Understanding Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD)

Understanding Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD)

Understanding Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD)

This is one post in a series of posts from The Smith Firm regarding personality disorders in marriage and divorce. This series is directed to those leaving a narcissistic relationship and the challenges that may be present in leaving, staying gone, and thriving after. We hope this helps those who are going through this. If you are experiencing symptoms of depression, suicide, or any of the symptoms identified, we recommend you contact a mental health professional or call 988 to connect with someone immediately.

Divorce is often the product of personality differences, but when actual personality disorders are involved, the divorce process can be made more difficult by the disorder. Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD), along with Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD), should be identified and considered as the process proceeds, both for the divorce process and the divorcing spouse’s well-being.

What is Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD)

BPD is characterized by emotional instability, intense relationships, and a fragile sense of self. Individuals with BPD may struggle with mood swings, impulsivity, and a pervasive fear of abandonment. Dr. John M. Oldham, a renowned psychiatrist, states that “people with BPD often experience rapid, intense, and unstable emotions,” making interpersonal relationships challenging.

In divorce proceedings, clients dealing with a partner with BPD may encounter difficulties due to unpredictable emotional responses and impulsive decision-making. It’s essential to approach the situation with empathy and considerate legal guidance.

Borderline Personality Disorder is a mental health condition characterized by a pattern of instability in interpersonal relationships, self-image, and emotions. Individuals with BPD often experience intense and rapid mood swings, making it challenging for them to maintain stable relationships. While the symptoms can vary in intensity, some common features of BPD include:

  • Intense and Unstable Relationships: People with BPD may have difficulty forming and maintaining stable, healthy relationships. They often experience intense and tumultuous interpersonal dynamics, marked by idealization and devaluation of others.
  • Fear of Abandonment: Individuals with BPD typically have a pervasive fear of being abandoned by loved ones. This fear can lead to frantic efforts to avoid real or perceived abandonment, even in situations where it may not be warranted.
  • Unstable Self-Image: A distorted and unstable self-image is a hallmark of BPD. Individuals may struggle with a lack of clear identity, self-worth, and a sense of direction in life. This can lead to frequent changes in goals, values, and career aspirations.
  • Impulsivity: Impulsive behavior is common in individuals with BPD. This can manifest in various ways, such as reckless driving, substance abuse, binge eating, or unsafe sexual practices. These impulsive actions are often attempts to cope with emotional distress.
  • Recurrent Suicidal Behavior or Self-Harm: People with BPD may engage in self-destructive behaviors, such as self-harm or suicidal gestures. These actions are often linked to intense emotional pain and a desperate need for relief.
  • Extreme Mood Swings: Emotional instability is a defining feature of BPD. Individuals may experience intense and rapidly changing emotions, including anger, sadness, anxiety, and irritability. These mood swings can last for a few hours to a few days.
  • Chronic Feelings of Emptiness: Individuals with BPD may describe feeling empty or bored persistently. This emotional emptiness can contribute to impulsive behaviors as individuals seek to fill the void.
  • Inappropriate, Intense Anger: People with BPD may struggle with intense and inappropriate anger, often in response to perceived rejection or criticism. The anger can be difficult to control and may lead to destructive behaviors.
  • Dissociation: Some individuals with BPD may experience episodes of dissociation, where they feel disconnected from their thoughts, feelings, or even their own body. This can be a way of coping with overwhelming emotions or stress.

It’s important to note that not everyone with BPD will exhibit all of these symptoms, and the severity of symptoms can vary. Additionally, these symptoms can be challenging for individuals with BPD to manage on their own, often requiring therapeutic intervention and support. If you or someone you know is experiencing symptoms of BPD, seeking professional help from a mental health professional is recommended.

The Smith Firm attorneys understand the issues faced by a husband or wife living with a spouse with a personality disorder and we are prepared to help you navigate the issues unique to your situation. Contact us at (405) 843-1000 or confidentially at firm@thesmithfirm.net.