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You are here:DisordersBorderline personality disorderWhat is borderline personality disorder?

Borderline personality disorder (BPD) is characterised by difficulty forming and maintaining a sense of self, high levels of distress and problems developing and sustaining relationships.

It is a disorder which often has a profound impact on a person’s day-to-day life and requires robust treatment to support someone to manage the condition well.

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The world is an unknown, incredibly frightening place for me in which I desperately try to burrow and hide. I cannot do with negative comments or behaviour in my direction, it tears me down from the inside out.

It is a particularly complex condition which can present in a wide variety of ways according to the individual experiencing it, and, consequently, it can take a long time to gain a correct diagnosis.

About 1 in 100 people in the UK have a diagnosis of borderline personality disorder so it is important that we take time as a society to understand the illness as it is not uncommon.

Why might someone develop borderline personality disorder?

As with almost all mental health conditions, there are individual and widely varying reasons why someone may develop borderline personality disorder; it has no one cause.

It is thought that borderline personality disorder may develop in response to childhood trauma – this could include being emotionally, physically or sexually abused.

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Borderline personality disorder, in my experience, is a normal response to abnormal circumstances. Defence mechanisms emerge to protect the mind against often horrible situations

It could also include being neglected or abandoned, or experiencing a significant bereavement as a child, such as the death of a parent.

However, not everyone who has a BPD diagnosis will have necessarily experienced childhood trauma.

Society’s attitude to borderline personality disorder

The stigma surrounding borderline personality disorder can be very problematic for those managing the condition and can exacerbate symptoms by making someone feel isolated and misunderstood.

Unfortunately, this disorder is still widely misinterpreted, and many people have not even heard of the disorder and make wild, inaccurate guesses about what the condition is. Many people with BPD report that the stigma is as difficult to live with as the condition itself.

Some people with BPD criticise its name, believing that the inclusion of the word ‘personality’ gives the impression that it relates to a flaw within the person, rather than an illness which affects the person.

Others feel hugely relieved to have a definite diagnosis that they can read up on and try to understand better, to then manage it in the best possible way, and that signals to them that what they experience is not their fault.

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