Sometimes we watch a news show that features a daily commentary called “Worst Person in the World.” During this segment, the reporter chooses a few people who’ve said or done something that he thinks deserves his haughty contempt. Not so long ago, many mental health professionals may have labeled people with borderline personality disorder (BPD) as “Worst Patients in the World.”
Until recently, no one knew which treatments really help people with BPD. Furthermore, people with BPD are incredibly scary to treat because they tend to have a lot of rage directed at themselves, the people they care about, the world, and even their doctors and therapists. Borderline rage can occur anywhere and anytime. Mental health professionals want to protect and help their clients, but people with BPD are hard to keep safe and frequently block therapists’ best efforts. In fact, about 75 percent of people who have BPD hurt themselves in some way, and one out of ten succeed in suicide.
On the other hand, if you’re lucky enough to treat, know, or care about someone with BPD, you may want to consider that person one of the “Best People in the World.” People with BPD can be highly intelligent, enthusiastic, and kind. Some therapists find that persistent effort over time results in a surprisingly gratifying metamorphosis in their patients with BPD.
The contrast between the good and bad in a person with BPD is like the contrast between black and white. Or, as Henry Wadsworth Longfellow said about the girl with the curl in the middle of her forehead:
When she was good,
She was very good indeed,
But when she was bad she was horrid.
About This Book
If you or someone you care about suffers from BPD, we appreciate the challenges and painful obstacles you face. The purpose of this book is to provide a comprehensive look at the symptoms, causes, and treatment of BPD. We strive to help people who have BPD and those people who care about them gain understanding about this complicated mental illness. Because treating BPD requires professional intervention, this book isn’t designed as a standalone self-help program. However, you can certainly use it as an adjunct to psychotherapy. We share the belief with other professionals that clients benefit from being informed about their disorders, the suspected causes, and the treatments that work.
An Important Message to Our Readers
People with BPD often have greatly heightened sensitivity to criticism and disapproval. Thus, we’re aware that a few of you are likely to take offense to the For Dummies part of this book’s title. From time to time, people approach us and express concern about the meaning of For Dummies. We understand the concern. Borderline Personality Disorder For Dummies is our sixth psychology book in the For Dummies series. Our intent is to produce books that cover topics that an intelligent audience wants to know about without all the jargon and the technicalities.
Thus, we humbly offer you a clear, comprehensive overview of BPD. We vow to make this coverage serious and in-depth.
PLEASE NOTE: If you would like to receive a bibliography of selected background literature relevant to this book, please CONTACT US.
How This Book Is Organized
We divide Borderline Personality Disorder For Dummies into seven parts with 28 chapters, plus two appendixes. Here’s a brief overview of each part.
Part I: Mapping the Boundaries of Borderline Personality Disorder
Part I introduces you to the notion of personality and its connection to BPD. Chapter 2 takes a close look at the characteristics that make up a healthy versus an unhealthy personality. Chapter 3 provides an overview of the symptoms of BPD compared to the symptoms of other types of personality disorders, such as paranoid, narcissistic, and obsessive-compulsive personality disorders. We also discuss some of the other emotional problems that often accompany BPD. Chapter 4 describes the cultural, biological, and psychological causes of BPD.
Part II: Taking Note of the Major BPD Symptoms
The six chapters in this part explore the major areas of dysfunction associated with BPD: impulsivity, emotional dysregulation, identity problems, relationship conflicts, thinking styles, and difficulties in perception. This material helps you more fully appreciate the magnitude of the issues that people with BPD must deal with in their everyday lives. If you have BPD, this understanding can help you identify the key areas of your life that you may need to work on. If you care about someone who has BPD, this in-depth exploration can clear up the confusion you’ve probably been experiencing for a long time.
Part III: Making the Choice to Change
Part III prepares you for treating or dealing with BPD. People with BPD and their loved ones need to know what treatments are available and which ones mental health professionals have found to be effective. Chapter 11 reviews the types of BPD treatment and the various mental health professionals available to provide these treatments. Chapter 12 describes the common obstacles that people must overcome before engaging in treatment. Chapter 13 illustrates how to explain BPD to other people and helps you decide just how much you want to reveal to whom. Chapter 14 looks at keeping physically healthy during the treatment process.
Part IV: Treatments for BPD
In this part, we draw from the various treatment strategies that professionals have found to be effective for BPD and apply them to the core areas of dysfunction that people with BPD exhibit. Chapter 15 discusses how to address problems associated with impulsivity, including self-harm and risk taking. Chapter 16 shows various strategies for improving your ability to regulate out-of-control emotions. Chapter 17 reviews ways to develop a clear sense of identity. Chapter 18 takes a look at how people with BPD can improve their abilities to put themselves in other people’s shoes. Chapter 19 provides ways to form more adaptive states of mind and new types of thinking. Finally, Chapter 20 discusses some of the medication options associated with treating BPD.
Part V: Advice for People Who Care
This part is for people who encounter others who have BPD. Chapter 21 tells partners how to set limits and relate more effectively to the ones they care about who have BPD. Chapter 22 speaks to people who have friends with BPD. Chapter 23 discusses what parents who may have adolescents with emerging BPD can do and what they need to look for in their kids. Chapter 24 talks to adults who grew up with BPD parents and attempts to show them how to relate and better understand their parents. Finally, Chapter 25 talks to mental health professionals who treat people with BPD.
Part VI: The Part of Tens
This part gives you some quick tips on calming hot emotions. We also tell you ten ways to say you’re sorry. Finally, we list ten things not to do when you’re trying to overcome your BPD.
Part VII: Appendixes
Appendix A offers numerous resources for more information and help. Appendix B provides several blank forms and exercises that we reference in other parts of the book.