What is borderline personality disorder (BPD)?

Borderline personality disorder is part of the Cluster B group of personality disorders. This group is characterized by dramatic, erratic, and overly emotional behavior and thinking. Those with this disorder tend to engage in risky, impulsive, and even suicidal behaviors. They have dramatic and intense relationships, often are angry, and feel the need to be nurtured. They tend to see situations as black or white, good or evil, without shades of gray. They fear abandonment by others and often feel alone. They may question whether or not they exist or are real. People with this disorder tend to be female and likely suffered emotional and physical neglect and abuse as a child.

Karyn Hall
Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) is a diagnosis given to individuals who suffer from intense emotions and have difficulty managing them in healthy ways. They exhibit frantic efforts to avoid perceived abandonment and can have paranoid thoughts. Their sense of self is not well-developed and they are often chameleon-like, changing their behavior and/or appearance to fit different groups and situations. A chronic sense of emptiness and self-harm behaviors are typical. They may have a history of repeated suicide attempts. Their relationships are unstable and often chaotic and they have a tendency to idealize other only to devalue them at another time. They often express intense anger in inappropriate ways and have difficulty managing their anger. At the same time, individuals with BPD can be charming and compassionate and have many other positive qualities.
Paul  Hokemeyer, PhD
Marriage & Family Therapy
The term "borderline" refers to the way in which a person responds to the world around them. It describes the intense feelings that frequently consume them and is marked by the following features: 1. A fear of abandonment; 2. Intense and rapidly changing relationships with people; 3. A constantly shifting sense of self identity and self worth; 4. Lack of impulse control; 5. Self destructive behaviors; 6. Wild emotional swings; 7. Intense feelings of emptiness; 8. Strong waves of anger; 9. Feeling detached from their selves in stressful situations. People who live with borderline personalities suffer greatly. It is an incredibly painful way to be in the world. But there are solutions. It's also important to remember that a person is not "a borderline." This would be saying that a person who suffers from cancer is "a cancer." Not only is such a statement untrue, but it's also hurtful and demeaning to the person who suffers.

Continue Learning about Personality Disorders

Do I just have an odd habit, or might I have a personality disorder?
Deborah DavisDeborah Davis
The following are general symptoms of a personality disorder. If you have any of these symptoms, ple...
More Answers
How common is psychopathy?
Joni JohnstonJoni Johnston
According to Robert Hare, the foremost researcher on psychopathy, 1% of the general population suffe...
More Answers
How Can I Set Priorities If I Am a Perfectionist?
How Can I Set Priorities If I Am a Perfectionist?
What Brain Exercises Can Help People with Personality Disorders?
What Brain Exercises Can Help People with Personality Disorders?

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.