There has been talk for quite some time about changing the name of Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD). Experts believe it is an inaccurate term for the disorder, and sufferers complain of being stigmatized because of it.
When BPD was first being diagnosed, it was thought to be a borderline condition between neurosis and psychosis, which is how the name came to be. Psychologists later realized that wasn’t the case, but the name stayed.
The “borderline” label can be stigmatizing for people suffering from the psychiatric disorder because people make different assumptions about the term. It also suggests that the person’s personality is flawed, which can be upsetting to people with an already unstable sense of self.
“I think a lot of people don’t understand what BPD is, and the word ‘borderline’ isn’t clear to most,” says Nikki Instone, PhD. “If changing the name to something that more people can relate to helps them understand the nature of the disorder, then I’m all for it.”
Emotional Intensity Disorder a Popular Choice among Patients
In a survey, the following names were nominated by clinicians and patients as possible substitutes for Borderline Personality Disorder:
- Emotional Regulation Disorder
- Emotional Dysregulation Disorder
- Emotional Intensity Disorder
- Emotionally Unstable Personality Disorder
- Impulsive Personality Disorder
- Impulsive-Emotional Dysregulation Disorder
Patients preferred Emotional Intensity Disorder while clinicians primarily opted for Emotional Regulation Disorder. However, the working group of the revision to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-V) proposed the name Borderline Type.
Emotional Regulation Disorder and Emotional Intensity Disorder are more accurate terms because they reflect the real symptoms associated with the disorder: emotional dysregulation, impulsive behavior, and cognitive dysregulation.
“The name Emotional Intensity Disorder is fine. It seems to be a more accurate description of the disorder,” Instone says. “The key is the emotional instability that is often extreme, or intense.”
The Treatment and Research Advancements Association for Personality Disorders (TARA) is spearheading the movement to bring about the name change. It is also backed by Thomas Insel, MD, director of the U.S. National Institute of Mental Health.
What’s your preference on a new name for BPD?