Research carried out by Wiley et al. has found that psychiatric patients suffering from borderline personality disorder (BPD) have felt that life lacks meaning to a greater degree than do those who are suffering from mental disorders other than borderline personality disorder.
A separate study confirmed this finding by demonstrating that feeling that life HAS meaning is very significantly NEGATIVELY CORRELATED with symptoms of borderline personality disorder; in other words, the more symptoms a person has of borderline personality disorder, the less s/he is likely to feel that life has meaning.
So, to put it simply, people with BPD have a tendency to view life as essentially meaningless and as having no purpose.
- substance abuse
- emotional dysregulation (difficulty controlling intense and volatile emotions)
- low self-esteem
Conclusion / Implications :
Given the above findings, it has been suggested that therapy for borderline personality disorder (BPD) should include methods that help the individuals suffering from the disorder start to perceive life as more meaningful.
How Can A Meaningful Life Be Achieved?
Finding meaning in life is a subjective experience so nobody can give a definitive, objective account of what makes life meaningful. However, Baumeister and Vohs (2005) propose that we are more likely to perceive life as meaningful if :
1) what we do has a purpose and helps to lead us towards a future goal that will bring us fulfillment
2) what we do is in line with our values
3) we have faith in our self-efficacy (i.e. ability to make a real, positive difference in the world)
4) we have firm feelings of self-worth
I will end this article with a quote from the American psychologist and expert in positive psychology, Martin Seligman, who defined a meaningful life as one in which you use ‘your signature strengths and virtues in the service of something much larger than you are.’ (Martin Seligman, 2002).
David Hosier BSc Hons; MSc; PGDE(FAHE).