The gift inside borderline personality disorder (BPD)

“It is increasingly being recognised that many individuals who receive the diagnosis of BPD are naturally highly intuitive and perceptive. What was previously thought of as a genetic vulnerability may actually reflect an innate talent.” 

People who were born emotionally intense, sensitive and are gifted with heightened perceptivity are like powerful sports cars. It is as if they have an extremely powerful engine that requires a special fuel and a specific kind of care. In the right condition and with the right keeping, they can be one of the most high-performing machines in the world and win many races. The problem is, however, that they may not have been taught how to run this powerful machine. To borrow a metaphor from psychologist Dr Hallowell (Additudemag.com), it is like having a Ferrari with bicycle brakes, and these brakes are simply not strong enough to control such a powerful engine.

Many emotionally intense people are diagnosed or misdiagnosed with various mental disorders throughout their lives, some of the most common ones are mood disorders, including bipolar disorder, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), eating disorders and personality disorders. Whilst these conditions are real and extremely painful, we should not immediately assume that they are signs of a defect.

A ‘diagnosis’ in psychiatry simply represents a cluster of symptoms, which are manifestations of internal conflicts and disease. In reality, the distinction from one disorder to another is unclear. The purpose of having these arbitrary categories is so that clinicians can fall back on a standardised framework to do research and to prescribe medication. Plus, they serve a purpose for the insurance industry. With the dominance of the medical model, we tend to pathologize, and overlook the possibility that the distress may be a result of us not honouring our utterly unique make-up as individuals.

In this article, we consider how this might be the case with BPD. It is increasingly being recognised that many individuals who receive the diagnosis of BPD are endowed with heightened sensitivity and perceptivity, and what was previously thought of as a genetic vulnerability may actually be a form of giftedness. Drawing on psychological research and theories, we see that many people who struggle with BPD do so as a result of two combing factors:

A) Their innate intuitive talents, and the specific developmental requirements that go along with it, and

B) a childhood environment that fails to meet their emotions needs.

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