What is included in the patient education about borderline personality disorder (BPD)?

Updated: Nov 05, 2018
  • Author: Roy H Lubit, MD, PhD; Chief Editor: Caroly Pataki, MD  more...
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Answer

Patients with BPD should be helped to understand that their feelings, though very intense, will change if they can wait and pause. These individuals will feel great despair and want to hurt themselves; they will feel great anger and want to hurt others; they will feel terrible emptiness and want to jump into a risky activity to deal with it. Helping them learn that the feelings will not last and that there are things they can do to soothe themselves is highly therapeutic.

Similarly, patients need to learn about their tendency first to overidealize and then to devalue people. Helping them establish an understanding of their feelings can encourage them to learn how not to act out on feelings in self-destructive ways. Patients should also be taught that their mood fluctuations and excessive reactions will ease as they get older. They need to learn social skills and how people normally function in relationships without letting their feelings carry them away.

Education of family members is also crucial. Family members can easily become burned out, and without their support, the patient is likely to become far more unstable. Family members should be helped to understand that the patient is not consciously manipulating them but is experiencing overpowering emotions in response to events that overwhelm his or her judgment. Family members should be made aware of the chronic abandonment fears of individuals with BPD and should try to avoid inadvertently stirring up those fears.


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