Borderline Personality Disorder vs. Schizophrenia

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  • 0:03 Overview of Both Conditions
  • 2:05 Comparing Schizophrenia to BPD
  • 4:25 Suspected Causes
  • 5:30 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Michael Quist

Michael has taught college-level mathematics and sociology; high school math, history, science, and speech/drama; and has a doctorate in education.

How do those diagnosed with borderline personality disorder (BPD) (when compared to schizophrenia) sufferer? In this lesson, we'll compare the symptoms, suspected causes, and overall life effects of these two psychological conditions.

Overview of Both Conditions

George (diagnosed with schizophrenia) and Mary (borderline personality disorder or BPD sufferer) are having a conversation.

George (looking around the room): ''How are you today, Mary, Mary quite contrary, how does your garden. . . I like to garden, it produces astrophic effects in my. . . what? No, wait until I'm done with Mary, she's inside my head, and I can't get her off my skin, because the fin, sin, win, kin relationship causes me to. . .''

Mary (interrupting): ''I hate it when you talk like this, George! You make me so mad I want to just rip your eyes out!'' (George starts to get up) ''No, wait! Don't leave! I can't stand it when people leave. Don't be angry. I'll calm down'' (rapidly calming down) '' You know, I tried to take my own eyes out once. It really hurts, so I changed my mind. It makes me angry when I can't do what I really want to do!''

George (laughing): ''I know, I know, I see the want in your eyes, eyes, eyes, eyes, eyes of coal and dark and the smell of smoke. . . can you smell it? I wonder if they're burning something in the bathroom, where. . . red. . . I like red you know.''

Mary (interrupts again): 'You're not listening to me! No one ever listens to me!' (calms down again) 'Well, except. . . you know. . . (glances slyly at George). . . of course, they're always listening. . .'

Borderline personality disorder (BPD) is a condition that causes a clinical level of instability in a person's life, particularly in their emotional life. Sufferers tend to have unpredictable mood swings, shifting views of themselves and their worth, and lack of self-control.

Schizophrenia (from the Greek skhizein, meaning 'split,' and phren, meaning 'mind') is a condition where the mind seems to fracture, causing strange perceptions, strange thought processes, disturbed emotional states, and unusual motor responses.

Comparing Schizophrenia to BPD

People with any personality disorder (such as BPD) tend to lose the normal flexibility of personality. They are relatively coherent, and can think for themselves. Their thoughts make sense, more or less, and they can interact at some level of normalcy. Their problem is that their minds are stuck in a sort of psychological rut. In the case of the BPD sufferers, that rut is right on the edge of complete instability. Their relationships tend to be intense and difficult, because their thoughts and emotional reactions make intimacy difficult, yet they cling desperately to the people who are willing to spend time with them.

Schizophrenia is not a personality disorder, in the way we described BPD. People who suffer from its various forms are losing touch with reality, altogether. Instead of having personalities that cause difficulty by becoming rigid and inflexible, the schizophrenic personality begins to dissolve. The BPD individual may walk a strange 'road' of inconsistencies in his life, but the schizophrenic may walk no 'road' at all. His day is often spent in constant distractions, confusions, distortions, and contortions caused by the fragmented activities happening in the various areas of the brain.

Specific symptoms related to BPD include any or all of the following:

  • Extreme reactions to thoughts of abandonment (rage, depression, panic, frantic movements)
  • Emotional instability in relationships, ranging from absolute devotion to absolute disgust
  • Mutating, distorted view of self
  • Impulsiveness, sometimes including dangerous activities
  • Self-destructive behavior, sometimes including suicidal intent
  • Frequent feel of emptiness, uselessness, and lifelessness
  • Dissociative symptoms, such as drifting away from the body or feeling cut off from themselves

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