Borderline Personality Disorder: Truth vs. Myth

With all the recent discoveries and new understandings of the mind, great strides have been taken to give mental health the attention it deserves. However, there are still some mental disorders and illnesses that are prone to wrongful assumptions. Borderline personality disorder, also known as BPD, is a very common mental disorder, but people still only associate it with negative aspects.

The common assumption is that BPD is synonymous with psychopathy, but this is simply not the case. People diagnosed with Psychopathy exhibit traits such as poor judgement, impulsive behavior, pathological lying, extreme intelligence, superficial charm, lack of remorse or shame and/or poor self control. This means the people who are characterized as psychopaths tend to have trouble recognizing the negative effects their actions have on other people. In more severe cases, some psychopaths lack emotional awareness altogether. 

BPD does share some of the symptoms and traits of psychopathy, such as compulsive behavior and impulsivity, but while psychopathy is usually characterized by lack of emotion,  it is also known for excessive amounts of emotion. Other symptoms include fear of abandonment, unclear or shifting self image, extreme mood swings, anger, paranoia, antisocial behavior or isolation, irritability, depression and narcissism. All together, these seem like very negative traits but the truth of the matter is that people with BPD are just that– people. People who desire relationships and self fulfillment, but due to the disorder have a more difficult time achieving or maintaining that goal.

One of the common misconceptions, according to The National Alliance on Mental Health and, is that people with BPD are manipulative to the point of being abusive. While it is often the case that intense fear of abandonment may lead to clinginess or hyper-attachment, it does not mean that they are doing it solely because they want power over someone else. They do so because they want what every other human being wants: emotional connection, be it platonic or romantic. If they act a certain way, it is because they fear they are going to lose someone or something important to them. The sad truth is that most people with BDP either do not get proper treatment or have poor coping skills which may manifest in negative ways. This leads to another common misconception; that BPD is untreatable. 

Like other mental illnesses and disorders, there is no definitive cure, but there is treatment available, such as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT) or medication. The fact that it is a difficult disorder to deal with does not mean that it is untreatable or that people diagnosed with it are completely helpless. Perhaps the biggest and most ridiculous misconception is that people with BPD are incapable of feeling love. This is an outright lie. People with BPD are not only capable of feeling love, but many of those people maintain stable, healthy relationships. Of course most of the symptoms of BPD make maintaining those relationships difficult, but not impossible. The bottom line is that people with BPD, just want and deserve basic human decency and connection. People with BPD are not monsters, they are not aliens, they are not strange anomalies to be feared or avoided. They are people and deserve to be treated as such.

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