Many people would like to change the terminology of the “borderline personality disorder” to a new term that more accurately describes the illness. The term “BPD” in and of itself is as if the whole person (and the personality) is flawed, rather than looking at the BPD as a medical problem it actually is.

The term “borderline personality disorder” implies that there is no hope for treatment as many mental health professionals unfortunately still believe. There is thought that this illness borders on schizophrenia, thus the term “borderline.”

What then is borderline personality disorder? These questions have been posed to Dr. Leland Heller, expert in treating borderline personality disorder.

Q. What do you think about the term “borderline personality disorder”?

A. “I think it’s a horrible, insulting label for a real medical illness. The name alone reduces serious research, stigmatizes victims, and implies the person is crazy. It denies the medical nature of the process, and implies simply a personality problem.”

Q. Do you think “borderline personality disorder” is an accurate description?

A. “No I don’t. It implies a character problem. While I’ve encountered many people with a bad character who had the BPD, most borderlines I’ve treated (over 2100) do not have character problems. “Borderline” means patients live “at the border” between psychosis and reality. When borderlines are well treated medically, psychotic experiences are few and far between – and can be treated well. Borderlines don’t live at that border, they simply go into psychosis too easily under stress.”

Q. What is the BPD?

A. “The BPD is a medical problem, likely a form of epilepsy (brain cells firing inappropriately and out of control). The characteristic symptoms include inappropriate moodiness, chronic anger, emptiness, boredom, dysphoria (anxiety, rage, depression and despair) and psychosis. The other criteria are symptoms related to these medical problems.

ALL neurological disorders can have an effect on the personality, such as Parkinson’s disease which isn’t called the ‘shaking personality disorder.’ ”

Q. What does this term “Dyslimbia” mean?

“ ‘Dys’ means malfunction, and limbia meaning from the limbic system.

‘Dyslimbia’ is malfunction of the limbic system. While other neuropsychiatric disorders involve malfunction of the limbic system, the limbic system dysfunction is profound in the BPD. I chose Dyslimbia for my patients to take the stigma away. The BPD needs a new name, one that emphasizes healing not labeling.

I don’t care if it’s renamed ‘Dyslimbia’ or not, but a more honest, humane, and hopeful name needs to be made for this illness. Patients deserve to get medical attention for ‘Dyslimbia’ (or an equivalent name), rather than have doctors and therapists shun them because they are ‘borderlines.’”





4 Responses to A Possible New Name for BPD”

  1. Beverley Exton says:

    Wow…..this is the BEST description of BPD Ive ever read online. Im 47,going thru menopause, & have had BPD all my life. Was diagnosed about 4yrs ago & havent really understood its functioning. This has been very liberating…this description. Even saying neurons are misfiring is a huge revelation!!! Thankyou soooo much. Im on effexor….& it seems to have calmed the dysphoria somewhat…..plus I have to work on it alot using Buddhist methods re detachment. I’d love to receive a newsletter or something. Thanks again xxxx

  2. David sadgrove says:

    Hi Dr heller I have now got all the medication that u recommend but could u let me know how long to take
    The buspar for I know u say take them for four weeks before adding prozac do u stop taking them when u add the prozac or carry on taking them also I have got pregabalin instead of carbamazapine do I take them long term I want to start my meds but I am unsure in what sequence I’m desperate to start feeling better and I’m in so much pain right now if u could email me this information I would be so grateful the p docs in England don’t don’t seem to see borderline in the same light as urself and just told me to start them all at once kind regards d. Sadgrove

  3. David sadgrove says:

    P’s over here in England they refer to borderline as emotional dysregulation disorder I don’t know if this is a better term or not to be honest

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