borderline personality

A personality disorder in which there is a marked tendency to act impulsively without consideration of the consequences, together with affective instability. The ability to plan ahead may be minimal, and outbursts of intense anger may often lead to violence or "behavioural explosions"; these are easily precipitated when impulsive acts are criticized or thwarted by others. Two variants of this personality disorder are specified, and both share this general theme of impulsiveness and lack of self-control.

Impulsive type:
The predominant characteristics are emotional instability and lack of impulse control. Outbursts of violence or threatening behaviour are common, particularly in response to criticism by others.

* explosive and aggressive personality (disorder)

* dissocial personality disorder

Borderline type:
Several of the characteristics of emotional instability are present; in addition, the patient's own self-image, aims, and internal preferences (including sexual) are often unclear or disturbed. There are usually chronic feelings of emptiness. A liability to become involved in intense and unstable relationships may cause repeated emotional crises and may be associated with excessive efforts to avoid abandonment and a series of suicidal threats or acts of self-harm (although these may occur without obvious precipitants).

* borderline personality (disorder)


Diagnostic guidelines >

Conditions not directly attributable to gross brain damage or disease, or to another psychiatric disorder, meeting the following criteria:

(a) markedly dysharmonious attitudes and behaviour, involving usually several areas of functioning, e.g. affectivity, arousal, impulse control, ways of perceiving and thinking, and style of relating to others;
(b) the abnormal behaviour pattern is enduring, of long standing, and not limited to episodes of mental illness;
(c) the abnormal behaviour pattern is pervasive and clearly maladaptive to a broad range of personal and social situations;
(d) the above manifestations always appear during childhood or adolescence and continue into adulthood;
(e) the disorder leads to considerable personal distress but this may only become apparent late in its course;
(f) the disorder is usually, but not invariably, associated with significant problems in occupational and social performance.

For different cultures it may be necessary to develop specific sets of criteria with regard to social norms, rules and obligations. For diagnosing most of the subtypes listed below, clear evidence is usually required of the presence of at least three of the traits or behaviours given in the clinical description.