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Family & Friends

Does My Father Have Borderline Personality Disorder?

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Father BPDRecognizing the signs of Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) in men can at times be difficult. While men may display the same symptoms as women who have BPD, these behaviors are often misinterpreted by us as being more “normal” for men than women.

If you have been raised by a father with Borderline Personality Disorder, you have undoubtedly suffered the consequences of his destructive behavior. It may benefit you greatly to increase your ability to recognize and define BPD behaviors in him so that you can affect changes in yourself and your communication that help you overcome some of the damage in your relationship.

Women are more often diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder by about a three to one ratio. Many researchers and mental health professionals surmise that this may have a lot to do with the way similar behaviors are viewed differently in men and women.

Despite the discrepancy in diagnoses of Borderline Personality Disorder in men vs. women, there are just as many men suffering from BPD as there are women. Sadly, many of these men are misdiagnosed with narcissistic, passive-aggressive, anti-social, and paranoid disorders, and therefore may not receive the most effective treatment available for BPD.

BPD Behavior in Men: Misperceptions

Abrupt and often baffling displays of anger and rage are common among those with Borderline Personality Disorder. This type of aggressive behavior is generally more accepted in men than it is in women. We are socialized in our culture believing that violence and anger are predominantly male characteristics and are anomalous when seen in women, who are thought to be less inclined to demonstrate extreme anger.

Studies, however, do not bear this out. Some reports estimate that up to 40 percent of domestic violence is female on male. It is simply a myth that men are inherently more prone to violent outbursts.

It is also common for BPD behaviors in fathers to be misinterpreted as strict parenting (ruling with an iron glove) or overly controlling parenting. Not seeing behaviors as symptoms of a mental health problem undermines the severity of the damage being done in the family unit, and prevents meaningful change.

Seeing your father’s behaviors accurately and not chalking them up to mere “anger issues” or “tough love” can help you begin to contemplate how to address the root causes and hopefully change the dynamic in your family relationships.

Signs Your Dad Has BPD

Although you would need a diagnosis from a trained mental health professional, it is possible that your father is suffering from BPD if you notice any of the following behaviors:

  • Your father is overly emotional with little provocation
  • He rages at you or other family members for perceived slights or infractions
  • He has a substance abuse problem
  • He experiences tumultuous relationships within and without the family unit
  • He is emotionally manipulative and overly judgmental
  • He experiences bouts of depression or self-loathing, or has engaged in self-harming or impulsive behaviors

Educate Yourself about BPD

Take time to educate yourself about Borderline Personality Disorder and speak with other family members who may be receptive to information about BPD and BPD treatment. Living with someone who has BPD can have a profoundly detrimental effect on your own mental health and sense of well-being. Education on BPD can help you find a sense of validation simply by showing you that you are not alone and the patterns of behavior you are witnessing in your home are common among families of people with BPD.

While you may or may not be able to get your father into BPD treatment or even have him seek a diagnosis, you can be proactive in repairing some of the damage that BPD-related abusive behavior has done to you.

In the spirit of Father’s Day, take some time to read up on Borderline Personality Disorder, seek support either in your community or online, and discover new communication techniques that may help alleviate some of the difficulties in communicating with your father. Entering therapy on your own can also help manage your own emotions surrounding your father’s BPD.

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