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When a loved-one has traits of Borderline Personality

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Does My Girlfriend/Boyfriend Have Borderline Personality Disorder?

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A person suffering with Borderline Personality Disorder is often not as they  seem.

Are you trying to determine if someone in your life may suffer from Borderline Personality Disorder? You will soon find out that this is a complex question. There are no simple behavioral checklists; no definitive tests. Identifying Borderline Personality Disorder requires having a working knowledge of the disorder and some insight into the past life of the person in question.

Borderline Personality Disorder is a disorder of the emotions. Imagine a person who is extremely sensitive to rejection (fearful of even perceived or anticipated rejection) and has a limited ability to modulate their emotional impulses (love, fear, anger, grief, etc.). To protect themselves from their own feelings, they are prone to adopt a multitude of dysfunctional rationalizations and cover-ups.

For example, a person suffering from BPD may so fear rejection in a new relationship that they recreate themselves in the image of a person they believe would be lovable. When the negative emotions for making such a sacrifice surface - and not having the ability to modulate them, they lash out at the target of their affections for "making them do it" - rather than face their own feelings of inadequacy / fear of rejection, ultimately damaging the relationship they so fear losing, and reinforcing their feelings of inadequacy / fear of rejection.

What is going on in a Borderline Personality Disorder sufferer's mind and how they are acting can be two entirely different things.

To the sufferer, BPD is about deep feelings, feelings often too difficult to express, feelings that are something along the lines of this (2):

  • If others really get to know me, they will find me rejectable and will not be able to love me; and they will leave me;
  • I need to have complete control of my feelings otherwise things go completely wrong;
  • I have to adapt my needs to other people's wishes, otherwise they will leave me or attack me;
  • I am an evil person and I need to be punished for it;
  • Other people are evil and abuse you;
  • If someone fails to keep a promise, that person can no longer be trusted;
  • If I trust someone, I run a great risk of getting hurt or disappointed;
  • If you comply with someone's request, you run the risk of losing yourself;
  • If you refuse someone's request, you run the risk of losing that person;
  • I will always be alone;
  • I can't manage by myself, I need someone I can fall back on;
  • There is no one who really cares about me, who will be available to help me, and whom I can fall back on;
  • I don't really know what I want;
  • I will never get what I want;
  • I'm powerless and vulnerable and I can't protect myself;.
  • I have no control of myself;
  • I can't discipline myself;
  • My feelings and opinions are unfounded;
  • Other people are not willing or helpful.

To the family members, BPD behavior is often very frustrating can feel unfair and punitive - something like this (3):

  • You have been viewed as overly good and then overly bad;
  • You have been the focus of unprovoked anger or hurtful actions, alternating with periods when the family member acts perfectly normal and very loving;
  • Things that you have said or done have been twisted and used against you;
  • You are accused of things you never did or said?
  • You often find yourself defending and justifying your intentions;
  • You find yourself concealing what you think or feel because you are not heard;
  • You feel manipulated, controlled, and sometimes lied to.

As such, the most obvious "symptom" of Borderline Personality Disorder is a lifelong pattern of instability in interpersonal relationships, self-image and emotions.

Why is Borderline Personality Disorder Difficult to Diagnose

Borderline Personality Disorder is a relatively recent addition to the American Psychiatric Association Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) and the World Health Organization International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems (ICD). Accordingly, the majority of practicing mental health professionals graduating prior to 2000 have not been trained on the diagnosis and the treatment of this complex disorder as part of their professional curriculum.

Additionally, the clinical definition of Borderline Personality Disorder is very broad. It is defined in terms of nine criteria of which 5 or more are indicative of the disorder. This translates to 255 clusters of criteria, or constellations as they are known, any one of which is diagnostic for BPD. Within these constellations, there are high functioning borderlines that operate well in society and whose disorder is not very obvious to new acquaintances or the casual observer. Also within these constellations are the low functioning borderlines who are more apparent as they can't hold jobs, or they self-harm (cutting). Suicidal attempts/ideation and anorexia/bulimia are some of the most serious aspects of this disorder - yet, many with the disorder do not exhibit either.

Proper diagnosis and treatment of Borderline Personality Disorder is spotty at best with community healthcare providers, marriage counselors, and family therapists who are often hesitant to diagnose or treat the disorder. As a result, most borderlines are undiagnosed or in treatment for other maladies such as depression or PTSD. If you suspect Borderline Personality Disorder, it is best to use a specialist, preferably one associated with a University.

Diagnostic Tests - Diagnostic Interview for Borderline Patients (DIB-R)

The Diagnostic Interview for Borderline Patients (DIB-R) is the best-known "test" for diagnosing BPD. The DIB is a semi structured clinical interview that takes about 50-90 minutes to administer. The test, developed to be administered by skilled clinicians, consist of 132 questions and observation using 329 summary statements. The test looks at areas of functioning associated with borderline personality disorder. The four areas of functioning include Affect (chronic/major depression, helplessness, hopelessness, worthlessness, guilt, anger, anxiety, loneliness, boredom, emptiness), Cognition (odd thinking, unusual perceptions, nondelusional paranoia, quasipsychosis), Impulse action patterns (substance abuse/dependence, sexual deviance, manipulative suicide gestures, other impulsive behaviors), and Interpersonal relationships (intolerance of aloneness, abandonment, engulfment, annihilation fears, counterdependency, stormy relationships, manipulativeness, dependency, devaluation, masochism/sadism, demandingness, entitlement). The test is available at no charge by contacting John Gunderson M.D. McLean Hospital in Belmont Massachusetts (617-855-2293).

Diagnostic Tests - Structured Clinical Interview (SCID-II)

The Structured Clinical Interview (now SCID-II) was formulated in 1997 by First, Gibbon, Spitzer, Williams, and Benjamin. It closely follows the language of the DSM-IV Axis II Personality Disorders criteria. There are 12 groups of questions corresponding to the 12 personality disorders. The scoring is either the trait is absent, subthreshold, true, or there is "inadequate information to code". SCID-II can be self administered or administered by third parties (a spouse, an informant, a colleague) and yield decent indications of the disorder. The questionnaire is available from the American Psychiatric Publishing ($60.00).

Diagnostic Tests - Personality Disorder Beliefs Questionnaire (PDBQ).

The Personality Disorder Beliefs Questionnaire (PDBQ) is a brief self administered test for Personality Disorder tendencies. We have included a list of questions most often answered as "yes" by people with Borderline Personality Disorder .

Diagnostic Tests - Other

Other commonly used assessment tests are rating tests such as the Zanarini Rating Scale for Borderline Personality Disorder (ZAN-BPD), and the McLean Screening Instrument for Borderline Personality Disorder (MSI-BPD). In addition there are some free, informal tests available - some members have found that these tests are helpful.

Author: Skip

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  1. I wish I'd known about this before I lost my mum. I now believe she had BPD. I feel so guilty and sad. I never understood her at all. I always felt like we were fighting. She was always angry. Always. That was really sad and confusing. I loved her so deeply though and am totally devastated that I never understood her. I did know that she had a terrible childhood though, but she never mentioned the half of what she'd been through. I do know for a fact that she masked a lot of pain. Thanks for sharing this info. It's really important for people to understand.

  2. Finding out about BPD was a lightbulb moment for me. I was in a long term relationship with my significant other and had been wracked with confusion as to some reoccurring behaviours - infidelity, wild moods followed by periods where the relationship seemed to be peaceful. I was utterly confused.

    Upon reading about BPD it suddenly all made sense, and not only learning about my significant others struggles, but I also learned a lot about my own part of this "dance" that I played and how many of my well intentioned actions were actually making the situation worse.

    To be able to finally understand my significant other to an extent gave me great relief and allowed both of us to start trying to work out whether we could exist together in a healthy relationship.

    BPD truly is a cruel condition both to the sufferer and sometimes those around them. I have genuine understanding and sadness for what my ex has had to go through.

    1. I understand now. 19 years later. Thousands in costs. This is a sad, harmful state. My most recent therapist, told me about my future ex may have this. He was dead on, took me almost 6 months to stop trying to fix it. You cant. Now i must seek a way out.

  3. this stuff has really has been a revalation to me!
    like CaptainM, I have learned so much about myself through this. we feel the pain from a BPD because of what it churns up in us. we attached to them because of similar 'emotional development' issues, and I now understood where mine came from. When my borderline cut me off cold and discarded me, it churned up abandonment and self-worth issues from my own past. the only reason they can affect us so much is because of that. So I am learning to address these older wounds and beginning to understand how they have affect my choices in life. Hopefully, I will get to a point where I live the back half of my life a little better because of all of the things this painful and confusing experience has taught me.

  4. I am starting to wonder if my SO has this...
    He told me that he was hit a lot during an upbringing in Korea. By his mother, teacher, even swimming coaches. Even once told me a horrible story of his mother throwing him on the street nude after he wet the bed! I don't pry and he doesn't really tell me details or things like this often.
    At the beginning of our relationship he lied a lot about things so that I would like him more (he later admitted). For example, things that he liked to eat or preferance for dogs (when he really likes cats better). Those things aren't even deal breakers for me!
    He makes all these "rules" for our relationship (that we agree upon most times). If I break one he doesn't talk to me for 24 hours or more (we are long distance). Then I get shit for "not caring", "not chasing him"; the truth is I don't want to get the same earfull several times over. When I am mad I need my space. So I give him his space.
    In person he won't leave me alone if I am mad at him. I have even hit him when he corners me and won't let me go (I am ashamed to admit).
    I hear many people with this are impulsive. My man is very organized and most of the time in control; I don't really see him as impulsive. I am the impulsive, unorganized, day-reaming ADHD one! In many ways we compliment each other. However that is not the point so I won't get into it.
    From what I described, do you think he could have BPD? Should I ask him more questions or tell him to maybe look into it? We have been together for 2 years and have a big fight once a month. Even if we won't work I care about him and hope he gets help if he needs it.

  5. BPD has answered questions to understand the irrational, inflexible, angry, grudge holding, fabricating, misconstruing, manipulating, controlling, silence treatment behaviors that a family friend has exhibited;she is ALWAYS in conflict with someone who loves her - family member or friend...although people try to help her, she rejects them and blames them and one action or phrase spoken on the demise...when is is actually her and the undiagnosed BPD. She also has a poor self-image and is unhappy, quit many jobs, lost several friends and rejected all family members at one point or another. Is there medication for this?

  6. I think I may suffer from BDP..I have been this way for aslong as I can remember.Now at 27 My girlfriend of 10 years and my 7 year old son I think Hate me.I want to leave because Im tired of hurting them,but I don't know what to do or where to go.

  7. feeling so lonely my partner always blamng me for not giving her enough attention or importance as she puts itt

  8. I dated a borderline for 6 full years. I loved him with all of my heart. So, I must be crazy too. Our relationship was filled with passion, sex, anxiety and tension. He was always in control. He was organized. He was on disability and did not work. If I asked him what he did during the day he got angry. He played video games at 56 years old that were violent. That was his favorite pass time. When he was good he was so very, very good but when he was mean, look out. He took me down. He exhausted me.I had such low self esteem that I did not know I had the ability to LEAVE. I never wanted to leave though. I was hooked. I was addicted. He was totally unlovable looking back. He was attentive then would turn to totally abusive. He would yell at me for putting spaghetti down the disposal. He would critise me, lied to me, etc. I always had to look perfect. He was very visual. He would be happy one moment and then go into a rage. He was in the military for 3 years and had a father that was in for 25 years. Never admitted he had BPD. He would leave and then come back. The sick part was I took him back repeatedly. I was so hurt and vulnerable. He would be so...........abusive and would say things to me that I would never dream of saying to anyone. It has been 10 months now away from him. He rebounded before we even broke up. Had her in the wings.I am starting to see me again. LEAVE. It is your only hope. I miss him but only his good side. He will never be the one.

  9. I hope my one ex gets the help he sad to watch this destroy our amazing

  10. My husband does not fit this criteria, but the symptoms do describe my adult son...Very easy to understand, illuminating article. Thank you...

    Rapt Reader

  11. My partner is diagnosed BPD. It was scary, but also such a relief when I started reading about BPD. I first found out about it after googling "angry spouse". It explained so many things. Later he actually got diagnosed. Now one year later, after educating myself on BPD and learning tools like how to communicate my needs and how to set boundaries, and more importantly learning to take car of myself, I can say that our relationship is a lot better. It was a long hard road, but I think it was worth it.

  12. finally something that makes absolute sense,at least now I know am not mad.I have been dating a my partner for 6 years now and yeses is he confusing mess.We fight at last once a month,always over stuff I feel is insignificant.I have shown the best way I know how that I love him but never believes it.He always wants to be by myside,if I make a decision that will take me away from him,he reacts with such anger and outburst.

    He only gets mad for a day,but following day he's normally back to his sweet adorable self.If I decide to leave for a trip to see my family he loses it every morning before I leave.He becomes verbally abusive and furious if he thinks I have rejected him in anyway.Now I know its not me that's making him this way he just is.I am now pregnant ,the pregnancy seems to have made him worse,and the verbal abuse hasn't stopped.I have decided to leave him.The stress on the kids will make their survival impossible.Thank you so much for the information.

  13. I have a BPD mother, and looking back, I sometimes displayed BPD behavior (minus the rage and unwarranted paranoia) in relationships. Mostly I was attracted to people who were classic BPD, though. It took me falling in love with someone just like me (only meaner and extremely paranoid) and having a major spiritual awakening to wake up. I saw the best and worst of myself in him. It was traumatizing, but it has totally changed my life for the better, and now I'm in my first healthy relationship ever. There is hope!

  14. I just broke up with a guy that fits this description to perfection after 2 months of the most ridiculous relationship of my life.
    He'd regularly get angry about insignificant stuff and and throw harsh words at me that he would have never accepted from me.. trying to make me jealous by talking about his ex, or hot girls on tv, trying to belittle me. Never seemed able to listen to me but I had to always pay great attention to his monologues. Drama drama drama. Attention seeking, constantly. I had to be the one who texts and call, pursue him. I told him that wasn't going to happen. I m not gonna do the pursuing, he did not like that. If I wasn't reply to a text of his fast, I d get an earful but he could go 2 days ignoring me. Do what I say not what I do was his motto. He d project his own desires and acts of cheating on me. And when I eventually caught him, he still tried turning tables with some senseless ways to show I was the cheating one..huh?!
    I learnt by then that logic was not needed with such people and left him without another word. Much more about this guy was irrational, I was aware of it but somehow found it fascinating to observe. Eventually I had to leave the freak show and go back to healthy life.
    I was lucky to have not fallen in love with him and I feel I really dodged a bullet as these manipulators are clearly dangerous.
    I hope more and more people get aware of the signs these individuals carry and protect themselves.

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  16. I do believe all of the concepts you've presented in your post. They're very convincing and can certainly work. Still, the posts are too quick for starters. May just you please lengthen them a little from subsequent time? Thank you for the post. facebook sign in

  17. If you let everybody near you see your confidence and self worth, then you'll have a greater possibility of getting back again together with your ex to make him regret letting you go