borderline personality disorder myths
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Borderline Personality Disorder Myths

by Patty E. Fleener M.S.W.


Many myths about the borderline personality disorder are prevalent in our society not only among lay people, but mental health professionals as well. These myths are a great obstacle in BPD treatment and some can make the condition worse. What are some of these myths?

I sat down and wrote out some common myths about the BPD but I would imagine there are at least hundreds more that are prevalent - things we hear from our Drs. and therapists, from our friends and families and some from old material written about the BPD before more was known.

  1.   People with BPD normally do not make sure of the mental health system.
  2.   People with BPD can never have a normal relationship.
  3.   As people with BPD age, they get worse or stay the same in every case.
  4.   It is unusual for a person with BPD to begin to avoid others and not invest as much emotionally in others as they age.
  5.   It is usually always easy for someone with BPD to find adequate treatment.
  6.   Families of people with this disorder overall are generally unaffected by the disorder.
  7.   There is no formal treatment or programs for families of people with BPD.
  8.   People with BPD experience normal REM sleep.
  9.   A person with this disorder can just stop doing BPD behaviors if they try hard enough.
  10.   A person can get better only by reading about this disorder.
  11.   BPD is a psychological disorder only.
  12.   It is agreed by experts that the BPD is truly a personality disorder and not something else.
  13.   Therapists should provide therapy for their BPD clients the same as all their other clients.
  14.   People with BPD self-mutilate only for attention.
  15.   People with BPD regulate their emotions normally.
  16.   If people with BPD would just make an effort their moods would be regulated.
  17.   Usually the first medication a person with this disorder takes works the best.
  18.   It is uncommon for these folks to take more than one medication.
  19. Having this disorder is permanent and you will always have it to the same degree that you do now. After all, it is an Axis II disorder and that alone means borderlines don't get better.
  20. You have a problem with your personality. You are flawed. The very name "Borderline Personality Disorder" is ALL reflective of what this disorder actually is.
  21. The BPD is caused only by abuse (physical, sexual or emotional).
  22. Those of us with the BPD need to go into psychotherapy and try to "remember" that trauma and feel the pain in order to resolve it.
  23. All borderlines are the same. They act the same way, feel the same way, etc.
  24. There is no such thing as the BPD. Borderlines are just manipulative, "bad" and hurt other people on purpose.
  25. Reasoning with a borderline about their behavior, thoughts or feelings will make a difference.
  26. Partners and families have some control over their loved one’s illness.
  27. Medication will not help borderlines. All psychotropic medications are addictive and borderlines are "weak" for taking medications.
  28. All prescribers know how to treat this disorder.
  29. All prescribers agree on how to treat this disorder.
  30. All clinicians agree on the etiology (cause) of the BPD.
  31. Everything is known that needs to be known about the BPD. No more research needs to be done.
  32. It is the borderline’s fault for having this disorder or it is always the parent’s fault.
  33. Borderlines shouldn’t forgive themselves for the "awful" things they did while in a rage or in depression. They were in total control during these episodes.
  34. Having the BPD means the person is "crazy."   
  35. The BPD means you have more than one personality.
  36. All borderlines need is medication. Therapy is not necessary. Or, the opposite. All the borderlines need is therapy as medication will not help.
  37. It is rare that borderlines will have other disorders such as AD(H)D, OCD, panic disorder, anxiety, bipolar disorder, migraines, irritable bowel disorder or other personality disorders.
  38. There is one set or combination of medications that will treat all people with this disorder. Every one with the BPD will improve on the same medications.
  39. You have to be a "cutter" to have the BPD.
  40. You have to have all of the criteria listed in the DSM IV.
  41. BPD's are manipulative.
  42. BPD is truly an Axis II Disorder just like it says in the DSM IV.
  43. BPD is not a medical disorder. Research is not baking this up now.
  44. Research is not finding genetic links to the BPD.
  45. Every person with the BPD goes on a "distortion campaign" against others.
  46. People with the BPD are known to lie.
  47. People with the BPD can't love.


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