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A History of Borderline Personality Disorder 

A History of Borderline Personality Disorder
A History of Borderline Personality Disorder

Antonia S. New

and Joseph Triebwasser

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date: 20 January 2022

Borderline personality disorder (BPD) is complex and its phenomenology is hard to define, contributing to the view that it is not a “real” disorder. Yet increasingly powerful research suggests that it is both “real” and disabling, with high morbidity and even mortality. A review of the disorder’s history helps to shed light on the possible confusion surrounding the diagnosis and also provide insight into what has been consistently observed through different iterations of the disorder. The term “borderline personality disorder” has its origins in decades-old responses to a then bewildering, previously unrecognized patient population. This chapter presents the history of the name “borderline personality disorder” as well as historical case descriptions of individuals with symptoms that currently would be classified as BPD. It also considers the implications of the reclassification of “personality disorders” in DSM-5 into “Section 2” alongside disorders that have to date been placed on Axis I.

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