The latest podcast from “All in the Mind” (the excellent ABC Radio National program about the mind, brain and behaviour) concerns borderline personality disorder (BPD) and is really worth a listen if you want to understand BPD in a sympathetic and informed way. The program explores the histories and motivations of people who attract this diagnosis, as well as providing a sobering look at the limitations of traditional psychiatric treatment with these problems.
The program features the testimony of several women who have been diagnosed with BPD, talking about their disappointing experiences of treatment from the psychiatric system, the stigma attached to the label “borderline”, and providing unflinching descriptions of childhood trauma and abuse as triggering experiences for the problems they have faced as adults. There is an excellent bit that describes the reasons why a person might use self harm to cope with powerful emotions and painful memories.
Interestingly, the program describes the treatment approach at the Spectrum Personality Disorder Service in Melbourne. It is reported that this treatment involves, amongst other things, skills training from Dialectical Behavior Therapy to help clients to learn self-soothing and emotional regulation, as well as Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (particularly values clarification and commitment). It is nice to hear about Australian mental health services developing approaches based on these contextual cognitive behavioural therapies.