Is BPD An Attention-Seeking Disorder?

What is Borderline Personality Disorder

Antara Mal, Counseling Psychologist, BetterLyf

What is Borderline Personality Disorder

A borderline Personality disorder is a mental health disorder that impacts the way one feels and thinks that impacts how one perceives oneself and others, causing problems functioning in everyday life. It includes self-image issues, difficulty managing emotions and behaviour, and a pattern of unstable relationships.

In borderline personality disorder, one can have an intense fear of abandonment. It can be difficult to be alone, a sense of instability persists. It manifests as inappropriate anger, frequent mood swings, impulsiveness, mood swings that push others away even though one wants to have loving and lasting relationships.

A study mentions that the impulsivity, affective lability, and self-damaging actions that are the hallmark of borderline personality occur in an interpersonal context and are often precipitated by real or imagined events in relationships. 

How to recognise BPD

Wondering whether you or a loved one is suffering from BPD? Borderline personality disorder will affect your feelings about yourself, which will reflect in your behaviour and your relationship with others. It can be characterized by the following symptoms.

  • Intense fear of abandonment, which goes to extreme measures of avoiding real or imagined separation or rejection.
  • A pattern of intense relationships which are unstable, often ending up idealizing, or suddenly believing that the other person does not care.
  • Unstable self-identity and self-image include shifting of goals and values, and minimizing yourself as bad or not acknowledging your own existence.
  • There are episodes of stress-related paranoia or detachment from reality, which can last for a few minutes to a few hours.
  • Suicidal threats or behaviour or self-injury, often in response to the fear of separation or rejection
  • Wide mood swings last from a few hours to a few days, which can include intense happiness, irritability, shame or anxiety.
  • Inappropriate, intense anger, such as frequently losing your temper, being sarcastic or bitter, or having physical fights.
  • Indulging in Impulsive and risky behaviour, such as gambling, reckless driving, unsafe sex, spending sprees, binge eating or drug abuse, or sabotaging success by suddenly quitting a good job or ending a positive relationship.

However, if you struggle with understanding your symptoms, mood swings, you can surely consult a clinician. Online depression counseling can be a handy option in this case.

Is there a connection between Borderlines and Attention seeking? 

Dr. Becky Spelman, said, “Human beings are naturally social creatures, and we are programmed to want the approval of our peers.” Thus when an individual is validated, it makes them feel good and the tendency of that behaviour is likely to get repeated in the future. On the flip side, there is internal validation which is also called “self-acceptance” which depicts the sense of self-worth in an individual where the individual does not need to get a consultation from any outside source to make their choice. A study by Elizabeth R Thornton suggests that external validation within “reasonable limits” can be denoted healthy while a lot of people still face difficulties in cultivating a sense of self-worth.

As discussed earlier, BPD clients struggle with their self-identity, impulsivity, and mood swings. While dealing with self-identity they might face a major challenge in addressing their needs in a healthy way. 

Thus, it is likely to find a lack of balance between external and internal validations. When the need for external validation overpowers, individuals can go to extents beyond their limits which are often termed as attention-seeking behaviour.

Attention seeking is one aspect of borderline personality disorder. Attention seeking in BPD originates from the traumas they create. This certainly does not define them and BPD cannot be characterized only on the basis of this aspect. Individuals from BPD have awareness of their behaviour and its effects on others, but they lack the insight and struggle with changing their ways of behaving.  

Let us understand Attention seeking Behavior-

Have you seen that friend exaggerating about every little thing on social media? Or some cousin of yours who makes it a point to turn every situation into a position where he is the cynosure?

Or it can be you as a child having a meltdown while waiting in line at the grocery store, falling on the floor and kicking their legs.

It is a human instinct to be wanted, noticed and loved. However when this behaviour is motivated by jealousy, low self-esteem, loneliness, it becomes an area of concern.

Attention-seeking behaviour in adults can be loosely defined as conscious or unconscious efforts to be the cynosure or center of attraction. The goal is to be admired, praised or validated. Some traits that drive this behaviour are jealousy, loneliness and self-esteem of the individual.

Self-esteem is a broad term to explain several mental states of the individual. An individual might feel a threat to their self-esteem when they are overlooked. Thus it can be an attempt to restore the balance by bringing back the attention. It helps them with a feeling of reassurance about their sense of worth.

Loneliness can result in an urge to seek attention, even in people who don’t normally exhibit attention-seeking behaviour.

Jealousy is a result of feeling when one notices that the desired attention is being received by some other person which leads to a sense of threat to their self-esteem. Thus resulting in deliberate efforts to be the focus of the scenario. 

Attention-seeking behaviour that happens often is characterized by manipulation, passive-aggression, strained relationships and chances of deliberate pushing away as well.

Attention-seeking behaviour can be best explained by the following symptoms:

  • Manipulation of situations for getting attention.
  • Unintentionally or unconsciously seeking attention through self-harm.
  • Public display of personal troubles, exaggeration of the events regarding its severity and intensity.
  • Inappropriate flirting.
  • Bringing the conservations back to themselves.
  • Brag about one’s accomplishments
  • Deliberately trying to start fights.

As discussed, attention-seeking behaviour can be due to several reasons and can be manifested in different ways. When this behaviour is not satisfied, chances are there that it can lead to depression. You can consider online counseling or online therapy to get a clearer picture of the situation. 

Treatment of BPD 

Any personality disorder is diagnosed on the basis of the following methods,

  • A detailed interview with the clinician
  • Medical history and exam
  • Questionnaires used for psychological evaluation of the individual
  • Discussion of your signs and symptoms

The diagnosis of BPD is generally done in adults. Certain symptoms that appear to be traits of BPD in childhood, often get resolved when a child matures.

However, treatment of Borderline Personality Disorder is mainly done through Psychotherapy to which medication can also be added. A study suggests that Dialectical behaviour therapy is currently the only empirically supported treatment for BPD. Doctors can recommend hospitalization if your safety is at risk. Studies show that there can be high chances of comorbidity between borderline personality disorder and depression. Hence, an individual with BPD can experience persistent low moods. Psychotherapy or online therapy for depression might serve as a go-to option in this case.

Online counseling for depression or online therapy for depression can be considered the fundamental treatment approach for BPD. The mental health care provider adapts the best-suited therapy type for you according to your needs. Generally, goals are set in these cases and accordingly the sessions are planned. A session with a BPD  client can include:-

  • Psychoeducation about BPD provides you with the idea of the condition, symptoms and pattern which will help you develop insights.
  • Learning different coping mechanisms to deal with emotions that feel uncomfortable.
  • Learning to observe patterns and working on them for improvement of relationships with others and self. You will learn techniques and skills to manage certain thoughts that are often self-destructive.
  • Working on the impulsive activities by settling with them and being aware of their source rather than jumping into it.

Adding to psychotherapy, medications can also be provided according to the severity of the condition. However, one has to understand that the treatment process is not linear. There can be chances that some days you are better or worse, treatment helps you deal with them in an effective way. This can help your ability to function in a better way and make you feel good about yourself.

Seeking help is a sign of courage. Don't let self-limiting beliefs hold you back from a life you deserve. Avail online therapy to become happier and better. Learn how

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