Dispelling 4 Common Myths About Borderline Personality Disorder

When Sophie was diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder at age 38, it was like she had finally found a piece to a puzzle she had been looking for for years. “I had never heard of BPD before, but I read through the diagnostic description from my doctor and it was like looking at a photograph of myself. Everything suddenly made sense and I remember feeling such enormous relief and possibility. Then I went online to find out more and that was a huge a mistake. I read so much false, discouraging information that made me question whether or not I could ever get better. Even worse, I started to question whether or not I was worthy of recovery.”

Common myths regarding BPD contribute to the stigma, isolation, and confusion many people experience after being diagnosed with the disorder. Sometimes, the destructive mythology surrounding the diagnosis can cause serious emotional distress, shame, and hopelessness that add a new layer of suffering to an already fragile psychological state. Breaking through damaging misconceptions is critical to ensuring that you and your loved ones have an accurate understanding of your illness and your needs as well as the possibilities for recovery.

Myth #1: People With BPD Are Manipulative

In the eyes of those who do not have a fully articulated understanding of what BPD entails, some actions undertaken by those with the illness may indeed appear to be manipulative. However, people with BPD are not acting out of malice, but out of an intense desire to cope with overwhelmingly difficult feelings about both themselves and their relationships. What may be interpreted as manipulation is, in fact, an attempt to deal with an acute fear of abandonment, distrust, insecurity, and distress, often as the result of powerful formative traumas that leave you unable to spontaneously formulate healthy social responses. Viewing these complex responses as simply manipulation misses their true origin and intent and further marginalizes people living with BPD.

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Myth #2: People With BPD Cannot Have Genuine, Caring Relationships

BPD can indeed impact your ability to maintain healthy interpersonal relationships due to the emotional instability, fear of abandonment, and high degree of sensitivity brought on by the illness. However, the fact that BPD affects your social behaviors does not mean that you do not experience the genuine love, affection, warmth, and empathy of true and meaningful social bonds. Furthermore, not all people experience BPD in the same way; while some struggle to maintain relationships of any kind, others have close, meaningful friendships and partnerships that last a lifetime. Acknowledging the diverse range of experiences with BPD is critical to creating an inclusive community in which each person’s unique history is recognized and honored rather than flattened to fit a stereotype.

Myth #3: Borderline Personality Disorder is Untreatable

Many people—even clinicians—believe that BPD is not a treatable condition. Too often, this erroneous belief strips people diagnosed with BPD of hope and can negatively affect your ability to find compassionate, effective treatment. It is true that certain types of treatment are not effective for BPD, but research into specialized treatment modalities such as Dialectical Behavior Therapy reveals that treatment is not only possible, but can be remarkably effective and provide full remission of symptoms. One study examining the long-term outcome of treatment on 290 hospitalized patients with BPD found that 50% of patients experienced full recovery 10 years after initial treatment, 93% experienced remission lasting at least two years, and 86% experienced remission lasting at least three years. Patients who experience the benefits of multiple intensive therapies designed to address the full scope of their emotional and behavioral symptoms can offer real and lasting relief while improving social functioning, reducing mood disturbances, and creating a more cohesive sense of self.

Myth #4: People with BPD Don’t Adhere to Treatment

This is one of the most frustrating myths that I see perpetuated amongst clinicians. Yes, it is true that some people don’t adhere to treatment. However, given the negative reception many people with BPD have experienced in the medical community and the ineffective treatment many have been subjected to, non-adherence is not surprising. As one woman living with BPD points out, “It is hard to comply with something that does not feel aimed at helping you.” The fact is that many people with BPD live in a state of acute psychological pain and go to great lengths to relieve that pain in both positive and maladaptive ways; when given meaningful, effective treatment options within a supportive, compassionate environment of trust, empathy, and respect, people with BPD can and do commit to recovery and undergo profound personal transformation.

Beyond the Myths and Toward Healing

At Bridges to Recovery we offer one of the most sophisticated treatment programs in the world for people living with Borderline Personality Disorder. Using a multidisciplinary array of evidence-based therapeutic modalities, our experienced clinicians provide real avenues to healing designed to address your specific needs. Within the serene milieu of our accepting community, you can gain the self-awareness and skills you need to improve emotional regulation, discover your authentic self, and lay the foundation for sustainable inner tranquility to create lasting recovery. Together, we can work toward unlocking your true potential to allow you to live the life you want.

Bridges to Recovery offers innovative, comprehensive treatment for people living with Borderline Personality Disorder. Contact us to learn more about how we can help you or your loved one on the journey toward healing.