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Borderline Personality Disorder is not a mental illness that afflicts only women. It may seem that only women are diagnosed with BPD because we read and hear much more about the experiences of women and of course more women, still, seek help then do men.

I have often thought that when a woman presents for a diagnosis with certain difficulties and of course many of the traits that define BPD, she is diagnosed with BPD and that when a man may present similarly he may often be diagnosed with Narcissistic Personality Disorder. It seems that there is some gender bias of some sort in play between the number of men diagnosed with NPD and the number of women diagnosed with BPD.

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It is also important to realize that some people, be they male or female, actually have co-morbid diagnoses – that is to say they have both BPD and NPD.

When I was in therapy, in my recovery from BPD, there were so many more women in the groups than men. In fact, I was fairly aware of the courage it took for those men to be there and to not only be working to face their issues and to heal but to have to do so with mostly women all around them.

There were times when this was difficult for the men I was in therapy with. There were times when it would generate humour for all of us too. Times that some of us as women would hit awkward patches when we were talking about and/or expressing very intense emotions that the men would find very stressful.

I remember one group I was in, (small process group of which there were two) actually was missing 4 members one day, leaving only 4 of us and one male therapist, and in which I was the only female in the room. There was a great big burly guy who broke down, opened up, was in so much pain. I felt his pain. I had compassion for him but I felt I’d better get over to him and hug him because no guy in the room was going to do it. I didn’t mind. I wanted to hug him and give him a shoulder to cry on, literally. I just also happened to be aware that the guys weren’t able to do this for each other.

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It takes courage for anyone diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder to make the choice to get help and to make the choice to engage the process that is learning more about what having BPD means. It may take just a that little bit of extra courage on the part of men diagnosed with BPD.

On my  radio show I interviewed, Darren, who lives in the U.K. and who has Borderline Personality Disorder. Darren is just beginning to realize his issues and only a little over 20 days ago made a decision to stay clean and sober and to seek treatment.

© A.J. Mahari, September 9, 2008 – with an addition October 16, 2008 – All rights reserved.

A.J. Mahari is a Life Coach who, among other things, specializes in working with those with BPD and non borderlines. A.J. has 5 years experience as a life coach and has worked with hundreds of clients from all over the world.

Borderline Personality is not just a Women’s Mental Illness