The lowdown on BPD….

Elinor Greenberg
Elinor Greenberg, PhD Psychologist

The short answer is no. The basic reasons why someone cannot overcome Borderline Personality Disorder on their own are:

  • It is hard to be objective about one’s own problems.
  • Therapists require years of specialized training to understand and treat BPD. This training is unavailable to people who are not mental health professionals.
  • Borderline defenses are designed to keep the underlying painful feelings left over from childhood trauma out-of-awareness. You cannot work on what you are unaware of.
  • Borderline individuals use “Splitting” as a defense. This means that they cannot see themselves and others in an integrated and stable way. Instead they alternate between two unrealistic views: either they are all-bad and unlovable or all-good and lovable.
  • To heal “Splitting” requires an objective observer (the therapist) who can see the person in an integrated way and who is trained to work with “Splitting.”
  • Many of the issues that surface when the person stops defensively acting out to distract themselves from feeling their pain—by cutting, binging, substance abuse, fighting, and so on—need considerable professional expertise to work on successfully without overwhelming the person emotionally.
  • Many Borderline individuals have been physically and sexually abused and/or abandoned. They sometimes suffer from PTSD as well. These complex issues are very difficult to deal with, even with the help of a well trained therapist.
  • Borderline individuals do not have enough internal support (and the necessary knowledge) to do all of this on their own.
  • The therapy for Borderline PD requires a number of years of consistent and focused hard work. Most people with BPD cannot commit to meditating for 10 minutes every day. It is unlikely they will be disciplined enough to do the necessary therapy with themselves even if they understood what it involved.

Punchline: Even psychotherapists go to other psychotherapists to get help with their problems. The psychotherapy of Borderline Personality Disorder is complicated and lengthy and requires specialized training. Trying to do it entirely on one’s own is a bit like trying to do your own knee replacement surgery.

Elinor Greenberg, PhD, CGP

In private practice in NYC and the author of the book: Borderline, Narcissistic, and Schizoid Adaptations: The Pursuit of Love, Admiration, and Safety.


2 thoughts on “The lowdown on BPD….

  1. It’s one of the tragedies of mental illness. The stigma that is still attached, has made people shy away, hence not learning about what it means. Not the person’s fault, but Society has no idea about any illness unless they’re educated. The media should show adverts on mental illness often (on TV) as well as in print, so as to educate the public. It is SO sad to see a loving relationship end, due to a mental illness. With mental illness, there are THREE people in the relationship. You, your loved one and then…mental illness. Sorry about your experience.

    BTW, on my blog page ‘traderoutz livingstyle’, is a heading called ‘Bipolarline’. If you click on that, it’ll take you to my youtube videos, where I vlog about mental illness, through a sufferers eyes and just give general advice, which most doctors don’t, or don’t know how to. Check it out if you have the time!


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