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  • Borderline personality disorder (BPD) is characterized by a disruption in normal functioning, which is rooted in serious personality changes and mood instability.
  • People who suffer with this condition typically experience a distorted self-image and struggle to understand their identity.
  • Additionally, those with BPD experience bouts of depression, display risky or unpredictable behavior, and constant changes in their life goals/desires.
  • Experts aren’t positive what causes the development of BPD, but different factors—genetic, biological, environmental—likely all play a role.
  • The media often paints a skewed picture of mental illness; however, the movie Girl, Interrupted accurately depicted what it’s like to live with the disorder and helped to break the stigma surrounding it.

About 1.6% of the U.S. population has borderline personality disorder (BPD). And while this percentage may seem small, that’s over four million people struggling with this condition in the states alone.

This disorder denotes a disruption in normal personality function that is manifested through character and mood instability. People with this disorder often have a distorted self-image and an undefined identity. Usually, they engage in unstable and chaotic interpersonal relationships and exhibit potentially damaging behaviors.

Now, by this definition alone, some might draw parallels between themselves and those with BPD, but this should not be cause for alarm. This is a very rare disorder, and so it is most likely that any perceived similarities are purely circumstantial. However, in the case of diagnosis, BPD can be treated and alleviated through a series of psychotherapy sessions and/or medications.

Keep An Eye Out For These Symptoms

The onset of BPD symptoms typically occur during adolescent, which is characterized by volatile and disorderly conduct becoming a dominant character trait. Additional symptoms include:

  • Alterations in self-perception (“I’m good” vs. “I’m bad”)
  • Constant shifts in life goals
  • Frequent career changes
  • Fleeting social affiliations
  • Erratic romantic relationships (love-hate)
  • Difficulty accepting exemptions or gray areas
  • Emotional liability and inappropriate hostility
  • Short but intense periods of depression or anxiety
  • Impulsive and risky behavior

To ensure accuracy, the diagnosis and treatment of BPD is often delayed until the individual has fully matured. Doctors find it necessary to discount the influence of personality development on behavioral problems before making the diagnosis. Early diagnosis of BPD is only possible if symptoms are present and persist for longer than a year.

Causes of Borderline Personality Disorder

BPD is a very sensitive and complex condition. It may be triggered by trauma, such as sexual abuse, or be caused by genetic, neurological, anatomical, or environmental factors. Hormonal abnormalities, particularly that of serotonin (which is also related to depression), may also be credited for the development of BPD. Other disorders associated with BPD are mood disorders, depression, and substance abuse.

Borderline Personality Disorder in the Media

This particular disorder was once featured in the 1999 film Girl, Interrupted. The movie provided important insight into the thoughts and struggles of a person with BPD and gave a clear picture of the treatment facility atmosphere in which she was bound to settle. The film, which was based on an autobiography, revealed BPD as not only a mental but a social issue. The negative stigma of its diagnosis has not only punished troubled parties but their families as well.

It must be made clear that BPD is not an infectious disease. Therefore, communities should make every effort not to socially ostracize people with the condition. In fact, a greater awareness and understanding of borderline personality disorder should be promoted to foster a safer, more healing environment for those afflicted.

Taylor Bennett

Taylor Bennett

Taylor Bennett is a staff writer at Thriveworks. She devotes herself to distributing important information about mental health and wellbeing, writing mental health news and self-improvement tips daily. Taylor received her bachelor’s degree in multimedia journalism, with minors in professional writing and leadership from Virginia Tech. She is a co-author of Leaving Depression Behind: An Interactive, Choose Your Path Book and has published content on Thought Catalog, Odyssey, and The Traveling Parent.

Check out “Leaving Depression Behind: An Interactive, Choose Your Path Book” written by AJ Centore and Taylor Bennett."

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