Topic 9: Women and Borderline Personality Disorder {by 11/27}

Our fourth presentation – Borderline Personality Disorder – is this week (11/27).  There is also one assigned reading that is due – “Disordered Boundaries?: A critique of Borderline Personality Disorder.”  Address the following  discussion point:  (1) Simply identify at least two significant messages (i.e., what resonated with you) that you got out of this reading with regard to borderline personality disorder and women.  Your original post should be posted by 11/27.  Have your two replies no later than 11/29.  *Please remember to click the “reply” button when posting a reply.  This makes it easier for the reader to follow the blog postings.

39 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Anna Kenny
    Nov 23, 2012 @ 14:04:34

    I thought it was interesting that one woman was not diagnosed with BPD until she mentioned her self-injuring tendencies. I have never really thought about the kind of stigma that comes along with a diagnosis such as BPD. It is sad to think of it in terms of their personality being “disordered”. I feel as if someone who is diagnosed with this is obviously already unstable and has low self-esteem, so getting this diagnosis must be extremely hard to hear. The author also mentioned how women are especially stigmatized when diagnosed with this illness since its not how women are expected to “behave” in our society. I have heard people say that women self-injure themselves before simply for attention, which the author states is a common belief.
    I liked how the author said that many people like to talk about how much things have changed for women in the past few decades, but still many things are the same. It’s true that men still make more money than women and women are still sexually objectified and idealized in the media. This seems to be something that men tend to forget.
    Before reading this I never really knew much about BPD, and I did not realize that it is predominant among women. It is sad to think of it as a “catch all” diagnosis for difficult patients. It seems especially useless since there is not much treatment for BPD. Reading this reminded me of the reading on depression, and how our society may be at the root of these problems coming about in women.

    Reply

    • Kathy Wilbur
      Nov 26, 2012 @ 13:49:45

      Anna, I agree with you about the self-harm part of the article. It seemed really slanted to me too, almost as if when a woman admits to self-injury she surely has BPD. I don’t necessarily think this is true at all, and I wonder if psychologists find fault in this or agree with it on the whole.
      I have a hard time believing that women self-injure for attention, even though like you said the author states this as a common belief. I hope that if it was the case, we can learn from it as a society and give enough attention and care to prevent such things, rather than making it another stigma to look upon with disdain.

      Reply

      • Meghan Surette
        Nov 27, 2012 @ 17:57:35

        In reference to the article talking about women being “label mad” and “driven mad” I wonder where these women who self-injure would fall. I think that you could argue that a woman who cuts herself could be labeled mad in the sense that she is not conforming to the societal norm of perfection. But also, you could say that a woman who cuts herself could be driven mad in that she was “driven” to that dark place as a result of her role or lot in society as a woman.

        Reply

    • Taylor Foley
      Nov 27, 2012 @ 14:55:08

      I also agree with you Anna. I feel that self-harming could fall under a variety of different disorders and I too wonder if psychologists take this into mind when diagnosing a woman who reports self-harming.

      Reply

  2. Avnee Patel
    Nov 25, 2012 @ 20:10:50

    The article gave an interesting incite on borderline personality disorder (BPD). I found it interesting that self-injury is one of the primary diagnostic criteria for BPD. The article said that self-injury often functions as a means of coping with the effects of sexual abuse. I didn’t know that many women who were sexually abused disclosed that their abuse was one of the causes of their self-injury. Women who self injure themselves can feel a rush of endorphin’s as a way to release the pain and suffering there are going through. The article states that “self-injury can function as a coping strategy for surviving overwhelming feelings associated with abuse”. I guess the pain released from self-injury is way to escape from the abuse.
    I found the feminist approach to the terms of dual approach interesting. Women are labeled ‘mad’ when they don’t conform to societies norms. I agree with this because society excludes and stigmatizes people who go against norms. I found the term “driven mad” interesting, were women are driven mad by society. This approach looks at how women cope with life in a society where they are at higher to experience sexual abuse and violence; they are also less likely than men to have access to money and power. I do believe that in certain cases, society does drive women to madness when they are at higher risk for abuse.

    Reply

    • Morgan Long
      Nov 26, 2012 @ 23:01:52

      I agree with everything you had to say here. I also found it interesting that 88 percent of the people in the example in the article that had a diagnosis of BPD experienced abuse. This could possibly explain the correlation between BPD and self harm.
      I also found the idea of women being labeled mad and driven mad interesting. It goes to show how much society impacts women. Even today there are women that feel they are being treated unfairly and have their own ways of dealing with it.

      Reply

      • Gianna Paolini
        Nov 27, 2012 @ 12:59:08

        I also found this interesting and think that women should not be treated unfairly. I can definitely see how this leads to self harm. It is sad to think that self harm is the only option people seem to have to turn to during hard times.

        Reply

      • Meghan Surette
        Nov 27, 2012 @ 17:54:03

        I also found the “driven mad” and “labeled mad” aspect of the article very interesting. It seems that the two overlap some and that you could maybe make an argument in both cases for every woman in some way or another.

        Reply

    • Alyssa DelMonaco
      Nov 27, 2012 @ 00:51:54

      I never knew that self-injury could be a coping strategy for people who have experienced abuse in their life. I did not know that it released endorphins so that they felt less pain and suffering. However, now that I am thinking about it, I can see why a person with so much abuse and overwhelming feelings would see this as something to make them feel better. I just wish that self-harm did not produce this kind of coping for people. It would be more sufficient to develop better coping strategies. I found this to be very interesting.

      Reply

    • Gina Holick
      Nov 28, 2012 @ 12:36:24

      I learned that women who were abused take it out on themselves as a cause for their self-injury as well! So sad.

      Reply

  3. Kathy Wilbur
    Nov 26, 2012 @ 13:45:45

    The first thing that really struck me was when, in the reading, it said that “Indeed research suggests that decisions made about patients are usually done so within thirty seconds to three minutes of the first contact.” I was really puzzled by this in general, as it seems like more of a snap judgment than a medical diagnosis, but especially in relation to Borderline Personality Disorder this disturbs me. To me, BPD is a complex disorder that overlaps with other disorders like depression or BiPolar, so making a judgment of a patient so quickly could easily result in misdiagnosis.
    I also found it really interesting when they talked about how women with BPD are stigmatized in society. They often lose access to their kids and are not granted disability, which hardly seems fair. I wonder how this could be fixed or at least improved. This stigmatization seems to affect almost all mental health disorders, not just BPD, and something should really be done about it.

    Reply

    • Morgan Long
      Nov 26, 2012 @ 23:07:54

      I also found the example of the woman getting her children taken away very sad. People with BPD are labeled as “manipulative, untreatable, and attention-seeking nuisances.” The article discusses women being punished for having BPD. Taking away their children is a new level of punishment. However, it makes me wonder how the children would be effected by having a mother with BPD. Maybe in some cases it is better for the child’s sake to be removed from the home.

      Reply

      • Anna Kenny
        Nov 27, 2012 @ 16:26:54

        I agree with you on this. I guess it depends of the severity of the case, but it does not seem like a healthy environment for a child to be around. It seems especially unsafe if there is only one parent, and no parent to mediate or explain what is happening to the child.

        Reply

    • Chris Bozarjian
      Nov 27, 2012 @ 10:51:55

      I strongly agree with your second paragraph and I wrote about that as well in my reply. There must be a way to improve the system or rules they have for women with BPD. Taking away somebodys children seems a drastic and mean.

      Reply

    • Gianna Paolini
      Nov 27, 2012 @ 11:10:14

      this also baffled me. I can’t believe these types of major decisions are made so quickly. You would think that they would need all of the time in the world. And even possibly get a second opinion.

      Reply

    • Taylor Foley
      Nov 27, 2012 @ 14:53:04

      I also was shocked at how quick of a diagnoses it could be. Imagine the months or years of suffering and then to find out in 3 minutes what has been occurring for so long. Pretty crazy.

      Reply

  4. Morgan Long
    Nov 26, 2012 @ 22:50:58

    I learned a lot about BPD by reading this article. The first part that really surprised me was that decisions made about patients are usually made between thirty seconds and three minutes after meeting them. I always thought that diagnosing a mental illness took a lot of time, observations, and evaluations. When a psychiatrist heard the patient in the example was self harming, she immediately jumped to BPD. The beginning of the article stresses the importance of self-harming to this personality disorder. It is labeled as an abnormal and inappropriate behavior. Of course self-harming is not a healthy behavior but, I found it interesting how feminists look at it. The act is described as a visible rejection of society’s expectations of women. I never thought of it like that.
    I also found the examples of women labeled mad in history interesting. Women have been labeled all the way back to the days when they were accused of being witches. It makes me wonder if these women that were thought of as abnormal and feared actually had a personality disorder. The article also discusses how there is no precise meaning to the word personality. It can be refered to the essence of who a person is. When someone is labeled as having a disturbed personality disorder, I can see how that would be difficult to overcome. Apparantly, it is so difficult that BPD is said to be untreatable. Depending on how you look at it, you could argue that this disorder is untreatable because you can’t really change a person’s personality. You can’t really change who a person is.

    Reply

    • Alyssa DelMonaco
      Nov 27, 2012 @ 00:45:06

      I also found it very surprising that a decision can be made about whether a person has a mental illness in thirty seconds to three minutes after meeting them. I cannot see how this is possible. You cannot get to know a person within thirty seconds to three minutes after meeting them for the first time. I do not understand how a person could be diagnosed right away and have it be an accurate diagnosis.

      Reply

    • Kathy Wilbur
      Nov 27, 2012 @ 08:39:22

      Morgan, while I tend to agree with your last statement about BPD being untreatable, I hope we’re both wrong here. I think you’re mostly right that you can’t completely change someone’s personality, but hopefully treatment options would be able to give them new mechanisms of interacting and coping with their disorder that it would be “treatable” in one way or another.

      Reply

      • Anna Kenny
        Nov 27, 2012 @ 16:28:49

        Im glad we clarified in class today that it actually is treatable. I did not pick up from the reading that there is much affective treatment so its good we went over that in class. Im referring to the DBT, dialectical behavior therapy that was introduced in the presentation today. This therapy is effective.

        Reply

    • Avnee Patel
      Nov 27, 2012 @ 16:38:00

      Morgan, I also found it surprising that doctors/therapists can diagnosis a person between 30 seconds to 3 minutes after meeting them. I feel like the person has been suffering with the mental illness for years and within a minute a doctor can come up with a diagnosis which in some cases can be misdiagnoses. I feel that after meeting with the person a couple of times a diagnosis can be made.

      Reply

    • Nichole Ronan
      Nov 29, 2012 @ 16:25:31

      I also found it surprising that patients can be diagnosed with BPD so quickly. I feel like theres a chance this could lead to a misdiagnosis. You really can’t get to know a person within a few minutes so I really don’t see how a disorder this serious can be decided so fast.

      Reply

  5. Alyssa DelMonaco
    Nov 27, 2012 @ 00:41:22

    I found it very interesting that there is no physical test that can establish whether a person has a mental illness or disorder. The diagnosis depends on the professional making observations and judgments about how a person behaves and the thoughts and opinions that the person expresses. I found this to be interesting because what if the professional misreads the patient or is not accurate with his diagnosis? Another thing that I found interesting within the reading was how some psychiatrists think that mental illnesses are cause by physical conditions such as chemical imbalances. However, there are a lot of people who also believe that mental illnesses can result from the experiences and environment that one is in. It could relate to the things that we have experienced, the context of our lives, and the kind of lives we have had. I feel like it is probably a mixture of both of these things. I feel like there is a not just one thing causes mental illness; there is probably a combination of things that contribute to it. I also found it interesting that at least 75% of people diagnosed with BPD are female. I never really knew this disorder to be a gender diagnosis. The article also states that the diagnosis of BPD is located within gendered structures of power and processes of understanding through a dual approach. These two things are “Labeled mad” and “Driven mad.” I had never heard of these things and I thought it was very interesting to see the feminist perspective on BPD.

    Reply

    • Chris Bozarjian
      Nov 27, 2012 @ 10:50:10

      I also agree with your first statement, it’s weird that they don’t have a physical test to determine a disorder and illness. You’d think by now they would have gathered up enough research to distinguish the two and help people.

      Reply

    • Nicole Boris
      Nov 27, 2012 @ 17:01:22

      I also found it interesting that there is no physical test to determine if a person has a mental illness or disorder. I feel like there should be another way to determine this rather than to have a professional observe behaviors and thoughts.

      Reply

  6. Chris Bozarjian
    Nov 27, 2012 @ 10:47:47

    While reading the article of BPD there were three main points that stuck out to me and helped me resonate a message from this reading and understanding of BPD. The first thing that instantly stood out to me was how one of the main problems of BPD is self injury. I never knew of a disorder that mainly had to do with one hurting themself constantly because of there personality disorder. The other point that caught my eye was how they would institutionalize women with BPD and some women were abused by mental health and criminal justice systems. For example the women getting her children taken away from her, I found that to be really sad and difficult to understand. Finally the last point that seemed important was that 75 percent of those given the diagnosis are females. I found this important because I feel like this percentage has to do with gender differences.

    These gender differences tie into the gender stereotypes we’ve been talking about all year. Overall these main points I got from the article helped me get the message that BPD doesn’t seemed to be handled all that well. Women are hurting themself and being taken away from their children, it either means this disorder is severe or people have not discovered the best way to deal handle it.

    Reply

  7. Gianna Paolini
    Nov 27, 2012 @ 12:54:51

    The one point that struck me the most was hearing about how women self injure themselves. This was so depressing to read. Also reading about how women can get their children taken away is very sad. I feel that if they were not being helped then this would make their emotions more dangerous and they would be more depressed because of their loss of their children. BPD I find to be a very dangerous disorder to have because one never knows how they will react.
    One of my residents last year suffered from BPD and she was all over the place. One day she would be angry at you, the next second laughing and it was so hard to follow her. It was like following an emotional roller coaster. Thank God last year there were no self- injuries that I was aware of but it was scary to think that such a sweet girl could get so bad that she would self injure herself.

    Reply

    • Avnee Patel
      Nov 27, 2012 @ 16:47:36

      I also think it is sad that women who have a serious mental illness can get their children taken away from them. I feel it’s best for the children, since there in a hostile environment were the mother is not aware of the harm she can do to her children. It’s also kind of sad to see women who have a serious mental illness and want to have children. I think women are unaware of the harm they can cause to their unborn child by self-injuring themselves.

      Reply

    • Gina Holick
      Nov 28, 2012 @ 12:30:28

      I found that it was very depressing as well to hear that women especially with BPD will resort to self-injure themselves. It is a way for them to escape the pain in their own minds, when in reality they need A LOT of help from someone professional. It is very sad that the children have to be taken away from their homes because of their mother having BPD. It is scary knowing that he person with BPD can change their behavior so rapidly that you won’t know what is coming next.

      Reply

    • Nicole Gaviola
      Nov 29, 2012 @ 11:36:59

      Gianna, it is really sad reading about how women self harm themselves. A lot of people don’t receive the necessary help and the self mutilation can go on for years. It is aslo really sad how some women even lose their children. I believe if the woman gets help and learns how to cope with their disease as well as receives medication, they should be able to get their child back.

      Reply

  8. Taylor Foley
    Nov 27, 2012 @ 14:51:17

    I learned a lot about BPD in this reading. The first thing that stuck in my mind was that a doctor can diagnose someone within 30 seconds to 3 minutes of meeting them. To be able to just talk to someone for that short of time and realize their disorder is shocking. I also did not know that a primary symptom for BPD is self-injury. It is so sad to read about something so horrific as that. I did not know before that self-harming was considered a symptom. BPD also seems like a very hard disorder to treat and to deal with. The woman diagnosed with this disorder already have major self-esteem issues or tramatic experiences that bring out this disorder and its sad that in some cases woman are taken away from their families and children for treatment. I could never imagine living like that. Not being able to control emotions is scary and always being so up and down must be so frustrating for an individual. It truly is a very sad disorder.

    Reply

    • Nicole Boris
      Nov 27, 2012 @ 16:57:36

      I also agree that it seems kind of crazy that people can be diagnosed with BPD within 30 seconds to 3 minutes of meeting them. With this kind of quick diagnosis I feel liek there is a possibility that someone could be misdiagnosed which could be far more damaging than actually having BPD.

      Reply

    • Nichole Ronan
      Nov 29, 2012 @ 16:31:36

      I didn’t know self-injury was a primary symptom of BPD either. I was surprised to find this out because I would never have assumed self-injury would really even be a symptom of BPD, never mind the primary one.

      Reply

  9. Gina Holick
    Nov 27, 2012 @ 15:20:16

    What resonated with me while reading the article on the critique of BPD, was the diagnosis for someone with borderline personality disorder. It has always confused me as to what BPD actually was. I could never fully explain to someone what it meant. While reading this article, I learned that someone with BPD can make frantic efforts to avoid abandoning something in their life. They will no longer have an external structure, be able to see things in their life as having meaning and purpose, such as work, family, friends etc. They are essentially very sensitive to environmental circumstances. These fears that lead to abandonment are typically because they have a strong fear of being alone and strive to have people with them.

    In the article that talked about distorted boundaries it mentioned how women and girls are labeled as “mad.”. In the Middle ages, women who threatened social norms were not considered mad, they were called “witches.” I had previously learned about this topic in my abnormal psychology class. Women were brutally and physically tortured for coming out saying that they felt essentially “crazy.” The appropriate term for that time was hysteria. I can think of the famous case that most people will recognize, the “Anna O” case that Freud worked on. The girl would essentially push all of her unwanted, fearful thoughts of her childhood into her unconscious. It was up to Freud to use “talk therapy” for her to get her emotions and thoughts out. We learned that Anna O had a very severe case of hysteria and that she had many symptoms such as coughing to go along with it. The article says how “hysteria” arrived in the 19th century when science, medicine and psychiatry took over the field.

    “Hysteria occupies a central position in the history of women’s madness. It was used to indicate behaviours which are disapproved of, and these days is still used as a put-down when women express emotions: indeed it is often applied to women who self-injure and/or have a BPD diagnosis.

    Reply

    • Nicole Gaviola
      Nov 29, 2012 @ 11:35:03

      Gina, I definitely agree with you that BPD is a confusing disorder and it is hard to pinpoint or articulate exactly what it is. Before this article, I also had a hard time explaining exactly what it was and who it effects. One of my family members suffers from BPD and I have seen that it can manifest in many ways and there are many symptoms.

      Reply

  10. Nicole Boris
    Nov 27, 2012 @ 16:54:31

    One aspect of BPD that I found interesting was the fact that individuals who suffer form BPD can completely idolize someone one minute then the next minute they could start devaluing them. This just seemed so shocking to me because as someone who does ont have BPD I do not understand how you could care for someone so much then suddenly completely change and devalue them. I cannot imagine how it must feel to have this disorder and have to struggle with these feelings everyday.
    Another aspect that I found very interesting was that someone can be diagnosed with BPD within the first 30 seconds of meeting them. This seems strange to me because for someone to be diagnosed with something so severe I feel like there should be more of a process to it.

    Reply

  11. Meghan Surette
    Nov 27, 2012 @ 17:45:07

    The biggest thing that I read in the article that really stuck with me was when the authors talked about “False Memory Syndrome”. This is when patients make up memories in thier heads of being raped or abused. This seems absolutely absurd and I couldn’t believe people still think like this. No one asks to be raped or abuse; it’s nothing some one ever wishes, so to think that there is a foundation based off the presumption that women are making up their own horror stories is more than absurd.
    Additionally, I thought it was interesting that the term “witch” has been modernly replaces with “hysteria”. The authors mention that in the middle ages, women who could not adequeately be diagnosed were “witches”. But once science and research progressed enough to know this couldn’t be the case, this outdated term turned into “hysteria”. However, in the middle ages, the term “witch” was real – woman were actually believed to be witches. This sort of thing makes me wonder if there are terms we use today that will outdate themselves and seem outlandish in the future.

    Reply

  12. Nichole Ronan
    Nov 27, 2012 @ 23:15:55

    Before reading the article, I really didn’t know all that much about BPD so a lot of the information came as a surprise to me. One thing that especially stood out to me was that a person can be diagnosed with BPD within 30 seconds to a few minutes. This really surprised me considering most people who suffer from BPD also suffer with other mental health disorders such as depression or anorexia, so I thought BPD would be a hard disease to diagnose.
    Also, reading the certain rules given to women who suffer with BPD came across as really extreme. I don’t think any of them were particularly fair especially the one stating that mothers can have their children taken away. It’s really sad that this can happen. I think taking their children away won’t help them in their efforts to cope with their BPD, If anything I think it would make it worse. I think rules such as this should be revised because there must be a better solution than doing this.

    Reply

  13. Nicole Gaviola
    Nov 29, 2012 @ 11:33:09

    I found this article to be particularly interesting because someone in my immediate family suffers from Borderline Personality Disorder. The article described the symptoms of BPD as unstable and impulsive, frantic efforts to avoid abandonment, identity disturbance, self-mutilation, and chronic feelings of emptiness. I have witnessed these symptoms manifest in my family member first hand. These symptoms are extremely distressing and can cause the person to be hospitalized or worse. BPD can be very impairing in all facets of life and it is very hard to maintain any type of consistent lifestyle. It’s been a very difficult experience watching my family member going through the hardships this disease can cause.
    This article also talked about how being diagnosed with BPD can be a stigmatizing experience. I have also witnessed this first hand. Once my family member had been diagnosed with BPD, she became even more depressed. She felt as though something was wrong with her and having the disease made her an outcast or different from the rest of society. One very frustrating facet of this disease is that even though you tell someone that there is nothing wrong with them and they are just suffering from a mental illness, it goes in one ear and out the other. They have a hard time internalizing any good and can only focus on the bad. BPD can be a very debilitating mental illness.

    Reply

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Adam M. Volungis, PhD, LMHC

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