Help For Borderline Personality Traits With Debbie Corso
You may have heard of Debbie Corso, a revolutionary mental-health blogger, author, and teacher. Debbie has shared her story of living with borderline personality disorder online.
Using Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT), she has overcome the symptoms of BPD. Now, together with a therapist, Debbie helps others with BPD and BPD traits in her online program, DBT Path. Today, Debbie no longer meets the criteria for a BPD diagnosis.
You’ve worked hard using Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) to help you transform yourself and improve your own symptoms of Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD). Now you’re helping others do the same.
But perhaps what is revolutionary, is that you are also helping people who do not have a BPD diagnosis, yet want to the improve the feelings, thoughts, and behaviors which are associated with BPD, often called BPD traits.
Yes! DBT has been a truly life changing and transformational experience. When I started treatment, I had nearly all of the nine criteria for a BPD diagnosis (and only five or more were required for a diagnosis). Nearly two years after participating in DBT, I entered recovery and no longer met enough of the criteria to be diagnosed with BPD. Yet, I still have some of the symptoms—clinicians refer to this as having “borderline traits.”
I’m not alone, many others also live with borderline traits. Which is why therapist Alicia Paz and I decided that no formal BPD diagnosis would be required for students of our online DBT skills classes. By accepting students across the BPD spectrum, at DBT Path we are able to reach and help many more people who are motivated to change and improve upon their current, maladaptive behaviors, whether they have a diagnosis or not.
I think that the main reason that DBT helps not only those who have a formal diagnosis but also those who have borderline traits or other emotion regulation issues, is that DBT is based on a variety of methods, including cognitive behavioral therapy. It also incorporates the practice of mindfulness, which Marsha Linehan, the creator of DBT, derives from *Buddhist practice (minus the metaphysical and/or religious content). This encourages students of DBT to become very conscious of our lives and how we live them.
With mindfulness practices, everyday activities such as eating, showering, putting on our clothes, and driving become almost magical. We notice things we never noticed before and get off of autopilot mode. We actually live our lives. And people do benefit from the skills learned in DBT, whether they have a BPD diagnosis or not.
Are your clients mostly women, men, or a mixture?
It’s interesting that you asked this question. Our student population is mostly female, though we invite and encourage male students. You recently did an interview with my associate Dr. Robert Fischer of the Roanne Program, who partnered last year with the HealingfromBPD blog, on how men suffer from BPD (and BPD symptoms/traits). This gives us hope that more men will feel comfortable coming forward to receive services.
As far as the students we’ve connected with, we’ve noticed that almost all of the male students who enroll have told us that they have a definite BPD diagnosis. With our female students, there is a mixture of those who have a BPD diagnosis and those who identify with BPD traits. There are also those who do not identify with and/or haven’t been formally diagnosed with any condition but who feel they need support and guidance and want help with regulating their emotions and reducing sabotaging behaviors.
Let’s talk about borderline symptoms*, which is what you’re going to be discussing with Therapy Soup readers over the next few posts. BPD symptoms include:
- Frantic efforts to avoid real or imagined abandonment
- A pattern of unstable and intense interpersonal relationships characterized by alternating between extremes of idealization and devaluation
- Identity disturbance, such as a significant and persistent unstable self-image or sense of self
- Impulsivity in at least two areas that are potentially self-damaging (e.g., spending, sex, substance abuse, reckless driving, binge eating)
- Recurrent suicidal behavior, gestures, or threats, or self-mutilating behavior
- Emotional instability due to significant reactivity of mood (e.g., intense episodic dysphoria, irritability, or anxiety usually lasting a few hours and only rarely more than a few days)
- Chronic feelings of emptiness
- Inappropriate, intense anger or difficulty controlling anger (e.g., frequent displays of temper, constant anger, recurrent physical fights)
- Transient, stress-related paranoid thoughts or severe dissociative symptoms
What symptoms of BPD do you find that people without a BPD diagnosis exhibit most often?
For many years, a BPD diagnosis required a combination of five or more of nine criteria or traits. Based on the enormous amounts of combinations this can manifest as, it looks different from person to person. My personal observation of those who have not been formally diagnosed as having BPD is that the symptoms that seem to be frequently the most troubling are:
fear of abandonment and rejection which often ties in with having a pattern of unstable relationships
emotional instability which often is expressed as
difficulty regulating anger
Thanks, Debbie for sharing your experience and knowledge.
In the next few blog posts, Debbie will discuss each of these three common borderline symptoms in more detail, and explain how DBT can help regulate emotions and reduce sabotaging behaviors. She’ll also give us an insider’s look at how her online DBT classes help the students at DBT Path.
*Mindfulness, awareness, consciousness and meditation practices are found in many spiritual-religious traditions, including our own. We blog about this topic often at Therapy Soup.
**For more information, see PsychCentral’s information pages on BPD.
Debbie Corso, is a pioneering mental-health blogger, author, and teacher who has blogged about living with borderline personality disorder. Using Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) she has overcome the symptoms of BPD. Together with therapist Alicia Paz, she helps others with BPD and BPD traits in her online program, DBT Path. She’s the author of two books about BPD. Today, Debbie no longer meets the criteria for a BPD diagnosis.
& C.R. Zwolinski, R. (2014). Help For Borderline Personality Traits With Debbie Corso. Psych Central. Retrieved on July 6, 2015, from http://blogs.psychcentral.com/therapy-soup/2014/03/help-for-borderline-personality-traits-with-debbie-corso/