This post contains some of the best BPD quotes.
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What Is BPD?
The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition, Text Revision (DSM-5-TR) is the standard reference that therapists of all specialties use to diagnose mental disorders of all kinds.
The DSM-5-TR defines Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) as “A pervasive pattern of instability of interpersonal relationships, self-image, and affects, and marked impulsivity, beginning by early adulthood and present in a variety of contexts, as indicated by five (or more) of the following:
1. Frantic efforts to avoid real or imagined abandonment. (Note: Do not include suicidal or self-mutilating behavior covered in Criterion 5.)
2. A pattern of unstable and intense interpersonal relationships characterized by alternating between extremes of idealization and devaluation.
3. Identity disturbance: markedly and persistently unstable self-image or sense of self.
4. Impulsivity in at least two areas that are potentially self-damaging (e.g., spending, sex, substance abuse, reckless driving, binge eating).
(Note: Do not include suicidal or selfmutilating behavior covered in Criterion 5.)
5. Recurrent suicidal behavior, gestures, or threats, or self-mutilating behavior.
6. Affective instability due to a marked reactivity of mood (e.g., intense episodic dysphoria, irritability, or anxiety usually lasting a few hours and only rarely more than a few days).
7. Chronic feelings of emptiness.
8. Inappropriate, intense anger or difficulty controlling anger (e.g., frequent displays of temper, constant anger, recurrent physical fights).
9. Transient, stress-related paranoid ideation or severe dissociative symptoms.”
1. “A borderline suffers a kind of emotional hemophilia; [s]he lacks the clotting mechanism needed to moderate [his or her] spurts of feeling. Stimulate a passion, and the borderline emotionally bleeds to death.” ― Jerold Kreisman, Hal Straus
2. “If you have BPD, seeing the close friends in your life drift away and not seem to have time for you can feel so painful that it can seem as though you have lost them forever. The danger in believing that they have been intentionally hurtful is that you might do things that worsen the relationship to the point that they won’t want to spend any time with you in the future.” – Blaise Aguirre & Gillian Galen
3. “Certainly, it’s important to acknowledge and identify the effects of BPD on your life. It’s equally important to realize that it neither dictates who you are nor fixes your destiny.” ― Kimberlee Roth
4. “Controlling your emotional buttons is very empowering, and taking this skill forward with you is important because you’re going to continue to encounter situations that will challenge and stress you.” – Daniel J. Fox
5. “Dysfunctional beliefs live by untruths and thrive in the dark—the unchallenged and unexplored parts of your BPD. They cause you to believe you’re broken, useless, worthless, empty, and inept, among other things. But they’re weakened by evidence that shows they’re inaccurate. To challenge and change them, you have to shine a light on them.” – Daniel J. Fox
6. “Enhancing your control over your triggers is one component of managing and growing beyond your BPD.” – Daniel J. Fox
7. “Feeling alone is common for people with BPD—so common that it’s a criterion (chronic feelings of emptiness) for the disorder. But you’re not alone.” – Daniel J. Fox
8. “Feeling bored is an unpleasant state of being. It can make time drag on, and then when this happens, your mind can start to wander. For people with BPD, a wandering mind can tend to go to some pretty self-destructive and self-judging places.” – Blaise Aguirre & Gillian Galen
9. “For those of us with BPD, entering into a shared experience means passing through the ring of fire that leaves us feeling even more burned—and in this case branded with a label no one would ever choose to wear.” ― Kiera Van Gelder
10. “I couldn’t trust my own emotions. Which emotional reactions were justified, if any? And which ones were tainted by the mental illness of BPD?” ― Rachel Reiland
11. “If you have BPD, you may often become a prisoner of your own habitual thoughts and dwell on them. Sometimes this type of rumination can lead to catastrophizing the situation whereby you imagine a situation much worse than the one you are facing. You are kept prisoner by playing this situation over and over again in your head. Catching the rumination and noting that it is simply a creation of your mind gives you a good chance of facing the situation more effectively than if you are paralyzed by the fear.” – Blaise Aguirre & Gillian Galen
12. “It’s common for people with a BPD diagnosis to look inward with a sense of self-blame, self-hate, confusion, and conflict. You may feel as though you’re broken or cursed. You may also believe that this disorder is an inescapable result of who you are and what you’ve experienced. Unfortunately, these beliefs and feelings keep BPD in place, leaving you feeling alone, ashamed, and tangled up in the disorder.” – Daniel J. Fox
13. “Learning about and exploring your BPD will help you grow beyond it, but sometimes it can make you feel like you’re alone. You may feel like you’re the only one having these feelings, thoughts, memories, and reactions, but it’s important to remember that you’re not alone. BPD is a disorder that many people experience.” – Daniel J. Fox
14. “Many people misunderstand what borderline personality disorder (BPD) is and how it impacts people’s lives, including those who have it and the family members, friends, loved ones, coworkers, and others who are in their life.” – Daniel J. Fox
15. “Many people with BPD find that they morph, acting differently depending on whom they are around. Sometimes these people are referred to as social chameleons.” – Blaise Aguirre & Gillian Galen
16. “Mood-altering substances can worsen mood-dependent behavior, especially in people who struggle with BPD or have difficulty regulating their emotions.” – Blaise Aguirre & Gillian Galen
17. “My skin is so thin that the innocent words of others burn holes right through me.” ― BPD Pieces of Me Community
18. “Owing to a poorly defined sense of self, people with BPD rely on others for their feelings of worth and emotional caretaking. So fearful are they of feeling alone that they may act in desperate ways that quite frequently bring about the very abandonment and rejection they’re trying to avoid.” ― Kimberlee Roth
19. “People with BPD are like people with third degree burns over 90% of their bodies. Lacking emotional skin, they feel agony at the slightest touch or movement.” ― Marsha Linehan
20. “People with BPD have a hard time self-validating. Crying without judging your crying is a great way to self-validate. Choose a period of time to cry and set a timer, because you don’t want to spend the whole day crying!” – Blaise Aguirre & Gillian Galen
21. “Positive relationships are empowering, supportive, caring, and trusting. They make you feel secure with who you are. Negative relationships leave you feeling alone, hurt, uncertain, confused, and bad about yourself. Individuals with BPD tend to have more negative relationships than positive ones, and as you grow out of your BPD you’ll learn how to cultivate and benefit from positive relationships.” – Daniel J. Fox
22. “Sometimes people with BPD don’t say no because they worry that the other person will think poorly of them or even abandon them; in turn, the person with BPD does things that cross his values.” – Blaise Aguirre & Gillian Galen
23. “The negative thought of self-loathing is one of the more unrelenting and destructive thoughts in BPD.” – Blaise Aguirre & Gillian Galen
24. “The pain you know probably feels safer than the comfort and safety you don’t yet know. But growing beyond your BPD and using adaptive and healthy response patterns to manage situations, relationships, and stress is a good thing. Having more control over your life is a powerful thing.” – Daniel J. Fox
25. “Typically what people with BPD mean when they say that they are not normal is that they have the kinds of thoughts and emotions that keep them miserable while others don’t seem to suffer as intensely, if at all.” – Blaise Aguirre & Gillian Galen
26. “Unhealthy relationships are often what encourage the negative beliefs, behaviors, and patterns that fuel your BPD, whereas healthy relationships discourage them.” – Daniel J. Fox
27. “When the “iron” of your emotional reaction is hot, it’s hard to handle. When it has cooled down, it’s manageable—you can “touch” it without getting burned. There’s room to maneuver, emotionally speaking.” – Daniel J. Fox
28. “When you know what your emotional buttons mean, and the influence they have on you, you’re empowered to manage your responses and to choose to not engage in negative patterns. This lessens the control BPD has over you.” – Daniel J. Fox
29. “You may want your relationships to be black and white, and attempting to force them to be so is a part of your BPD holding you in place.” – Daniel J. Fox
30. “Borderline personality disorder is not a lifelong condition, and the majority of people with BPD will not live lives of unremitting suffering. Your life will get better.” – Blaise Aguirre & Gillian Galen
31. “A “Woman’s Illness”? Until recently, studies suggested that women borderlines outnumbered men by as much as three or four to one. However, more recent epidemiological research confirms that prevalence is similar in both genders, although women enter treatment more frequently.”– Jerold J. Kreisman & Hal Straus
32. “A major symptom of BPD is very low frustration tolerance. When an individual with BPD does not get what she wants, she experiences intolerable levels of emotion. Her efforts to resolve her frustration generally result in conflicts with those around her.”– Daniel S. Lobel
33. “Although BPD has an identifiable set of symptoms, the specific symptoms and the intensity of those symptoms varies greatly from person to person.” – Charles H. Elliott & Laura L. Smith
34. “Borderline personality disorder (BPD), arguably the most common and debilitating of all the personality disorders, causes chaos and anguish for both the people who suffer from the disorder and those who care about them.” – Charles H. Elliott & Laura L. Smith
35. “Borderline personality disorder is an illness, and as such it wounds. The instability of self-perception, emotion, and relationships that is caused by BPD causes your daughter’s childhood to be frightening and sometimes chaotic.”– Daniel S. Lobel
36. “Central to the borderline syndrome is the lack of a core sense of identity. When describing themselves, borderlines typically paint a confused or contradictory self-portrait, in contrast to other patients who generally have a much clearer sense of who they are. To overcome their indistinct and mostly negative self-image, borderlines, like actors, are constantly searching for “good roles,” complete “characters” they can use to fill their identity void. So they often adapt like chameleons to the environment, situation, or companions of the moment, much like the title character in Woody Allen’s film Zelig, who literally assumes the personality, identity, and appearance of people around him.” – Jerold J. Kreisman & Hal Straus
37. “Despite feeling continually victimized by others, a borderline desperately seeks out new relationships; for solitude, even temporary aloneness, is more intolerable than mistreatment. To escape the loneliness, the borderline will flee to singles bars, the arms of recent pickups, somewhere—anywhere—to meet someone who might save her from the torment of her own thoughts.”– Jerold J. Kreisman & Hal Straus
38. “Dramatic bouts of anger and rage frequently plague people with BPD. Again, the events that trigger these rages may seem inconsequential to other people. As you can imagine, these explosions often wreak havoc in relationships and may even result in physical confrontations. People with BPD sometimes end up in legal entanglements because of their outrageous behavior. Road rage is a good example of this symptom of BPD, although not everyone who exhibits road rage has BPD. ” – Charles H. Elliott & Laura L. Smith
39. “Exposure to these rapidly shifting experiences leads to unexpected suffering, anger, and agony in those with BPD. Friends and family worry and often fail to understand how their loved ones with BPD perceive themselves and the world. Unstable and unreliable worldviews help explain the chaos exhibited by those with BPD.” – Charles H. Elliott & Laura L. Smith
40. “Family members of people with BPD suffer right along with their loved ones. Watching their loved ones cycle through periods of self-harm, suicide attempts, out-of-control emotions, risky behaviors, and substance abuse isn’t easy. Partners, parents, and relatives often feel helpless. Friends often go from trying to help to walking away in frustration and anger. ” – Charles H. Elliott & Laura L. Smith
41. “For people with borderline personality disorder (BPD), self-images, feelings, and relationships constantly change before their eyes. Imagine an app that skews, distorts, deforms, bends, or curves images of people, situations, and emotions.” – Charles H. Elliott & Laura L. Smith
42. “For people with borderline personality disorder (BPD), self-images, feelings, and relationships constantly change before their eyes. Imagine an app that skews, distorts, deforms, bends, or curves images of people, situations, and emotions. This make-believe app changes the perceptions of those with BPD into tormented, ridiculous, crazy, or sinister pictures. Thus, thoughts and feelings become inappropriate, seemingly random, or exaggerated. As a result, it can be almost impossible for the person with BPD to distinguish illusion from reality” – Charles H. Elliott & Laura L. Smith
43. “Human brains have built-in braking systems, which, in theory, are a lot like the ones that five-ton trucks use to slow down as they roll downhill. These brake systems come in handy when the trucks drive down steep mountains, or, in terms of the human brain, when the intensity of emotions flares up in certain situations. Unfortunately, most people with BPD have brake systems that are adequate for golf carts — not five-ton trucks — which are hardly enough to handle the weighty emotions that often accompany BPD.” – Charles H. Elliott & Laura L. Smith
44. “If you have BPD, you shouldn’t assume that you were abused as a child. Unlike claims that some poorly trained therapists have made to the contrary, most instances of trauma tend to be at least partially recalled over the years. Therapies based on the assumption that everyone with BPD was abused often guide people to construct memories of events that evidence later shows never occurred.” – Charles H. Elliott & Laura L. Smith
45. “Individuals with borderline personality disorder (BPD) battle with their feelings, their practices, and their feeling of personality, just as their associations with others.”– Dave McGregor
46. “Maintaining closeness with a borderline requires an understanding of the syndrome and a willingness to walk a long, perilous tight-rope. Too much closeness threatens the borderline with suffocation. Keeping one’s distance or leaving a borderline alone—even for brief periods—recalls the sense of abandonment he felt as a child. In either case, the borderline reacts intensely.”– Jerold J. Kreisman & Hal Straus
47. “Many people with BPD report feeling painfully empty inside. They have overwhelming cravings for something more, but can’t identify what that something more is. They feel bored, lonely, and unfulfilled. They hunger for something that could give them a sense of purpose or direction. They may attempt to fill their needs with superficial sex, drugs, or food, but nothing ever seems truly satisfying — they feel like they’re trying to fill a black hole.” – Charles H. Elliott & Laura L. Smith
48. “Marriage isn’t as common among people with BPD as it is among people without the disorder. And, when people with BPD do marry, not as many of them choose to have children compared to the general population. Perhaps surprisingly, their rate of divorce doesn’t appear to be strikingly different from the rate among the rest of the population. ” – Charles H. Elliott & Laura L. Smith
49. “Not everyone who has horrible childhood experiences or traumas ends up with borderline personality disorder (BPD). However, most people with BPD report difficult or traumatic childhoods.” – Charles H. Elliott & Laura L. Smith
50. “People afflicted with BPD often fall in love quickly and intensely. They place new loves on pedestals, but their pedestals collapse when the slightest disappointments (whether real or imagined) inevitably occur. People in relationships with people who have BPD (whether they’re lovers, co-workers, or friends) experience emotional whiplash from the frequent changes from idolization to demonization. As a result, many people find difficulty in maintaining meaningful relationships with those who have BPD.” – Charles H. Elliott & Laura L. Smith
51. “People with BPD ache to fill this hole with a sense of who they are, a higher level of self-esteem, and high amounts of outside nurturance, unconditional love, and adoration. But no one can fill such a huge personal chasm. Partners and friends may be defeated soon after they enter the relationship. Their attempts to make their friends who have BPD happy too often fail. The people with BPD reflexively respond to their friends’ efforts with surprising disappointment, pain, and sometimes even anger.” – Charles H. Elliott & Laura L. Smith
52. “People with BPD also sometimes perceive their bodies as being separate from themselves, which is called dissociation. They describe these occurrences as like looking down at what is happening to them from another vantage point.” – Charles H. Elliott & Laura L. Smith
53. “People with BPD also think differently than most people do. They tend to see situations and people in all-or-nothing, black-and-white terms with few shades of gray. As a result, they consider events to be either wonderful or awful, people in their lives to be either angels or devils, and their life status to be either elevated or hopeless.” – Charles H. Elliott & Laura L. Smith
54. “People with BPD desperately want to have good relationships, but they inadvertently sabotage their efforts to create and maintain positive relationships over and over again. You may be wondering how they continually end up in rocky relationships.” – Charles H. Elliott & Laura L. Smith
55. “People with BPD experience extreme emotional swings. They may feel on top of the world one moment and plunge into deep despair the next. These mood swings are intense but usually transient, lasting only a few minutes or hours. The emotional flip-flops often occur in response to seemingly trivial triggers.” – Charles H. Elliott & Laura L. Smith
56. “People with BPD often have trouble controlling their impulses, or immediate wants and desires. They crave excitement and drama, and they crave it now — hence the term sensation seekers. They feel driven to fill the deep well of emptiness they feel inside, but with every impulsive behavior, they only increase their feelings of hollowness.” – Charles H. Elliott & Laura L. Smith
57. “Relationships involving people with BPD resemble revolving doors. People with BPD often see other people as either all good or all bad, and these judgments can flip from day to day or even from hour to hour.” – Charles H. Elliott & Laura L. Smith
58. “Self-harm is a particularly common and conspicuous symptom in people with BPD. People who exhibit this symptom may threaten or attempt suicide and do so often.” – Charles H. Elliott & Laura L. Smith
59. “Splitting creates an escape hatch from anxiety: the borderline typically experiences a close friend or relation (call him “Joe”) as two separate people at different times. One day, she can admire “Good Joe” without reservation, perceiving him as completely good; his negative qualities do not exist; they have been purged and attributed to “Bad Joe.” Other days, she can guiltlessly and totally despise “Bad Joe” and rage at his evil without self-reproach—for now his positive traits do not exist; he fully deserves the rage.”– Jerold J. Kreisman & Hal Straus
60. “Technically defined, splitting is the rigid separation of positive and negative thoughts and feelings about oneself and others; that is, the inability to synthesize these feelings. Most individuals can experience ambivalence and perceive two contradictory feeling states at one time; borderlines characteristically shift back and forth, entirely unaware of one emotional state while immersed in another.”– Jerold J. Kreisman & Hal Straus
61. “The emotional shifts of people with BPD are almost as unpredictable as earthquakes. They can also be just as shaky and attention grabbing. After people with BPD unleash their emotions, they usually don’t have the ability to regain steady ground.” – Charles H. Elliott & Laura L. Smith
62. “The multiple causes of BPD should increase compassion for the people who suffer from the disorder because these causes prove that people don’t go through life asking for BPD. They acquire the disorder for reasons beyond their control.” – Charles H. Elliott & Laura L. Smith
63. “The rapidly shifting emotional ground of people with BPD causes the people around them to walk warily. In the same day, or even the same hour, people with BPD can demonstrate serenity, rage, despair, and euphoria.” – Charles H. Elliott & Laura L. Smith
64. “The world of a borderline, like that of a child, is split into heroes and villains. A child emotionally, the borderline cannot tolerate human inconsistencies and ambiguities; he cannot reconcile another’s good and bad qualities into a constant, coherent understanding of that person. At any particular moment, one is either “good” or “evil”; there is no in-between, no gray area. Nuances and shadings are grasped with great difficulty, if at all. Lovers and mates, mothers and fathers, siblings, friends, and psychotherapists may be idolized one day, totally devalued and dismissed the next.” – Jerold J. Kreisman & Hal Straus
65. “To reduce anxiety over the possibility of abandonment, those with BPD often seek reassurance from their friends and loved ones. They may ask, “Do you still love me?” numerous times per day. They may feel terror over perceived criticism or slights, assuming it means they’re no longer cared about. If it’s even possible that some action could imply rejection, they’re likely to perceive it as such. This constant fear leads to much unwanted suffering on the part of the person with BPD.” – Charles H. Elliott & Laura L. Smith
66. “What happens to turn a relationship so full of love and excitement into something full of pain and confusion? Well, many people with BPD fear abandonment above almost anything else. Yet, at the same time, they don’t believe they’re worthy of getting what they really want. They can hardly imagine that another person truly does love them. So, when their partners inevitably fail to fulfill their every need, they believe the next step is abandonment.” – Charles H. Elliott & Laura L. Smith
67. “Further, individuals with BPD frequently become gulped by melancholy or misery, leaving the parental figure or relative in obscurity about what to do.”– Dave McGregor
68. “BPD is a turmoil of insecurity and disorders with feelings. Individuals with BPD are insecure in their feelings, their reasoning, their connections, their personality, and their conduct. Individuals with BPD have rough connections and are regularly scared of being surrendered.”– Dave McGregor
69. “Inwardly, individuals with BPD feel like they are on an exciting ride, with their feelings going here and there suddenly.”– Dave McGregor
70. “Individuals with BPD act imprudently (they act rapidly without intuition) when they are disturbed, and they now and then endeavor suicide and take part in self-hurt.”– Dave McGregor
71. “Also, people with BPD are statistically very likely to have additional accompanying problems, called comorbidities. The most common accompanying problems are major depression, panic disorder, PTSD, and substance use disorders (Biskin and Paris 2013).” – Cedar Koons
72. “Borderline personality disorder (BPD) is a complex and serious mental disorder. It is estimated to occur in 1%–2% of the general population (Torgersen et al. 2001) and is the most common personality disorder for which people receive treatment.” – John G. Gunderson and Perry D. Hoffman
73. “Borderline personality disorder can coexist with other mental disorders, including other personality disorders. When BPD occurs with other disorders, such as anxiety or mood disorders, this often complicates the treatment of these conditions and leads to a poorer outcome.” – John G. Gunderson and Perry D. Hoffman
74. “Often devastating, borderline personality disorder (BPD) is an illness that not only affects individuals with the diagnosis but also intensely affects those who care about them.” – John G. Gunderson and Perry D. Hoffman
75. “Some people are more susceptible to emotion mind because of temperament and upbringing. Having an emotionally vulnerable temperament and growing up in an invalidating environment put people at risk for developing BPD (Linehan 1993).” – Cedar Koons
76. “To understand BPD better, it is helpful to know a few demographic facts. For example, 75 percent of people diagnosed with BPD are female, and up to 75 percent of people with BPD intentionally harm themselves at least once during their lifetime. About 10 percent of people with BPD actually kill themselves. Because of their suicidal tendencies, people with BPD make up about 20 percent of patients in psychiatric hospitals, even though they account for only about 2 percent of the national population (Gunderson 2009).” – Cedar Koons
77. “What statistics cannot show is that regardless of stereotypes, people with BPD look very different from one another (Paris 1993). What they all have in common is the experience of severe emotional distress and difficulty managing emotions.” – Cedar Koons
78. “When agency is lacking, we tend to believe we have no control over what happens to us, perhaps even over our own behavior. A consistent, positive self-image is correlated with good mental health. The sense of agency has been correlated with improved mental health among people with BPD (Adler 2012).” – Cedar Koons
Top 4 BPD Books
- Portions of this article were adapted from the book The Borderline Personality Disorder Workbook, © 2021 by Daniel J. Fox. All rights reserved.
- Portions of this article were adapted from the book Coping With BPD, © 2015 by Blaise Aguirre & Gillian Galen. All rights reserved.
Hadiah is a counselor who is passionate about supporting individuals on their journey towards mental well-being. Hadiah not only writes insightful articles on various mental health topics but also creates engaging and practical mental health worksheets.
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