Borderline Personality Disorder is a serious personality disorder that is treatable way better than people once thought. It affects an estimated 2 percent of the population. Nevertheless, many borderline patients go unnoticed for their direct environment. This is because their behaviour is mainly found in close relationships.
How do you recognise borderline symptoms?
Borderline stands for the ‘borderline’ of psychosis and neurosis. One of the most prominent borderline symptoms is the volatility in thinking, feeling and acting. The prevailing perception of people with borderline is therefore rather negative. However, the impulsive and reckless behaviour is mostly because they are vulnerable. Moreover, borderline characteristics turn out to be more effective in treating than was long assumed.
Do you have borderline traits?
Borderline is a complicated disorder, because it often stems from a combination of congenital characteristics. Such as mood swings and impulsivity, and traumatic childhood experiences, such as emotional neglect and sexual abuse,’ says psychiatrist Maraja Reduani, who specializes in borderline personality problems. Because of this, the child has not been able to attach himself or herself safely to his or her parents or caregivers.
Is borderline hereditary?
When one of the parents has borderline, the chance that their child will also develop borderline is five times higher than in children where the disorder does not occur in the immediate family. But because borderline is dependent on complex factors, it is difficult to say to what extent this disorder as a whole is hereditary.
Borderline characteristics often first manifest between the ages of 18 and 25. In this phase of life, major changes take place in relationships, work and living environment. Borderline characteristics lead to problems, especially in intimate relationships. If someone with borderline is quickly diagnosed, they have a much greater chance of treatment that turns out succesful.
9 characteristics of Borderline Personality Disorder:
In the manual of psychiatric disorders, the DSM-5, there are 9 borderline characteristics. To qualify for the borderline diagnosis, a person must meet 5 of them. Do you recognize the symptoms of borderline?
1. Fear of abandonment
People with borderline have difficulty forming and maintaining relationships. once they have become attached to someone, distance easily turns into too much dependency. The result is severe separation anxiety.
People suffering from Borderline Personality Disorder therefore try desperately to prevent someone from abandoning them – whether they were truly thinking of leaving them or if it was in their imagination. They are constantly looking for clues that the other person does not love them. As soon as they find the tiniest amount of evidence to prove their suspicions, they repel the other person. In doing so, they achieve precisely what they were so afraid of in the first place: that the other party abandons them.
2. Black and white thinking
People with borderline are often regarded as black and white thinkers. They consider the people around them to be right or wrong and excessively idealize or belittle them in recurring phases. There is no middle ground. Because of their black-and-white thinking, they often have intense relationships that last for short periods of time: it’s all or nothing.
3. Identity disorder
Borderliners have a clear and persistently unstable self-image. Whereas other people experience themselves as a constant in the course of their lives, people with borderline don’t really know who they are. They have conflicting images of themselves that they cannot integrate. This makes them feel permanently empty.
According to Reduani, impulsive reaction is one of the most prominent borderline characteristics. Borderliners lack the stability and self-control that others can apply to ensure a smooth running of life. As a result, they have less control over themselves and their lives can become chaotic. Borderliners have at the very least been impulsive in two areas that could potentially harm them. For example, wasting money, sex, substance abuse, shoplifting, reckless driving, binge eating.
5. Suicidal behaviour
Almost all borderliners occasionally think of suicide. A large number of people with Borderline attempt suicide. Or they may practice automutilation or self-harm. One in ten borderliners even dies of suicide. Borderline personality disorder is characterised by repeated suicidal behaviour. Like suicidal gestures, threats, or self-harm.
6. Serious mood swings
People with borderline have very differing moods. For example, periods of intense dysphoria (the opposite of euphoria, irritability or anxiety) usually last several hours and rarely longer than a few days. Just as a child bounces cheerfully through the room five minutes after an outburst of anger, a borderline can show the same sudden change in mood.
Brain images show that strong emotions in people with borderline are less well regulated by the rational part of the brain. Also known as the prefrontal cortex. It is as if with people with Borderline Personality Disorder the natural brake is missing.
It is as if they lack the natural brake. That would explain why people with borderline can become unreasonably angry from one moment to the next. Or become intensely agitated by a certain event.
7. A chronic feeling of emptiness
People with Borderline Personality Disorder look for relationships and impulses from outside themselves, because if they don’t they feel empty. In a sense they lift along on the other person’s feelings. However, the other person shouldn’t get too close to them. Because somewhere, deep in their hearts, a person with Borderline Personality Disorder thinks that the other person cannot be trusted. This makes it quitedifficult to enter into a long-term relationship with a borderliner.
Borderline patients find it difficult to see themselves as a coherent whole. That’s why they often talk in an indefinable way, feel lost, and have the feeling of floating. In a sense, they have a core that no one can reach, not even themselves.
8. Uncontrollable anger
People with borderline suffer from inadequate, intense anger or difficulty controlling their anger. This borderline characteristic manifests itself, for example, in regularly recurring tantrums, persistent anger or repeated fights.
For people with BPD and for their friends and family, it is therefore important to avoid ‘triggers’ that can lead to unstable and risky behaviour as much as possible. As a rule people with BPD should do their best to avoid and prevent alcohol and drug abuse, too little sleep, stress and films that evoke feelings of anxiety or sadness.
9. Dissociative phenomena
Finally, people with BPD may suffer from transient, stress-related paranoid ideas or severe dissociative symptoms. In these situations, the person with BPD emotionally dissociates himself or herself from stressful situations or environments.
Are symptoms of Borderline Personality Disorder treatable?
BPD was once one of the least understood personality disorders. For a long time people just didn’t know how to approach this disorder. Moreover, it seemed almost impossible to treat. Recently, new discoveries have been made about how to treat BPD. Now it appears that various forms of therapy work well with borderline.
With Schema Therapy, developed by the American psychologist Jeffrey Young, people with BPD can learn, for example, to change negative ‘schema’s – beliefs from the past. The so-called dialectic behavioral therapy (DBT), specially developed for borderliners by the American therapist Marsha Linehan, is also rapidly gaining popularity. Mindfulness and acceptance are an important component. You learn to become aware of how you react, think and feel. With the aim of changing behaviour and thoughts.
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