Borderline Personality Disorder In Teens : Is it really a Disorder?

3 years ago

What's in a Name?

Various therapists and many books characterize the name Borderline Personality Disorder as a misnomer as the name stems from the thought that the condition was on the frontier between between psychotic and neurotic behavior.  It was officially recognized in 1980 in the U.S. by the name Borderline Personality Disorder.  There are many experts concluding that the name has a negative connotation and thus makes diagnosising and treating the condition problematic.

Border Schmorder Who Cares?

I personally don't think the name is all that negative.  Before I knew more and starting living with the condition, I thought it was someone who was just on the fringe.  And frankly, that is not that inaccurate.  My daughter is volatile, has difficulty with impulse control, and has stormy interpersonal relationships.  At the same time, she is beautiful, clever, athletic, smart, articulate, and charismatic.  She isn't a complete disaster.  There is hope.  I like to think she just needs to straddle that fence a bit more and get back on our side where door slamming is regarded as immature and inappropriate.  I just don't have a problem with the name Borderline Personality.  Its the Disorder part that is negative.  Is it a disorder or is it just the way they are wired?  Like everyone, folks with Borderline Personality have personal biases, some negative some positive, that they need to recognize and sometimes adjust to live successfully with others.

What the Heck is It?

Various experts believe that writings in antiquity reference these types of personalities.  The condition was identified and written about since the 1930s in the U.S. with controlled research done in the 1980s looking at the biochemical, neurological, and genetic factors.  In 1993, Marsha Linehan introduced Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT), where, in my simple terms, the patient learns to see the other person's point of view and find middle ground in order to get along better in the world.  My daughter has done this technique and even did work books with this method.   We did therapy sessions three days a week, two with her alone and one with the whole family, and she did her work books on DBT at home in addition.  At the end of the day, the mental health community does not really know how to treat the condition nor what causes it.  And DBT didn't hurt but didn't get us very far.

The Knowledge Base is From a Cereal Box Somewhere

The range of opinions I have heard on the subject are amazing.  Even with a lack clear understanding on the matter, it is possible to be informed on what the condition looks like.  I have talked to mental health nurses, therapists, doctors who just have such a broad range of opinions on the subject that it does not seem that any education happens systematically in the industry.  Lots of folks think that someone with the disorder has crappy parents and that is why it occurs.  Which is why, a family seeking help is likely to be condemed by the therapist to whom they are asking for help.

In my quest for knowledge, I have read books, talked to doctors, programs, therapists, and friends in high places with an understanding of the situation.  I also have called researchers at Universities on the East and West Coast trying to gain some advantage.  I told one man nice enough to talk to me about his work that my daughter did not have a crappy childhood that caused this.  He said "I don't know anyone who has Borderline Personality Disorder because they came from an abusive household."  I love him.  

My daughter has a cousin who has the exact same thing and an Aunt who seems to have the same thing, only a bit milder.  Auntie still is punching people at the holidays if she does not get the food, or the seating, or whatever that she wants.  But she doesn't slam the door quite so much.  

The TV show Law & Order had an episode where the 'perp' had Borderline Personality Disorder and when queried by the investigative team, the resident Shrink indicated that she likely had the disorder because she didn't bond with her mother.  This is the kind of information that professionals in the mental health field have.  

And, lets face it, Freud said it all -- its the Mother, obviously.

Its a Trait, Not A Disorder

There are so many good things that are concurrent with this disorder and this disorder is so common, I can not imagine that God made a mistake.  People have biases.  Some people are co-dependent, relying on affirmation from others to feel good - they make great nurses.  Some people avoid risk and prefer to follow directions.  Some people are narcissistic; while not always right they like to get their way and can move an idea forward -- sometimes founding companies.  Some folks have Ausbergers Syndrome; they are super nerdy and can do great things in technology or researching statistics.  The point is, if everyone was super giving, or a follower, or a leader the planet would be a disaster.  We need all types.  

Borderline Personality in the Hunter Gather Period

People with Borderline Personality Trait are the ones that would tell the tribe that the food sources were low and the whole village needs to move.  And they would be the one to insist that Grandma can't make the trip but we're going anyway while insisting that no one is helping despite legions of folks packing the camels and cooking pots.  They get things cracking in their quest for immediate satisfaction.  And maybe the village elder would step in and coerce the offender into saying the same things a little more gently, without slamming the tent flap.

A Dingo is My Baby

The task for us is to figure out how to endorse and support the good qualities while encouraging the one with Borderline Personality Trait not to chew off the arm of their dinner companion.

This is an article written by a member of the SheKnows Community. The SheKnows editorial team has not edited, vetted or endorsed the content of this post. Want to join our amazing community and share your own story? Sign up here.
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