The internet is a wonderful resource of information on a wide variety of topics as pertains to how people experience each other in family relationships, dating relationships, significant other relationships, friendships and so on. Just googling something, though it may give you insight into what might well be going on, does not for a diagnosis of Borderline Personality Disorder make. Too many people do this on google or some other search engine and then find support sites to talk about their experience, relating to others sharing of their experiences. Patterns may emerge. Understanding may be or seem to be increasing. However, how can you really know?
Have you thought about the risks that could be involved psychologically, relationally, and the very high percentage chance that whatever lead you to first search what you did on this subject may well only cause more conflict, emotional pain, and a whole host of other relational difficulties you may well have been experiencing in a more heightened way? It is just not very helpful to play amateur psychologist or psychiatrist with a loved one or family member. You can know or highly suspect someone has Borderline Personality Disorder but you can’t know for sure unless and until they are formally diagnosed.
What are some common unwanted outcomes – 10 Top Risks?
- Higher conflict
- Higher defensiveness
- You may be right but you may not be – that has a lot of consequences in damaging trust and relationships either way
- Verbal Abuse
- Blaming you – you will be told that you have BPD
- Triggering a whole host of negative painful emotions, abandonment, rejection, betrayal etc., even when you intend nothing of the sort
- Triggering an erosion of any even slight trust
- The messenger may not ever be forgiven for delivering the message meant to help
I have (and over time have had) a lot of clients that are having painful relational experience in their lives with someone they believe has Borderline Personality Disorder. Family members, loved ones – girlfriends, boyfriends noticing certain things in their relationship with or to someone often google a variety of things they are experiencing and end up reading about BPD. It makes a lot of sense when what you are reading about BPD very much resonates with your experience with either a family member or a partner or person you are dating.
However, even if you may be absolutely correct, it is important not to diagnose someone you love. Many, after having more or less decided without their “BPD loved” one getting a formal diagnosis, try to help and explain what BPD is to this person in their lives. This is contraindicated and generally a recipe for disaster, relationally speaking.
One’s first instinct often is to present all this information you’ve just found to the possible BPD family member or loved one and what ensues is often not what one had hoped for at all.
It is important to try to talk to your loved one or family member (without mentioning BPD) some of the things you are experiencing or feeling. In order to have the best chance to be heard, however, it is also important not to just list all that you feel he/she is doing or how you feel. It is important to be as validating of your loved one as possible, while still expressing as gently and kindly a you can (in a calm time) what you are experiencing.
See if there are concerns that you can talk to your loved one or family member about that they themselves may have some insight about if they don’t feel attacked, shamed, blamed, or blamed. If you can establish some agreed upon difficulties it can be helpful to also include yourself as being part of the relational dynamic and then suggests that it might be helpful if you each consult a mental health professional. It is not the most effective thing to just suggest that your loved one or family member do this as they will then hear/perceive that you are saying it is all his/her issue or problem. Even if it is more his/her issues or not, joining with the person in your life (partnering in exploring how the relating/communicating or lack thereof is going) will more often than not engender some level of cooperation.
Sometimes, people suggest couple’s counselling or family counselling. This is better than not having the person you think may have Borderline Personality Disorder not seek out any help or find out more from someone other than yourself.
Suspected or actual BPD family members or BPD Loved Ones need to know that most do not recommend joint counselling before a person is firstly assessed and evaluated by a mental health professional and secondly, actually diagnosed with BPD, which initially then means the most effective route is each person getting their own therapy. Joint therapy should be the last step in a process of someone with BPD getting his/her own therapy and a BPD Family member(s) or loved one(s) getting his/her or their own therapy.
For the best possible outcome in any relational dynamic it is best to discuss in calm times and without the buzz words what your experiencing and asking your family member or loved one how and what they are feeling or thinking and validating how they feel. This is a much more successful approach to getting someone with potential BPD to a mental health professional who can make the official diagnosis or not.
It is also very important, though it can be equally important, for (suspected or actual) BPD family, bpd loved ones, to not make any diagnosis of someone they love and care about at all let alone reading about it online. Most online tests are not very reliable or professional either. So many people have seen relational dynamics drastically and very painfully worsen quickly by trying to be the one who knows it all or knows best or is trying to figure it all out and then tell the other person to try to change, help, or rescue them, or all three.
As someone who has been working with those with Borderline Personality and BPD Family members and significant others – or Ex’s still trying to get someone to understand they may have BPD, it is not constructive to diagnose your family member or loved one based upon internet reading or the DSM criteria. And of course, mental health professionals with a suspected BPD loved one or BPD Family member, are also best to have someone else do the assessing and diagnosing as well.
© A.J. Mahari, December 16, 2015 – All rights reserved.