• John Reilly

Borderline Personality Disorder: What it is and how it can be treated.

Do you know someone who is appealing, intelligent, creative and fun to be around; but at the same time prone to mood swings and feelings of emptiness, needs constant validation, engages in self-destructive and impulsive behavior, has difficulty maintaining relationships, holding jobs and feeling stable? If this sounds familiar, they may suffer from Borderline Personality Disorder.

What are the 9 symptoms of borderline personality disorder?

  • Fear of abandonment. People with BPD are often terrified of being abandoned or left alone. ...

  • Unstable relationships. ...

  • Unclear or shifting self-image. ...

  • Impulsive, self-destructive behaviors. ...

  • Self-harm. ...

  • Extreme emotional swings. ...

  • Chronic feelings of emptiness. ...

  • Explosive anger

People who suffer from Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) are often misunderstood by therapists and the population in general. This is because the behaviors associated with BPD are challenging to interact with and to treat. Sadly, people with BPD make up 2% of the population and are overrepresented in mental health centers. Although these people often seek out treatment and often go through many therapists, they are often viewed as untreatable by therapists. Admittedly, treating people with BPD is not easy but the failure to do so, does not only fall on the patient, but often on the therapists who aren’t adequately trained to provide proper treatment. Because there has been a stigma toward diagnosing someone with BPD, due to a true misunderstanding many therapists have about the disorder, often people are misdiagnosed with depression, anxiety and bipolar and the treatments for those disorders do not provide the right understanding and interventions.

After the correct diagnosis, if the person is willing, the next CRUCIAL step is engaging in a treatment protocol. Transference Focused Psychotherapy (TFP) is a treatment for Personality Disorders that is evidenced based that helps to address the underlying personality structure, not just the symptoms. TFP is a commitment, but in my professional opinion it is worth it. It involves twice weekly sessions, contracting regarding self-destructive behaviors and terms of treatment, goal setting (what is the person going to work toward) and agreeing to engage in work, school or some meaningful volunteer situation. This agreement to engage in work/school helps a person face and experience situations that they often avoid, because they are difficult. These experiences are then brought into therapy to help the person understand their difficulties and work through them. A TFP therapist is neutral, but not inactive, and the sessions focus on goals as well as a deep understanding of emotional reactions that happen outside, and often inside, of therapy.

People with Personality Disorders who commit to change, and equally as important, have a therapist who understands the disorder, can go on to have very fulfilling and meaningful lives.


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