Four Types of Borderline Personality Disorder
by Dr. Neil Lavender, Ph.D.
So much has been written today about the Borderline Personality Disorder. These individuals, often very abused in their childhoods, can wreak havoc in organizational settings and close relationships. They are known for their impulsivity, self – destructive nature, moodiness, anger, and, perhaps most importantly, their tendency to have very stormy relationships. Think Glenn Close in the movie Fatal Attraction.
But not all borderlines are alike. In his stellar book, Disorders of Personality: DSM-IV and Beyond, Theodore Millon identifies four different subtypes of Borderline Personality Disorder. Incidentally, Millon is one of the leading experts in the field of personality disorders and Borderline Personality Disorder so he knows what he’s talking about. His book is one of the best books out there for any serious student of personality disorders and I recommend it highly to those who are more advanced in their study of psychology.
The Discouraged Borderline in many ways can look very much like an individual with Dependent Personality Disorder, or what is commonly known in today’s jargon as codependent. They tend to be clingy, go along with the crowd, and walk around feeling somber and somewhat dejected. Deep inside however, there are often angry and disappointed with the actions of those around them. Scratch the surface, and that anger could explode, but they are much more likely to do harm to themselves by self-mutilating or even suicide.
The Impulsive Borderline seems to be a first cousin to the Histrionic Personality Disorder. These individuals tend to be flirtatious, captivating, elusive and superficial. They are highly energetic and seek out thrill after thrill. They are easily bored and seem to have it never ending appetite for attention and excitement. As their name implies, they will often act without thinking getting themselves into all sorts of trouble. These people can often be very charismatic and it’s easy to get caught in their spell. Beware!
Millon’s third subtype is what he calls the Petulant Borderline. He describes them as being “unpredictable, irritable, impatient, and complaining” as well as “defiant, disgruntled, stubborn, pessimistic and resentful”. They are torn between relying upon people and at the same time keeping their distance for fear of disappointment. They vacillate between feelings of unworthiness and anger. This anger can be quite explosive. Better not get in their line of fire.
Finally, there is the Self – Destructive Borderline. This type was marked by his constant sense of bitterness which they turn inward. They will often engage in self-destructive behaviors whether it is conscious or unconscious. Their levels of self-hatred can often reach monumental proportions leading them into all types of self-destructive behaviors, ranging from poor healthcare to reckless driving to performing humiliating sexual acts.
These people are not your run-of-the-mill ”toxic coworker”. Though they might often seem okay on the surface, these are deeply disturbed individuals in need of help. Even the most experienced of therapists are challenged by them.
Forewarned is forearmed; it’s best just to keep your distance. More next time.
- What is borderline personality disorder? (zocdoc.com)