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Jan 10, 2018 in Medicine

The Life of a Person with Borderline Personality Disorder


Nowadays many people all over the world suffer from various mental illnesses. The statistical analysis presents decisive and dramatic facts that make more and more psychologists in different countries accumulate their knowledge and undertake specific studies and research works in order to find better solutions for medical treatment. A great percentage of such illnesses belongs to personality disorders. This category of mental disorders is considered to be one of the most dangerous as it affects not only a person, who suffers from it, but all the people around, and society on the whole. Borderline personality disorder is considered to be one of the common examples in this category. It has negative impact on the emotional side of a personality that makes life of a sick person complicated because of mood instability affecting his or her behavior, and, as a result, relationships in society.

The present research paper is radically focused on the borderline personality disorder, its causes and impacts on the life of a person, who suffers from it. The literature review briefly summarizes current studies based on the issue and analyzes their results. A strong emphasis is placed on the symptoms that accompany the illness, and its particular ways of influence on a person's social life. The given data analysis of borderline personality disorder sheds light on the current situation and explains complications that a sick person experiences in his or her life. The final part of the research paper presents certain conclusions supported by facts, thus, covering the issue at length.

Literature Review

Borderline personality disorder is generally described as a serious mental illness causing specific conditions, in which a person, who suffers from it, faces a spectrum of diverse emotional instability periods and disturbing feelings towards themselves, people and life around them. By virtue of suchlike feelings, a person starts acting impulsively in a common social environment, such as home, work, social institutions, etc. This behavior normally leads to various complications in a person's interaction with the world around. Basically, the borderline personality disorder includes irrational thinking and uncommon intensive mood changes. Irrational thinking is based on the mood instability, and is understood as a turn between ideal and negative perception of other people or situation. Abela and Skitch's studies have shown that along with unstable mood, irrational thinking often becomes a reason of complications in the existing relations such as family, friends, lovers, colleagues (Abela, 2005).

A person, who lives with borderline personality disorder, shows sudden episodes of dislike and hatred or idealization. He or she may also show support for other people, believing that these people will always stay and satisfy all his or her needs. Another demonstrative feature is unstable and deformed understanding and thinking of his or her own self. Klonsky and Glenn's psychological studies in 2009 have proved that wrong self-image may lead to dissociation (Glenn, 2009).

Over the years, symptoms of the borderline personality disorder were associated with symptoms of another mental illness, schizophrenia. However, in the ensuing years a further research has contradicted such a concept. Alternatively, today borderline personality disorder belongs to the category of personality disorders as its manner of occurrence and development in families is similar to the manner of other personality disorders.

People, who suffer from borderline personality disorder, are extremely sensitive to the ways of treating by others. They do not react in a positive way while being strongly criticized. They cannot adequately react to any potentially hurtful words or activities of other people. There are cases, when they can greatly like what other people say or do, and then severely hate it. Also, there has been revealed another interesting fact which states that sometimes such people can easily interpret other people's feelings and activities as a potential threat of losing them. Therefore, lives of such people are full of instability and complications, because these people perceive and understand the world around and people in it as potentially dangerous and wicked, and strongly believe that they themselves are the most insecure, fragile and powerless.

Studies of Bouchard and Sabourin have associated borderline personality disorder with intensive increase in the levels of chronic stress, arguments and fights in love relationships. They argue that, in case one of the partners in love relationship suffers from this type of mental illness, chances to satisfaction and understanding in such relationship will be seriously decreased or lost. Moreover, this thought has been developed further. The studies present a conjecture stating that the disorder may also lead to unwanted pregnancies, or wrong way of treating (Bouchard, 2009).

Another research has proved that sufferers from borderline personality disorder are at a higher risk of developing any other mental illnesses than people, who do not suffer from it (Sperry, 2003). For example, they may ultimately develop a certain level of depression or intense anxiety which are usually hard to control. All the consequences of borderline personality disorder have serious impact on all aspects of the lives of people who suffer from it. Current statistical data have shown that general performance of people with borderline personality disorder significantly decreases. This fact gives clear understanding that the people's life at work (relationships with colleges), home (relationships with their family members), or elsewhere (relationships with friends, etc.) is also negatively affected.

Causes of borderline personality disorder have not yet been clearly determined. Various studies have been undertaken to identify the most probable causes of the disorder. Nevertheless, it is considered that this type of mental illness occurs as a consequence of abnormal genetic processes in people. Hooley and Hoffman's research has found that those people, who are members of one and the same family, are more likely to have chances of developing borderline personality disorder than those, who are not (Hoffman, 2007).

Therefore, genetic abnormal processes cannot, and definitely are not, the only one reason of occurrence of the borderline personality disorder. Social factors are also considered to be a potential impulse to develop this disorder. Such social factors may include the following ones: psychological traumas in early childhood or adolescence; complicated family relationships, poor connection with family members, any kind of abuse, etc. Bouchard's research argues that traumas in childhood are the major cause as there have been presented numerous reports of borderline personality disorder sufferers that have confirmed the fact of receiving psychological or physical trauma during their childhood.

Data Analysis

One of the most detailed research works on the subject of borderline personality disorder belongs to Marsha M. Linehan. The psychologist has suggested that emotional aspect of the disorder, which is an extreme emotional vulnerability, is caused by emotional sensitivity, higher emotional reactivity and a slower return of emotional arousal to the baseline. Correspondingly, sufferers have been expected to show social sensitivity that is reflected by high vigilance for social cues, especially for those ones that signal of threat or rejection (Linehan, 1995). Therefore, it has been determined that people, who suffer from borderline personality disorder, usually show their sensitivity to the facial emotional expressions, resulting in the lower detection threshold.

There are also six more studies that particularly have addressed facial recognition in borderline personality disorder. The Table 1, presented below, shows details and results of the research work done.


Patients' age (BPD)

Control Group (healthy)

Key Findings

Bland (2004)

35 women;

age 18-48

35 women; age 32+9

Patients are less accurate for sadness, disgust and anger

Domes (2008)

25 women;

age 26 +7

25 women; age 26+5

Patients showed reduction of recognition threshold

Levin (1997)

20 women, 10 men; age n/a

30 women; age 23-56

Patients showed impaired accuracy in recognition of fear, disgust, and anger

Lynch (2006)

17 women, 3 men; age 35+11

20 women; age 35+11

Patients showed the lower detection threshold

Minzenberg (2006)

38 women, 5 men; 35+13

26 women; age 34+9

Patients showed no difference in emotional accuracy

Wagner and Linehan (1999)

21 women; age 18-45

21 women; age 32+7

Patients showed accuracy for fear, and no difference for other emotions

Table 1. Studies addressing the issue of facial affect recognition in patients with borderline personality disorder (BPD).

As it can be seen from the data shown above, Levin's study presented expressions of basic emotions, and found out that people, who suffer from borderline personality disorder, were less accurate in terms of emotion recognition, especially for such emotions as fear, disgust and anger. This result was extended in the study of Bland. It found that accuracy in recognition was impaired for sad, angry and fearful faces. Moreover, Bland showed that self-reported negative effect in terms of everyday life events was inversely connected with accuracy in emotion recognition (Bland, 2004).

The characteristic deficit of accuracy in emotion recognition in the patients with borderline personality disorder contradicts the assumption of general hypersensitivity to facial emotions in the borderline personality disorder, and more suggests subtle impairments in labeling accuracy accompanied by a bias towards negative emotions as a tendency to interpret ambiguous faces in the more negative wa?. The reported negativity bias in emotion recognition and evaluation of other people can reflect the anticipation of rejection or social threat (Domes, 2008). This notion is in line with typical cognitions of borderline personality disorder as was previously outlined by Pretzer in 1990. In Pretzer's research work, it is suggested that people with this type of mental illness see and understand the world and people around them as dangerous, and themselves as weak and powerless.

Borderline personality disorder, as it has been mentioned above, is one of those mental illnesses that completely change the lives of people, who have at one time been diagnosed with it. However, as statistical data have shown, these people are still able to move on and live out fulfilling lives as other people do. Nevertheless, there appears a wide range of everyday problems before them, which can have quite complicated nature. It means that during the course of the disorder these people require professional support from particular medical services and people, who surround them, especially from those who are their family members and friends.

As the described studies stated, the functional impairment associated with borderline personality disorder turns out to be a relatively enduring aspect of the illness. Clinical population's studies have found that people with borderline personality disorder face significantly greater impairment in social relations, leisure and work comparing to those, who have other mental illnesses. However, studies also have shown that symptomatic improvement can easily occur to the extent that some people will no longer meet borderline personality disorder criteria, and that the prognosis may be better than has previously been determined.

Also, people suffering from borderline personality disorder may engage in a great number of impulsive and destructive behaviors. These may include the eating problems, self-harm, excessive use of alcohol and drugs. To be more particular, self-harming behaviors in borderline personality disorder are associated with various specific meanings for sufferers. These meanings generally include freedom and relief from distress and current feelings, such as sadness, anger or emptiness, and reconnection with their feelings after long periods of dissociation.

As a r?sult of the frequent self-harming, people with borderline personality disorder are at a quite high risk of suicide. According to the statistical data, from 60 to 70 per cent of people with borderline personality disorder make numerous attempts to commit suicide at some point in their life. The number of people with this mental illness, who completed suicide, has been estimated to be over 10 per cent (Oldham, 2006). A w?ll-docum?nted association ex?sts between depression and borderline personality disorder, and Soloff's research has confirmed that the combination of these two conditions may increase the current number and seriousness of suicidal attempts.


Therefore, there have been undertaken numerous research works and studies by the best American psychologists and psychiatrists on the subject of borderline personality disorder and its negative impact on the life of people, who suffer from it. Many of these studies have proved the seriousness and danger of the disorder, which confirms strong necessity to find new ways of treatment. Abela's research has stated that the life of people with borderline personality disorder undergoes significant negative changes. These changes refer to the complicated and sometimes broken relationships with family members, lovers, friends, colleagues or other people. The reason generally lies in the mood instability and irrational thinking.

Bouchard's study has partly proved the results of Abela's research. It has confirmed that people with borderline personality disorder act impulsively in love relationship, and, as a result, they break it. Sperry's work on the issue has showed that general performance of all people, who are diagnosed with borderline personality disorder, decreases at all social levels. Comparing to the results of other studies, the Hoffman's research has suggested that the very reason of the disorder lies in abnormal genetic processes, though Linehan has rejected this suggestion, and argued that the reason is in extreme emotional vulnerability that does not have any connections to genetics.


The presented above results of the research point out that people, who suffer from borderline personality disorder, are emotionally vulnerable. Their life is dictated by their emotions and moods that usually are extremely unstable. As a result, they do not adequately react to the people's words and actions. Those people, who cannot manage to control the level of their mood instability, start to drink alcohol or use drugs. Their social relationships with their family members, lovers, friends, or colleagues, break or become very complicated. As the causes of borderline personality disorder have not been yet clearly determined, it is impossible to eliminate them. Nevertheless, several of the causes that have been already argued, give a possibility to reduce the negative impact this disorder makes on the sufferers' life.


The present research paper has reviewed and analyzed the most relevant psychological works and studies on the subject of borderline personality disorder in order to find all possible impacts the disorder makes on the lives of sufferers. The studies of Abela and Sperry have proved that general performance of people with borderline personality disorder decreases due to high emotional instability. This leads to complications in their lives at all social levels, including relationships with family, sweethearts, friends, colleagues, etc. Also, it decreases the level of satisfaction in these relationships, if they are not broken yet.

The sufferers' understanding of the world and people around becomes deformed, and leads to wrong behaviors including the use of drugs and self-harming. There are numerous suicidal attempts that are often completed. Bouchard's research has proved that people with borderline personality disorder usually have low level of satisfaction in love relationships as well as in any other  relationships due to their mood instability. This fact points out that the majority of their relationships are unhappy. This means unhappy families, unhappy love relationships, friendships, etc.

Also, strong emphasis in the paper has been placed on the possible causes of disorder. Bouchard has argued that physical and/or psychological traumas in early childhood or adolescence cause borderline personality disorder. Other studies have not supported this idea, though there have been presented numerous reports of people, who currently suffer from the illness, that have definitely proved this suggestion. Linehan's research has explained that emotional vulnerability is the major reason of borderline personality disorder occurrence as well as its negative impact on the life of people, who are diagnosed with it. Therefore, it can be seen that the life of people with borderline personality disorder is full of complications and dissatisfaction at all social levels that lead to unhappiness, and, sometimes, to premature death.

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