Borderline Personality Disorder: The Most Painful of All Disorders

By Ross Rosenberg, M.Ed, LCPC, CADC
PsychotherapistAuthorEducatorExpert Witness

Excerpt from The Human Magnet Syndrome: The Codependent Narcissist Trap (2018)

Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) may be among the most stigmatized of mental disorders.

Currently, there are rumblings in the mental health field about the negative implications of the term itself, as many consider it misleading and fraught with negative associations. BPD is often undiagnosed, misdiagnosed, or treated inappropriately (Porr, 2001). Clinicians may limit the number of BPD patients or drop them altogether because of their resistance to treatment. If the person with the condition repeats self-harming behavior, frustration among family, friends, and health professionals increases and may lead to decreased care (Kulkarni, 2015).

BPD is characterized by volatile moods, self-image, thought processes, and personal relationships. When unable to regulate their emotions, borderlines tend to engage in wild, reckless, and out-of-control behaviors. Such as dangerous sexual liaisons, drug abuse, gambling, spending sprees, or eating binges. The inability to regulate mood (often referred to as mood dysregulation) is a prominent feature of BPD.

Symptoms include rapidly fluctuating mood swings with periods of intense despair and irritability and/or apprehension. It can last a few hours to a few days. Individuals with Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD’s) are overwhelmed and incapacitated by the intensity of their emotions, whether it is joy and elation or depression, anxiety, and rage. They are unable to manage these intense emotions. When upset, they experience a flurry of emotions, distorted and dangerous thought processes, and destructive mood swings that threaten the safety of others, as well as themselves.

Their love/hate approach to relationships is a narcissistic process. BDP’s feelings determine the direction of the relationship, at any given moment. Unlike someone with a Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD,) a BPD has a limited capacity and willingness to be genuinely empathetic, sensitive, generous, and sacrificial. However, those positive attributes have proverbial strings attached. When the BPD explodes with vindictive rage, all they said or gave to their loved one may be taken away in one fell swoop of aggression.

Life in Extremes: Love/Hate

BPDs experience the world in extremes: black-and-white or all-or-nothing. When they are happy, the world is a beautiful and perfect place. But when they perceive they are being rejected or abandoned, they reflexively experience reckless rage, paranoia, and feelings of hopelessness.

Their swing into red-hot, out-of-control fury brings them to the brink of harming themselves or others. In extreme circumstances of depression, agitation, or rage, the person with BPD may spontaneously behave violently and lethally—towards themselves and/or others.

People with BPD are chronically unsure about their lives, whether it is with their family, personal or work relationships. They also experience insecure thoughts and feelings about their self-image, long-term goals, friendships, and values.

BPDs typically don’t intend to cause harm to anyone, including themselves, but their reflexive emotional rampages create a form of temporary insanity. During moments of emotional meltdown, their thought processes, insight into their emotional state, and ability to make rational decisions become severely impaired. They will put themselves and loved ones in harm because of an irrational and uncontrollable wave of rage or paranoia. In that moment, they are triggered to experience anger connected to repressed memories of their abusive, neglectful, and traumatic childhood.

BPDs are rarely capable of sustaining stable long-term relationships. Their romantic relationships begin quickly, intensely, and with a great deal of excitement, euphoria, and sexual chemistry. Their volatile emotions move in one of two directions: love and adoration or hate and destruction. Because this person has had little-to-no experience with healthy relationships, the euphoric “perfect love” feelings that occur in the beginning of the relationship are neither realistic nor lasting. The early euphoric love experience is transient as their psychological fragility leads them to an eventual emotional crash and burn. Their love/hate processing of relationships places an impossible burden on the partner.

Abandonment: The Core Issue

Often individuals diagnosed with BPD are preoccupied with real or imagined abandonment, which they frantically try to avoid. The perception of separation or rejection can change the way they think about themselves and others, and their emotional stability. Whether real or imagined, any reminder causes them to strike back at their romantic partner with rage and aggressive hostility. A mistaken comment, a benign disagreement, or an expression perceived as disappointing can quickly transform their loving feelings toward their “soulmate” into a raging retribution against an enemy.

For more information about Ross’s Self-Love Recovery Program, write us at

Video Series For Victims of Narcissistic Abuse

Borderline Personality Disorder is one of the three Pathological Narcissistic Personality Disorders discussed in my two Human Magnet Syndrome books.  Although there is a great variability with this disorder, most people with BPD hurt the people they love most.  In reaction to the rampant abuse caused by harmful BPD’s, I created an educational video series for the victims.  Although the videos are NOT a resource for people suffering with BPD, they are not meant to malign or denigrate them. 

Ross Rosenberg

Ross Rosenberg, M.Ed., LCPC, CADC, CSAT, is an international codependency, narcissism, trauma, and sex& love addictions expert who provides psychotherapy, training and consultation services. Ross is a keynote speaker and trainer, presenting in 27 states and 3 countries. He owns Advanced Clinical Trainers and Clinical Care Consultants, an Arlington Heights IL counseling center. He wrote the best-selling book, "The Human Magnet Syndrome: Why We Love People Who Hurt Us." Ross’s YouTube channel contains 75 instructional/educational videos, which have over 2.6 million views and amassed 24,000 subscribers. He has been on ABC Late Night, a ABC "Swiped" documentary, Fox News and WGN News. His work has been featured in the Chicago Tribune & Publishers Weekly and he blogs for The Huffington Post, &

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