Depending upon what traits and tendencies tend to be more prevalent in their overall makeup, living with a borderline personality can present some very unique challenges.

There’s a dynamic interaction between the borderline individual’s innate predispositions and the traumatic early history they have typically experienced. It’s hard enough for a person who tends to react strongly and erratically, tends to think dialectically, and is prone to mentally splitting unitary realities into polar opposites to get a solid sense of what the world is like and how to deal with it. But when you put such an individual into an environment where there is actually is no safety or consistency, you have a recipe for genuine disaster when it comes to personality formation and solidification.

The folks we label “borderline” are individuals whose personalty never quite came together. And it’s because of this personality integration failure that they not only appear to have a distinctively erratic, unpredictable, and unstable manner of coping but also frequently display features of other personality disturbances such as narcissism, dependence, manipulation proneness, etc. For these and many other reasons, coming to an accurate understanding of Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) can be quite a challenging task.

Claims that mental illness of some type is really at the root of someone’s willful misbehavior have become so commonplace that many folks have not only lost their outrage that so many make such claims but also have granted these claims a fair degree of plausibility and even legitimacy. This begs the question of whether the concepts of personal responsibility and accountability even exist anymore. Is everyone in fact a victim in one way or another? Is all our behavior merely a product of our biochemistry, our upbringing, our environment, etc.? Are the concepts of right and wrong, crime and punishment simply outdated? Is everyone a victim, including the perpetrators of despicable acts?

Programs that employ CBT principles have a good chance of doing some good. They at least have a better chance than those programs that operate from the traditional misguided perspective that abusers are wounded, love-hungry, insecure, self-esteem-deficient individuals, out of touch with their feelings, lacking in communication skills, and who simply know no other way to cope. But even some of the better CBT-based programs have some disturbing weaknesses. That’s partly because they often focus so heavily on the person’s thinking patterns and attitudes and not directly or intensely enough on their typical behavior patterns. It’s also because the prevailing but erroneous perspective guiding their structure is that anger is always the main precipitant of aggressive behavior.