BPD- Illness or Disorder of thoughts?

October 4, 2010

There’s has always been the argument of whether BPD is a mental illness and since no one can decide (not even MH professionals) it will still be a mystery. But I thought I would discuss this debate. I would classify a mental illness as something that is about the way the brain is functioning incorrectly such as chemical imbalances and a mental health “problem” as the disorder of your thoughts that have stemmed from earlier (traumatic) life events.

I posted this argument on facebook and I think this would the best responce:

“Borderline personality disorder, like other personality disorders, are thought to be ineffective coping mechanisms adapted by people in response to chaotic, stressful life circumstances during childhood. However, some mental health professionals now believe that borderline personality disorder may have an organic component as well.”

So this explains it isn’t an “Illness” but mental health professionals are now finding biological features that may mean it IS an illness. Hmm…but does an illness have to be biological?




unhealthy condition; poor health; indisposition; sickness.

1.  ailment, affliction, infirmity.

This definition of illness would I believe dictate that BPD is an illness. I know my emotions and splitting etc mean I am in an unhealthy mental condition. And definately full of inner affliction and conflict.

In all honesty, I would rather it be classified as an illness because otherwise there is so much more stigma because some people can accept that extreme mental illness means you can’t cope with everyday life. But if it isn’t classified as an illness then you get more judgement because it’s just a little mental health “problem” not a full blown illness. I think when it gets to a point that a mental health problem can end you up on a psychiatric ward then it becomes an illness.

I wrote this for a friend who told me her social worker is unsupportive because the social worker believes that BPD is not a mental illness. I say whether it is an illness or not people should be supported for any mental health issues they have because the smallest mental health concern can become a full blown illness if not supported.

If BPD isn’t a biological illness then why is it medicated? Surely any psychiatrist who believes in the treatment of BPD with meds would say it is a mental illness. My psychiatrist doesn’t believes this, he says that all that’s going wrong inside of me is because of a hectic upbringing so he doesn’t seem to claim it is a biological illness although he hasn’t said otherwise. I don’t think he would want me to think of it as an illness. He never wants to give me meds and believes therapy is the way forward so seeing it as an illness is quite hard for me. Please continue the debate, It’s a really intriging discussion.




  1. My understanding is that there is a lot of emerging evidence that individuals presenting with BPD and/or PTSD often have ‘abnormal’* functioning of the amygdala, which is the part of the brain that governs memory and emotions. To that end, I think the argument exists that although BPD and PTSD are catalysed by serious stressors in childhood, that certain individuals are more predisposed to them that others (which may explain why some people develop serious symptoms, whilst others show none).

    The counter-argument to this, and it seems to be my psychiatrist’s position, is that the traumatic events themselves are what changes the neural pathways. The mind cannot cope with everything it is having to deal with, and the brain therefore amends its chemistry and neurons to compensate.

    There is of course conflicting evidence, but whatever the case, it’s a fascinating arena of investigation.

    P ❤ x

    (* When I say 'abnormal', of course I mean relative to control groups that have no acknowledged mental health difficulties – 'normality' is a very nebulous concept).

  2. The World Health Organisation defines “health” as:

    Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.

    By that definition, it would be fair to say that somebody with borderline personality disorder is not “healthy”.

    People with ill-health are treated by methods other than medication all the time. Somebody with a sprained ankle might go for physiotherapy. Another person with reduced motor skills might go for occupational therapy. A Type 2 diabetic might attend a health promotion class to learn how to control their condition with diet and exercise. So, if somebody’s BPD is treated with psychotherapy, I’d say that doesn’t necessarily mean you can’t say they’re ill.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: