Borderline Personality Disorder
A diagnosis of Cluster B or Borderline Personality Disorder can be confusing. That’s because these are umbrella diagnoses that cover several problematic behaviors. Here are some characteristics common to teens struggling with Cluster B or Borderline Personality Disorder:
- Losing the self in relationships – I get so close to someone that I identify myself through the relationship, rather than me
- Unstable relationships – hot and cold in relationships, black and white; I get really close really fast and then end the relationship really fast when anything goes wrong; I love you and then I hate you
- Risky, casual, and/or serial sexual relationships;
- Self-harming behaviors – cutting, burning, rubbing, scratching, hitting, etc.
- Impulsive behaviors that bring uncomfortable consequences – risky sex, substance abuse, spending, reckless driving, binge eating, stealing, etc.
- Passive-aggressive behaviors – I don’t know what I need, but I demand that you meet my needs and make me happy; read my mind and do what I want even though I haven’t told you
- Manipulation – buttering you up, guilt, bullying, broken record, selective memory, etc.
- Kernel of truth – my stories contain a kernel of truth and then a lot of exaggeration or false facts
- Splitting – I tell everyone a different story so they’re all mad at each other but devoted to me
- Drama – I frequently say I hate people’s “drama”, but I constantly “stir the pot”
- Mood swings
- Difficulty controlling anger, inappropriate and intense anger
- Depending on relationships to meet emotional needs that can only be met internally, by me
- Fear of abandonment and/or rejection, and frantic attempts to avoid it
- Parasuicidality – threats or attempts at suicide that don’t end in death, but are successful at getting lots of attention
- Unstable sense of self – changing my appearance and/or interests drastically, more than other teenagers
- I often feel like I am empty
- Paranoia – I frequently feel like people don’t like me and are out to get me
What You Should Know About Cluster B or Borderline Personality Disorder
The most important priority to me is relationships. All other pursuits take a back seat, including education, safety, future options, family, etc. My acting out with negative behaviors represents ineffective attempts to get my emotional needs met.
Common Diagnostic Mistakes
Bipolar Personality Disorder- the mood swings associated with Bipolar Disorder are the result of a chemical imbalance; the mood swings associated with Cluster B/Borderline Personality Disorder are the result of feeling rejected or abandoned in the slightest sense, which triggers a sudden swing in mood.
ADHD – because my focus is on relationships, I am constantly scanning my social environment and keeping track of my status with those around me. In the classroom environment, this makes me look like I can’t focus on my work, and often results in lower grades because I care more about relationships with those around me than about my academic performance.
The earlier in life Cluster B or Borderline Personality Disorder are detected, the easier they are to treat. Personalities are not solidly formed until the mid-20s, so there is room for healthy personality growth in adolescents that cannot be attained later in life.
The number one treatment for Cluster B traits is Dialectical-Behavioral Therapy (DBT). The term “dialectical” is an eastern philosophy and refers to the pairing of two seemingly opposite concepts. Individuals who struggle with Cluster B or Borderline Personality Disorder generally exist on an emotional plain. At the heart of DBT is wise-mindedness, which refers to blending rational thinking with emotional thinking. The overall objective of DBT is to achieve Interpersonal Effectiveness, which is a three-part goal seeking to simultaneously get what you need, build/maintain healthy relationships, and build/maintain self-respect and self-liking.Logan River Academy pairs DBT with a supportive residential environment where students are protected from impulsive and self-harming behaviors while engaging in a strong therapeutic program. Therapy helps students understand their self-destructive cycles and empowers them to begin thinking and acting wisely. At the heart of every emotional deficit is a super-power. Cluster B or Borderline Personality Disorder types are extremely talented at building relationships, and they love strongly. DBT helps students find what is best within them and begin using it to get what they need in healthy, stable ways.