Hard times for email

I’ve been meaning to write about this for a long time now. But today I’m caught feeling quite angry about an issue that concerns many of us. The name that’s been given our illness – Borderline Personality Disorder – is an utterly inaccurate description of what we deal with. Giving the illness such a name creates even more pain for people who are already suffering. This description contributes to our feelings of shame. It’s partially to blame for the stigma we live with.

The name Borderline Personality Disorder suggests that we have a flawed personality. Yet in most cases our personality stays intact. If we were “good” people before our diagnosis, we remain “good” people as we live with our diagnosis. With effective therapy we are gradually able to recover better coping skills and a more normal response to difficult circumstances.

The name Borderline Personality Disorder should be removed from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM). A couple of new names, in use already, are more acceptable. Emotional Regulation Disorder (or ERD) or Emotional Dysregulation Disorder give a much more accurate description of what we deal with – an illness that involves the inability to regulate emotional responses to life situations.

Stigma is one of the ugliest features of being human. Everyone harbours a degree of stigma towards those who are different from themselves. But it’s wrong. I might go so far as calling it inhumane. The damage caused to individuals when they’re treated as “different” or “not normal” can be astounding. The pain at times intolerable.

The stigma attached to BPD is huge. Even medical professionals, those whose life’s work is to heal sick people, all too often will not accept patients if they have such a diagnosis. Many are refused admission to hospital, being told the hospital can’t do anything for them. We are left feeling we don’t belong in this world, made to feel unworthy, disrespected, hopeless. We are feared and held at arms length. Is it any wonder that 10% of us commit suicide?

Borderline Personality Disorder, the wording the DSM uses to describe our diagnosis, adds significantly to the stigma that exists and should, as I said above, no longer be used. Yet, being the bible for the medical community, this is the wording that unfortunately continues to be used.

A change is long overdue.

Hmm…I wonder if there’s any way we could persuade the DSM to edit their publication and improve its accuracy?