Women with borderline personality disorder: aetiology, assessment, and prognosis

Sarah Majid

in Oxford Textbook of Women and Mental Health

Published on behalf of Oxford University Press

ISBN: 9780199214365
Published online July 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780199640454 | DOI:

Series: Oxford Textbooks

Women with borderline personality disorder: aetiology, assessment, and prognosis

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Personality disorders are developmental conditions appearing in childhood or adolescence and continuing into adulthood. They are characterized by deeply ingrained and enduring patterns of behaving, feeling, and relating that deviate significantly from the average individual in a culture. They are usually associated with subjective distress and problems in social functioning and performance across multiple social and occupational domains. Borderline personality disorder (BPD) is characterized by emotional instability, unstable relationships, and impulsive, often dangerous, behaviour. It has been typically regarded as an untreatable condition, with patients often disliked and avoided by professionals and understandably alienated and angry with services. BPD patients are commonly but not exclusively women, and often present with associated difficulties such as eating disorders and self-harm. They are significant utilizers of mental health services, have high rates of unemployment, and 10% commit suicide.

As women, many patients are parents themselves with important implications for treatment and risk assessment. In this chapter I review aetiological theories, including neurobiological and psychosocial and attachment based models, and more current work focusing on mentalization. I go on to consider the assessment and diagnosis of BPD in women in particular, and the natural history of the disorder, bearing in mind findings from recent research.

Chapter.  7694 words. 

Subjects: Psychiatry

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