Friday, June 11, 2010

Borderline personality disorder, self-harm and suicide

People with borderline personality disorder (BPD) are said to be 'stable in their instability.' They have a terror of being alone with great efforts being made to avoid real or imagined abandonment. People's moods are extremely unstable and inappropriate anger and impulsive behaviour are common. People with BPD are much more likely to engage in self-harm and suicidal behaviour and researchers from the University of Bristol carried out an in-depth study interviewing four women with a history of self-injury and overdosing. They found that suicide and self-harm attempts could be triggered off by distressing events either a long time ago (such as child abuse) or more recently e.g. interpersonal conflict or negative thoughts about themselves. An overdose was seen as a last resort once self-injury had become insufficient as a means of self-help to manage feelings of desperation and isolation. The study found that the women felt ambivalence towards death with an overdose "appearing to depict an attempt to resolve unbearable feelings through an unarticulated 'cry for help.'"

Brooke, Stu and Horn, Nick - The meaning of self-injury and overdosing amongst women fulfilling the diagnostic criteria for 'borderline personality disorder.' Psychology and psychotherapy: theory, research and practice June 2010, 83(2), 113-128

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