Borderline personality disorder is a mental health condition that creates mood, behavioral, and relationship instability.

The label is stigmatizing in itself and does not adequately describe the illness. Efforts are being made to change it. The term “borderline” had originally come into use when clinicians thought of patients as being on the border between neurotic and psychotic – having displayed both neurotic and psychotic symptoms.

The majority of cases of BPD begin to occur in early adulthood. BPD causes the following behavioral disturbances:

  • distorted perceptions
  • disturbed relationships
  • excessive emotional responses
  • harmful, impulsive actions

Experts believe it is likely that people can be genetically predisposed to developing BPD, with environmental factors increasing the risk. Three factors have been identified as being likely to play a part in the development of BPD:

  • Genetics: Studies suggest that a predisposition to the condition is inherited.
  • Environmental (social) factors: Unstable family relationships, child abuse, and neglect have been associated with an increased risk of BPD.
  • Brain abnormalities: BPD has been associated in studies with changes to certain parts of the brain involved in the regulation of emotion.

Impairments in interpersonal functioning

  • Empathy: Not able to recognize the feelings and needs of others.
  • Intimacy: Intense and unstable close relationships, marked by mistrust, conflict, neediness, and concerns about being abandoned. Close relationships fluctuate between over-involvement and withdrawal.

Pathological personality traits

These include:

  • highly changeable emotions
  • anxiousness
  • separation insecurity
  • often depressed mood

Disinhibition, characterized by:

  • act impulsively
  • take risks

According to NIMH (National Institute for Mental Health), as many as 80 percent of people with BPD develop suicidal behaviors, with 4-9 percent committing suicide.

Source from Medical News Today


PERSONAL NOTE: I only have a diagnosis of “features” of BPD. There are many ways in which descriptions as you read here do not apply. For example, I have much empathy for others and have had all my life. Evidence shows that many people who are diagnosed with borderline personality disorder can lose the diagnosis within a few years because they no longer meet the criteria. This sometimes happens even without treatment. Misdiagnosis of borderline personality disorder also appears to be very common.

In other words, don’t believe that everything you read about BPD applies to those who have been diagnosed.


This has been Part 7 of the series BPD for Churches. Read Part 8 False Impressions