BPD – aka Borderline personality syndrome – is a classic example of the sexism on which the psychiatric industry is founded.
The vast majority of those diagnosed with BPD are women.
The social stigma surrounding those diagnosed with BPD is HUGE – although there is no evidence people with BPD are any more violent than any other person with their other social defining characteristics, they are spoken of as though they are horrific time bombs about to go off at any time on a horrific rampage. In fact, the only person a woman diagnosed with BPD typically harms is herself. MEN who are infrequently diagnosed with BPD can be violent, as men are violent in all times, places, cultures and creeds.
Virtually all women diagnosed with BPD are survivors of childhood abuse and are also dual-diagnosed with PTSD. DO they not then, in fact, simply have PTSD and display gender-specific ways of displaying these symptoms? I am not the first to note this dynamic:
The article also brings up another problematic point with the BPD diagnosis – “frantic attempts to avoid abandoment”. Women are the ones who become pregnant, women still make less money than men, men are well-known to run out on women leaving them as destitute single mothers, despite this fact women are STILL pressured by society and religious groups to stay at home jobless and be a “good mom” and a “good wife”. One of my jobs once placed me next door to a government office dedicated to finding a place in life for such women who had been abandoned. It’s called the “office for displaced homemakers”. No one will hire old women who have never had a job. Most men won’t date a single mom because they don’t want to deal with someone who has kids around to spoil their fun going-out-drinking fun-sexy-times. Disabled women, physically or mentally, have greater difficulties than most in being self-supporting and in finding a partner to help them avoid homelessness (the government is not as helpful with this as you may imagine). It’s uncool to talk about abandonment as a feminist issue these days, but it still exists because we still live in a world designed to keep women dependent on men. Women diagnosed with BPD may often be helpless in other ways and anxious to avoid being summarily dumped by an inattentive male partner. This perfectly logical fear is then labelled an illness symptom.
And as was so brilliantly illustrated in Girl, Interrupted, so much of what is diagnosed as symptomatic for BPD is simply unfeminine or “bad” behavior on the part of women that would be unremarkable or even praised in men. Sleeping around? Being loud? Standing up for a cause? In psychiatric terms, for a woman that’s wanton promiscuity, poor social skills, and inappropriate anger toward authority figures. Shit, we’re all crazy. How dare we stand up for anything? Better get back to our knitting!
Yes, yes, yes.
These are among the same women who are accused of being “antisocial” and “not smiling enough” (to men).
The “antisocial” accusation does not apply to men – it’s considered normal for them to not smile, to not talk – or even to be emotional or have empathy. That’s because women are expected to keep men under control, to not “provoke” their anger, and to service all their needs and desires on a whim so they can get to Really Important Business like ruling the world and exploiting women, minorities, other countries and their resources.
UPDATE: I agree with Bessel van der Kolk to replace BPD with C-PTSD in the DSM.