Borderline vs. Narcissistic Personality Disorder

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  • 0:05 Borderline Personality…
  • 1:09 Narcissistic…
  • 2:25 Similarities Between…
  • 4:45 Differences Between…
  • 5:47 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Karin Gonzalez

Karin has taught middle and high school Health and has a master's degree in social work.

In this lesson, you will learn what borderline and narcissistic personality disorders are, as well as their similarities and differences. Following the lesson will be a brief quiz to test your new knowledge.

Borderline Personality Disorder

Sally's biological mother lost custody of her due to drug use, and her foster parent sexually abused her for years. As an adult, Sally's romantic relationships don't last longer than six months. Her relationships exhibit a pattern. She'll idolize the man she is with and then, like the flip of a light switch, become intensely angry and hateful towards him if anything triggers her subconscious fear of being abandoned or hurt. Sally suffers from borderline personality disorder.

Borderline personality disorder (BPD) is characterized by a pattern of unstable relationships with others, deep-seated fears of abandonment, impulsivity, an unstable sense of self, feelings of emptiness, intense often 'out-of-left-field' anger outbursts, and paranoid thoughts. Paranoid thoughts in BPD center around a fear of being abandoned or hurt in interpersonal relationships. Borderline personality disorder gets its name because the bouts of anger are so intense, that it seems the person is on the 'border' of a psychotic or nervous breakdown.

Narcissistic Personality Disorder

Jim doesn't have genuine friendships. All of his 'friends' are people that he associates with in order to look richer or more powerful. He obtained a job as a stockbroker on Wall Street so that he could gain approval from his family and friends. When in a social situation, Jim gloats about his successes at work, his car, house, or places that he's traveled. In romantic relationships, he doesn't take into account the feelings and needs of the girls who he dates. Arguments escalate into fights where he criticizes the woman in order to always be one in the right. Often the girls that he dates see this, and break off the relationship. Jim has narcissistic personality disorder.

Narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) is characterized by a tendency to base one's identity, self-esteem, and goals on the opinions and approval of others. A person with NPD has a difficulty empathizing with others, and perceiving their needs and feelings. They may over-exaggerate the effects of their words or actions on others. People with NPD will do something for someone else only if it's for their own personal gain, or to heighten their self-esteem. They feel like they are better than others and may often do things to attract attention.

Similarities Between the Disorders

First of all, BPD and NPD are both personality disorders in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM). In order to be diagnosed with a personality disorder, the defects in personality must be uniform over a considerable amount of time, and present in many different settings. The defects should not be caused by developmental, socio-cultural, drug, or medical factors.

BPD and NPD share some similarities in symptoms. In fact, 25% of people who have one of these personality disorders is also diagnosed with the other. Let's take a look at some of these symptoms now.

Unhealthy approach to conflict

A person with BPD can have their fears of abandonment or getting hurt easily triggered. They may have an angry outburst, blame the other person, and may even say that they hate them. A person with NPD may also become angry, blame the other, as well as yell at and criticize them. Both deal with anger in a heated, emotional, and irrational state.

Unstable relationships

If you look at how those with BPD and NPD handle conflict, it's not hard to see why they may have unstable relationships. People with BPD are often in and out of relationships. People with NPD are often in superficial, abusive relationships. Those with a history of being abused and low self-esteem are often attracted to the person with NPD.

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