Friday Counseling Issues: The Personality Disorders

Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) is fascinating to the clinician, but a pure misery for the one who has it and those who love the one who has it.

Borderline personality disorder (BPD) is a serious mental illness that causes unstable moods, behavior, and relationships. It usually begins during adolescence or early adulthood.

Most people who have BPD suffer from:

  • Problems regulating their emotions and thoughts
  • Impulsive and sometimes reckless behavior
  • Unstable relationships


  • BPD affects 5.9% of adults (about 14 million Americans) at some time in their life

  • BPD affects 50% more people than Alzheimer’s disease and nearly as many as schizophrenia and bipolar combined (2.25%).

  • BPD affects 20% of patients admitted to psychiatric hospitals

  • BPD affects 10% of people in outpatient mental health treatment

  • (taken from

The gold-standard treatment for DBT has become Dialectic Behavior Therapy, which is an offshoot of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy.  Therapists who work with BPD usually study DBT in order to be most effective (please forgive the acronyms.  I don’t usually resort to them, but all these psychobabble labels are a real pain to type out all the time!)

My personal experience with BPD is limited.  I’ve had a couple of clients who had it, and after two or three sessions I sent them both to a specialist in the disorder.  Group therapy is very important and helpful, because  it gives the client the opportunity to interact with people in a controlled atmosphere while they learn skills that will help them function normally.

If you or someone you love has BPD, you know that there’s a lot of drama.  It can wear you out and shut you down. Borderlines crave close relationships, yet they continually destroy those relationships with their endless demands for complete closeness. They often feel that others dislike them, are keeping secrets from them,  or have abandoned them. Romantic relationship often go sour because the Borderline person is so possessive and jealous of the object of her affection.

While BPD can’t be permanently cured, it CAN be treated and kept in check with good therapy and family support. The person’s need for constant reassurance is wearying for the family. Boundaries are important in a relationship, lines that cannot be crossed without serious consequences.

There’s lots of good information out there in cyberspace.  As I’ve scanned through many different articles, I’ve found almost everything to be accurate. Of course, I use trustworthy sources like  the National Insititue for Mental Health (NIMH) when I go looking for information.  Check your sources carefully.  Not everyone who writes about these things has the training, authority, and experience to do so.

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