The Scarlet Label (Borderline Personality Disorder)

Important addition to understanding the cultural silencing of grief

Everything Matters: Beyond Meds

borderlineBy Brent Potter PhD

The diagnosis Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) strikes fear and loathing in the hearts of most mental health providers. It is unquestionably one of the most stigmatizing and overused diagnoses in existence. Often diagnosing someone with this label is a clinical punch in the gut to the client and also a means of communicating warning to other clinicians. It is the 21st century version of the scarlet letter.

In Borderline Personality Disorder: New Perspectives on a Stigmatizing and Overused Diagnosis, Jacqueline Simon Gunn and I outline the history of attitudes about the (perceived) feminine gone awry. We show that current diagnostic conceptions do not bespeak a psychiatric disease of chemically imbalanced brain organs, but are the logical outcome of long-standing attitudes about women through history. We do not deny that there are patterns of experience typical of emotional chaos and we demonstrate that men too suffer…

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