Borderline Personality Disorder has been in the press more often in the past few years. Along with awareness also comes some confusion, some identification, some shame, some relief at finally understanding themselves or a loved one.
I have never really liked the Personality Disorders category. The symptoms maybe but the use of "personality" has always been disturbing to me. Personality is something that can define us. To name an illness with that word has always struck me as a little shaming. It is our "personality". Given my feelings, I have wondered if the symptoms should be under other disorders or simply a different name.
Personality disorders typically develop to dysfunction in our lives. Trauma, depression, disrupted family life- we live in chaos, healthy responses, natural responses don't always work in chaos and we develop alternative ways of coping. Not particularly healthy ones but coping nonetheless.
Though there are many different types of personality disorders, overall, these disorders are marked by issues with relationships and/or self image. When I have clients who talk about having a personality disorder, I try to remind them that facing an unhealthy relationship in childhood means we have to develop a response and it is not likely to be healthy. Given this, we can learn to be healthy, let go of unhealthiness and understand that personality disorders aren't your personality but your response to the bad stuff that creeps into life. Like any mental disorder, treatments are continuously being developed to help people on their path of healing.
I encourage folks out there to let go of labels that don't serve them and recognize that unhealthy can be transformed into healthy regardless of what the thought, behavior, or relationship may be.
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