Cluster Me

Huddle up. Cluster B.
I really hadn’t planned on doing a DSM-IV style series but as I’m already headed in that direction let’s keep on it.

Personality Disorders are described as “enduring patterns of perceiving, relating to, and thinking about the environment and oneself that are exhibited in a wide range of social and personal contexts” and “are inflexible and maladaptive, and cause significant functional impairment or subjective distress”.

According to the DSM-IV there are 10 different personality disorders + 1 catch all ‘personality disorder not otherwise specified’. These disorders are broken down into 3 Clusters (A,B, & C). The purpose of these Clusters is to further organize these disorders into groups that are related to each other by their symptoms.


Cluster A – Odd or Eccentric Behavior – includes Schizoid, Paranoid, and Schizotypal Personality Disorders.

Schizoid Personality DisorderA pervasive pattern of detachment from social relationships and a restricted range of expressions of emotions in interpersonal settings. Those with SPD may be perceived by others as somber and aloof, and often are referred to as “loners.”

Schizotypal Personality Disorder A pervasive pattern of social and interpersonal deficits marked by acute discomfort with reduced capacity for close relationships as well as by cognitive or perceptual distortions and eccentricities of behavior. This disorder is characterized both by a need for isolation as well as odd, outlandish, or paranoid beliefs. In social situations, they may show inappropriate reaction or not react at all, or they may talk to themselves.

Paranoid Personality Disorder A pervasive mistrust and suspiciousness of others such that their motives are interpreted as malevolent. Although they are prone to unjustified angry or aggressive outbursts when they perceive others as disloyal or deceitful, those with PPD more often come across as emotionally “cold” or excessively serious.

Cluster B – Dramatic, Emotional, or Erratic Behavior – includes Antisocial, Borderline, Narcissistic, and Histrionic Personality Disorders.

Antisocial Personality Disorder A pervasive pattern of disregard for and violation of the rights of others. APD is characterized by lack of empathy or conscience, a difficulty controlling impulses and manipulative behaviors. This disorder is sometimes also referred to as psychopathy or sociopathy, however, Antisocial Personality Disorder is the clinical terminology used for diagnosis.

Borderline Personality Disorder A pervasive pattern of instability of interpersonal relationships, self-image, affects, and control over impulses. This mental illness interferes with an individual’s ability to regulate emotion. Borderlines are highly sensitive to rejection, and fear of abandonment may result in frantic efforts to avoid being left alone, such a suicide threats and attempts.

Histrionic Personality Disorder A pervasive pattern of excessive emotion and attention seeking often in unusual ways, such as bizarre appearance or speech. With rapidly shifting, shallow emotions, histrionics can be extremely theatrical, and constantly need to be the center of attention.

Narcissistic Personality Disorder A pervasive pattern of grandiosity (in fantasy or behavior), need for admiration, and lack of empathy. Narcissism occurs in a spectrum of severity, but the pathologically narcissistic tend to be extremely self-absorbed, intolerant of others’ perspectives, insensitive to others’ needs and indifferent to the effect of their own egocentric behavior.

Cluster C – Anxious, Fearful Behavior –  Avoidant, Dependent, and Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorders.

Avoidant Personality Disorder A pervasive pattern of social inhibition, feelings of inadequacy, and hypersensitivity to negative evaluation and are unwilling to take social risks. Avoidants display a high level of social discomfort, timidity, fear of criticism, avoidance of activities that involve interpersonal contact.

Dependent Personality Disorder A pervasive and excessive need to be taken care of which leads to submissive and clinging behavior and fears of separation. Dependent personalities require excessive reassurance and advice, and are extremely sensitive to criticism or disapproval.

Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder – Also called Anankastic Personality Disorder display a pervasive pattern of preoccupation with orderliness, perfectionism, and mental and interpersonal control, at the expense of flexibility, openness, and efficiency. They can also be workaholics, preferring the control of working alone, as they are afraid that work completed by others will not be done correctly.

My questions is: Are these clusters necessary?

Once you know which personality disorder someone has you’ve got it pegged. It would make more sense to use clusters to further narrow down behavior before diagnosis.

If the patient is obviously dramatic and emotional it is easier come to the Cluster B conclusions and therefore rule out disorders characterized by other clusters. However there can easily be overlap and therefore confusion. With Borderline (Cluster B) there’s an intense fear of abandonment, often paranoia that something will happen and people will leave, which is why we attach so hard to people regardless of there being any evidence to support this paranoia. To me this indicates anxious and fearful behavior which would be Cluster C, even though Paranoid PD is Cluster A. Confusing, no?

Being Borderline I’m grouped into Cluster B. I can tell you with absolute certainty that my personality characteristics fit almost all Cluster A criteria. In Cluster B I obviously hit Borderline but also Histrionic PD. As far as ASPD goes, I have at least the difficulty controlling impulses and manipulative behavior. For NPD a case could be made for being self-absorbed, intolerant of others’ perspectives (if they don’t satisfy what I need at the moment), and indifference to the effect of egocentric behavior. For ASPD and NPD my motivations are fundamentally different though. Maybe that’s the deciding factor. Motivation. Not consciously of course, but those underlying factors that set us apart from the other PDs that we’re not diagnosed with. To me this conclusion is obvious. It boils down to which behaviors are most predominant. This still doesn’t explain what the point of further breaking personality disorders into clusters is. In all of my research, so far, I have not found a single reason why these clusters are necessary.

Who’s to say what the difference between these traits are anyways? Who defines what is erratic (Cluster B) and not eccentric (Cluster A)?  Lack of interest in social relationships (Cluster A) and social inhibition (Cluster C)? There is no solid, scientific way of distinguishing between clusters. There is a lot of overlap between the Clusters so they don’t help narrow down the playing field. Any conclusions reached about a person will point directly to a personality disorder(s) regardless of which cluster they fall into, especially as symptoms may indicate multiple clusters. In fact, the cluster groupings may work to limit the consideration treatment options that other personality disorders could provide insight to.

My conclusion is that they’re basically erroneous.

Hah, Ok. I just found this abstract on Neuropsychological, Psychophysiological, and Personality Assessment of DSM-IV Clusters:

Testing the construct validity of the three DSM-IV cluster groupings of personality disorders, in terms of neuropsychological, psychophysiological, and personality traits measures, was the purpose of this study. The results hardly confirm significant differences between B and C cluster groups in their neuropsychological functioning, but, instead, suggest that Cluster A could have some empirical validity based on executive prefrontal deficits (concept formation and sustained attention tasks) and clinical features. Similarly, no consistent differences among groups emerge when psychophysiological measures are compared. With regard to the Big-Five personality dimensions, the results also indicate that clusters may be more heterogeneous than the DSM-IV suggests. It appears, therefore, that the categorical division of DSM personality disorders into three discrete clusters may not be empirically justified.

See, no real reason for the Clusters. I win. (Apparently this was a competition.)

Speaking of Changes: DSM-IV to DSM-V

What’s going to happen to Borderline Personality Disorder in the DSM-V? For that matter, what’s going to happen to any Personality Disorder in the DSM-V?
There is going to be a major reclassification of Personality Disorders in the DSM-V.  Apparently Axis-II disorders aren’t clear enough in terms of diagnosis in the DSM-IV so they need to be updated. Can’t completely disagree with their reasoning. The whole point of the DSMs are to accurately diagnosis disorders in order to aid the clinician and patient. Without proper classification and standardized diagnostic criteria it’s very difficult if not impossible to receive the most helpful treatment. If help is what you want that is. I’m sure we can all think of a few PD types that don’t need to change a thing 😉
The current DSM-IV:  Diagnosing disorders in the current edition of the DSM-IV involves two aspects.
First: Define what a personality disorder is. Currently, a Personality Disorder is defined as a pervasive pattern of “inner experience and behavior” that is deviant from a person’s cultural norms. These may be deviations in thoughts, emotionality, interpersonal relatedness, and impulse control. Deviations need to be pervasive, stable, present at least since adolescence, and not due to substances or another mental disorder. Importantly, these ways of thinking, feeling, or behaving need to be significantly distressful and problematic.
Deviant from cultural norms. This is inappropriate on so many levels. The most obvious being that since there are so many different cultures in the world what is considered a PD in one culture may be considered a different PD in another or more severely it may not be considered a PD at all.  Some cultures promote cannibalism. It’s a non-concern. I bet if I tried to apply that here and claim it was my standard proclivity to chow down on my neighbor I’d be tossed right into the ASPD category. People are food? Anti-social. Check.
Second: Define what type of personality disorder is present. DSM-IV currently lists ten Personality Disorders with a catch-all “not otherwise specified category”. Each personality disorder has a certain number of criteria, to which you must meet a cut-off. For example, To be Borderline you need to have five out of nine symptoms such as: self-harming, unstable relationships, fear of real/imagined abandonment, impulsivity, identity disturbance, etc.
There are a lot of problems with this system though.

First, the different personality types were poorly defined. They weren’t based on research-derived criteria, the individual symptoms were vague, and the idea of checking off abstract criteria such as “an exaggerated sense of self-importance” were difficult.

It does seem that the number of criteria required is arbitrary. Why are 5 qualifications better than 4? 4 symptoms may be significantly severe. For that matter, who decides what is significantly severe? Why are 7 met criteria more accurate than 5 if many of the 7 criteria are relatively subdued. Who’s to judge? 4 = “normal”, 7 = “abnormal”.  Regardless. Oh, I’m sorry. You only have 4 majorly severe symptoms present? You’re fine, go about your day. Next!
Another problem is that the criteria overlapped heavily. A person meeting criteria for one personality disorder usually met criteria for 3 or 4 others, as well.
No disagreements here. I for one am sure I qualify for Histrionic PD in many ways. From a cultural stand point I cross over into Schizotypal (if not for my ‘spiritual’ beliefs alone), and so on. Hey! Check out the PD test, that’ll give an “accurate” crossover chart.

The proposed DSM-V:
The proposed revision for the DSM-V is relatively complicated and has 3 essential criteria for PDs.
(1)  A rating of mild impairment or greater on the Levels of Personality Functioning (criterion A),
(2)  A rating of 
        (a)  a “good match” or “very good match” to a Personality Disorder Type or
       (b)  “quite a bit” or “extremely” descriptive on one or more of six Personality Trait Domains (criterion B).
(3)  Diagnosis also requires relative stability of (1) and (2) across time and situations, and excludes culturally normative personality features and those due to the direct physiological effects of a substance or a general medical condition.
Quite complicated indeed. However when you think about it, it fits. Normal personalities are complicated. Personality Disorders are complicated to the order of {insert large magnitude}.
Let’s look at each of these 3 new criteria:
1.) First, the general definition of what a personality disorder is has changed. It will now suggest that instead of a pervasive pattern of thinking/emotionality/behaving, a personality disorder reflects “adaptive failure” involving: “Impaired sense of self-identity” or “Failure to develop effective interpersonal functioning”.
See, now I disagree that it should be defined as {solely} an “adaptive failure”. This implies that Personality Disorders are strictly a product of your developmental environment. I’ve done a lot of research into biogenetic temperament, pathology, differences in brain affectations/structuring (all of which I’ll be posting on eventually) and there is a biological aspect to personality disorders. This definition seems to ignore those factors completely. Maybe they’re just focusing on the manifestations though. They can always do brain scans later. I for one want my brain scan.
The breakdown of “impaired sense of self-identity” and “failure to develop effective interpersonal functioning” is good though. They even have a little severity scoring system. I like all these scoring levels actually. It’s like a game of personality disorders. Step right up folks. Place your bets, put your credibility on the line. Spin the wheel of characteristic crazy and I’ll guess your personal pathology. Takers? Loser are the norm. Winners get a shiny new Personality Type. Woot!

Five personality types
2.a.) DSM-V has simplified the system by cutting down Personality Disorders from10 to 5:
Paranoid Personality Disorder
Schizoid Personality Disorder
Schizotypal Personality Disorder
Antisocial Personality Disorder (ASPD)
Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD)
Histrionic Personality Disorder (HPD)
Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD)
Avoidant Personality Disorder
Dependent Personality Disorder
Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder
They plan to collapse these 10 into the following 5 buckets:
Antisocial/Psychopathic Type
Avoidant Type
Obsessive-Compulsive Type
Schizotypal Type
Avoidant, O-C, and Schizotypal haven’t changed much. A/P Type and Borderline are apparently still pretty complex but hey! We made the cut! Take that Paranoid PD. Who’s watching you now? No one? Now you’ll never know. I’m actually not sure that this will make it easier to identify potential Personality Disorders. I don’t see why they couldn’t keep the established Personality Disorders and simply apply the new diagnostic techniques to them. This is supposed to be most helpful to clinicians who I suppose the DSM is specifically designed for, but it will make the information less accessible to the population at. Or, maybe the APA is trying to boost therapy sales by making it so confusing that patients need to seek professional help to figure out what’s wrong with them.
2.b.) Personality trait domains and facets
Finally there are a series of six personality “trait domains”. The six domains include: Negative Emotionality, Introversion, Antagonism, Disinhibition, Compulsivity and Schizotypy. Clinicians would be asked to rate each of the six domains on a 0-3 scale depending on how descriptive each is of the patient. The rating game continues.
Each of the six trait domains also comes with a subset of trait facets.  These are more descriptive indicators to help you decide which domains you fall under. I’m not sure these are enough. I fit all of these in some way, but then again, I have a Borderline Personality Disorder so Good Job! I think I just disproved my own concern. I guess when you pull the whole system together it will be able to distinguish maladaptive personalities versus, say, non-PD abuse victims, true A/P types versus your everyday douchebag.  Only time will tell I suppose.
3.)  And time is what it’s all about. One thing that has been kept from the DSM-IV is the fact that these characteristics need to be “stable”. I love that they use the term stable. Especially since the nature of half of these disorders is how generally unstable people with PDs can be. I know what they mean of course; these problems are persistent and unchanging over time and not situation dependent.
So there you have it. The new DSM-V.
I am curious as to where Narcissistic Personality Disorder will fall. Traditionally it’s a Cluster B group with BPD, Histrionic, and ASPD. My first inclination would be to say it will fall under the Borderline Type. BPD/HPD are highly reactive, often characterized by narc traits and there’s a more prevalent sense of needing people in some manner than is ASPD.  The inflated grandiosity and a pervasive pattern of taking advantage of other people suggests the A/P Type definition though(so obviously defined with narc traits). Maybe since narcissism is so pervasive in the PD spectrum the DSM believes it’s a symptom, a not a distinct problem. Sorry narcs, apparently you’re not important enough to have your own group anymore. Wow, that’s going to piss someone off; take that their egos! And for that matter, ASPD is also Cluster B and is even more commonly associated with BPD as a male/female flip side. It’s just so typical that the ASPDs would leave BPDs and take up with a more aggressive group. At least we still have the Histrionics. It’s gonna be a sexy fun time for the Borderline Types. Just sayin’.

A rose by any other name…

Still dies, rots and decomposes like anything else, I suppose.
Last week I talked about where Borderline Personality Disorder got its name. It may not stay that way forever though. Borderline Personality Disorder renamed? For some time now clinicians have been calling for the label of Borderline Personality Disorder to undergo official change. There are a number of different names used around the world and under consideration for the same disorder:
Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) – Current
Emotional Regulation Disorder (ERD)
Emotional Dysregulation Disorder
Emotional Intensity Disorder (EID)
Emotionally Unstable Personality Disorder (EUPD)
Emotion-Impulse Regulation Disorder (EIRD)
Impulsive Personality Disorder (IPD)
Impulse Disorder
Post Traumatic Personality Disorganization (PTPD)
Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
The most commonly used name today is Borderline Personality Disorder – or BPD – as defined in the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic & Statistical Manual (DSM-IV-TR).
The term “Borderline” is a historic term coined to describe people who were diagnosed to be on the borderline between a neurotic and psychotic disorder. It is commonly felt that the “Borderline” label is misleading and stigmatizes the disorder. From the beginning the term Borderline Personality Disorder has been stigmatized and this has only been compounded by decades of misunderstanding. It implies that the entire person is flawed instead of looking at BPD as a medical problem. By renaming Borderline Personality Disorder it will be easier to move away from those stigmas that are automatically associated with the label. Originally it was termed Borderline Personality Disorder because it was thought to be on the ‘borderline’ of multiple diagnoses but not falling into any one category. However this is no longer believed to be the case. It isn’t on the border of anything. It is its own distinct problem; a disorder characterized by intense emotional experiences and instability in relationships, behavior, and emotions. Some clinicians don’t even want it labeled as a Personality Disorder because it implies that there is no hope for a cure when in FACT it has been proven that with psychotherapy and the aid of medication there is the ability to heal and live a life free from the symptoms that categorize BPD. They want it renamed and removed from Axis-II designation and placed firmly in the Axis-I category because of the high rate of comorbitity with other Axis-I disorders (as previously mentioned here).
Rumor has it that the fifth version of the Diagnostic & Statistical Manual (DSM-V) is likely to rename Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) as Emotional Regulation Disorder (ERD) or Emotional Dysregulation Disorder (EDD). Indeed, Emotional Dys/Regulation Disorder is the most popular alternative for Borderline Personality Disorder. It’s felt that this more accurately describes the expression of the symptoms encompassed by BPD as it is just that, a disorder of regulating emotions.
Another term is post traumatic personality disorganization (PTPD) or complex post traumatic stress disorder, reflecting the condition’s status as (often) both a form of chronic post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and a personality disorder in the belief that it is a common outcome of developmental or attachment trauma. I’m not sure I entirely agree with this because there are many people with BPD that don’t report any kind of traumatic event.  Personally, maybe, MAYBE, some arguable attachment traumas when I was a toddler, but even I don’t think this was so much environmental trauma as a predisposition to reacting the way I did. As I’ve mentioned in a previous post, I don’t agree that PTSD is an accurate diagnosis for me at all. I’ve had plenty of traumatic events to speak of but not until after my BPD began to present at a young age.  
Emotionally Unstable Personality Disorder…. Really? REALLY? Yeah, I see that diminishing the stigma that Borderline already has. Why don’t they just name it I-Am-Insane-And- Potentially-Violent-It-Is-In-Your-Best-Interest-To-Remove-Your-Children-From-My-Presence-Duck-And-Cover Disorder. IAIAPVISIYBITRYCFMPDAC Disorder is rather a mouthful though.  How about simply, BitchPleaseI’mCrazy Disorder. Seriously.
I’m against renaming Borderline Personality Disorder.  Renaming it doesn’t actually change a thing. Anyone with half a brain is going to know that ERD/etc is the same thing as BPD just with a new name, IF they even knew what BPD was to begin with. The symptoms are The. Same. Damn. Things. I mean, yeah it’ll take away the general stigma of BPD but then again, it may work to perpetuate others. BPD is already stigmatized as a female disorder. “Emotional this/that Disorder, Post Traumatic Something Disorder, those will all only perpetuate if not increase that particular stigma. It’ll make it more difficult for men to be diagnosed and make women an even easier target for ridicule. I can just imagine anytime a woman speaks her mind or has a strong opinion because she has an actual voice and isn’t a doormat, some douchebag guy is going to replace “is it that time of the month?” with “Emotional Disorders are treatable, get help for that shit”. It’s all ridiculous. In that way, Borderline is safer because a good majority of people don’t even know what it is so they can’t jump to asinine conclusions. So while, yes, ERD, encapsulates the fact that it is a disorder of emotional regulation, at the same time it almost trivializes the severity of what this disorder is. That is not okay.
Personally? I’m not sure I want it to be renamed. I like the term Borderline Personality Disorder. I like the idea that something can overcome the stigma and be understood for what it is; kind of civil rights activation for personality disorders, haha (for that matter I don’t like that there will be a full re-categorization of PDs from 10 to 5 in the new DSM V). I still don’t like admitting that I have a disorder of emotions because I was lead to believe that I needed to repress them for so long. At least Borderline doesn’t directly state a disorder of emotional problems (though obviously it is) since it doesn’t have Emotion in the title. It doesn’t stamp CRAZY BITCH on my forehead right away. Someone hears Borderline Personality Disorder and they may cock their head and ask, ‘what’s that?’. Someone hears Emotional Dysregulation Disorder and they’re going to start creeping backwards because this person is OBVIOUSLY emotionally unstable.
Idk, maybe I have no logical reason for it. Mostly it’s probably due to my attachment issues. I have a hard time giving anything up that I’ve become accustomed to and this label is one more example of that. I like the name, I don’t want it to change. I’m familiar with it. I mean… BPD is a disorder characterized by abandonment! Don’t make us abandon our label! It’s mine. I’ve embraced it. Don’t take it away from me! (Jokes. Sort of). And quite frankly, all the other names for it are kind of lame.
While I’m on the topic of continued designation of things; please return Pluto to its previous planetary status; “Dwarf planet“ is just insensitive.  

Where are all the men?: Controversy in BPD – Part 6

Discrepancy in Gender Diagnosis
Why does it seem that men have such a low frequency of Borderline Personality Disorder?  There seems to be two main reasons.
1.)    Men are diagnosed with something else.
2.)    Men are more likely to be treated only for their major presenting symptoms.
Some studies have reported that men are more likely to be diagnosed as paranoid, passive-aggressive, narcissistic, sadistic, or with anti-social personality disorder. I’ve done a lot of research into BPD (clearly) and I’ve often come across articles that focus on BPD with ASPD. Primarily the subject study group for BPD is women, and the study group for ASPD is men. This is not necessarily an accurate distinction though.
Men and women do often present with different symptoms when you break it down to Axis I and Axis II comorbid criteria. However these symptoms are still all encompassed in the range of BPD diagnostic criteria.
Axis I co-morbid disorders:
Men with BPD tend to have higher rates of substance use disorders, while women have higher rates of PTSD and eating disorders.
There isn’t a significant difference in frequency though. These things are pretty much expected with you take into account general psychopathology/temperamental differences in gender. In things like major depressive disorder, anxiety disorders, or mood disorders there was not found to be any significant difference in BPD diagnosed gender representation.
Axis II co-morbid disorders:
There is significant difference in how men and women present in Axis II disorders which are the presentation of other personality disorder traits. Men are found to have higher rates of antisocial, narcissistic, and schizotypal personality disorders.
When you take a look at the diagnostic criteria for BPD the only real significant difference is women tend to have greater frequency of identity disturbance. Men do present slightly higher in Intense Anger and Impulsivity criteria while women tended to be a little higher in Affective instability and Avoiding abandonment.
When it comes to diagnosis between genders in BPD it was found that the function of impulsivity, how men and women tend to differ in the specific type of impulsive behavior displayed, were often different, even though the frequency was negligible. That is, Acting In or Acting Out. While women might tend towards food (internalizing behavior) men might turn towards drugs or alcohol (externalizing behavior) for self-destructive behavior. But because men tend towards externalizing it is easier to overlook the other more passive/internalized symptoms.
More aggressive acting out is likely to overshadow other symptoms that are also present. So men will be referred to anger management or therapy will focus on that particular displaying symptom, what brings it out, how to react appropriately. Or try to. I don’t know how well this works if you’re only treating one symptom and not the entire problem. Or take something like alcohol/substance abuse for example. If a woman walks into therapy and says she has a drinking problem the therapist is likely to delve into the more emotional reasons for drinking. Social stigmas for men tend to focus on the physical problem, focus on rehab and detox. They might ask what events make them want to drink and suggest how to cope with these, but not as likely to look into why they are more prone to having these reactions that cause them to imbibe in the first place.  
Additionally, finding men to have higher co-occurrences of Personality Disorders is consistent with basic differences in how men and women relate to others socially. Women are socialized to be more interpersonally connected then men. A higher percentage of men with BPD also having antisocial, narcissistic, and schizotypal PDs shows increased difficulty in relatedness to others, a typical gender difference in the more pathological forms of these PDs. For example, in a sample comprised of inpatients and outpatients, men scored significantly higher on mistrust, manipulativeness, aggression, entitlement, detachment, and disinhibition, while women scored significantly higher on negative temperament, dependency, and propriety. Because the presentation of these symptoms is different, and there is a stigma towards the more passive symptom presentations, it is easier to overlook BPD as a diagnosis in favor of a more aggressive diagnosis, like ASPD for men.
All of this muddies the ability to make distinct diagnosis in men, because there may not be a distinct diagnosis for some men or they’re not being treated for their whole problem.
Maybe men should just seek psychiatric treatment more often so clinicians can get a better idea of how their PDed brains work and take some of the stigma off of us. Come on guys, help us out here. Just kidding.  Sort of. ::smiles::

Axis I vs. Axis II: Controversy in BPD- Part 4

Where does Borderline Personality Disorder belong?
I’m referring to the DSM criteria for Axis I and Axis II designation. Let’s start off with, what’s the difference between Axis I and Axis II.
* Axis I: major mental disorders, developmental disorders and learning disabilities. Axis I disorders are predominantly mood disorders.
 * Axis II: underlying pervasive or personality conditions, as well as mental retardation. Axis II disorders are personality disorders.

For or Against?
[For Axis 2] Personality disorders are classified as Axis II disorders.
Personality disorders in general have their own list of general criteria that must be satisfied. They’re a class of personality types and behaviors that the American Psychiatric Association (APA) defines as “an enduring pattern of inner experience and behavior that deviates markedly from the expectations of the culture of the individual who exhibits it”.
“These behavioral patterns in personality disorders are typically associated with severe disturbances in the behavioral tendencies of an individual, usually involving several areas of the personality, and are nearly always associated with considerable personal and social disruption. Additionally, personality disorders are inflexible and pervasive across many situations, due in large part to the fact that such behavior is ego-syntonic (i.e. the patterns are consistent with the ego integrity of the individual) and are, therefore, perceived to be appropriate by that individual. This behavior can result in the client adopting maladaptive coping skills, which may lead to personal problems that induce extreme anxiety, distress and depression in clients.”
The behaviors cause serious interpersonal and social difficulties as well as general functional impairment. I don’t think anyone can argue that BPD fits this criteria, which is a large part of why it is considered Axis II. It also has a sub-designation as Axis II, Cluster B which is characterized by dramatic, emotional or erratic behavior. No argument there either.
[For Axis 1] Both Axis I and Axis II are psychiatric disorders. Only personality disorders and mental retardation are segregated onto Axis II. All other psychiatric disorders are Axis I. Does it really make sense to segregate these if they are essentially the same type of thing?
[For Axis 2] However Axis I disorders are generally treatable with medication. While some presenting symptoms of Axis II disorders may be treatable with medication, it’s not shown that medication can ‘cure’ a personality disorder and correct all presenting symptoms.
 [For Axis 1] Moving BPD to Axis I would have economic benefits. Many insurance companies don’t recognize BPD as a treatable condition and use it as an excuse to withhold payments. I know for a fact that my therapist classifies me as Major Depressive when billing my insurance company. I am pretty certain my psychiatrist does as well. This is certainly true, but not completely accurate.  I’m not going to complain though.
I think the major debate lies here:
[For Axis 2] Axis II BPD is pervasive to a person identity, characterlogical in nature.
[For Axis 1]: But…There’s some debate about whether BPD should be considered a ‘personality disorder’ at all because it has such a high rate of co-morbid symptoms that fall into the Axis I designation.
Axis I disorders are primarily for mood disorders that are reactions to atypical situations which are not part of a person’s character. “Mood disorder is the term designating a group of diagnoses in the DSM IV TR classification system where a disturbance in the person’s mood {not their character} is hypothesized to be the main underlying feature. The classification is known as mood (affective) disorders in ICD 10.”

[For Axis 1] There are many disorders that are just as pervasive as BPD such as bipolar, anxiety, and depression that are not caused by atypical situations, and are classified as Axis I disorders.
Two groups of mood disorders are broadly recognized (though not limited to these two); the division is based on whether the person has ever had a manic or hypomanic episode. Thus, there are depressive disorders, of which the best known and most researched is major depressive disorder (MDD) commonly called clinical depression or major depression, and bipolar disorder (BD), formerly known as manic depression and characterized by intermittent episodes of mania or hypomania, usually interlaced with depressive episodes.”

People with Borderline Personality Disorder almost always have a history of long term, pervasive depression.  I’ve never heard of anyone that didn’t, but I’m not a clinician. Hypomania is not always present. If you have manic phases though, that is the definition of Bipolar and while you can have bipolar disorder and BPD, I think you would then have both Axis I and Axis II designations, not just one or the other. From here it could be argued that the mood regulation disorders are the underlying cause for all the other disorder manifestations.
[For Axis 1] There’s also the stigma that a personality disorder just means that a person has a flawed personality that can’t be changed.  Except there has been plenty of research to support the idea that this is an emotional regulation disorder.  Which means it would technically be a mood disorder and qualify it for Axis I.
I can see how the mood disorder aspects can affect a lot of the behaviors and symptoms of BPD. I’m not sure it can explain all of them though. Things like a tendency towards impulsive behavior, identity disturbance, fear of abandonment, etc… these are not necessarily dependent on mood alone.
I certainly don’t believe that a personality disorder just means you have a flawed personality. Calling it a flaw implies that it’s a minor issue, easily corrected. BPD is not minor, nor is it easily treatable. You might not be able to change everything about who you are (or want to), but if there is an aspect of your life that you do not value; if you are willing to put in the effort; if you have hope of living a better life or just a life different from what you currently experience– it is absolutely possible to make changes in yourself. Without hope for change there can only be resignation to the inevitable. But people do have control over their lives, what choices they make, how they want to live. It may not be easy, maybe everything can’t be ‘fixed’, but it is possible to heal from those things that we are willing to work to change.

Co-Morbid Symptoms: Borderline Personality Facts and Statistics Part 5

– On the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory (MMPI), ERD patients do not show a common profile. Personality traits appear to be a combination of histrionic, narcissistic, and antisocial personality.
The MMPI is one of the most frequently used personality tests in mental health. The test is used by trained professionals to assist in identifying personality structure and psychopathology. I don’t actually know much about this test so I’ll be sure to do more research on this in the future.  However it doesn’t surprise me that BPD displays with a combination of personality disorder traits.  Since personality disorders encompass all aspects of a person’s life, the environmental and emotional factors that are experienced often overlap.  The very nature of BPD is a collection of problems that display together…

– Co-morbid conditions in BPD may also affect the ability to act responsibly.
BPD is not a single issue.  There is no single thing that you can point to and say, yep, that’s BPD. BPD is often referred to as a ‘catch-all’ personality disorder because there are so many influencing factors.  Rather than the type of symptom, are the number of proliferative psychiatric or medical symptoms that are diagnostically relevant. These multiple psychiatric symptoms appear to manifest as numerous comorbid Axis I and II diagnoses.  
Axis I:  Clinical disorders, including major mental disorders, and learning disorders
<!–[if !supportLists]–>          <!–[endif]–>Axis II: Personality disorders and mental retardation (although developmental disorders, such as Autism, were coded on Axis II in the previous edition, these disorders are now included on Axis I)

Axis I disorders – Clinical ( Mental ) Disorders are used to report various disorders or conditions, as well as noting other conditions that may be a focus of clinical attention. Clinical Disorders are identified into 14 categories, including:  Anxiety Disorders, Childhood Disorders, Cognitive Disorders, Dissociative Disorders, Eating Disorders, Factitious Disorders, Impulse Control Disorders, Mood Disorders, Psychotic Disorders, Sexual and Gender Identity Disorders, Sleep Disorders, Somatoform Disorders, and Substance-Related Disorders. Other conditions, known as Adjustment Disorders, may also be a focus of clinical attention includeMedication-Induced Movement Disorders, Relational Problems, Problems Related to Abuse or Neglect, Noncompliance with Treatment, Malingering, Adult Antisocial Behavior, Child or Adolescent Antisocial Behavior, Age-Related Cognitive Decline, Bereavement, Academic Problem, Occupational Problem, Identity Problem, Religious or Spiritual Problem, Acculturation Problem, and Phase of Life Problem.

Axis II disorders – Personality Disorders and Mental Retardation are recorded so the clinician will give consideration to additional intervention and treatment choices. Personality is the qualities and traits of being a specific and unique individual. It is the enduring pattern of our thoughts, feelings, and behaviors, it is how we think, love, feel, make decisions and take actions. Personality is determined, in part, by our genetics and also, by our environment. It is the determining factor in how we live our lives. Individuals with Personality Disorders have more difficulty in every aspect of their lives. Their individual personality traits reflect ingrained, inflexible, and maladaptive patterns of behaviors that cause discomfort, distress and impair the individual’s ability to function in the daily activities of living. In Mental Retardation problems in brain development have usually occurred and virtually will affect all aspects of the individual’s cognitive functioning. Borderline Intellectual Functioning, as well as Learning Disabilities, may also be a consideration for clinical focus.
Common Axis II disorders:

Antisocial Personality Disorder.
Avoidant Personality Disorder.
Borderline Personality Disorder.
Dependent Personality Disorder.
Histrionic Personality Disorder.
Mental Retardation.
Narcissistic Personality Disorder.
Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder.
Paranoid Personality Disorder.
Personality Disorder Not Otherwise Specified.
Schizoid Personality Disorder.
Schizotypal Personality Disorder.
I’ve mentioned co-morbid symptoms before as I have a metric butt-ton of these: Clinical Depression, General Anxiety Disorder, Eating Disorder (Bulimia), Dissociative Disorder, Sleep disturbance, Sexual/Gender Identification ‘issues’ (I don’t find this to be an issue at all), and possibly substance abuse problems (alcohol). Not to mention the obvious DSM criteria that qualify me for the Axis II Borderline Personality diagnosis.
When there are so many issues, so many overwhelming features to BPD it’s not at all surprising that it’s difficult for someone with BPD to act responsibly. It’s a lot to keep in mind, a lot to try to reign in. These are not issues that can be flipped on and off like a light switch, easily kept in check. You don’t get to choose when your emotions affect you, or how they affect you. And this CAN happen at the flip of a trigger in almost any situation. All of these things contribute to what makes BPD so difficult to control, and that lack of control comes out when we don’t want it to.