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Traits of Borderline Personality Disorder
The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders – Fourth Edition
(DSM-IV), published by the American Psychiatric Association, lists nine traits
of Borderline Personality Disorder. For a diagnosis of Borderline Personality
Disorder, you must have five out of nine. The first two traits are traits
involving emotions; traits three and four involve behavior; traits five and six
involve identity; and traits seven, eight, and nine involve relationships.
Following is a list of the nine traits characteristic of Borderline
Personality Disorder, along with a breakdown of the traits, and a short
discussion of each:
Traits involving emotions:
Quite frequently people with Borderline Personality Disorder have a very hard
time with control of their emotions – they may even feel ruled by them.
1. Shifts in mood lasting only a few hours.
2. Anger that is inappropriate, intense or uncontrollable.
Traits involving behavior:
3. Self-destructive acts (such as self-mutilation) or suicidal threats that
happen more than once.
4. Two potentially impulsive, self-damaging behaviors (could include alcohol
and/or drug abuse, gambling, compulsive spending, compulsive sexual behavior,
eating disorders, shoplifting, and/or reckless driving).
Traits involving identity:
5. Marked, persistent identity disturbance shown by uncertainty in at least two
areas (could include self-image, friendships, sexual orientation, career choice
or other long-term goals, and/or values). People with BPD may not feel like they
know who they are, what they think, what their opinions are, or what religion
they should be. Instead, they may try to be what they think other people want
them to be. [Someone with BPD said, "I have a hard time figuring out my
personality. I tend to be whomever I'm with."]
6. Chronic feelings of emptiness or boredom.
Traits involving relationships:
7. Unstable, chaotic, intense relationships characterized by splitting (self and
seen as "all good" or "all bad.").
8. Frantic efforts to avoid real or imagined abandonment
Alternating clinging and distancing behaviors (wanting to be close to someone,
but when getting close it feels too close and then they feel like they have to
get some space) – this happens often. Great difficulty trusting people and
themselves (early trust may have been shattered by people who were close to
them). Sensitivity to criticism or rejection. Feeling of "needing" someone else
to survive. Heavy need for affection and reassurance.
9. Transient, stress-related, paranoid ideation or severe dissociative
symptoms.–feeling "out of it," or not being able to remember what they said or
did. This mostly happens in times of severe stress.
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