Not always fatal.
The Appeal of Borderline Personality When the Attraction isn't Fatal Posted Jan 09, 2016 Sometimes, when people learn that I have interest in treating patients with a diagnosis of borderline personality disorder, they are confounded. “Aren’t these the Fatal Attraction people who drive you crazy?” Professionals may occasionally proclaim “Oh, I won’t treat those clients.” (Even though they are; they just haven’t figured it out yet!)
When portrayed in the media with the borderline label, these characters demonstrate histrionic, destructive, self-absorbed behavior, played for high drama or outrageous comedy. Derisive descriptions of someone using psychiatric jargon is now less often, “He is totally schizo (or, manic, or narcissistic, etc.)!”
Instead, I more often hear, “My first wife/husband was a borderline!” (It seems that most acrimonious separations apparently result from a relationship with a borderline!) Although it is true that some of these people can be unreasonably demanding, self-sabotaging, and very challenging, they also represent a group of patients who can be rewarding to engage with, and make great strides toward improvement. Unlike some patients (for example those with ADHD, who may respond immediately and profoundly to medical treatment), borderlines* travel a longer road to recovery, although most greatly improve. Though it may be an arduous journey, it can be an exciting privilege to accompany these individuals on their adventure, many of whom have demonstrated their strong resilience by enduring horrific past mistreatment and outright abuse. I have had the honor of collaborating with individuals who started with limited resources and education to achieve high levels of success. Borderlines with more positive prognostic features—intelligence, attractiveness, creativity, self-discipline, supportive environment—possess the potential to achieve more. And those with less fortunate endowments can still ascend to a more satisfying life. When these individuals strive for change and help—from friends, family, professionals—they exhibit great courage and strength in facing and learning to deal with the painful aspects of their lives. Such people can be accepted not as helpless waifs, or demanding bitches, or sadistic manipulators, but as strong individuals, striving admirably for a better life. (*As always, I apologize for referring to these individuals by a diagnosis)