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By On May 30th, 2014

How to spot someone with Borderline Personality Disorder

Angry Man

For me, spotting someone with Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) is a gut reaction.  I tend to be triggered in a particular emotional way when I encounter someone struggling with BPD.  This is my first reaction, and then as the interaction continues I can gather the information necessary to fit the person’s reported emotions and behavior into the clinical categories for a possible diagnosis of BPD.  Personality disorders are enduring as the name suggests, it is part of your fixed self, so a responsible clinician would not be quick to diagnose an individual with one.  Change is possible with the right kind of treatment, and, yet, personality disorders are known for being difficult to treat.

For a non-clinical layperson, it may be helpful to know the characteristics of BPD.  It often helps us realize that the problem lies with the other person.  If we know the signs, we can also have a bit more empathy for the person with BPD as well as protect ourselves with appropriate boundary setting.  Here are a few of the signs covered in a recent article by Carol Berman, MD entitled, “9 Tips on How to Recognize Someone With Borderline Personality Disorder.”   Dr. Berman describes two tenets of BPD are the difficulty the individual has processing information (it is often skewed in a negative way) and unstable relationships with others (one minute the person may love you and the next they may be screaming at you).

Once you understand that these behaviors are part of a disorder, it might be easier to avoid taking the actions of the individual personally.  Encourage the person to seek treatment.  It is often a relief for the individual to receive a diagnosis of BPD in that they can name what they have been suffering from, and, with their therapist, find coping strategies in order to work toward a healthier and happier life.

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