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Example of BPD at Work


Updated: August 24, 2007

The following is an example of how borderline personality disorder (BPD) symptoms can manifest, or appear, in a work setting.


Bruce has a history of job changes. He continues to get jobs that he, initially, finds very fulfilling. For the first few weeks, he cannot say enough about his boss and coworkers. He talks up the company and shares his dreams about moving into more and more responsible roles.

However, Bruce perceives each direction as an unfair criticism. He begins to feel that his supervisors are out to "get him." He also becomes frustrated at his coworkers and their lackluster efforts, which no one calls them on. It is clear that they just do not like him and are picking on him.

Eventually, he believes that people at the office are trying to find reasons to fire him, and reacts in a rage. He yells and swears at his boss while complaining about how unfair the situation is and always has been. Due to his anger and the resulting insubordination, Bruce is let go.

In this example, Bruce demonstrates the following BPD symptoms:

  • Intense/Unstable Interpersonal Relationships
    Bruce’s initial feelings towards his coworkers and boss are intense and idealized. He sees them as doing no wrong and being an allies that support him. These feeling quickly and suddenly change, and Bruce sees nothing positive about them, instead experiencing them as backstabbing and hostile.
  • Splitting
    When Bruce’s perception changes to one of devaluation, it is a total shift (from good to bad) and he is unable to recognize that he ever felt differently.
  • Sensitivity To Rejection
    Bruce’s heightened sensitivity to rejection triggered thoughts that his boss and coworkers do not like him. The reality of their feelings is truly unknown and may not have that much bearing on Bruce’s experience of them.
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    6. Example of BPD At Work - Borderline Personality Disorder Can Affect Career Success

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