Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) is a Cluster B disorder that is characterized by black and white thinking, emotional lability, problems with one’s identity, and unstable personal relationships. A person may also engage in self destructive acts, such as trying to commit suicide, cutting oneself, excessive sex, and drinking and drug use (Barlow, Durand, Stewart, & Lalumiere, 2014).
Mary is a 40- year old woman who has a history of unstable relationships. She has found it very hard to keep friendships, her life always filled with drama and chaos. What often starts out as a passionate relationship with a man for Mary, as she states that she has finally found the one, usually changes quickly. When this switch happens, Mary says horrible things about her boyfriend and ends up dumping him in a dramatic fashion. Then, she will want him back and threaten to kill herself if he does not come back. Mary goes through periods where she gets fired, decides that she wants to work in an unrealistic job, and stays out drinking all night.
Dialetical Behavior Therapy (DBT) is one treatment that may work. It focuses on changing a person’s negative thoughts, but also first accepting one’s thoughts without judging them. It uses some Cognitive Behavioral Therapy techniques. DBT also includes group therapy, so that patients can change the way that they relate to people (Barlow, Durand, Stewart, & Lalumiere, 2014). The patient may change negative behaviors, such as constantly calling the therapist, manipulating people, and pitting them against each other. Hopefully, this will result in Mary making more stable decisions. Individual psychodynamic therapy is another treatment. Since many patients with BPD have had some abuse, trauma, or abandonment in childhood, psychodynamic treatment may help Mary discover how unresolved childhood issues are contributing to stormy relationships and keeping their lives in turmoil. Hopefully, Mary can gain insight into how her past has created her instability and change her cognitions, so she can change her behaviors. If she can take more time to think about her thoughts and emotions before reacting, she will probably make healthier choices in her life.
- Barlow, D., Durand, M., Stewart, S., & Lalumiere, L. (2014). Abnormal Psychology. Toronto : Nelson Education.