Updated: Jul 30, 2022
Written by Anna Wang
Borderline Personality Disorder, or BPD, is a mental health disorder that is often misunderstood. Misconceptions about BPD can discourage individuals from seeking treatment and influence the way people diagnosed with BPD are perceived by others.
What is Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD)?
Borderline Personality Disorder is a condition characterized by instability in mood, behavior, and relationships. Individuals with BPD often have wide mood swings and feel a sense of insecurity and instability. While the causes of this condition are not fully understood, studies have shown that it may develop due to genetics and/or experiencing a traumatic event, such as abuse in childhood.
Myth: “BPD isn’t a real condition.”
Fact: BPD is a universally accepted mental health diagnosis and has been accepted by the American Psychiatric Association for nearly 40 years.
Myth: “Attention seeking and manipulative”
Fact: Oftentimes, if an individual with BPD is acting out through manipulation or what appears to be attention seeking, it is due to them wanting to find relief from symptoms and these unhealthy coping skills develop.
Myth: “BPD is untreatable.”
Fact: Although originally thought untreatable because it was thought that it was part of the personality and therefore could not be changed, that is not the case. There are many treatments for BPD, the most common, dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT). BPD can also be treated with cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), schema therapy, psychotherapies, and mentalization therapies (MBT).
Myth: “Suicide threats by people with BPD are not serious.”
Fact: All suicide threats must be taken seriously. People with BPD have a high rate of suicide, as high as 10% and many will self-harm or attempt.
Myth: “Dangerous to others”
Fact: People with BPD are more likely to hurt themselves than others. Although individuals with BPD can have periods of anger or irritability does not mean they are a dangerous threat to others.
Myth: “BPD is rare.”
Fact: Millions of people have BPD and while the exact number of diagnoses is not clear, it is estimated that around 2-6% of the U.S population will have BPD at some point in their lives.
Myth: “Those with BPD can’t maintain relationships.”
Fact: While it is true that individuals with BPD may have more unstable relationships than others, their relationships can still be successful.
Myth: “Only adults have BPD.”
Fact: Although the topic is controversial, children and adolescents can be diagnosed under the age of 18 by a professional.
Myth: “Only women have BPD.”
Fact: The majority of those diagnosed with BPD are indeed women, but men can also develop the disorder. Recent studies have shown that the rates of the two are more equal than previously believed.
Myth: “Those with BPD have experienced childhood abuse.”
Fact: Some individuals with BPD have experienced childhood abuse, but not all have. There is currently no known cause of BPD, but it is believed that it is due to a combination of biological and environmental factors.
BPD is often misunderstood, even by some health professionals. As awareness spreads about BPD, these misconceptions and negative stereotypes can be put to rest.