“You’re crazy,” “You’re hypersensitive,” “You’re overreacting,” that’s what 27-year-old Hannah has been receiving all day since she was a teenager. Because it happens to the young woman to get angry as fast as possible and to have suicidal thoughts right after feeling intense joy, she was first diagnosed with depression and then bipolarity. It was only years later that her psychiatrist finally found the name of the disorder that has haunted her since adolescence: borderline personality disorder.
Between 3 and 4% of the French population would suffer, to a greater or lesser extent, from this disorder, also known as the condition limit. How to differentiate him from a complicated but not pathological personality? Pierre Nantas, psychotherapist, Marie Besegai, clinical psychologist and Mab Attari-Fricker, PhD in clinical psychology, gave us some answers.
Impulsiveness and difficulty managing emotions
“This is not a psychiatric illness but a mood disorder,” said Pierre Nantas, president of the Association for the Training and Promotion of Limit Condition (AforPEL). To diagnose this disorder, doctors rely on the criteria used in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) and must remember at least five of the nine, even if “there are so many ways to live the trouble than humans, ”recalls Marie Besegai.
Fear of abandonment and, more generally, fear of rejection are very marked in people with borderline personality disorder. They will constantly test those around them. Hannah, for example, can have very severe tantrums and her partner doesn’t give her any news of the evening. While knowing that his reaction is disproportionate. Because the lack of half-measure is significant in people with borderline disorder. They like it a lot or more at all, go very bad or very good and this mood can change during the day.
More intense and longer lasting emotions
“The borderline has a very bad image of itself. He feels permanently numb, ”adds Marie Besegai. Difficulty managing one’s emotions and the inner emptiness that most people who reach a borderline state feel can lead to dangerous behaviors, such as risky sexual practices, drug addictions, or eating disorders.
If everyone can have excess anger, less good times just after moments of joy and sometimes be impulsive, not everyone is in a state of limitation. “What characterizes borderline personality disorder is the extreme. Anger, for example, is outrageous, says Pierre Nantas. These moments of anger are completely inappropriate and disproportionate. »
The person can get carried away with objects, or even with themselves, with scarifications or suicide attempts. She carries her rage against others much less often. “There is this persistent cliché that the borderline person is violent and dangerous, but this is not true at all,” the psychologist confirmed.
Often traumas in childhood
“People with borderline disorders will experience their emotions more intensely and longer than others,” said Marie Besegai, a clinical psychologist. A situation that, in the eyes of others, seems innocuous, can raise a lot of things and cause very strong emotions that will persist for several hours or even several days. »
For example, if you lose a garment, you may feel sad and angry for a few minutes and then those emotions will go away. “In people with borderline conditions, this situation can trigger thoughts like ‘I’m dumb. I never manage to keep anything. I won’t achieve anything in my life.’ The more negative the thoughts, the more intense and lasting the emotion will be.
Although the causes of the borderline naked disorder are not all known to date, some factors may play a role in its occurrence. This is the case, for example, with childhood trauma, such as violence or abandonment. “Le trouble borderline is a fragility in the personality that develops in the family environment, according to Mab Attari-Fricker. It is important to take the time to look for the origins and the elements often in childhood that are involved in the development of trauma and these post-traumatic symptoms. »
If there is no proper treatment, psychotherapy can reduce or even eliminate the symptoms of the disorder by working on the regulation of emotions and nuance. A kind of gray tip in a black or white world.
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