What are the Symptoms of Borderline Personality Disorder?

I Hate You- Don't Leave Me, Understanding the Borderline Personality by Jerold J. Kreisman, MD and Hal Straus

Believe it or not, there are many famous people that are thought to have borderline personality disorders such as Marilyn Monroe, Jim Carrey, Princess Diana, and Anna Nicole Smith. Each of their lives at times was unmanageable and chaotic as they struggled with interpersonal relationships. Therefore, let’s delve deeper into the symptoms so that there is a better understanding of what they may experience on a daily basis. All of the following information is taken from the book I Hate You - Don’t Leave Me by Jerold J Kreisman, MD and Hal Straus and while we go through the symptoms, I want you to consider what it would be like to constantly feel the way borderline people feel on a daily basis.

Frantic efforts to avoid real or imagined abandonment - Borderline people cannot tolerate being in solitude, and the fear of abandonment, whether real or perceived, will have the person feeling severely depressed and then engaged with those around them. The loneliness felt produces panic that was experienced as a child when faced with being abandoned by their parents, the question becomes, “Who will take care of me?”

The Relentless Search for the right partner - Most people have a difficult time with the separation of a partner, but people with borderline personality disorder find separation intolerable while at the same time, experiencing a fear of intimacy which causes unstable relationships. Borderline people tend to be dependent, and clingy and will idealize a lover, spouse, or friend until that person frustrates them with a perceived rejection or indifference. Then they become explosive. So why the fear of intimacy when they long for closeness? Intimacy for them means that they will lose their sense of identity and autonomy, because they have no sense of self, and become engulfed by the other behaviors and characteristics of the other person.

Who Am I? - When you do not know who you are, your core values, beliefs, behaviors and culture, that can cause conflict within you. People with borderline personalities lack a constant core sense of identity and constantly re-evaluate and compare their own characteristics and behaviors against others. One minute they feel intelligent and the next when compared to others feel they are “the stupidest person around.”

The Impulsive Character - Borderline people may have sudden and contradictory behaviors because they react with strong momentary feelings. Their thoughts, perceptions and behaviors exist in isolation from what has occurred in the past and their hopefulness of the future. Therefore, because they do not look at historical patterns they will repeat similar impulsive mistakes are repeated again and again. Limited patience and the need for immediate gratification lead to negative coping skills. Alcohol and drugs can serve as a defense against feelings of loneliness and abandonment.

Self-Destruction - Suicidal threats and gestures are present because of their overwhelming depression and feeling of hopelessness together with their knack for manipulating others. According to the book I Hate You - Don’t Leave Me, 75% of people experiencing borderline personality disorders have a history of self-mutilation and a vast majority have made at least one suicidal attempt.

Radical Mood Shifts - Borderline individuals have abrupt and extreme mood shifts last for short periods of time - usually hours. Their mood is not generally calm or controlled but hyperactive, and uncontrollable or pessimistic, cynical and depressed. Their mood shifts in response to the immediate situation they are currently experiencing. Giddy one minute when they receive flowers from a partner, and angry the next when they receive an upsetting phone call.

Raging Bull - Inappropriate, intense anger or lack of control of anger is a persistent symptom of people with borderline personality disorder. The anger may be sparked by a situation, but it is the deeper underlying threat of disappointing others and being abandoned.

While not every one of these symptoms needs to be present, you will notice all of them are tied to the same fear; the fear of abandonment.