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Borderline Personality Disorder: Raising Questions, Finding Answers

Illustration by eHealer

Illustration by eHealer

New Information on Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD)

Borderline personality disorder has been defined as a person with an unstable moods, an intense fear of abandonment and a lack of an identity. Typically, women experience BPD more often than men, and usually have experienced an abusive or traumatic childhood. More than 20 percent of patients in mental health hospitals are diagnosed with BPD, and often have an additional mental illness that co-exists with the personality disorder. Although primarily treated as a mental or personality disorder, new light has been shed on the origins and mechanisms of BPD. Dr. Leland Heller, a medical physician, has broken new ground with his theory that BPD is related to a seizure disorder in the brain, and not solely the psychological component originally thought. His books and research studies have supported evidence that BPD may not be the result of a psychological disorder, but may even be a medical condition that affects the brain and neurological structures.

Definition of Borderline Personality Disorder

Borderline personality disorder is a condition in which people have long-term patterns of unstable or turbulent emotions, such as feelings about themselves and others.These inner experiences often cause them to take impulsive actions and have chaotic relationships. They have difficulty with defining their self-identity, and may act out with physical or verbal aggression in response to a perceived threat of abandonment.

The Dimensions of Borderline Personality

  • Intense, unstable and unregulated emotional responses.A relatively mild stressor may create an angry outburst known as an "emotional storm" that is expressed as emotional anguish or a panic attack.
  • The person with BPD has great difficulty controlling anger and rage. Sufferers may engage in physical fights and hurt others and themselves in the process. The person may experience extreme guilt and self hatred due to their uncontrollable behavior after the fact.
  • A person with BPD may act out to release emotional anxiety or irritability with substance abuse, risky sexual activity, spending sprees or other harmful behaviors to escape the intense pain.
  • People with BPD often see behavior has good or bad, and cannot distinguish the gray areas of human behavior. They have no sense of identity, and will change their preferences and opinions quickly and often. They may complain of chronic emptiness, or boredom.
  • Impaired memory under stress and irrational behavior in a stressful situation.
  • Expected negative attitudes from others in most situations.
  • Intense emotional response to real or perceived abandonment.

Defining Traits of Borderline Personality Disorder

Characteristics of BPDExamples of BehaviorsBPD Rationale

Inappropriate responses to stress

Exaggerated emotional "storm" as a result of a stressor

People with BPD may initiate physical aggression, verbal abuse, or threatening behavior in stressful situations. Memory impairment may also be experienced

Addictive Behaviors

Spree spending, risky sexual activity, gambling, alcohol and drug addictions.

Behaviors are performed to surpress the intense pain of their shame, guilt and perceptions of persecution

Intense fear of abandonment

Person may respond with emotional distress to real or perceived separation from loved ones

May be a reaction to the self-hatred or guilt from previous negative and uncontrollable behavior

Perception of "all good or all evil" in others

BPD sufferers may believe that someone is all good one day, and all bad the next.

Unstable relationships and loose ideals of self identity

Genetics and BPD

BPD does run in families and appears to have a genetic component. Biological studies in twins confirmed a high propensity for the genetics of BPD. A person with BPD has a chance of six times higher in having a child with BPD. Dr Heller has also concluded that there is a link between a blood antigen and personality disorders.

Neurological vs Psychosocial

Illustration by eHealer

Illustration by eHealer

Dr Leland Heller's Medical Approach to BDP

In the past, BPD treatment was treated as a psychiatric disorder that included psychotropic medications to decrease the emotional intensity of the the borderline patient. Success may be limited due to the limitations of treating a personality, which isn't always defined as a mental illness, but a condition that has evolved in a human being overtime. Although many people with BPD have found relief in medication and treatment, others have found little help from treatment from the mental health community.

The Heller Approach to BPD

Dr Heller believes that BPD is the result of a brain that responds to stress as a "seizure" and not a psychological component. He has studied numerous brain waves in his patients with BPD and has discovered an impressive amount of evidence that they are indicative of anomalies similar in patients with seizure disorders. In addition, he has discovered that his patients have similar disorders or disturbances that include insomnia, sound interpretation impairment, hypothyroid, serotonin problems and other factors that are strikingly similar to neurological impairment. His findings define BPD as a medical condition that affects the psychological component of the person.

Heller's Treatment for BPD

Dr. Heller has cured many patients with BPD, and although he believes in therapy from the mental health community as part of his approach, he defines BPD as a medical illness and not a psychological disorder. His treatment protocol consists of:

  • Neuroleptics or antiseizure medications stop the person from experiencing the "emotional storm" that develops from stressors
  • Prozac is the only antidepressant he prescribes for BPD. He feels it is the most effective serotonin treatment for people with the disorder.
  • Patients should never be given Xanax, Elavil and other medications that have adverse effects in people with BPD
  • The treatment of other physical problems and disorders associated with BPD

The Mysterious Borderline Personality Disorder

Dr. Heller has suggested that BPD is the result of a brain anomaly that causes the sufferer to respond in an inappropriate manner to simple stress, and lose control when faced with an extreme stressor. A person with BPD may react with anger, rage or fear to a mild stressor that would seem mildly frustrating to people without the disorder. The affected person's brain is wired to create intense emotional anxiety and rage in response to even mild stress. Similar to a seizure, the disorder induces highly emotional responses in the brain that cannot be controlled by the sufferer.

The New Theory: BDP or a Seizure Disorder?

Epilepsy is a neurological disorder in which a person has episodes of seizures over time. Seizures are episodes of brain activity that act as a "short circuit" and the affected person experiences a change in behavior or becomes unconscious. In the case of BPD, it is now believed that these brain structures have been genetically altered and cause a disturbance in the brain that mimics anger, rage and wide mood changes.

Dr Leland Heller's Blog: Biological Unhappiness

Books by Dr. Leland Heller

Dr Leland Heller and BPD Treatment

People who have been blaming themselves for their behavior or uninformed parenting of a child with BPD may find help with the approach of Dr Heller. He has claimed numerous successes and has opened the door to further research in both the medical and mental health community to finding the answers of the mysterious brain. Dr Leland Heller is a family practice medical physician and has written numerous books on his findings and successes. For more information on this breakthrough medical research, visit Dr Heller's website: Biological Unhappiness.

Dr Leland Heller on Biological Unhappiness


Kristie from Leicester on September 09, 2015:

Thank you for sharing this with me. Recently diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder which I am treating holistically rather than take prescription medication. ...

Klaw on March 28, 2013:

Has any research been done around the mode of birth for people with BPD?

Deborah (author) from Las Vegas on December 15, 2012:

Hello Phdast7, always nice to see you! Thanks for your supportive comments, I do hope this new approach will pertain to someone who can benefit from Dr. Leland Heller's therapy. Thanks for your kind words as well.

Theresa Ast from Atlanta, Georgia on December 15, 2012:

Hello eHealer - Fascinating essay on BPD. Very interesting to read that there are theories and research that support a physical problem with the brain, as well as the more traditional mental health / mind approach. I was not at all familiar with this new research. I hope that it continues to be a productive avenue for helping these individuals and their families. Very well - written. Sharing.

Deborah (author) from Las Vegas on November 08, 2012:

Hello gsidley, thank you for your comments. As you have stated, there are many opinions about the elusive disorder, this article only briefly touches on the theories and experiences of one physician and a short synopsis on the disorder itself. Although this is in no way a final chapter on BPD, it certainly gives sufferers an alternative opportunity to explore a theory that has suggested an answer for some. Thank you for your interest and well written comments.

Dr. Gary L. Sidley from Lancashire, England on November 08, 2012:

An interesting hub addressing a complex disorder.

I think it is important to emphasize that there are many theories about Borderline Personality Disorder (or Emotionally Unstable Personality Disorder as currently known), non of them entirely satisfactory. Although I am aware of some research evidence to suggest that experiences of trauma/deprivation in childhood can cause neurological deficits, it would be unhelpful and misleading to refer to the disorder as a primarily a medical illness. In 34 years as a mental health professional I cannot recall meeting anyone with the disorder who hasn't endured a traumatic abuse childhood. As with other mental health problems, the only people likely to benefit from viewing Borderline Personality Disorder as a medical illness are the executives of the pharmaceutical companies and other vested interests.

Deborah (author) from Las Vegas on November 08, 2012:

Hi Jellygator, I am so glad you appreciate this revelation and what it means to people with this disorder. He has helped many people to his credit and has made monumental strides in BPD. Thanks for reading and for the support. You are so right, it is important for entire families, and the sufferers.

jellygator from USA on November 08, 2012:

What an interesting concept. I can envision how his theory could be correct. If he's right, it could be a dramatically life-changing finding for many people - especially those who are married or related to someone with BPD.