By Victoria Kuczynski
In the Friends for Mental Health library, you can find a variety of books on mental health issues. From such a variety of books offered, I would like to present a summary about a book that clearly explains Borderline personality disorder. Although it is intended for the ill person to understand their illness you will find it very useful. Robert O. Friedel, author of Borderline Personality Disorder Demystified, wrote this book to describe borderline personality disorder (BPD) which is often misunderstood. He offers not only information about BPD, but also hope to families and the ill person by acknowledging the availability of treatments for BPD. He explains that BPD symptoms can be categorized into four groups of behavioral disturbances:
- 1. Emotional regulation,
- 2. Impulsivity,
- 3. Impaired perception and reasoning
- 4. Markedly disturbed relationships.
Friedel acknowledges that the behavioural disturbances that characterize BPD can be controlled through therapy and medication; however, he also stresses the importance for the ill person to take responsibility and follow through with their treatment plan. If you suspect someone in your life is suffering from BPD, or you have received a diagnosis of BPD, this guide is a good place to start learning about BPD. A person suffering from BPD experiences daily emotional struggles with dramatically fluctuating emotions throughout the day. For example, when you get into a conflict with a loved one, you may feel intense frustration and anger towards that person, but you are able to say to yourself that you will address the situation at a later time. This would be a healthy coping strategy and a good way to self-soothe. On the other hand, your loved one suffering from BPD struggles to perceive the situation in the same manner, instead they will act on their anger and often rather than using healthy coping mechanisms, will use maladaptive coping strategies, such as drinking, gambling, self-harming.
A person suffering from BPD desperately fears the idea of any separation whether it is from a family member, therapist or friend. They view the physical departure of the person as evidence of real or perceived abandonment. They may only feel comforted and loved when the person to whom they have attached themselves is present. A person suffering from BPD not only experiences extremes in emotions but also in cognitive processing. They tend to have rigid opinions and often view others as being all good or all bad. When the loved one is caring, supportive and present, that person is great! When the loved one leaves, disapproves of something or disagrees, this person is viewed as being evil and uncaring. They struggle to view other people in a balanced and nuanced way. Family members can help a person struggling with BPD by providing them with a structured, boundaried and calm home environment, as it will reduce the stress in the life of a person suffering from BPD. It also means more deep breaths when crisis arises, setting smaller more attainable goals for the person suffering from BPD, and communicating in a calm but firm manner when the crisis or conflict has subsided. However, this does not mean sweeping the disappointments or disagreements under the rug, by avoiding them for fear of the consequences of speaking up. Instead, conflict needs to be addressed in a clear and direct manner, without putting-down someone or blaming anyone. It is also helpful to set boundaries with your loved one about what is acceptable and what is not to you.