Borderline personality disorder (BPD) is a mental disorder that belongs to the group of mental illnesses called personality disorders. Therefore, like other personality disorders, it is characterized by a consistent pattern of thinking, feeling, and interacting with others and with the world that tends to cause significant problems for the sufferer. Specifically, BPD tends to be associated with a pattern of unstable ways of seeing oneself, feeling, behaving, and relating to others that markedly interferes with the individual's ability to function. Also, as with other personality disorders, the person is usually an adolescent or adult before they can be assessed as meeting full symptom criteria for BPD.
Historically, BPD has been thought to be a set of symptoms that include both mood problems (neuroses) and distortions of reality (psychosis), and therefore was thought to be on the borderline between mood problems and schizophrenia. However, it is now understood that while the symptoms of BPD may straddle those symptom complexes, this illness is more closely related to other personality disorders in terms of how it may develop and occur within families. Contrary to what the medical community thought in the past, BPD is now understood to occur equally in men and women in general, while primarily in women in groups of people who are receiving mental-health treatment (treatment populations). The frequency with which this disorder occurs is also thought to be considerably higher than previously thought, affecting nearly 6% of adults over the course of a lifetime.
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