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How Does a Borderline Act? 

How can we put it all into just one nutshell description when people with the Borderline disorder come in so many different shapes, sizes, colors and flavors?

Some explode into rages. Some lurk quietly in the background and then attack. Others withdraw for days, weeks ... months. Some control the actions of their partner, even stalking them. There are signs of depression, even at times to the point of attempting suicide.

Some do all of the above. The list seems endless, twisting and turning the Borderline's partner as each new behavior is exhibited.

How do we describe to others the never knowing from one minute to the next whether they'll explode at us? How can we tell people how nervous we feel when it gets quiet?  Are they withdrawing and building up steam for a volcano act? Or are they quietly watching us, looking for signs that we are leaving? How do we describe the feelings of having a ticking time bomb in our own home - our supposed-to-be safe place?

In 1994, the American Psychiatric Association added to its list of criteria for mental illnesses ten types of personality disorders, all of which result in significant distress and/or negative consequences within the individual. This information was included in its Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition (DMS-IV), Washington, D.C.: American Psychiatric Association, 1994, pp. 650-654.

Persons with Borderline Personality Disorder display a pervasive pattern of instability of interpersonal relationships and self-image, with marked impulsivity beginning by early adulthood. This behavior can be present in a variety of contexts as indicated by the following:

  1. Frantic efforts to avoid real or imagined abandonment

  2. Unstable and intense relationships that fluctuate between all-good and all-bad

  3. Unstable self-image

  4. Impulsiveness and behavior that is self-destructive (compulsive spending, substance abuse, reckless driving, binge-eating)

  5. Suicidal gestures, threats, or self-mutilating behavior (hitting, cutting, hurting themselves)

  6. Intense moodiness, sudden mood swings

  7. Feelings of emptiness

  8. Inappropriate, intense anger

  9. Stress induced paranoid thoughts or dissociative symptoms

(Paraphrased from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, 4th American Psychiatric Association, 1994)

Does your partner act like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde?
Click here to study 80 Red Flag behaviors that indicate the possible presence of Borderline Personality Disorder.

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