Borderline Personality Disorder
Section Author: E. David Klonsky (University of British Columbia)
Borderline personality disorder refers to a longstanding pattern of unstable self-image, moods, relationships, and impulsive behaviors that usually begins in early adulthood. People with this disorder are typically unable to tolerate being alone, and their relationships tend to be unstable and intense. They also engage in risky and impulsive behaviors such as dramatic over-spending, having unsafe sex, or having sex with people they hardly know, abusing drugs or alcohol, driving recklessly, or binge-eating. It is not uncommon for people with this problem to physically hurt themselves (by cutting themselves, for example) or to try repeatedly to kill themselves. Individuals with borderline personality disorder also often experience severe mood swings, feelings of emptiness, and intense anger.
- Dialectical Behavior Therapy (strong research support)
- Mentalization-Based Treatment (modest research support)
- Schema-Focused Therapy (modest research support)
- Transference-Focused Therapy (strong/controversial research support)
Note: Other psychological treatments may also be effective in treating Borderline Personality Disorder, but they have not been evaluated with the same scientific rigor as the treatments above. Many medications may also be helpful for Borderline Personality Disorder, but we do not cover medications in this website. Of course, we recommend a consultation with a mental health professional for an accurate diagnosis and discussion of various treatment options. When you meet with a professional, be sure to work together to establish clear treatment goals and to monitor progress toward those goals. Feel free to print this information and take it with you to discuss your treatment plan with your therapist.