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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 others are
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.

About the Author

David Oliver is the founder of a one stop source of information on how to cope and deal with borderline personality disorder.

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Cutting and other forms of self-mutilation may be hard for many people to understand. People who self-harm are more likely to have an underlying emotional problems, such as Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD). According to a study by German researchers, people with BPD may engage in self-injury because they get a sense of emotional relief from physical pain. BPD is a complex set of... Read More

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