Where do you go when you have an illness that medical professionals and counselors don’t want to deal with—treated like an untouchable in a more modern world? Have you ever thought what that would feel like? It’s happening all the time to people with borderline personality disorder (BPD).

In their book Beyond Borderline True Stories of Recovery from Borderline Personality Disorder, John G Gunderson, MD, and Perry D Hoffman, PhD, explained.

“Seldom does an illness, medical or psychiatric, carries such intense stigma and deep shame that its name is whispered, or a euphemism coined and its sufferers despised and even feared. Perhaps leprosy or syphilis or AIDS, fits this category.”

“Borderline personality disorder is such an illness. In fact, it has been called the leprosy of mental illnesses, and the disorder with surplus stigma. It may actually be the most misunderstood psychiatric disorder of our age.“

People with BPD are truly, in every way, today’s outcasts and I think of Jesus and the many stories in the Bible of those he friended, cared for, healed. Where is Jesus today? Where is the acceptance? We need the love. We so very much need the care.

In the way Jesus was there for the outcasts in his day, Jesus calls us to be his presence for those the world has rejected. He calls us to be there for people suffering from mental illnesses, and especially that most stigmatized of all BPD.

I believe faith could do much to help such people heal. The potential for healing is great. BPD entered many lives as a result of difficult childhoods through pain that is always under the surface. I think to myself, surely it’s such hearts that Jesus came to heal. What can we as his followers do to help them?

I pray that churches will offer sanctuary for those the world has rejected. A place where they can be encouraged and assured of God’s understanding and love. Anger is a common emotional response, a response to things said and done that triggered pain left over from a traumatic childhood.

What could be done when someone starts yelling and screaming—as it could in many emotional situations, not only BPD. Unless there is a true danger of attack  (not likely) the caring response would be to stay with the person, treating her as you would another hurting person.

Be kind. Keep respect. As the anger starts to subside:

·         Point. Give her some space, maybe bringing her to a quiet place.

·         Point Ask her if she’d like you to stay with her.

·         Offer a glass of water.

When she had settled down:

·         Ask if she would like to talk.

·         What caused the anger?

·         Was it someone that was something that was said?

·         Did she misinterpret something?

·         Spend some time praying about what happened?

·         Bring it to God. A hug would be good.

If I were to have trouble with my emotions, I would appreciate such care and understanding. Although my anger might be alarming, it would help a lot to have a kind person come alongside after the crisis is over. I would hope that I would be remembered for who I am on the inside and that respect for me will stay intact.

I’m glad that I believe in a God who pays no attention to man-made labels. The God I know sees those with BPD as people who might have had rough lives, making them overly sensitive. He sees the hurt child that is deep within so many. In other words, he sees their true character. He is less concerned about the personality they display on the outside, because he knows this is not always a good reflection of the character they have within. He will always see them the way they truly are.

NOTE: BPD is often misdiagnosed.


This has been Part 20 of the series In the Name of Jesus. Go to Part 21 – Godly Friends