Abnormal Psychology: Mental Health and Mental Illness

Disorders of Personality

What is Borderline Personality Disorder?

Borderline Personality Disorder, in its full form, is one of the most severe of the DSM personality disorders. Classified as a Cluster B personality disorder, it is characterized by highly erratic and tempestuous behavior. To meet criteria for the DSM-IV diagnosis, the person must meet at least five of the following criteria: frantic efforts to avoid real or imagined abandonment; a pattern of very intense and unstable interpersonal relationships with swings between idealizing and devaluing others; identity disturbance reflected in a strikingly unstable sense of self; marked impulsivity in at least two areas (e.g., sex, substance abuse, binge eating); recurrent suicidal behavior, gestures or threats, or self-mutilating behavior (such as cutting or burning the self without intent to die); chronic feelings of emptiness; poorly regulated anger with inappropriate anger outbursts; and transient and stress-induced paranoid ideation or severe dissociative symptoms. Much research has linked Borderline Personality Disorder with a history of severe trauma, such as childhood sexual abuse, although not all people with this disorder report such histories.


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