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My battle with borderline personality disorder

Stigma paints BPD sufferers as manipulative, irrational

Dr Peter McKenzie is a clinical family therapist with Latrobe University’s Bouverie Centre and has conducted training workshops for BPD carers in Ballarat, as part of Borderline Personality Disorder Awareness Week.

He said the extreme behaviours associated with BPD, including an increased difficulty in moderating emotions and a prevailing sense of abandonment, made treating patients difficult and has given the condition ‘a bad rap’ within the medical profession.

“We need to be focusing on relationships a lot more than we do with Borderline Personality Disorder where it’s a lot of individual therapy, which is absolutely necessary,” Dr McKenzie said.

“But I think the relational network around people is vital [and] to have them educated and understand their loved one’s experience as well.”

“It’s the more intimate relationships that become very difficult because of your distress about coping with certain issues, that often gets projected on to others.”

Dr Peckham is open with her friends about her BPD but said treating it had an ”aura of difficulty” with many sufferers often seen as irrational.

“People who have personality disorder used to thought of as being un-helpable, they were beyond reach and maddening to work with,” she said.

“Whatever’s happening, it’s probably a replay of something that’s happened earlier in their life, even if it looks crazy.”

Research shows ‘organic’ components to disorder

Dr McKenzie said research over the past 15 years shows the disorder had ”organic components to it”, with BPD sufferers often showing abnormalities in their frontal cortex — the area of the brain that helps regulate rationality, fear and other emotional responses.

“The idea that they’re actually manipulating is actually quite incorrect if you look at it cognitively speaking,” he said.

“What they’re trying to do is get their needs met and also unburden themselves of this emotional distress which gets locked inside them.

“So if it’s a significant other, they’ll do anything, they’ll try anything, to try and relieve this distress.”

While approximately 10 per cent of untreated BPD sufferers commit suicide, Dr McKenzie said those who seek treatment can live successful lives.



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