Helpline 1800 18 7263
 

Five things people get wrong about BPD

Melissa Wilson Date: 03/01/2017
Share
Email a Friend Email a Friend Share on Twitter Share on Facebook
Five things people get wrong about BPD

Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) is a commonly misunderstood condition that carries a lot of stigma. Misconceptions about BPD can stop people seeking treatment and influence the way people with BPD are treated by others.

So what are these common misconceptions? And what facts can we use to correct them?

BPD is a personality flaw

Everyone has a unique personality with their own set of characteristics. These characteristics influence the way we think, feel, act and relate to the world around us.

A personality disorder is a long-standing pattern that influences the way people relate to the world. This can cause great distress and difficulties in relationships and reaching life goals.

A diagnosis of BPD, or any other personality disorder, does not mean the person’s personality is flawed, rather, it means the person has a different way of relating to the world. This can cause distress and impair functioning in different areas of life.

BPD only affects females

It is a common stereotype that only women suffer from BPD.

While a larger percentage of females are diagnosed, around 25% of diagnoses made are for males. Some evidence suggests this statistic is biased and the ratio of females to males with the condition may be more equally distributed than first believed.

BPD is caused by childhood trauma

Research has found multiple factors that can predispose someone to develop BPD. These include environmental factors such as attachment, childhood trauma and temperament, biological factors such as genetics and neurobiology, and sociocultural factors.

While childhood trauma has been suggested as one of the possible causes of BPD, it is important to recognise that not everyone with BPD has experienced childhood trauma. A combination of these factors are often experienced by people diagnosed with BPD.

People with BPD are manipulative and attention-seeking

Behaviour displayed by people diagnosed with BPD is often viewed and labeled as being manipulative or attention-seeking in nature. However, this is not the case. The behaviour is often impulsive and a way for the person to try and meet their needs.

For behaviour to be considered manipulative there needs to be an element of preplanning, this is not the case in BPD as behaviour is often an impulse in response to intense emotion. For example, an individual may experience intense anxiety about being left alone and may respond by begging the person to stay or physically stopping the person from leaving.

BPD is untreatable

It was originally thought that BPD was untreatable due to poor treatment outcomes and the misconception that it is part of someone’s personality and cannot be changed. This is not the case. There are a range of psychological therapies that have been researched and deemed to be effective in the treatment of BPD.

The most commonly used therapy for BPD is Dialectial Behavioural Therapy (DBT), which was developed to assist people experiencing chronic suicidality and difficulties with regulating or managing emotions. There are a number of other therapies that are used in the treatment of BPD and sometimes a combination of these therapies can be helpful.

By learning more about BPD and understanding these misconceptions we can begin to breakdown the stigma that surrounds this illness, empowering people to seek support and treatment for the condition.

For more information about Borderline Personality Disorder see the SANE BPD factsheet and guide, watch Stephanie's story, or read 'Living with BPD: the facts'.

Melissa is a SANE Help Centre Advisor.

Last updated: 10 January, 2017

Crisis resources

Kids Helpline

1800 55 1800

Lifeline

13 11 14

Suicide Callback Service

1300 659 467

Call 000 for urgent medical attention or police attendance

Facts & guides

facts and guides

Get the facts on mental illness. Detailed information about treatments, support, and helping yourself & others.

More to discover

The SANE blog

Stories and day-to-day issues affecting people living with mental illness.

your questions answered

Your questions answered

Advice from people with lived experience, carers and the SANE Help Centre.

People like us

People who live with mental illness, their families, friends and carers, in their own words.

hands legs and phone

SANE Forums

Peer support for people living with a mental illness and their carers.