Borderline Personality Disorder: 8 Most Scary Misunderstandings

Let’s talk about the most common myths surrounding borderline personality disorder.

Borderline personality disorder is amongst the most-stigmatized psychiatric conditions. An irritating situation for everyone, many professionals don’t even understand BPD.

The very word “borderline” infuses disparaging tones to cope with the welling anxiety around dealing with so-called attention-seeking manipulators. Popular culture hasn’t exactly been a big help, either.

A diagnosis conjuring a movie character of a raging, jealous woman leaving maimed animals for someone doesn’t capture what this condition is about. Yet that’s what the uninformed are otherwise left to understand it as.

That’s why, in order to reduce stigma and improve treatment outcomes, we must correct these misconceptions. So Psychology Diary has created a list of 8 scary misunderstandings about borderline personality disorder that need to be busted once and for all.

… Continue reading to stay informed!

Borderline Personality Disorder
Photo by Me dia at Shutterstock

“Having borderline personality disorder means you can’t maintain healthy relationships.”

This idea is entirely wrong. It may be true that if the individual with BPD has a fear of abandonment or is susceptible to rejection, their connections can be more inconsistent. But that doesn’t mean you can’t have one with them or that they won’t thrive.

So there’s no need to feel discouraged. Lots of people who live with borderline personality disorder or who have recovered have healthy and lasting relationships.

“This disorder isn’t treatable.”

Perhaps stemming from the stigma-inducing crowd and based on how irritating the condition can be, nothing can be further from the truth. Is treatment detailed and complex? Often, yes.

Will the person with borderline personality disorder have some element of the condition to deal with permanently? Most likely. Personality is very rooted.

But, of those who meet a one-year course of traditional Dialectical Behavioral Therapy, the gold standard of BPD treatment, approximately 80% no longer meet the full criteria for the condition.

Internal Family Systems have also been met with success, as are other psychodynamic techniques in the hands of a skilled psychoanalyst.

“Those with borderline personality disorder are just manipulative.”

People with this disorder deal with a complex interplay of genetics and faulty core schema instilled at an early age. Just from a physiological standpoint, it’s foolish to ask someone with BPD to discontinue their troubling behaviors.

The car analogy can help clarify the intricacies in brain structure that contributed to the complications: BPS sufferers have amygdalar hypersensitivity or inclination to a “lead foot” on the gas pedal.

Their brakes, the seat of rational thought that helps control impulsivity, the prefrontal cortex, are not hooked up properly. Even if they were, borderline personality disorder patients are lacking in serotonin or brake fluid, which would still render it challenging to function properly.

And treating BPD is the equivalent of doing a brake job. Thanks to neuroplasticity, psychotherapy can connect the brakes to help slow them down if they are slamming on the gas too hard, and psychiatry adds brake fluid for a smoother braking experience.

“It’s just another name for bipolar disorder or schizophrenia.”

A psychiatrist and medical director of The Blue Tree Clinic in London, UK, says this affirmation is 100% untrue. BPD isn’t post-traumatic stress disorder, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, or anything else for that matter.

While he notes that some symptoms, including mood variation, also occur in conditions like this one, they’re entirely separate diagnoses.

But sadly, due to this overlap, misdiagnosis of borderline personality disorder is rather common, and it’s essential to get a correct diagnosis to find appropriate and effective treatment. If we were to take a closer look, we all have symptoms of BPD.

One is anger, and we all get angry at times, right? But determine how often you do it and how many symptoms you have.

As such, seeing a psychiatrist to undergo a full assessment and receiving an official diagnosis is essential. BPD is a spectrum, like most things, of how mild, average, or severe it can be.

Borderline Personality Disorder
Photo by Elnur at Shutterstock

“Borderline personality disorder can’t be treated before age 18.”

It’s a relatively widespread belief that personality disorders can’t be diagnosed before age 18. But that’s simply not true, according to page 647 of the DSM-5. It’s, of course, critical that clinicians are sure of the diagnosis, given the seriousness of this disorder.

But, if a long-standing, pervasive baseline pattern of self-destructive behavior, tumultuous interpersonal relationships, and significant emotional reactivity driven by fears of abandonment is established, the diagnosis applies.

Frequently, clinicians may recognize BPD in adolescents but try to “save them” from the stigma by diagnosing unspecified mood disorders or something similar. It’s not a helpful strategy.

The sooner they’re treated for borderline personality disorder, the better the outcome. Addressing the mood aspect doesn’t get to the heart of the matter and creates a revolving door.

If blunt evidence is needed that teens can be diagnosed with BPD and successfully treated for it, look no further than the fact that McLean Hospital in Boston, a Harvard Medical School Affiliate, has a program for teenagers with BPD.

“Those with borderline personality disorder are just attention seekers.”

Many think that those with this condition are “emotional hypochondriacs.” That’s also false. One of the symptoms of BPD is suicidal behaviors and self-harm, which may be mistaken for attention seeking.

These self-destructive tendencies are, in fact, poor coping mechanisms to self-soothe from emotional unrest. When a person with this condition self-harms, it’s generally done away from others’ views so that their scars and cuts can be hidden beneath clothing.

The emotional bursts from individuals with BPD aren’t intended to be attention-seeking but are their expression of extreme internal feelings. They’re not melodramatic at all.

But, the more they’re misunderstood, the more they will suffer, and the greater their emotional outbursts. This results from dysfunctional thought processes in which emotions rather than rational thoughts fuel the person’s behavior.

So, as a person with BPD experiences greater emotional instability, their coping mechanism is to act in a way that can seem irrational, extreme, and impulsive. Any expression of self-harm must, therefore, be taken very seriously.

“Those with borderline personality disorder make awful parents.”

It’s often said that women with BPD are bad mothers… Do we really need to explain why this is wrong? The biggest misconception is that everyone thinks BPD mothers are the worst.

There are many terrible things written on the internet that can sadly drive those who suffer from it to self-harm. They think BPD moms especially traumatize their kids just by living or are self-centered or manipulative.

With the proper treatment, anyone can be a parent despite living with BPD.

Borderline Personality Disorder
Photo by Fox_Ana at Shutterstock

“Women are much more likely to develop borderline personality disorder.”

This misconception is slightly less clear-cut. This condition has long been thought of as a disorder that affects women more frequently, but some research shows that it affects both genders evenly. BPD symptoms also tend to vary between women and men.

For instance, men are more likely to engage in angry outbursts and self-destructive behaviors. On the other hand, women often experience intense fluctuations of emotions and higher levels of anxiety.

For more on the matter, check out this insightful read from Amazon: UNDERSTANDING BORDERLINE PERSONALITY DISORDER: DISCOVER THE DIFFERENT TYPES OF BPD

What are your thoughts on the matter? Please feel free to share them with us in the comments section below. And if you found this article helpful, we highly recommend you also check out: Schizophrenia: 5 Telltale Signs of a Debilitating Disorder




Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

most popular