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BPD: Is It A "Yes" or "No" Diagnosis?

By September 4, 2008

In our current diagnostic system (outlined in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition, or DSM-IV), borderline personality disorder (BPD) is treated as a categorical diagnosis, meaning that either you have it, or you don't -- there is no room for a gray area. But, research suggests that this is not the true nature of BPD. Studies suggest that BPD more likely exists as a continuum. That is, you can have "a little" BPD; it is not a "yes" or "no" issue.

These studies call into question our current way of diagnosing BPD, and will probably be considered when the fifth edition of the DSM is published.

Rothschild L, Cleland C, Haslam N, & Zimmerman M. "A Taxometric Study of Borderline Personality Disorder." Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 112(4):657-666, 2003.

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