Subtypes of BPD: The Discouraged Subtype

Subtypes of BPD: The Discouraged Subtype

At 23, Brandy continues to embrace her adolescent fascination with sad music and poignant anime narratives. She consistently wears black and applies heavy eyeliner, which lends her an appearance that is paradoxically mature and yet reminiscent of her youth.

Brandy is characterised by her withdrawn nature, persistent depression, and frequent tears. She often describes herself as being “allergic to herself,” a sentiment she feels is shared by others. Despite her limited circle of friends, she relies heavily on a few key relationships, particularly with Scott, a friend since childhood, and her mother, both of whom are accustomed to her frequent bouts of sadness and her tendency to isolate herself.

A bright individual, Brandy left university after just one term, overwhelmed by her struggles to forge and maintain friendships and convinced of her professors’ disapproval. Overwhelmed by academic failures and a deep sense of hopelessness, she returned home. Her decision to leave university led her father to urge her towards employment and independence. Still, Brandy perceived this as a profound rejection, culminating in a refusal to communicate with him. At home, she often retreats to her room or seeks comfort in her mother’s embrace, reverting to childlike behaviours.

One Sunday morning, a conversation intended to reconcile Brandy with her father’s intentions ended disastrously. Interpreting her mother’s words as betrayal, Brandy reacted with uncharacteristic rage, leading to a severe episode that required hospitalisation. Brandy is diagnosed with borderline personality disorder (BPD), specifically the discouraged subtype.

Exploring the Subtypes of BPD

Theodore Millon, Ph.D., D.Sc., a leading figure in personality studies, details various subtypes of personality disorders in his seminal work, “Disorders of Personality: DSM-IV and Beyond”. He argues that broad stereotypes can obscure the personal impact of disorders like BPD, sometimes leading to misdiagnoses—potentially with severe implications for those needing accurate treatment.

Subtypes of BPD: The Discouraged Subtype

Characteristics of the Discouraged Borderline Subtype

Individuals with the discouraged subtype of BPD often display the following symptoms:

  • High dependency on others
  • Regular cycles of withdrawal
  • Passivity and compliance
  • Frequent depressive episodes, more so than bouts of anger
  • Surprising expressions of anger
  • Paranoia and self-persecution feelings
  • Self-neglect over self-indulgence
  • A victimised self-image, often eliciting sympathy from others
  • Desperation and suicidal tendencies triggered by fears of abandonment
  • Irresponsible behaviours, with reliance on substances or other means for self-soothing
  • Use of fantasy as an escape from reality
  • The habit of discarding or damaging personal possessions
  • Chronic health complaints or psychosomatic disorders

Contrary to the sensationalised media portrayals of individuals with BPD, such as Glen Close’s character in the 1987 film “Fatal Attraction“, many individuals like Brandy lead introspective lives marked by silent suffering. Accurately understanding and treating BPD is essential for dismantling the pervasive stigma surrounding this condition and improving the lives of those affected.

In recognising the nuances of BPD subtypes, we can better support those living with the disorder and contribute to a more informed and compassionate approach to mental health.

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