Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) Essay

Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) Essay

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The memoir The Buddha and the Borderline tells the story of Kiera Van Gelder’s courageous journey receiving treatment for borderline personality disorder (BPD). BPD is a personality disorder defined by the fourth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV-TR) as “a pervasive pattern of instability of interpersonal relationships, self-image, affects, and marked impulsivity” (American Psychiatric Association, 2000). BPD is a personality disorder and thus cannot be diagnosed until after the age of 18 when using the DSM-IV-TR’s diagnostic criteria. This does not imply, however, that BPD is an illness that restricts itself to adulthood; although the age of onset varies from individual to individual, BPD-like symptoms or features are usually evident in adolescence and sometimes even observed in childhood. In her memoir, Gelder states that she was diagnosed with BPD at 30 years of age but she later goes on to describe the symptoms of mental illness she experienced her entire life, including symptoms of depression and anxiety, mood swings, self-injurious behavior, suicide attempts, extreme self-image issues, binge eating and purging, and drug abuse (Gelder, 2010).
Perhaps one of the most puzzling facets of BPD, as in other mental disorders, is where and how it originates. One of the most common myths about BPD is that all of its sufferers are victims of abuse. While this is false, it is true that individuals with BPD are more likely to report experiencing traumatic events during childhood, the most common being physical and sexual abuse and seeing domestic violence (Herman, Perry & Van der Kolk, 1989). Gelder describes her own history of trauma toward the end of the memoir, in which she was manipulated in...


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Mash, E. J., & Wolfe, D. A. (2013). Abnormal child psychology. (5 ed.). Belmont: Wadsworth Cengage Learning.
Selby, E. A., Braithwaite, S. R., Joiner Jr., T. E., & Fincham, F. D. (2008). Features of borderline personality disorder, perceived childhood emotional invalidation, and dysfunction within current romantic relationships. Journal of Family Psychology,22(6), 885-893.
Van Gelder, K. (2010). The buddha and the borderline. Oakland: New Harbinger Publications.
Wupperman, P., Fickling, M., Klemanski, D. H., Berking, M., & Whitman, J. B. (2013). Borderline personality features and harmful dysregulated behavior: The mediational effect of mindfulness. Journal of Clinical Psychology, 69(9), 903-911.
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