Clearing Up Misconceptions about Boderline Personality Disorder
> 3/15/2007 1:32:50 PM

Borderline personality disorder, a DSM IV Axis II diagnosis, is often misunderstood and incorrectly handled by members of the medical community. Those with the diagnosis can be challenging and frustrating, and therefore often have trouble finding a therapist who will work with them. Ivan Spielberg, LCSW, is the Director of Program Development at Treatment Online. He has been treating clients with Borderline Personality Disorder for over 10 years, and he has found that with a few rare exceptions, those clients with the borderline personality cluster have been some of the most rewarding and successful of his career.

As a diagnosis, Borderline Personality Disorder is more commonly found in women, and typically presents after adolescence or in early adulthood. While some sources (like the NIMH linked earlier) cite prevalence as high as 2% of Americans, Mr. Spielberg has found that the diagnosis is often applied too liberally in the field, typically with difficult patients. In reality, a majority of clients who have a borderline diagnosis fit into the category of high-functioning, meaning sometimes they don't even meet the exact criteria for a DSM-IV diagnosis (found here), but instead come very close, and find that the symptoms they do experience are very disruptive of their day to day lives.

The video that we present here is part one of a two part series examing the borderline personality diagnosis and the treatment that can help those afflicted with the disorder move toward a healthier life. In the following clip, Mr. Spielberg discusses the presentation of borderline personality disorder as well as some of the misconceptions that surround it. Tomorrow, look for part two in which Mr. Spielberg discusses different therapeutic strategies.


I was diagnosed with BPD traits in 2002. While I've been educating myself on the disorder to better understand myself, there is one thing I have a hard time with: the so-called brainwashing and abuse that someone with BPD inflicts on family, friends, partners, etc. I can say with all honesty that I do not fall under that description. My therapist will back this up. Everything that I've read about BPD makes those of us with the disorder seem like evil doers. We are seen as controlling, manipulative, and abusive. Why is that? I don't understand.
Posted by: Nancy 1/8/2008 8:39:57 AM

i had been diagnosed, i'm 31 years old, i'm latin
Posted by: mina 2/8/2008 6:54:07 AM

Well Nancy maybe you were misdiagnosed. People with personality disorders 'can' be controling, manipulative and abusive. There are very few separating behaviors between the different personality disorders, thus making it easy for someone to be put in the wrong category. Not anything I have ever read on these disorders has made me think those of you diagnosed are evil doers. The only info I have seen and read states traits and behaviors of the diagnosed proven by studies.
Posted by: amanda 2/23/2008 5:34:12 AM

Well, my sister has BPD and has been very accusatory and verbally abusive. She flies off the handle and always thinks the worse of me (and everyone else), and spews venom when things don't go her way. It sure makes BPD seem unpleasant, to say the least.
Posted by: cherie 3/31/2008 1:28:29 AM

Hi my name is Erik I am a 41 y.o. white male from the midwest. I have suffered with BPD and midrange paranoia all my adult and teenage life.Though 65% of people suffering from BPD are women, 35% are men. I can attest to some of the negative characteristics disclosed in earlier posts. But it isn't because a person is evil. It is because of their misinterpretting the situation and overacting for what ever reason. In my case having paranoia I didn't want ANY one around and treated close people bad in order to build walls. Believe me me now that I am in a much healthier place in my life, for the first time, there is a lot of guilt. People with BPD can recover and live a healthy life. But getting diagnosed early is a good idea. I did not realize that I had a problem until 2006. I was in denial of all the symptoms and didn't even know what BPD was before that. I have paid a heavy price as all areas of my life have suffered. Social, career, money, family, sexual, etc. Healthy wishes to those in recovery.
Posted by: erik m 4/10/2008 11:12:01 AM

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