It’s the most dramatized of the personality disorders (Glenn Close in Fatal Attraction with her boiled bunny, anyone?) but one of the least understood. This week, Savvy Psychologist Dr. Ellen Hendriksen clears the air with nine signs of borderline personality disorder
other Hollywood portrayals of Borderline Personality Disorder, or BPD, have included, among others, Kristen Wiig in Welcome To Me and Evan Rachel Wood in Thirteen. But each portrayal is only one view; indeed, with five of nine symptoms required for diagnosis, there are dozens of ways to have BPD (plus, put a Hollywood filter on any psychological disorder and you’ll almost always end up with the funhouse mirror version).
So what exactly is “borderline” about BPD, besides, perhaps, our understanding and portrayals? BPD was originally thought to be “on the border” of a psychotic disorder, like schizophrenia, and a mood disorder, like depression. And while BPD is now an established disorder in its own right, the name has stuck for the millions of Americans it affects.
So if it’s not psychosis and it’s not depression, what is it? Any personality disorder, by definition, is a lens through which you see the world. It’s an ingrained way of thinking and feeling—about yourself, about other people—that affects all domains of life: work, school, social, relationships. And the hallmark for BPD is instability: instability in relationships, identity, and emotion. In other words, its stability lies in its instability.
What exactly does that look like? Look for these nine signs: