizing labels in the world of psychology and psychiatry. At PCH Treatment Center, we believe interpersonal problems such as “personality disorders” are not actually disorders, but developmental problems related to significant psychological and emotional trauma.
The core symptoms of what is termed “Borderline Personality Disorder” are instability of moods (issues with regulating thoughts and emotions), behavior (recklessness and impulsivity), and relationships (intense relationships that cycle between idealization and devaluation). We believe that the psychological response to trauma often manifests as emotional and relational dysregulation. However, we do not feel that these responses should be considered personality defects or disorders. We also do not believe they are untreatable. Instead, we conceptualize personality issues as maladaptive responses to trauma (which often occurs early on in development).