Borderline Personality Disorder Family Groups and Stigma
by Patty E. Fleener M.S.W.
The word "stigma" in Merriam Webster's
Collegiate Dictionary describes it as a mark of shame or discredit.
The borderline personality disorder (BPD) has a great deal of stigma
attached to it.
Most people don't even know what borderline personality disorder is
and if you tell them many think you have more than one personality.
You feel instantly stigmatized.
Should someone with diabetes feel shame about their disorder? No!
People with BPD have a biological disorder and I am getting really
tired of people saying it isn't, that it is this or that theory. Why
listen to theories? Get the latest research and get the facts. Be
aware also that if you read a book about the BPD, consider the time it
was written as well as the author's own opinions and theories.
There are actually people who profess they are extremely knowledgeable
about the borderline personality disorder in BPD email support groups
for families who give out this inaccurate information and having a
degree does not mean the person is knowledgeable about the BPD. Be
careful. There are some people, if they are angry enough at their
partner, will swallow up theories and misconceptions and stigma about
It is obvious in many of these BPD family groups that
the BPD is the enemy. This kind of thinking will keep a family member
stuck and not get into recovery themselves.
What is amazing is that some of the worst BPD stigma takes place right
here on the Internet in the "BPD community" in some BPD
Family "support" groups.
I recently went in, checked one out myself, and can honestly say that
it is the most dysfunctional "support group" I've seen on
the Internet. Every leader's letter that I read in that group was not
only full of false information about the BPD but it was filled with
tremendous BPD stigma and hate.
If you are a member of an online Borderline Personality Disorder Family Group and feel you are
getting accurate information about people with this disorder or about
the disorder itself, the etiology, it's treatment, etc., back up that information
with research. You can go to PubMed online and read the
research abstracts easily.
False information is worse than no information.
I have received many letters from people complaining about some of
these groups so all I can do is warn people. Unfortunately I think
possibly what happens is families come in extremely angry with their
person with BPD and someone teaching you to stigmatize BPDs and
encouraging hate feeds into your anger and makes you feel justified.
BPD is an a debilitating biological illness. People that have this disorder are not bad. They
need help. This disorder is treatable. If the BPD in your life is a
spouse and does not get help and you are not happy, what keeps you
surrounded with negativity in the groups? You need to get the focus
off of the BPD and back on you and decide what you want to do with
YOUR life. Making your BPD spouse BLACK and constantly complaining
while that person doesn't change doesn't sound healthy to me and keeps
your life miserable.
If your partner DOES want to change, he/she needs every bit of support
that you can give. I can guarantee being in some of these groups is
not the place to be. I was there and I read the archives. There is a
tremendous amount of negative energy there. You need to be in a
setting where positive energy is being given to you so that you can in
turn give that to your partner. We are talking about mental illness,
not alcoholism where you partner has a choice not to drink every day.
Those people in those letters are not you and they are not your
partner. There is not one person with the BPD that is alike. Yet in
that group they are discussed as if they are one and the same, as if
their behaviors are all alike. For example, many people with BPD have never
held on to anyone's personal possessions. There is an "all or
nothing" feeling in that group.
UPDATE: (10/03) A BPD
Family Email Support Group has been started and is
supervised by myself. Families will be encouraged to keep most of the
focus on themselves and do the things that will help promote healing.
Also check out another person's
article about this same issue.
Other Today Websites
Mental Health Matters for information
and articles. Get
help to find
a therapist or list
your practice; and Psych
Forums for message boards on a variety of MH topics.
Copyright © Patty Fleener, M.S.W. All