Judging Me: Stigma of Borderline Personality Disorder

 Please, don’t judge me before you know me.
I’ve mentioned this in various posts but I wanted to pull it all together. I’m talking about the stigma that accompanies Borderline Personality Disorder.
What is a stigma: a mark of disgrace or infamy; a stain or reproach, as on one’s reputation; a distinguishing mark of social disgrace; any sign of a mental deficiency or emotional upset.
Stigmas are a negative judgment based on a personal trait.
What is a stigma: a mark of disgrace or infamy; a stain or reproach, as on one’s reputation; a distinguishing mark of social disgrace; any sign of a mental deficiency or emotional upset.
Stigmas are a negative judgment based on a personal trait.
These are a very real problem for anyone with a mental illness/difference/disorder Personality disorders especially and notably for someone with a Borderline Personality Disorder. Compared to many other disorders it seems to have a surplus of stigma.
1) theories on the development of the disorder, with a suspect position placed on parents;
2) frequent refusal by mental health professionals to treat BPD patients;
3) negative and sometimes pejorative web site information that projects hopelessness;
4) clinical controversies as to whether the diagnosis is a legitimate one, a controversy that leads to the refusal of some insurance companies to accept BPD treatment for reimbursement consideration.
Many clinicians and people believe that Borderline Personality Disorder is not a characterological problem and merely a learned response to environmental factors. This thought process leads to an inability to treat patients properly. To believe that someone with BPD is just acting our or trying to get attention. Tragically it is often believed that these environmental factors are the parents fault (though in many cases this may absolutely be a contributing factor: Nature vs. Nurture). What’s truly horrible about this is that parents may be afraid to get their children help or may alienate their children once diagnosed for fear of being judged themselves.
All Borderlines are ‘angry, violent, and explosive’, in other words, very hard to cope with. All of us. Instead of getting to know a patient individually we are judged on the behavior of a few. Clinicians will discriminate against someone with BPD because of what others have said, not what they have experienced. Yes, the moods of someone with BPD can be all of these things. Hell, my behavior can be all of these things at time, but I’ve never brought it to therapy. However this is not the most predominant mood. These occurrences are much more rare (if they occur at all) compared to the day to day operating mode of someone with BPD.
“People take a couple of bad examples then deems everyone else with the same disorder through one very narrow perspective and then tells all of their friends of this belief who continue to pass it along but it seems like no one stops this communication to actually take the time to understand the disorder so all of this false information is allowed to saturate through society until everyone takes it as common knowledge and then uses it to judge others”
Extension to above: Borderline Personality Disorder IS characterized by mood swings between anger, anxiety, depression, and temperamental sensitivity to emotional stimulus. We can be destructive and prone to self-destructive behavior. Because of this, it is one of four related pathologies classified as Cluster B (“dramatic-erratic”) in the DSM IV. This is hallmarked by disturbances in impulse control and emotional dysregulation. Someone with BPD is often very sensitive and reacts strongly. They may have love/hate relationships with everyone and themselves, substance abuse, and impulsive behavior, or a multitude of other problems. Because of these potential qualities many professionals will not treat someone with BPD as they may not be comfortable doing so, and this is their prerogative. So while it is not as severe a stigma as the last one, it is still a problem. It does not make them bad doctors or therapists, it just makes them not right for the person suffering with a personality disorder. I can understand this. We do have a lot of things to deal with and some people simply are not equipped to handle as much as we tend to bring with us.Extension to above: Borderline Personality Disorder IS characterized by fluctuations between anger, anxiety, depression, and temperamental sensitivity to emotional stimulus. We can be destructive and prone to self-destructive behavior. Because of this, it is one of four related pathologies classified as Cluster B (“dramatic-erratic”) in the DSM IV. This is hallmarked by disturbances in impulse control and emotional dysregulation. Someone with BPD is often very sensitive and reacts strongly. They may have love/hate relationships with everyone and themselves, substance abuse, and impulsive behavior, or a multitude of other problems. Because of these potential qualities many professionals will not treat someone with BPD as they may not be comfortable doing so, and this is their prerogative. So while it is not as severe a stigma as the last one, it is still a problem. It does not make them bad doctors or therapists, it just makes them not right for the person suffering with a personality disorder. I can understand this. We do have a lot of things to deal with and some people simply are not equipped to handle as much as we tend to bring with us.
Since there is no medical treatment professionals think there is no hope. I hate this. I think it’s a lazy attitude because especially with recent development in therapy it has been clearly shown that there IS hope. Medication may not work to cure all of our problems, but that does not mean we can’t learn to cope and recover from our problems. We just need a different approach than throwing drugs at it.
Those with BPD are treatment resistant. This is often a problem in the therapeutic technique, not that someone with BPD is resistant. Some styles of therapy are not conducive to treating Borderline Personality Disorder or one technique is simply not enough. It’s often difficult for us to internalize some concepts because the nature of BPD is so transient. What may work for someone without BPD probably won’t work the same for us. Or what does work for us one minute, may not work for us in another because our moods shift so rapidly. All this means though, is that we need to focus on changing our overall mentality, not just on techniques to get us through a situational development (though these can be helpful!). We can’t just record, talk through, and repeat new behaviors and expect them to work right away because these are things that are ingrained in our character, not a learned behavior that we’re just trying to reverse. It might take a variety of integrated techniques, not just one, but treatment is absolutely possible!
Someone with BPD will never get better. With this attitude many clinicians adopt an attitude of hopelessness for someone with a Borderline Personality Disorder. They won’t even bother to treat someone with BPD because they don’t have the knowledge of current treatments and options for the patient. Because it requires more effort to change characterological problems many won’t read updated information and therfore remain stuck in outdated modes of thinking.
.
Someone with a Borderline Personality Disorder is intentionally manipulative. This is one of the worse stigmas in my opinion. Borderlines are just manipulative, “bad” and hurt other people on purpose. The truth is we don’t always know that we do these things. We don’t know what the behavior itself is that comes to this conclusion, let alone know how to change these behaviors (more on this in a separate post).
Everyone with BPD is a self-injurer.
1.) All people with Borderline Personality disorders engage in self-harm practices, and
2.) That it is merely a cry for attention so it should be ignored and the person will stop doing it.
First, I know of quite a few people with BPD that do not cut, burn, bang, or engage in these kind of tendencies. BPD presents in a huge variety of ways and this is only one potential aspect. Second, many of us that do have these self-harm/cutting tendencies do not tell people about it at all. It is a way to take control of our lives, emotions, stress, or a dozen other things. Yes, some people may do it for attention, but ignoring it is never a good answer because this is harmful and in some cases could lead to death.
Because of all of these things someone with BPD may not even consider finding treatment. If they’re pre-judged by the mental health industry, if their attitudes are already set, what hope is there of getting effective help? It’s a defeatist attitude that bleeds into the thoughts of the patients themselves. If the psychiatrist, the psychologist, the therapist have no hope, what hope can we have for ourselves? I was aware of most of these stigmas when I was diagnosed. I was already seeing my therapist when my psychiatrist diagnosed me with BPD. I was actually very reluctant to tell my therapist about the diagnosis because I was afraid she’d drop me as a patient. This fear is not okay. Especially for someone that is so afraid of rejection! Without the ability to be open and honest with the person that is trying to help you it makes it almost impossible, at least very difficult, to get effective treatment. This is a very sad thing to me. Hopefully with understanding and new therapeutic developments this mentality will begin to change. Pulling these things together and taking a good look at them will be beneficial. That’s the goal at least. 
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13 comments on “Judging Me: Stigma of Borderline Personality Disorder

  1. My shrink and I are at a crossroads. If you were a fly on the wall, you'd be riveted. These are some of the things he has said to me over the years: 1.So, let me know when you've boiled a rabbit.2.If you were histrionic you would be walking around with hot pink lipstick, and dressing flamboyantly.He has suggested I do follow through with a need to go elsewhere, though. He knows there's no more left for him to contribute. This is understandable After ( ) years. And recently he asked me whether or not I am angry with him.Entertaining.

  2. @Notable … yeah idk. When I first told my therapist about my psych diagnosing me BPD she actually questioned it and it made me panic. Denying that it's actually a thing means hopes of treatment are pretty nonexistant. Rejections vs. Hopelessness. Sucks either way. Or it means time to shop for a new therapist.

  3. @Anon… wow, you're shrink sounds like a douchebag, or an idiot, or both. Definitely doesn't sound like someone equipped to handle, well anyone (I'd say your situation, but I don't know it so I can only assume). Oh, shopping for a new shrink. My health care provide had a list of therapists and their specialities. It was really helpful because I could just look for someone that dealt with: Depression, anxiety, personality disorders, eating disorder,GLBTT issues, etc. Made it easier but there's still no guarantee until you're right in it with them. So good luck. I hope you find the help that's best for you. btw, someone that's histrionic would have the fashion sense to know that hot pink lipstick wouldn't draw the kind of attention they want =)

  4. I love my pdoc, but he costs a small fortune, and I have no medical insurance, or hope to obtain any coverage because of my BPD dx. I can't tell you how many insurance agents have just told me to stop looking. (Fun, being a freelancer.)Dunno. I checked myself into a famous pward already armed with the knowledge that I had BPD — I wasn't afraid of the dx and neither were they. It's the stupid insurance companies that have a problem with it. Medicaid doesn't even have a freakin' BILLING CODE for it.

  5. And of course, denying the existence of BPD and saying "we just want attention" only perpetuates the issue…my fears of judgment, invalidation, rejection, and being considered just "bad" are all triggered by the idiots who are too lazy to deal with a pd that is going undiagnosed everywhere…

  6. @Blackbird… Exactly. For people that have fears of abandonment and rejection, rejecting the idea that we even have something that needs to be helped is like a giant slap of hopelessness right in the face. People need to be more educated before they try to pass judgment on things they clearly know nothing about.

  7. That's why I've started blogging…I want to find other people who know, who've felt the insanity and the "irrational" fears. Your blog is the first I've found that I can really relate to (there aren't many competent bloggers that I can find).

  8. Ha, Haven 758Senor El Douche (or Dr. Doolittle) thinks he can talk to the animals. But he has been very helpful, and has counselled me out of tough jams. Anon 5:01why don't you "suddenly acquire" some bipolar traits. The meds are interchangeable, and the diagnoses are similar enough…just being creative.

  9. I was virtually thrown out of the mental health system after I was diagnosed in 2002.Now every where I go I have to hide it because I live in a predominantly "borderline-hating" place.I hate hiding and I am not good at it.C.

  10. people can be cruel,especially when it comes to personality disorders…they believe that people choose to be the way they are,but the truth is our personalities are shaped by factors outside of our control,even though our pride won't allow us to aknowledge that most of the time…well,the good thing is that there are people willing-and able to help…haven,i've heard good things about schema therapy and personality disorders,what is your opinion?

  11. Schema Therapy! A lot of my most recent blogging on different schemas is all Schema Therapy based. My therapist uses it. It seems to be working pretty well for me. It's very informative and takes a real in depth look into the founding factors of personality disorders. Once you understand what contributed to their development you can treat them better and schema therapy really seems to place a lot of emphasis on understanding the underlying reasons, not just changing the behaviors of disordered people. So I'm definitely in favor of SchemaTherapy.

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