Are you wondering if you or someone you know has Borderline Personality Disorder? There are specific criteria that are used to evaluate whether or not someone has BPD. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual characterizes BPD as: 

A pervasive pattern of instability in interpersonal relationships, self-image, and emotion, as well as marked impulsivity beginning by early adulthood and present in a variety of contexts, as indicated by five (or more) of the following:

  • Frantic efforts to avoid real or imagined abandonment
  • A pattern of unstable and intense interpersonal relationships characterized by extremes between idealization and devaluation (also known as splitting)
  • Identity disturbance: Markedly or persistently unstable self-image or sense of self
  • Impulsive behavior in at least two areas that are potentially self-damaging (e.g., spending, sex, substance abuse, reckless driving, binge eating)
  • Recurrent suicidal ideation, gestures, or threats, or self-harming behavior, emotional instability in reaction to day-to-day events (e.g., intense episodic sadness, irritability, or anxiety usually lasting a few hours and only rarely more than a few days)
  • Chronic feelings of emptiness
  • Inappropriate, intense anger or difficulty controlling anger (e.g., frequent displays of temper, constant anger, recurrent physical fights)
  • Transient, stress-related paranoid ideation or severe dissociative symptoms

People who suffer from BPD have likely experienced adverse life events in childhood and developed defense mechanisms to cope. These defense mechanisms are ingrained and seem to become a part of the person’s personality.  People with BPD continue to use these defenses which can become dysfunctional in adulthood.

If you or someone you know fits this criteria there are resources that can help. Group therapy, individual therapy and psychiatric intervention are often used in conjunction to treat BPD.  One therapeutic intervention that was developed to fit the needs of those with BPD is called Dialectical Behavioral Therapy or DBT. DBT specifically focuses on four main objectives, Mindfulness, Emotion Regulation, Distress Tolerance and Interpersonal Effectiveness. Often DBT is offered in a group setting where participants develop specific coping strategies to manage their symptoms.