Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD)

Borderline personality disorder is characterized by instability in interpersonal relationships, emotions, self-image, etc. as well as pronounced impulsivity. Individuals with borderline personality disorder (BPD) tend to experience intense emotions and also to react to them intensely. The disorder is much more pronounced in relationships where there are strong emotional bonds or within intimate relationships. It appears in early adulthood and is expressed in various situations.

Symptoms

• Frantic actions to avoid abandonment, real or perceived
The individual has a great fear of being alone or abandoned, whether real (example: separation or divorce) or imagined. A brief absence of a few hours of a loved one may be very difficult for someone with borderline personality disorder to tolerate. They may experience this brief separation as permanent abandonment.

• Intense and unstable interpersonal relationships characterized by alternating between extreme excessive idealization and devaluation
The emotional intensity in an individual with borderline personality disorder sparks instability in their relationships with those around them. It is difficult for them to maintain stable interpersonal relationships. They may also have a tendency to see others as “black or white,” i.e. one moment they place someone on a pedestal, and the next they see them in an excessively negative light.

• Distorted identity: Pronounced and persistent instability in their self-image or sense of self
An individual with borderline personality disorder may see themselves in an excessively idealized or negative way, alternating between these two extremes in turns. An individual living with this disorder may have the impression or give the impression of being like a chameleon that changes its colour, i.e. personality, depending on the context and the people they are with.

• Impulsivity in at least two areas that are potentially harmful to the person
For example: Reckless spending, unsafe sex, substance abuse, dangerous driving, binge eating, etc.

• Recurring suicidal behaviours, gestures, or threats, or self-mutilation
Self-mutilation and suicidal gestures are maladaptive coping strategies for emotional suffering that is difficult to tolerate. They are a call for help that must be taken seriously.

• Emotional instability due to a pronounced shift in mood (for example an episode of intense negative mood, irritability, or anxiety that usually lasts a few hours and rarely lasts more than a few days
Scientific research tends to show that the biological system of an individual with borderline personality disorder is more reactive than those who don’t suffer from BPD. Generally, these emotions change more rapidly and are expressed with greater intensity, and the intense emotions last longer than in those who don’t have BPD.

• Chronic feelings of emptiness
May also be expressed as boredom. The feeling of emptiness and boredom is linked to identity diffusion and a lack of reference points, leading to an incorrect response to real needs.

• Inappropriate, intense anger or problems controlling anger
For example: frequent bad mood, rage, constant anger, or frequent fights.

• Temporary stress-related paranoid thoughts or severe dissociative symptoms
In moments of crisis, an individual with borderline personality disorder may come to believe that others are ganging up on them to cause them harm, are angry with them, etc. During moments of dissociation, an individual with borderline personality disorder has the impression that they “are not there,” of losing contact with themselves, of feeling unfamiliar, unreal, numb. It should not be overlooked that these are temporary reactions to a stressful situation.

The symptoms of borderline personality disorder cause significant suffering for the individual and impair their ability to function socially and professionally.

Treatment

Psychotherapy is aimed at progressively teaching the person to rid themselves of their maladaptive behaviours, to develop new tools, and to learn new, more appropriate behaviours.

Medication is used in cases where the individual has symptoms of depression, anxiety, or aggressive behaviour.

N.B. This information is provided for information purposes only. Only licensed professionals can make a diagnosis. If you are concerned about your mental health or that of a loved one, we encourage you to consult a professional.