Borderline Personality Disorder Symptoms

The symptoms of borderline personality disorder include: a recurring pattern of instability in relationships, efforts to avoid abandonment, identity disturbance, impulsivity, emotional instability, and chronic feelings of emptiness, among other symptoms.

The main feature of borderline personality disorder (BPD) is a prevalent pattern of instability in interpersonal relationships, self-image, and emotions. People with borderline personality disorder are also usually very impulsive, oftentimes demonstrating self-injurious behaviors (e.g., risky sexual behaviors, cutting, or suicide attempts).

Borderline personality disorder occurs in most people by early adulthood. The unstable pattern of interacting with others in this condition has persisted for years and is usually closely related to the person’s self-image and early social interactions. The behavior pattern is present in a variety of settings (e.g., not just at work or home) and often is accompanied by a similar lability (fluctuating back and forth, sometimes in a quick manner) of a person’s emotions and feelings.

People with borderline personality disorder are usually more sensitive than most people to environmental circumstances. The perception of impending separation or rejection, or the loss of external structure, can lead to profound changes in self-image, affect, cognition, and behavior.

They experience intense abandonment fears and inappropriate anger, even when faced with a realistic time-limited separation or when there are unavoidable changes in plans. For instance, a person with this condition may experience sudden despair in reaction to a clinician’s announcing the end of the hour; or panic and fury when someone important to them is just a few minutes late or must cancel an appointment. They may believe that this “abandonment” implies that they are a “bad person.” These abandonment fears are related to an intolerance of being alone and a need to have other people with them. Relationships and the person’s emotions may sometimes be seen by others or characterized as being shallow.


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