I have looked in detail at the association between childhood trauma and its role in contributing to the development of Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) elsewhere on this site, and, in this article, I intend to examine two different types of individuals with BPD: LOW FUNCTIONING and HIGH FUNCTIONING.
Just as there are high functioning and low functioning alcoholics, so, too, are there high and low functioning individuals who suffer from the serious psychiatric condition known as Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD). In other words, some people with BPD cope relatively well with the usual demands of day to day living (such as having a successful career, for example) whilst others are severely impaired in relationship to their ability to cope with everyday and so may need special care and financial support from the government.
Of course, many people with BPD do not neatly fit into one category or the other, but fall somewhere in between (for example, they may be high functioning at times, but low functioning when subjected to significant stress).
Characteristics Of Low Functioning BPD Sufferers:
1) Might be unable work or have their capacity to work severely restricted by their condition.
2) Often suffer from co-morbid conditions such as eating disorders and harmful addictions (alcohol, drugs, gambling etc)
3) May frequently require psychiatric, in-patient, hospital care (by both voluntary and involuntary admissions). Such hospitalisations may, frequently, be due to attempted suicide or a preoccupation with/intention to carry out suicide.
4) May seem to stagger from crisis to crisis ; no sooner is one over, another takes its place.
5) Prone to a variety of self-destructive behaviours (drinking very heavily, binging on drugs, gambling, getting into fights and unnecessary confrontations, self-harming – by means of cutting self with razor blades/burning self with cigarettes and other methods – or even suicide attempts. Such self-destructive behaviour is particularly likely to occur during periods of significant stress, particularly if s/he has no, or limited, social/familial support.
Above: The private and public faces of some of those suffering from BPD may be very different (see point 4, below).
Characteristics Of High Functioning BPD Sufferers:
1) Probably likely to work most of the time – indeed, may have successful career.
2) Likely to appear, for want of a better phrase, ‘pretty normal’ to those with whom s/he is not intimately connected.
3) Is likely to have little or no insight into his/her condition due to unconsciously employing the psychological defence of complete, impregnable denial. Due to this, whenever in conflict with others, will invariably view themselves as absolutely in the right and the other as entirely in the wrong, irrespective of what any objective and rational analysis of the conflict may suggest.
4) As implied above, tend to only show the symptoms of their condition to those they know intimately (eg family members. partners). These symptoms may include explosive rage, excessive and inappropriate criticism, vitriolic verbal abuse, threats of violence or actual violence.
5) Tend not to seek psychiatric help due to their psychological state of denial (see point 3, above). Researchers have therefore termed such individuals ‘invisible’. In other words, they cannot usually be included in research studies (as the researchers are unaware of their existence) and, also, are not included in the statistics which must inevitably lead us to the supposition that estimates of the number of individuals suffering from BPD are likely to be significantly too low.
Above ebooks now available on Amazon for immediate download. Click here to obtain further information. (Other titles available).
David Hosier BSc Hons; MSc; PGDE(FAHE).