Borderline Personality Disorder

Borderline Personality Disorder

Borderline personality disorder is a personality disorder that is categorized by unusual varying moods. The moods can affect the person’s ability to think and their relationships. Borderline personality disorder includes symptoms such as:

  • Impulsive behavior
  • Intense and unstable relationship
  • Unstable self-image
  • Feelings of abandonment

Someone with a borderline personality disorder often will either devalue themselves or put themselves on a pedestal. They will go back and forth between having a high positive self-image to heavy disappointment or dislike of themselves. It is very common for someone with borderline personality disorder to engage in self-harm and suicidal behavior.

The symptoms of borderline personality disorder are grouped into five main areas. These five areas of a borderline personality disorder are emotions, behavior, relationships, sense of self and cognition. These five areas of borderline personality disorder allow mental health professionals to more easily diagnose someone with it.


People with borderline personality disorder feel emotions more easily and more deeply. It can take someone with a borderline personality disorder a long time to return to a normal state after an emotional experience. Whatever someone with a borderline personality disorder is feeling they feel it intensely. Someone with a borderline personality disorder will experience grief instead of sadness or shame instead of embarrassment.


Someone with borderline personality disorder usually has a history of impulsive behaviors. For instance substance and alcohol abuse, eating disorder, unprotected sex or sex with multiple partners, and reckless driving. People with a borderline personality disorder act impulsively because it gives them relief from their emotional pain. Self-harming and self-injury is also very common in someone with a borderline personality disorder. Both of which are a response to feeling negative emotions which are experienced intensely.


People with a borderline personality disorder are very sensitive to the way other people treat them. Their feelings about other people often change from positive to negative quickly. Someone with a borderline personality disorder will manipulate to feel nurtured somehow. Someone with a borderline personality disorder will also tend to be insecure, avoidant, ambivalent in their relationships.


Because someone with a borderline personality disorder has such intense emotions they tend to have trouble focusing their attention on anything. It can be hard for someone with a borderline personality disorder to concentrate. Dissociation is very common in someone with a borderline personality disorder. Dissociation usually happens in response to a painful event or trigger that causes someone to recall the painful event.

The treatment of choice for borderline personality disorder is therapy. There are four treatments that are typically recommended and they are mentalization based treatment, transference focused therapy, dialectical behavior therapy and schema focused therapy. These therapies in combination with the right medication can be very effective in helping someone with a borderline personality disorder. People with borderline personality disorder usually do well with treatment and live fairly normal lives. Although this is not usually known due to the dramatic portrayal of people with borderline personality disorders in movies such as Girl Interrupted. The month of May is Borderline Personality Disorder Awareness Month.



Dialectical Behavior Therapy

Dialectical Behavior Therapy

Dialectal behavior therapy was originally developed to treat people with borderline personality disorder. It emphasizes the psychosocial aspect behind treatment. The theory is that some people are more prone to react to certain situations in a more intense, highly emotional way than others and it takes them longer to return to a baseline mood level. It combines cognitive behavioral techniques with ideas from Eastern Religions like Buddhism (i.e. tolerance, acceptance, and, especially mindfulness).

What is the cognitive-behavioral portion of dialectal behavior therapy?

The cognitive behavior therapy aspect of dialectal behavior therapy is based on the idea that certain behavior is encouraged by reward and diminished by punishment. Dialectal behavior therapy focuses on changing a patient’s behavior can change the way they are feeling. Dialectal behavioral therapy concentrates on helping a person develop coping mechanisms. This type of therapy helps the patient develop tools that can help them deal with stressful or emotionally charged situations.

Dialectal behavior therapy also allows us to examine our cognition, which is the way we think. Often the way we think about certain behaviors or situation is influenced by our past and our environment. Certain family aspects play a part in how we think, as do experiences and trauma. Sometimes we have automatic thoughts that cause anxiety, fear, and other negative emotions. Dialectal behavior therapy works by having us examine the way we think and how we can change the way we think. It allows us to recognize negative cognitions and their effects, which can help us change them

What is mindfulness in the practice of dialectal behavior therapy?

Practicing awareness or mindfulness is a big part of why dialectal behavioral therapy works. The practice of mindfulness has been shown to increase overall happiness. It also allows the patient to recognize core experiences. An example of a core experience is a person that was not shown physical affection as a child. They may develop a core belief that it is not safe to allow physical intimacy. Mindfulness allows them to connect with the core experience and recognize the way that it has shaped their life in the present. When we are truly connected with a core experience, we begin to change the way we think about situations as a result of that core experience. Insight that comes from introspection allows you to change old patterns of behavior. Outside of therapy, few people take the time to really think about the way they behave.

Characteristics of dialectal behavior therapy

Support-oriented:  Dialectal behavior therapy focuses on your strength and allows you to build self-esteem through that process.

Cognitive-based:  Dialectal behavior therapy focuses on the process of cognition and the changing of long-held belief systems that are not helpful to us

Collaborative:  Dialectal behavior therapy aims to have you view and interact with your therapist in a cooperative, collaborative manner. It requires constant attention to the relationship between client and staff. The client and therapist must work together to make the necessary changes, and they must be on the same team.