BPD What Is It? How Does It Impact One’s Abilities?

Often when someone speaks about BPD, the first thought is Bipolar disorder when in reality BPD stands for Borderline Personality Disorder. But what is Borderline Personality Disorder?
It is not talked about very often, despite having been introduced to the DSM 3 in 1980. Before BPD’s introduction into the DSM Borderline Personality Disorder was thought to be categorized closely with schizophrenia, this was due to overlap with many psychiatric disorders. Now that it has its diagnostic identity we are learning more about this disorder and discourse around the topic is starting to grow. Borderline Personality Disorder often co-occurs with other psychiatric disorders such as major depressive and bipolar II disorders, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, substance use disorders, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and with several other personality disorders.
Nine symptoms diagnose BPD in the DSM 4. These nine symptoms fall into four categories. The four categories and symptoms they include were listed at http://www.bpddemystified.com/what-is-bpd/symptoms, and are as follows:

1.Excessive, unstable and poorly regulated response.

This category includes three symptoms:

Affective (emotional) instability including intense, episodic emotional anguish, irritability, and anxiety/ panic attacks
Anger that is inappropriate, intense and difficult to control, and
Chronic feelings of emptiness
2. Impulsive behaviors that are harmful to you or to others.

A category that contains two symptoms:

Self-damaging acts such as excessive spending, unsafe and inappropriate sexual conduct, substance abuse, reckless driving, and binge eating, and
Recurrent suicidal behavior, gestures, threats, or self-injurious behavior
3. You may have an inaccurate view of yourself and others, and experience a high level of suspiciousness and other misperceptions.

There are two criteria in this category:

A markedly and persistently unstable self-image or sense of yourself (your identity), and
Paranoid ideation or severe dissociative episodes (transient and stress related)
4. Finally, you may experience tumultuous and very unstable relationships.

The last two criteria/symptoms fall into this category are:

You may engage in frantic efforts to avoid real or imagined abandonment, and
Your relationships may be very intense, unstable, and alternate between the extremes of over-idealizing and undervaluing people who are important to you
Now that we can understand just what Borderline Personality Disorder consists of we can move into just what exactly BPD means regarding social cognition for those who face this disorder. If you look through the symptoms listed above, you can see that those suffering from BPD are likely to face significant problems with social interactions. Findings from studies done on social cognitive abilities in individuals with BPD have been very diverse, ranging from deficits to superior skills. The study I looked at examines the neuronal basis of social cognition in BPD. The study focused on three social cognition tasks that varied in level of complexity: basal processing of faces with a neutral expression, recognition of emotions, and attribution of emotional intentions. This study found that while none of the participants with BPD had no deficits at the behavioral level, they showed hypoactivation in areas of the mirror neuron system, where their healthy counterparts showed hyperactivation. Those with BPD also showed hyperactivation in the amygdala which was not modulated by task complexity. From this study, they conclude that an enhanced emotional approach in the processing of social stimuli for individuals with BPD allows good performance in standardized social-cognitive tasks. However, this may be the basis of social-cognitive deficits in real-life social interactions.





2 thoughts on “BPD What Is It? How Does It Impact One’s Abilities?”

  1. I loved your post because I find disorders that effect not only yourself, but others to be very interesting. Of course the first thing I thought of was serial killers, because I know a bit about this disorder from own research, and the prominence of the disorder in convicted serial killers and violent prisoners is much higher than non-violent prisoners. I found an article that talks about both the internalized and externalized effects of this disorder, talking about how individuals often harm themselves in response to all the negative emotions running through their system. However, this disorder can cause even more serious symptoms to develop, in which individuals begin hurting others as well. Obviously developing into a full blown serial killer is the most extreme possible outcome, but I just love finding reasons other than “craziness” for why people do some of the dark things that go on in this world.



    1. That is fascinating, I am glad you continued on to look at both sides because your first connection to serial killers did make me more critical of your comment. While it is true that BPD has both internalized and externalized effects on a person, it varies for each individual. For example, a close friend of mine is in the process of being diagnosed with BPD, and the internalized effects greatly outweigh the external. The reason I became critical is reactions like “the first thing I thought of was serial killers” when talking about a mental disorder can significantly increase the stigma. I know it was probably unintentional, but it is something important to think of in the future.


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