Knowing what we now all know about borderline personality disorder, why don’t they change the name to a slightly more specific name so that people understand it better?

The name Borderline personality disorder comes from the borderline personality Organization which distinguishes between multiple levels of functioning.So to answer this question it is probably most convenient to first explain what this format content.

The BPO is a division into the functioning of people’s personalities.

The highest functioning level in this classification is the neurotic level of functioning.Here a person has an intact sense of reality and can also keep a consistent picture of themselves and others people.

On the other side of this spectrum lies the psychotic level of functioning in which the sense of reality is fully search and where the person can not have a consistent picture of themselves and other people.

Here, however, there is a third level: Borderline, which indicates that the person is on the boundary of the psychotic level of functioning.This is characterized by a largely intact sense of reality, but a lack of consistency in the self-image and the image of others.


This way of organizing then influenced the choice of the name for the Borderline personality disorder when it was put in writing.For people with this personality disorder, there is generally an intact sense of reality (not psychoses), but there is a very large lack of consistency in the self-image and the image of others (which, among other things, are in ‘splitting ‘).As a result, the name Borderline personality disorder seemed particularly appropriate, because it was a personality that exactly fell in this category of functioning and distinguished itself from the known disorders at the time.

The latter was seen in retrospect only not quite handy.As a result, one has come to the discovery/determination of several personality disorders, some of which also fall into the Borderline level of functioning. For example, the more recent avoiding, schizotypical and schizoid personality disorder can also be classified as borderline in the borderline personality Organization, albeit in different gradations.This looks schematically as follows:

Originating from: Zachary Wheeler, Treatment of the personality: An Analytic Psychotherapy Handbook (diss.

Pepperdine University), Ann Arbor, Michigan: ProQuest Dissertations Publishing 2013, p. 34/Figure 3.5 (Open Access).


In the end, the name Borderline personality disorder has been a bit of a misnomer.Since the Borderline personality disorder was one of the first personality disorders that was put in writing, it was then believed that this was the only personality disorder that functioned in this way, and so it was decided to Disorder. And that denomination is stuck.

However, I think (myself) that changing the name is not really necessary. Although the name in retrospect is not entirely perfectly fitting anymore, it is not so relevant now that the term Borderline is so common that when hearing the term, it will often first think of the personality disorder before the origin of the Term (within the meaning of the Borderline Personality Organization) will dwell.

In addition, it is also particularly difficult to give good names to these kinds of disorders that cause people to understand.The Borderline personality disorder consists of particularly many facets, all of which react in a certain way. In order to understand all this, you will have to be given a considerable amount of explanation of the disorder. Changing the name therefore also does not help you to make people understand the disorder better (even if they are perfect). This is simply too complex.

Because “borderline” (Translation: border [case) already describes exactly what it is all about.It is the diagnosis of a personality disorder that sits on the border (or just falls) between two (or more) other (often better/tighter defined) disorders, but where one of these diagnoses does not meet.

This also means that one “borderline” diagnosis can be a boundary case between two completely different disorders than another “borderline” diagnosis.

So I don’t think there is a more paintery name for the collection of all “borderline” diagnoses, especially not because normally the diagnosis indicates which boundary of (or between) disorders is the diagnosed disorder.And that’s exactly enough it seems to me.

Leave a Reply