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I think my wife has BPD, but neither she nor her therapist will listen.

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Updated: March 7, 2007

Question: I think my wife has BPD, but neither she nor her therapist will listen.

For the duration of my marriage, I have been on the receiving end of my wife’s sudden rages. She threatens me and pushes me away suddenly. At other times, she loves me and seems to feel pretty lucky to be with me. I am at the end of my rope with her anger. She has seemed depressed for a while and finally decided to go to therapy. I think that she has borderline personality disorder and want her and her therapist to realize this. But, when I told the therapist my thoughts, both he and my wife dismissed my ideas.

Answer:

It is important to look at the reason behind wanting a spouse, or anyone, to be diagnosed with a personality disorder. Often, relationships with BPs are difficult and fraught with hurt, anger, and misunderstandings. It can be hard to empathize with the BP, and it can be difficult not to see a diagnosis such as borderline personality disorder (BPD) as a validation, proof that the BP has been wrong and hurtful in the relationship.

Having a therapist seemingly agree with the BP and not give a diagnosis of BPD can cause additional hurt and frustration. However, it need not be the invalidation that it seems. When invited into someone’s therapy session, discuss the specific issues that are present in the relationship and don't get too caught up in the diagnosis.

If a person gets a diagnosis of BPD, it is not going to immediately change her behavior or feelings. A diagnosis only gives a name to the symptoms and difficulty a person is and has been experiencing. Her relationships with others will pretty much remain the same, for the time being.

Use the therapy sessions as an opportunity to clarify some of the issues in the relationship. The therapist will listen and make a diagnosis based on his assessment of the clinical presentation.

Meanwhile, look at some books written for friends and family members of those with BPD.

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