Borderline Personality Disorder In Males Less Common Than In Females

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A diagnosis of borderline personality disorder in males is less common than in females. Approximately 70% of those diagnosed with borderline personality disorder (BPD) are female. So why does BPD appear to be more prevalent amongst women than men? Several theories seek to address this question, and, below, I give details of the main explanations that have been put forward :

1) Women are more likely to seek medical help for conditions like depression and anxiety (these conditions are predominant symptoms of BPD) than men. This is because men are more frequently concerned that they will be stigmatized and seen as ‘weak’ if they see a doctor for a psychological problem than their female counterparts.


2) Women are more likely to have suffered sexual abuse as a child than men and it is now known that having been sexually abused as a child (or having experienced other forms of abuse, for that matter) makes it much more likely an individual will develop BPD as an adult.

The psychologist Lineham stressed that it was the fact that a child who is abused feels deeply invalidated by his/her experiences that predisposes him/her to developing BPD in later life (click here to read my article on ‘invalidation’).

3) The socio-economic status of women – although this is much better than it has been in the past, women, on average, still have a lower socio- economic status than men. This is relevant because it is known that being in a lower socio-economic group, and the stress this can produce, makes individuals more vulnerable to developing BPD.

4) Biases of medical practitioners – research carried out by Becker and Lamb found that if both a man and a woman presented themselves to a mental health professional, and both described exactly the same symptoms. on average, it was more likely to be the female who was diagnosed with BPD than the male.

Men presenting with symptoms which may be attributed to BPD in women are more likely to be classified as suffering from anti-social personality disorder (click here to read my article about this), especially if they have become caught up in the criminal legal system, which, sadly, many do.

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5) Subordinate role of women to men – again, although this situation has greatly improved in recent years, many women still perceive themselves to be in a subordinate role to men. It is theorized that this perception can lead to anxiety, depression and feelings of helplessness, which, in turn, put the individual at greater risk of developing BPD.



David Hosier BSc Hons; MSc; PGDE(FAHE).

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About David Hosier MSc

Holder of MSc and post graduate teaching diploma in psychology. Highly experienced in education. Founder of Survivor of severe childhood trauma.

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