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Borderline Personality Disorder

Borderline Personaltiy Disorder:


What is Borderline Personality Disorder?

A person with a borderline personality disorder experiences a repetitive pattern of disorganization and instability in self-image, mood, behavior and close personal relationships. This can cause significant distress or impairment in occupational and social environments. A person with this disorder can often be bright and intelligent, and appear warm, friendly and competent. They sometimes can maintain this appearance for a number of years until their defense structure crumbles, usually around a stressful situation like the breakup of a romantic relationship or going off to college. It is a common disorder with estimates running as high as 10-14% of the population.

What are some of the signs of Borderline Personality Disorder?

Relationships with others are intense but stormy and unstable with marked shifts of feelings and difficulties in maintaining intimate, close connections. The person may manipulate others and often has difficulty with trusting others. There is also emotional instability with marked and frequent shifts to an empty lonely depression or to irritability and anxiety. There may be unpredictable and impulsive behavior which might include excessive spending, promiscuity, gambling, drug or alcohol abuse, shoplifting, overeating or physically self-damaging, or self-harming (cutting, burning, pulling hair, head banging, picking at skin, hitting one's body) actions such as suicide gestures. The person may show inappropriate and intense anger or rage with temper tantrums, constant brooding and resentment, feelings of deprivation, and loss of control or fear of loss of control over angry feelings. There are also identity disturbances with confusion and uncertainty about self-identity, sexuality, life goals and values, career choices, friendships. There is a deep-seated feeling that one is flawed, defective, damaged or bad in some way, with a tendency to go to extremes in thinking, feeling or behavior (often a black-or-white, all-or-nothing view). Under extreme stress or in severe cases there can be brief psychotic episodes with loss of contact with reality or bizarre behavior and symptoms. Even in less severe instances, there is often significant disruption of relationships and work performance. The depression which accompanies this disorder can cause much suffering and can lead to serious suicide attempts.

How can I feel better?

The WKU Counseling and Testing Center provides professional, confidential counseling and assessment. They can also help with referrals
for off-campus treatment. The Wellness Center counselors can be reached at 745-3159.

Treatment can include psychotherapy which allows the patient to talk about both present difficulties and past experiences in the presence of an empathetic, accepting and non-judgmental therapist. The therapy needs to be structured, consistent, and regular, with the patient encouraged to talk about his or her feelings rather that to discharge them in his or her usual self-defeating ways. Sometimes medications such as anti-depressants, mood stabilizers, or anti-psychotics are prescribed and are useful for some patients.

Dialectical Behavioral Therapy can also be used for treatment. DBT is a method for teaching skills and may include the following:

• Core mindfulness skills
• Interpersonal effectiveness skills
• Emotion modulation skills
• Distress tolerance skills

Helpful Links:

Borderline Personality Disorder from the Virtual Psychology Classroom
BPD Education, Support, and Communities from Mental Health Sanctuary
Borderline Personality Resource Center from New York-Presbyterian Hospital
Borderline Information from the Mayo Clinic

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 Last Modified 9/25/14