This presentation examines and critiques the diagnostic criteria and theoretical concepts that are associated with borderline personality disorder (BPD). The primary characteristic of BPD is considered to be the instability of interpersonal relationships, self-image, and emotion. Since first being approved as a psychiatric diagnostic category since 1980, BPD has been the center of controversy. First, some critics believe that BPD has become a pejorative catch-all label for clients who are difficult to treat. Second, research indicates that women are more likely to receive this diagnosis, even when the pattern of their symptoms is similar to that of men. Because of cultural stereotypes, characteristics that may be seen as “borderline” in women may not be seen as dysfunctional in men. Third, some clinicians’ and researchers’ definitions and understandings of BPD have been shown to be inconsistent with diagnostic criteria outlined in psychiatric manuals. This presentation will provide an overview of these issues as well as commentary about alternative ways of conceptualizing a “borderline” pattern of behavior, which is often associated with a history of childhood sexual abuse or some other type of traumatic history.
Daniel Mullin, ’00 Elk Grove Village, IL
Majors: Psychology and Philosophy
Sponsor: Carolyn Enns