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Painted Brain | Borderline Personality Disorder Stigma: The Intersection Of Misogyny And Ableism
We're bridging communities and changing the conversation about mental illness using arts and media.
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  • admin
  • April 4, 2016

Borderline Personality Disorder Stigma: The Intersection of Misogyny and Ableism

We all know that the stigma against BPD is especially strong. It’s classic ableism at its finest. People immediately write us off as abusive, manipulative, overly-sensitive, etc., without bothering to get to know us or check the facts underlying their assumptions.

I will say this forever: not all borderlines are abusive or manipulative. Most of us are not. You can be abusive and manipulative without having BPD or any mental illness at all.

But here’s the thing: misogyny is especially tied to BPD. Why? Women are frequently dismissed as being overly-emotional or dramatic. Look up the history of the word hysteria and you’ll see what I mean. BPD does involve emotional instability and severe mood swings, hypersensitivity to triggers and perceived abandonment, etc.

As such, 75% of those diagnosed with BPD are female. That’s not necessarily because BPD is more prevalent among women; it’s possibly because the notion that women are too emotional is so prevalent.

But BPD does affect men as well, and it’s possible that BPD affects men and women equally.

Because BPD is so commonly associated with women, there’s extra hate piled on top of the existing stigma. If you’ve ever had the misfortune to Google the term borderline personality disorder, you probably discovered that the vast majority of websites are anti-BPD websites. Who are the contributors to these websites? Based on what I’ve found, they’re overwhelmingly angry ex-boyfriends who are still extremely bitter about their ex-girlfriends. They want validation that their exs were “crazy,” and the “crazy girlfriend” trope is all too common. So they stumble upon the definition of BPD (probably by Googling “my ex-girlfriend is crazy”) and immediately decide their ex must have BPD.

Is it possible that a few of these aforementioned exs did have BPD? It’s possible. And it’s possible to be in a relationship with a woman who is manipulative, because manipulative behavior can occur regardless of gender. But how many of these ex-girlfriends were actually diagnosed with BPD? How many of them suffered from the illness and sought treatment for it? We’ll never know, and our sources—creators of BPD hate websites—aren’t exactly unbiased. They aren’t licensed professionals, they’re clearly still angry and therefore prone to providing misinformation.

In fact, it’s possible that they’ve never even met anyone with BPD.

But the stigma being generated is an extremely serious problem. It hurts the borderlines who are discriminated against, denied treatment, or abused because of their diagnosis. For obvious reasons it hurts women, but it also hurts men; failure to recognize that BPD does occur in men means that men who do suffer from this illness may not be diagnosed and may not be provided with the treatment they need. These men may have their suffering invalidated because we tend to write off BPD as a “women’s issue.”

 

Tequila Mockingbird writes about borderline personality disorder for Painted Brain News

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