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Four Primary Forms of Borderline Personality Disorder

Updated on March 24, 2015
Cynthianne profile image

Cynthianne has a B.S. in Psychology and is licensed in Astrology. She is autistic, as are three of her children.

Pictures Are Used With Permission by Sarah Cluck
Pictures Are Used With Permission by Sarah Cluck | Source

Does This Fit You or Someone You Love?

Do sudden; out of proportion emotions seem to run your life, or that of the ones you love? Do you feel disdain and anger toward someone whom you love and respect, leaving you confused as to how you can feel that way? Does reading negative words trigger fits of rage? Read on, you may have Borderline Personality Disorder. There is hope though, through therapies and support, a person with Borderline Personality Disorder can live a normal life.

Emotions and Reactions

Do you or someone in your life seem out of control? One minute they are sweet and kind, and then as if something overcame them, they are angry and saying things they would not say when in the kind mode. Perhaps this person seems like they have two different personalities but yet, they are the same person. Perhaps this person is you. You cannot understand why you can read a negative word and get so angry, unrealistically so. Or why you get so angry and out of sorts over every day negative situations. You may think you have an anger problem, but yet you feel so empty and lost, how could you have an anger problem and feel so lost? Maybe you get angry and then do not care about it, you try to go on with life while those that you just fought with are reeling with pain and shock at your reaction. You may not know why you are like this but feel something needs to change. You may learn you have Borderline Personality Disorder.

Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) is a mental disorder that is relatively new in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition, Text Revision or DSM-IV-TR. The diagnosis of BPD involves history of symptoms and exclusion of other mental and physical health disorders.


Pictures Are Used With Permission by Sarah Cluck
Pictures Are Used With Permission by Sarah Cluck | Source

Common Symptoms Prior to Diagnosis

  • Difficulty keeping emotions and thoughts regular
  • Impulsivity
  • Reckless behavior
  • Unstable relationships, worse with those they love
  • They can also have depression, anxiety, suicidal thoughts

Though these basic symptoms may lead a person for diagnosis and treatment, it is only the beginning of the official diagnosis. There are four types or levels of Borderline Personality Disorder.

The Four Main Types

Here are the four types of borderline personality disorder and their symptoms. It is important to keep in mind that these symptoms are not temporary as one would expect after a romantic break-up or a fight with a friend, but these are lasting symptoms. These symptoms you can depend on reoccurring on a regular basis, oftentimes without warning.

Discouraged Borderline:

  • Clingy
  • Dependent on others
  • Moody and somber, quiet, wallflower
  • Follows the popular crowd
  • Follows the crowd most likely to get attention, good or bad
  • Angry inside at those she/he loves the most
  • Tendency to explode with angry emotions
  • Violence to self, mutilation
  • Suicide threats, thoughts and completed

Impulsive Borderline:

  • Thrill seekers
  • Easily bored
  • Always seeking attention
  • Unpredictable
  • Life of the party
  • Overly flirtatious
  • Tendency to get themselves in trouble

Petulant Borderline:

  • Irritable
  • Impatient
  • Unpredictable
  • Defiant
  • Stubborn
  • Explosive anger
  • Needy, clingy then distant and cold

Self-Destructive Borderline:

  • Impulsive
  • Self mutilating
  • Self-hatred,
  • Engaging in dangerous sexual relationships
  • Other behaviors such as cutting because of self hate

People with borderline personality disorder are charismatic and usually the life of the party. They are also known as the one who can be relied on to start an argument and then return to their normal self as if nothing happened.

The Quiet, Discouraged One

Pictures Are Used With Permission by Sarah Cluck
Pictures Are Used With Permission by Sarah Cluck | Source

Other Symptoms That Can Be Seen at All Levels

  • Extreme reactions to thoughts of abandonment, whether it is threatened or not
  • Panic
  • Rage
  • Frantic behavior
  • A person with BPD has rough relationships with family and friends, especially those they love the most. It is almost as if the emotion of love itself can trigger the anger of the BPD. They can be clingy, excessively so to a person then devaluating the same person on the same day. They may have feelings of hatred and disdain for the same person or persons that they were clinging to earlier. They may suddenly and extremely dislike a friend or family member, latch onto others as family, disregarding whom they associated with as family before
  • They may also have a distorted sense of self from grand illusions of self importance to self hatred. A warning sign of an “attack” of anger is when there has been a quick change in life direction, such as dropping out of school, quitting a job they seemed to love. They bore easily and are easily distracted by self desire. They may exhibit intense and highly changeable moods lasting a few hours to day, or months in untreated cases.
  • They may comment on the feeling of observing oneself from outside their body, disassociating themselves and have paranoid thoughts.

Word of Note

80% of people with borderline personality disorder have suicidal thoughts with 4-9% commit suicide. This is a pretty high number so if you love someone with BPD, keep this in mind and alert the proper authorities if you are worried. It may be their therapist, family doctor, suicide hotline or police.

Age of onset is usually adolescent with possibly some signs in early childhood. Not all people will be hospitalized for treatment and some may be able to move past the symptoms and live normal lives, with proper treatment.

Difference in Gender

Men tend to show signs of Anti-Social Personality Disorder to go along with the Borderline personality disorder

Women tend to be depressed, have anxiety disorders and eating disorders

Common Health Conditions in Conjunction With BPD

  • Arthritis
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Back pain
  • High blood pressure

Borderline Personality disorder is a relatively new disorder and is still being studied, but there are schools of thought that think it may be inherited traits that blend with brain hormone imbalance, causing the disorder.

Possible Cultural Causes

Culturally, it is thought that unstable relationships within the family, coupled with rape or molestation can trigger borderline personality disorder in those that have the inherited personality traits such as controlling behavior, impulsivity, and inflated views of oneself.

Important to Keep in Mind

By themselves, these personality traits may be irritating but not considered a disorder, but when all elements come together, an adolescent may have borderline personality disorder triggered.


There is not one test to detect this disorder but one thing that is common among those with borderline personality disorder is that there is an overreaction to adverse or tense sounding written words. They react to harsh written words worse and with more aggression than a typical angry person. The reaction to unpleasant words can give the psychiatrist a peek into the severity of the disorder.

Brain imaging has shown some hope in detecting BPD. It has been noticed that those with BPD have less activity in the area of the brain that controls emotions when presented with harsh written words or other unpleasant stimuli, showing a degree of inability to understand how to appropriately handle a situation but over reacting in such situations as negative work environment, an argument or any other perceived negative situation.

These findings may be the key to explaining the instability in emotions.

Treatment Methods

Psychotherapy, or counseling sessions are the first step in treating BPD. Some medications may be added at this time if the depression or anxiety is too prevalent. It is thought that once the depression and anxiety are under control then treatment for the bpd can be more effective.

CBT or Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

The therapist works with the person to teach them to understand what triggers their aggression and help them learn to control their temper. They are also taught self-help in controlling impulsive behavior and how to handle their emotions when they are getting out of control

DBT or Dialectical Behavior Therapy

The person is taught to take stalk of their situation, look around and watch for triggers so that they can be better prepared to stay under control. Avoiding some situations may be necessary as the person gains control over time and can handle stress better. The person is taught methods to control their emotions, aid in not becoming overwhelmed and overreacting and reduces self-destructive behavior.

SFT or Schema-Focused Therapy

Therapy aimed at changing the way a person sees themselves. By working with the person’s self image the person can see themselves in a more normal way, neither over the top or egotistical appearing nor self loathing

STEPPS or Systems Training for Emotional Predictability and Problem Solving.

Therapy is provided one on one and in group settings using the STEPPS program. This is a relatively short program, usually lasting 20 sessions, 2 hours long each time and can be led by a social worker. Through this system, patients are taught to plan ahead how they will react to a situation, to practice emotional responses and be prepared. By having this type of therapy in a group setting the patients can learn how others react and respond to various negative stimuli in a secure and safe setting.

Alternative Options

There are no approved medications for BPD but when anxiety and depression may be treated separately from BPD. Omega 3 fatty acids have been shown to calm the emotional responses of women in particular in some studies.

Family and Friends Can Help

Family and friends need to be mindful of the fact that aggressive episodes will happen. They are not necessarily personal. The verbal attack may be because of an outside stressor that the person is having difficulty internalizing and working through correctly. The patient/person may have just had a sad experience and then see a negative email and lash out at their sibling or favorite parent, for example. With patience and making sure that the patient goes to therapy sessions and takes their medication on time, these hard times can become less frequent. It is extremely important that the family or friends alert authorities or therapist if the patient is talking about harming themselves or others.

If you believe you may have BPD, get in touch with your physician or local mental health care center. The earlier the treatment begins the better. There is hope, with proper treatment; the majority of patients learn to lead normal, fulfilling and happy lives. If you are feeling suicidal, call 911 or a suicide hotline immediately.


Although it seems that having someone in your life with Borderline Personality Disorder or having it yourself seems very bleak and hard, with therapy and patience, everyone can live normal lives and be happy. Even in the worst of times, there will be times when the person suffering has good times and can laugh and be joyful. Enjoy these times and look forward to many more of them in the future. It can happen.

Do you or someone you know have BPD?

See results

© 2014 Cynthianne Neighbors


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    • profile image

      Pixels 3 weeks ago

      I finally acknowledged that I have this.. years and years of pretending to fall into another personality. Recently, these expressions of anger have been copied by my toddler.. the throwing of furniture. I was asked why I had loads of cuts on my thigh by daughter of 5.. I asked for help through a gp (not my normal one) and I was told that their mental health capacity was effectively full. I keep saying to my partner, there should be a place where you can just go and never come back..

    • Cynthianne profile image

      Cynthianne Neighbors 3 months ago

      You are very welcome! That "2 seconds" can make all the difference. You are not a freak, but I do understand the feeling.

    • profile image

      Bumbledee 3 months ago

      Thank you, for your clarity and insight, this diagnosis can be very isolating due to the stigma attatched to it! Violent outbursts from an erratic, unpredictable being, making the sufferer feel alienated and alone, holding this as a huge secret, scared of being discovered and abandoned by ‘normal’ friends, scared of of voicing their own opinion, in case it meets disapproval, causing a feeling of rejection and failure! By committing to studying this disorder, looking for different means of coping with it, in all it’s varied shapes and forms, we can build a tool kit, a personal little bag to draw upon when overwhelmed or lost, to give that valuable ‘2 seconds’ before we launch into that snaumi of overwhelming emotions, causing damage and shame! Read, learn and listen to those we can empathise with! You need to have walked in the shoes before being able to understand! We reach out and help each other! Thank you to all of you for not letting me believe I am an isolated freak! Xx

    • profile image

      Andrea Rowe 7 months ago

      I do appreciate the information that you have provided. I do also notice the power of language around suicidoloy. A person may die by suicide, but the word "commit" is outdated and relates to a time when dying by suicide was a criminal offense, inferring a criminalizing label, as opposed to an action taken to stop what feels like overwhelming, never-ending psyche ache, which deserves acknowledgement and compassion. As a survivor of a suicide attempt, and a survivor of suicide losses, the preferred terminology as I understand it today, is:

      “Committed Suicide” vs. “Died by Suicide” or “Completed Suicide”

      In terms “Successful Suicide” or "Failed Suicide Attempts" vs. "Survived a Suicide Attempt" or "Nonfatal Suicide Attempt".

      Thank you for your helpful information. I hope that my sharing of information is helpful as well.

    • lambservant profile image

      Lori Colbo 7 months ago from Pacific Northwest

      Very thorough and accurate. BPD is a difficult diagnosis. Years ago I was diagnosed with bipolar and PTSD, with borderline traits. I overcame the BPD traits through good therapy. It's not even on the radar. You described it so well.

    • Cynthianne profile image

      Cynthianne Neighbors 12 months ago

      I am glad you found this article! I wish you and your partner the very best. :-) Being diagnosed BiPolar, first, seems to be fairly common. My daughter was diagnosed BiPolar, then BPD, as well as others I have known.

    • profile image

      Melissa Crouser 12 months ago

      I have ALWAYS thought that my diagnosis of bipolar disorder wasn't all that was going on with me...from reading this and other articles I now know that I am suffering from BPD. My current partner has had a rough few months with me and after sharing this information with him, he now sees that it isn't ME... I am SO glad to finally have another piece to the puzzle that is my life!

    • profile image

      Michelle bradlely 12 months ago

      Very good information. Thank you for sharing.

    • Cynthianne profile image

      Cynthianne Neighbors 16 months ago

      You are welcome! It is always such a good feeling when you learn you are not "a freak" after all! I understand.

    • profile image

      R Smith 16 months ago

      I have stumbled across this article after a friend thought I exhibited some behaviours, It's so enlightening, I'm not a freak after-all and I think I can put a name to what happens to me. Thanks for the article.

    • Cynthianne profile image

      Cynthianne Neighbors 16 months ago

      Zandra Mullins, You are very welcome!! I am happy that you and your husband are such a good team. :-) It is so very important to have a good support system of people who understand what is going on without attacking you.

    • Zandra Mullins profile image

      Zandra Mullins 16 months ago

      My husband and I both have BPD and it's been the best relationship I have ever had. Because we both have been diagnosed and know what it's like, we can help each other when our symptoms are otherwise unmanageable.

      Thank you so much for posting this. It's nice to see someone finally discussing it in depth, and in a way those without BPD can understand, without simultaneously attacking the sufferer.

    • profile image

      Amanda 16 months ago

      As someone living with BPD this article was very informative though it does make it sound like someone with BPD must fall in one of those subcategories. I for one know i have symptoms from each one. It all just depends on which way my BPD has swung. Either way thank you for the article. It is one of the best I have read.

    • Cynthianne profile image

      Cynthianne Neighbors 2 years ago

      I am glad I could help. :-) It can be really hard to go through getting a diagnosis, especially one that can look like others at first.

    • profile image

      Mary 2 years ago

      Thank you for this article. I have previously been diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder; but now my doctor believes that my symptoms are more towards BPD. Upon reading your article I find that I have every single one of the symptoms. Thank you for helping me to understand me even more.

    • Cynthianne profile image

      Cynthianne Neighbors 2 years ago

      You do need to protect yourself and family. It is a hard disorder to understand and deal with. My family member struggles all the time even with modern understanding and treatment. I am glad you like the article!

    • SRae profile image

      Shelia Wadsworth 2 years ago from Central Pennsylvania

      Fantastic and informative. I did not realize there are 4 subtypes of the disorder. My mom was dx but untreated back in the 80's when there was not a lot of knowledge about it. Medical drs she encountered thought borderline meant that she was "on the edge" of developing a personality disorder and did not understand it was an actual disorder. She received counseling on & off but never stayed with it long enough to experience real change. By the time she passed away we were estranged and I had very limited contact with her as I felt I needed to finally end the abuse and protect myself and family. Great work!

    • Cynthianne profile image

      Cynthianne Neighbors 2 years ago

      Thank you. It is fairly knew but with the proper diagnosis, you have treatment options and can focus on management and life. :-)

    • ItalianPrimaDonna profile image

      Melissa 2 years ago from South Carolina, USA

      I never knew about this disorder until I dated my gf and then I was diagnosed with it. Learning about it has been very interesting. Good article.

    • Cynthianne profile image

      Cynthianne Neighbors 3 years ago

      You are welcome!

    • Sanah Rizvi profile image

      Sanah Rizvi 3 years ago

      Thanks for this!

    • Richard Gonzalez profile image

      Richard Gabriel Gonzalez 3 years ago from El Paso

      You're welcome. The understanding of values plays a significant role on my experience with this disorder. I'm glad my input was useful.

    • Cynthianne profile image

      Cynthianne Neighbors 3 years ago

      Thank you for your input! It is good to get insight from those that have had this type of therapy.

    • Richard Gonzalez profile image

      Richard Gabriel Gonzalez 3 years ago from El Paso

      very interesting I have this disorder and know several people who have this disorder as well. I feel that SFT or schema focus therapy works and should be developed more to the benefit of each individual on what they value most.

    • Cynthianne profile image

      Cynthianne Neighbors 3 years ago

      It is a relatively new diagnosis, originally given to those that did not seem to fit any one diagnosis but as so many started showing the same set of symptoms, it became a disorder on it own. Thank you and I am glad I could help. I have seen this in people I know and love and have seen trends in deceased ones as well.

    • Hendrika profile image

      Hendrika 3 years ago from Pretoria, South Africa

      BPD is not something I know a lot. This information is very interesting and thinking about it I can see trends in family members (now diseased) The anger especially was noticeable.

    • poppyr profile image

      Poppy 3 years ago from Tokyo, Japan

      Very well researched and well written article. Thank you for sharing.

    • jlpark profile image

      Jacqui 3 years ago from New Zealand

      Interesting, and well researched article! thank you for sharing this.