If you have a friend who tells you he has been diagnosed with borderline personality disorder (or BPD) you would think it must be a very ugly illness. That label itself might cause you to want to keep your distance. Truth is that no one in the medical profession thinks the disorder should go by that name.

According to Sarah Fader in her article, How to Recognize Borderline Personality Disorder, “The term ‘borderline’ in BPD is an early name given to the disorder as it was understood when it was first described in 1938. People with borderline personalities were thought to be on the borderline of a treatable neurosis and the psychotic disorder schizophrenia. However, since the 1970s, further investigation into the disorder has revealed that this old name is inadequate to describe it.”

No one has come up with a better name. I hope they come up with a better one soon. People with this disorder suffer enough stigma without having a label like “borderline” added to it. Why not just call it “emotional damage” since the cause is almost always trauma during childhood?

Having a personality disorder does not mean that there is something wrong with your personality—it simply means that you have a pattern of feelings, thoughts and emotions that cause problems. 1% – 2% of the population live with BPD.