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Borderline Personality Disorder in Summary

Updated on August 22, 2014

Borderline personality disorder is characterized by impulsiveness, unstable interpersonal relationships, poor self-esteem and self-image, and erratic moods (American Psychiatric Association, 2000; Butcher, Mineka, & Hooley, 2012).

The individual who embodies the traits of this personality disorder may react to external stimuli in an impulsive, and often inappropriate manner (Butcher et al., 2012). Solid examples of these reactions include behaviors aimed at self-destruction such as gambling, suicide attempts, and cutting of the body (Butcher et al., 2012). The latter example is very well-known of “EMO” adolescents, and the usual area cut is the wrists, and sometimes the legs.

One starting point would be to assess the psychosocial factors that may be contributing to the personality disorder, as these can augment any biological diathesis (Butcher et al., 2012). This can build a foundation from which to base further treatment, as it may discover traumatic experiences that either enhanced the personality disorder, or essentially brought it into being (Butcher et al., 2012).

From there, I would address two of the primary factors that drive self harm; impulsivity and affective instability (Butcher et al., 2012).

Given the causal factors with this personality disorder, it would be prudent to attend to those are within the clinician’s control. The biological factors are likely to be present, but other learned behaviors will likely accompany them (Butcher et al., 2012).

The diagnosis of Borderline Personality Disorder would inform the treating clinician in understanding what psychosocial factors may have played a part in the development and severity of the disorder, as well as what presenting symptoms that are most sever, and should be primarily addressed.


American Psychiatric Association. (2000). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (4th ed., text revision). Washington, DC: Author.

Butcher, J.N., Mineka, S., & Hooley, J.M. (2012). Psychology (Laureate Education, custom 14th ed.). Boston, MA: Allyn & Bacon.


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