BPD Traits v Disorder – Understanding Borderline Personality Disorder Symptoms



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This video will cover the difference between BPD traits and BPD. I think this is important for people to know so they can build knowledge into themselves or their loved ones. There are 9 criteria and you must have 5 or more to qualify for the diagnosis. All 5 of these must be moderate, severe, or extreme in severity. If you only have 4 or less, that’s traits and not the disorder according to the criteria.

Remember, this video is not for you to diagnose yourself. You must go to a mental health professional for that. Understanding symptoms is one thing, but a diagnosis is something else, which can help you seek treatment so you can manage and control these symptoms that are causing you problems. You may get confused as I go through this, and that’s normal, because diagnosis is not cut and dry or an is or isn’t kinda thing. There are many factors that go into a diagnosis and PDs are particularly complicated.

Criteria #
1. How great are your fears of abandonment and do you engage in desperate efforts to avoid this abandonment? Is it mild, moderate, severe or extreme?
2. Do tend to see others as heros or zeros, and does this alternating view cause disruption in your relationships, if so how much – mild, moderate, severe or extreme?
3. How much would you say you don’t know who you are, what you believe in, or what you stand for – mild, moderate, severe or extreme?
4. How severely do you engage in self destructive behavior, like spending sprees, sex, substance cause, binge eating, etc. – mild, moderate, severe or extreme?
5. Do you have reoccurring suicidal gestures, threats, behaviors or self-mutilation? If so, how often and how impactful are they in your life – mild, moderate, severe or extreme?
6. Intense emotional reactions due to instances in your life, such as intense depressive Sx, irritability, and/or anxiety that lasts a few hours only, rarely more than a few days. Is this mild, moderate, severe or extreme?
7. Feeling empty inside, like a hole you can’t fill. Is this feeling mild, moderate, severe or extreme?
8. Intensity of anger is out of proportion to the issue or incident that set you off. Is your anger mild, moderate, severe or extreme and does it occur often?
9. You feel like people are watching you, holding back, preventing you from succeeding, and only want the worst for you? Is this mild, moderate, severe or extreme?

Daniel J. Fox, Ph.D., is a licensed psychologist in Texas, international speaker, and a multi-award winning author. He has been specializing in the treatment and assessment of individuals with personality disorders for over 15 years in the state and federal prison system, universities, and in private practice. His specialty areas include personality disorders, ethics, burnout prevention, and emotional intelligence.

He has published several articles in these areas and is the author of:

The Borderline Personality Disorder Workbook: An Integrative Program to Understand and Manage Your BPD. Available at:

Antisocial, Borderline, Narcissistic and Histrionic Workbook: Treatment Strategies for Cluster B Personality Disorders (IPBA Benjamin Franklin Gold Award Winner):

Narcissistic Personality Disorder Toolbox: 55 Practical Treatment Techniques for Clients, Their Parents & Their Children:

The Clinician’s Guide to Diagnosis and Treatment of Personality Disorders:

Dr. Fox has given numerous workshops and seminars on ethics and personality disorders, personality disorders and crime, treatment solutions for treating clients along the antisocial, borderline, narcissistic, and histrionic personality spectrum, emotional intelligence, managing mental health within the prison system, and others. Dr. Fox maintains a website of various treatment interventions focused on working with and attenuating the symptomatology related to individuals along the antisocial, borderline, narcissistic, and histrionic personality spectrum (www.drdfox.com).

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Thank you for your attention and I hope you enjoy my videos and find them helpful and subscribe. I always welcome topic suggestions and comments.

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Comments (45)

Just found your account. These videos are taking me to church!

Can you please do a video of BDP comorbid with eating disorder(s) and OCD? Thanks!

Thank you so much for this video Dr. Fox!! I suspected I was struggling with BPD traits for a while and finding your videos has seriously helped me start an incredibly fulfilling journey to healing. I ordered your workbook and was motivated to find a therapist who specialized in DBT! You are an amazing person and I thank you for your time and compassion. ❤️

Thank you for elucidating these very complicated, but pervasive personality traits. Learning from these is therapeutic.

One thing which I'm noticing is absent from this video, and I believe others, is the concept of cause, or the effect of the interpersonal relationships which developed in you in response to your family members. The case of Karen Carpenter is especially demonstrative, in so far as she had a professional relationship with her brother, and mother, and she developed personality traits which led to her death- anorexia.

I am so tired of being called a Borderline. I cut really bad and that’s the only reason I get diagnosed with BPD. I have 2 out of the 9 criteria. I want/need help but I’m told there is no help for me and/or I’m too high risk.

Can or have you made a video on bpd and drugs. Like how certain recreational drugs affect the individual with bpd (better or worse)

I always describe the disassociation as if I'm playing a video game and I'm controlling the character of myself in 3rd person mode rather than first person mode.
My anger response is ridiculous but it scares me so much I focus it internally, I can't imagine what would happen if I let it go outwards, I do enough damage to my own body when it explodes fuck knows what I would do to someone else!!
I think I'm doing better at the moment because I scored a few moderates and a few milds with only the emptiness rating higher (compared to times in my life when I would have scored myself moderate to severe in 6 of them)
Therapy tomorrow, I'm going to have to bring up the anger, I've been hiding how much of an issue it really is through embarrassment, I know I shouldn't hide or lie to my therapist but it's so hard to open up after so many years of hiding it all.

Video request on bulimia🙋🙋🙋

I would be very interested in seeing more about the various presentations of BPD. More specifically, how the various traits tend to present in the different sub-types.

I've just about decided that there is scarcely a more tormented, but tender heart than that of the undiagnosed BPD/CPTSD. Before I was diagnosed, I knew I was different, I knew my mind worked differently, but I didn't know why, so I had no rudder to help me navigate my own behavior.

The intense fear always hand in hand with intense hope. Pulling people in only to push them back out again. Constant and continuous tug of war.

Now I not only understand myself better, but I see many of the same traits in others and rather than interpreting them negatively (as a slight) I can react from a place of understanding.

If watching these videos the last few weeks has taught me anything, it is that our society has a lot of undiagnosed disorders living within it. And consequently, a lot of tormented, but tender souls.

Here's hoping that at least a few of them find their way to this channel somehow. Knowledge really is power.

Thanks so much for this. I don't fit enough criteria to be diagnosed, but I do have a few of the BPD traits that I'd like to work on since they're awful to deal with (mainly the intense emotional reactions). I also have PTSD from prolonged child abuse so it's difficult to know exactly what is causing which symptoms – but ultimately I'm guessing similar treatments will work regardless.
I'm finding your videos and workbook to be great for this! I wish more therapists knew how to approach BPD issues like you do.

Hello everyone,
I was wondering if somebody could answer the age old question. Can people change their personality? What is personality, for that matter?

I have found two articles that seem contradictory. They both have different opinions on personality and character. In Psychology Today* they say that "personality is immutable", while character can be changed through changing our beliefs, even though it still takes effort. Whilst Key Difference** says that personality is "the mask or the identity of a person. Conversely, the character is the learned behaviour." Implying that personality is changeable, while character isn't, -even though by that definition it seems contradictory, because a learned behaviour can be unlearned or replaced with another one after all.

Okay, so, how does all this translate to personality disorders? In my experience my BPD is only getting better. And since the nature of the disorder is a dysfunctional personality it must mean that my personality is changing and redefining itself, right? So, why is Psychology Today posting both articles on personality disorders AND articles like these* where they claim that a personality can't be changed. Who's right?

I would like answers from a scientific approach on what exactly makes our identities, personalities and character. Does anybody have any sources that could help? It would make the world of a difference with the lack of sense of self I sometimes go through because of the BPD. Thank you.

*https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/happiness-in-world/201104/personality-vs-character
**https://keydifferences.com/difference-between-personality-and-character.html

That's the first time I've ever heard you say, "My name is Dr Fox"…. Where'd the Daniel go!?! 😱😱😱

You're such a blessing. My daughter has traits and it's getting worse. Her counselors say she can't be diagnosed until 18. They have been no help. They keep telling me to let her fall. I've been walking on eggshells. Your videos have given me insight on how to cope. Thank you so much.

I've got different mental disorder cause by my childhood traumas… I don't know what to do but im glad im still Alive right now. I just dont know until when.

Can a fluid gender identity be a part of BPD?

I wish that you or someone like u would be around my area

I can't thank you enough for this BPD video series. You take an extremely complex mental health issue and make it digestible, along with practical, life-altering advice. You are a true gift. Much thanks and love.

Ive recently learned that i get something positive from my self destructive behaviours. Like unstable is stable. I guess its an interesting idea. And was wondering if you could shed more light on it.

Hi Dr Fox thank you for describing BPD, I was diagnosed in 2014 but was not told by my own doctor until 2018. When I asked him what is BPD he just wrote on a post it note to look at a website on the internet (no explanation given) so I am extremely happy that you have done these videos as they have been so helpful to me

I died laughing at cat's pajamas

I think I outgrew most of my symptoms. I'm 52 now and simply stopped caring (to some extent) what people think of me.

I see a few grey hairs poking through there Doc. You silver fox, you.

I have somewhat of number 9 but I’m not sure and the rest I have

…go to someone that 'believes' in BPD and doesn't take you down the Bi-polar polypharmacy rabbithole….

What is that sound???? In the background??? So hard to listen to you it hurts my head.

When you look up a video on BPD to better understand someone and then the criteria start hitting too hard to home…

The two parts of number nine seem unrelated. Or at least I don't see why they are grouped in one criterion.

Background noise very distracting Takes away from yur presentation that is informational definitely restricts how many times viewer can replay video to obtain info. Thank y for yur videos Bery helpful hav good day All yur efforts r appreciated. Best

void when it comes is eternal. but it's not always here. sometimes i get so distracted all along i can't notice it although i'm not either finding sense. i think that's when i just had to turn emotions up cause it was unbearable. im wondering if then i may fit in that sympton

This is the best explanation/breakdown of this I’ve ever heard.

Dr. Fox, you use the mild-extreme spectrum, and while I understand that, what still confuses me, is compared to?? What is considered the 'norm'? I am still confused. I'm 65 and have been told my whole life my response to things is always 'too much'. I was once diagnosed as 'borderline' borderline personality disorder. I understand the spectrum of comparison is relative. BTW, you are one of very few I've actually subscribed to here on you tube. You explain yourself in such a way many will understand what it is you are saying.

Great video but what is that strange sound in the background that comes and goes ? ( I'm not imagining it !! Lol ) 🌈🌟🌠😀

I really REALLY really need to go back to therapy…

Can a person look BPD because of being in an abusive relationship with someone?

I am finally going to be diagnosed on the 17th of this month.
I think I have BPD, PPD, OCD, PTSD. I also feel like I have so many autism symptoms. So I'm confused with that.

I really appreciate your videos. I was with diagnosed with BPD in the '80's and there was not help. No one ever talked to me about what it meant, Now that I am 75 years old and experiencing a break down, I find there is no help for us who are older people on SSI and Medicare. And we can forget that there is real help out there. They just want to throw drugs at us, and god forbid I do no want those drugs again. I have spent the last 2 months searching for help and to no avail. Oh, yes there is a lot of help out there as long as you don't have medicare and lots and lots of money. I cry a lot mostly out of deep frustration at my inability to find some real help. I wish the mental health community would find time to help us older people instead of seeing us as a waste of time, because after all we won't be here much longer, so who really cares? Yes I know the young are important, but damn I would like to have a bit of peace before I depart from this here world.

I have all these traits, only two I would consider mild, but in the fairly recent past they were extreme. Everything else is from moderate to extreme. However, at times, my reactions are not as intense or my emotions are not as impactful because I have an automatic disassociation response that I have unknowingly learned over the years. I tend to just disconnect and let things fly right by. Then I don't remember things. At one point in my life, I used to say I have taught myself to forget things. Now I realize it is a disassociation reaction that is not intentional. I can't recall myself if it is deep. I have become so used to it that it is just a part of my life now, thus I believe it lowers the intensity of a couple of the traits you mentioned. Thank you so much for the insights! It helps me to learn and I think I will feel better having answers.

Thank you, this is very helpful.

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