No matter how much we try it seems there will always be stereotypes and myths about borderline personality disorder. But here is a quick look at some of the myths out there, they are all false! Hopefully, as we continue to promote awareness people can see the reality and not the myth…
#1 People with BPD are manipulative
On the outside, it may appear that borderlines are deliberately trying to manipulate the people around them. When in reality, manipulation is often the consequence of a behaviour or action, it is not the actual reason for the behaviour. Borderlines are always looking for a form of release from intense emotional pain and the manipulation and often destruction within relationships is a consequence, not a reason.
#2 People who self-harm probably have BPD or people with BPD self-harm for attention
Similar to Myth #1, people with BPD are always looking for a release from emotional pain and their actions can be misinterpreted as manipulation or attention-seeking. Also, self-harm behaviours are only one criteria of NINE in the diagnosis of BPD, not all borderlines self injure and not all people who self-injure are borderline.
#3 BPD is not a real mental illness, just a personality problem
Borderline Personality Disorder is recognized by the DSM, the bible for all doctors and clinicians in the mental health field. BPD has biological, genetic, and environmental causes with specific criteria for diagnosis and treatment.
#4 BPD is caused by childhood abuse/trauma
There appears to be a positive correlation between childhood trauma and/or abuse and BPD but not all people with BPD have been abused and not all people who have a childhood trauma or experienced abuse are borderline. BPD is a combination of a genetic predisposition, biological, and environmental causes.
#5 BPD is not treatable
There are many different treatments available for people with BPD and we continue to promote awareness within the mental health community. DBT (dialectical behaviour therapy) and CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy) are the more widely used methods of treatment as well as talk therapy and sometimes medication. Studies have even shown that many people with BPD experience fewer symptoms with ageing, the most intense symptoms occurring during their 20s and then beginning to dissipate with ageing.
6# If you know one borderline, you know them all
There are 9 separate criteria for BPD, 5 of which must be met for diagnosis, which means there are 256 possible combinations of symptoms. Although most borderlines can relate to similar experiences, each symptom is experienced differently. BPD cannot be a catch-all for negative personality traits, BPD traits are specific (yet broad!) and are treatable.
If you know of any other common BPD myths that need to be uncovered do let us know in the comments below.