Borderline Personality Disorder

If you have never been in a relationship with a person who suffers from Borderline Personality Disorder ("BPD"), chances are you do not have a clue that Borderlines exist. (Borderline Personality Disorder is sometimes referred to as "Malformed Identity Disorder".) On the other hand, if you are in a relationship with a moderately severe to severe Borderline, that may explain why your life is a living hell and why you need to get help from several sources without delay.

Space does not permit an adequate explanation of what BPD is, its origins, how it destroys lives and family, or its prevalence in divorces nationwide. The purpose of this narrative is to alert you to the possibility that you may be in a relationship with a Borderline, and what to do if you are.

The DSM-IV sets out the following diagnostic criteria for BPD:

"A pervasive pattern of instability of interpersonal relationships, self-image, and affects, and marked impulsivity beginning by early adulthood and present in a variety of contexts, as indicated by five (or more) of the following:
1. frantic efforts to avoid real or imagined abandonment. Note: Do not include suicidal or self-mutilating behavior covered in Criterion 5.;
2. a pattern of unstable and intense interpersonal relationships characterized by alternating between extremes of idealization and devaluation;
3. identity disturbance: markedly and persistently unstable self-image or sense of self;
4. impulsivity in at least two areas that are potentially self-damaging (e.g., spending, sex, substance abuse, reckless driving, binge eating). Note: Do not include suicidal or self-mutilating behavior covered in Criterion 5.;
5. recurrent suicidal behavior, gestures, or threats, or self-mutilating behavior;
6. affective instability due to a marked reactivity of mood (e.g., intense episodic dysphoria, irritability, or anxiety usually lasting a few hours and only rarely more than a few days);
7. chronic feelings of emptiness;
8. inappropriate, intense anger or difficulty controlling anger (e.g., frequent displays of temper, constant anger, recurrent physical fights);
9. transient, stress-related paranoid ideation or severe dissociative symptoms."

Diagnosing someone as a Borderline is difficult at best even for a psychologist who has been extensively trained to recognize BPD. If you suspect you are involved in a relationship with a Borderline, selecting a psychologist who has the necessary background, skills, education, training, certifications, and experience to deal effectively with Borderlines is essential. Not only must the psychologist be adept in identifying and dealing with the Borderline, he or she must be able to communicate this fact and its effects on the family to the court in a way that the court can make use of the information. This process is time consuming, stressful, expensive, fraught with pitfalls for the unwary, and the outcome is uncertain at best.

For these reasons, you must prepare yourself for a long, painful process.

"Going it alone" is not an option.

If you want to explore whether you may be in a relationship with a Borderline, start getting the help you need now. is a clearinghouse website devoted to people who are Borderline as well as people who find themselves in a relationship with a Borderline.

A number of books are also available such as: "Stop Walking on Eggshells; Coping When Somebody You Care About Has Borderline Personality Disorder" and "Stop Walking on Eggshells Workbook: Practical Strategies for Living with Someone Who Has Borderline Personality Disorder" both by Paul T. Mason and Randi Kreiger; "Understanding the Borderline Mother: Helping Her Children Transcend the Tense, Unpredictable, and Volatile Relationship" by Dr. Christine Ann Lawson; and "The Borderline Personality: Vision and Healings" by Dr. Nathan Schwartz-Salant.

We urge you to read these books and explore the Borderline's world, and review our list of Typical Borderline Personality Disorder Behaviors, which is intended to help those who find themselves in a relationship with a Borderline. These resources could save your life, your children's lives, and maybe even your marriage. If you discover you are involved with a Borderline, these resources will validate your experience, innoculate you somewhat against the Borderline's destructive behavior, and empower you to make whatever decisions are necessary for you to move on with your life and out of harm's way.