Recognizing Borderline Personality Disorder

Loved ones are often too close to a relative or friend to accurately understand their behaviors. However, these individuals are often the first to notice that something seems not quite right and can help connect a loved one with the help they need to get treatment.

Those with borderline personality disorder can experience serious struggles to maintain relationships. Their explosive behaviors often scare away potential friends, while family may be challenged to continue the relationship. Borderline personality disorder patients often experience loneliness and isolation, in addition to their difficult symptoms.

In a recent Huffington Post article, Dr. Carol Berman, an assistant clinical professor at NYU Medical School, offers a profile of borderline personality disorder. She also offers a list of nine warning signs that a person may be exhibiting symptoms of borderline personality disorder.

In her example, Dr. Berman describes a patient waiting for results of a uterine biopsy. Dr. Berman offers to go along to the obstetrician’s office to hear the news and support her patient. When the good news that the patient is cancer-free is delivered, the patient is unable to celebrate.

Instead, she reacts to what she perceived was a collaboration between the two doctors to be condescending and belittling to her. She lashes out at her psychiatrist, Dr. Berman, and is unable to absorb any positive events of the meeting. Later, the patient calls Dr. Berman to apologize for her explosive behavior.

The unusual reaction by the patient to her good news is par for the course, according to Dr. Berman. Those with borderline personality disorder often fixate on the perceived negative aspects of a situation. A shockingly strong reaction to the events often leave the recipient of the treatment baffled.

Distorted Sense of Others, Self

The first sign highlighted is the likelihood that a person with borderline personality disorder will often idealize their friends and family and see them as villains by turn. The extreme skewing of how they see others is a common characteristic of borderline personality disorder.

The disorder also tends to be exhibited in a distorted sense of self, resulting in a person who is not sure who they are. They tend to “try on” different personalities, appearing to be distant and friendly or authoritative and hostile all in the same day.

The individual exhibiting signs of the disorder may be frantic in their avoidance of what they perceive to be abandonment by others. They may react in extreme and needy ways when their primary supporters are temporarily unavailable.

A sign that requires immediate medical attention is a borderline personality disorder patient’s tendency to look for ways to harm himself or even kill himself. Self-mutilation is a common sign of the disorder.

As with the example of good news about a cancer biopsy, individuals with the disorder may react in a bizarre way to positive circumstances. An individual with the disorder is unable to let go of even minor situations and statements in which they perceive something negative.

The person may regularly feel empty or that they are not really there, and anger is the most common emotion. This is true even when anger is not considered by others to be a reasonable response to a set of circumstances.

Paranoia and Damaging Behaviors

Those with borderline personality disorder are often paranoid and may believe that others are plotting together to work against them. They may also engage in self-damaging behaviors, such as unsafe sex or substance abuse.

Individuals with borderline personality disorder may not exhibit all of these signs. If a loved one seems to fit some of the characteristics listed above, it is important that they be evaluated by a psychiatrist or another mental health professional.