Written By Monique Moate
This article was originally published on Psychreg.
The term “borderline personality disorder” (BPD) is interesting in psych nomenclature. Usually, psychosocial illnesses are named after their most prominent symptoms. For example, bipolar disorder (formerly, manic depression) refers to the “two poles” of mania and depression.
Many medical conditions have carried different labels throughout history; even now, official diagnoses change every so often. But sometimes these designations have incorrectly described illnesses and contributed to misinformation. This is unfortunately still the case with schizophrenia (with “schizo” meaning “split” and “phrenia” referring to “mind”). And just as there have been efforts to change the name of schizophrenia, the same is true of BPD.
But why exactly was it called borderline personality disorder in the first place? In this article, I’ll briefly cover the conceptual history of BPD, including its name and classification. I’ll also touch on why many people would prefer to call the BPD construct by a different name – or to reclassify it altogether.
Originally, I was only going to discuss the “borderline” aspect, however, there’s also the quite popular view that BPD should not be deemed a “personality disorder” at all. So, I’ll explore both parts of the diagnosis.
At the end of the day, it’s essential for us to remember the power held by words. We should be mindful that words can be used to discriminate and disempower, especially if we are writers and editors.