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6 Positive Traits of Borderline Personality Disorder

Willing to Give but Do They Ever Forgive?

By:
Alexander Tokarev, PhD
|
Reviewed by:
Yelnur Shildibekov, PhD
6 Positive Traits of BPD (Borderline Personality Disorder) – PSYCULATOR
Max Harlynking | unsplash.com

Key points

  • BPD individuals are resilient, despite high rates of self-harm (80%), substance abuse (72%), and attempted suicide (33%)
  • BPD individuals are mostly women (75%), but men show stronger symptoms and more neurotic coping mechanisms
  • BPD is the most common psychiatric disorder, affecting an estimated 5.9% of people in United States

Definition

Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) is a mental health condition characterized by persistent patterns of instability in mood, self-image, and interpersonal relationships.

Individuals with BPD often struggle with intense and unstable emotions, self-esteem issues, impulsive behaviors, and a fear of abandonment.

These difficulties can impact various aspects of their daily life and relationships, making it challenging to maintain stable and fulfilling connections with others. However, there are also positive traits of Borderline Personality Disorder.

1. Borderline Empathy Paradox

The borderline empathy paradox is defined as showing heightened empathy despite having impaired interpersonal abilities and functioning [1].

Individuals with BPD have hyper-empathic abilities. This heightened empathy makes them exceptionally sensitive and attuned to the emotions, thoughts, and even physical sensations of others [3]. For example, when witnessing someone in pain, individuals with BPD tend to empathize more deeply than those without the condition.

However, despite their enhanced empathy, individuals with BPD may encounter challenges in interpersonal relationships and social skills. Their emotional hypersensitivity may manifest as mood swings and persistent fear of abandonment, a phenomenon referred to above as the "borderline empathy paradox."

Note that heightened empathy may be associated with abnormal functioning of specific neurological systems in the brain. Specifically, one brain imaging study on BPD patients [4] showed that during emotional empathy (i.e. empathic concern) patients with BPD exhibited significantly greater brain activity than controls in the right middle insular cortex, where this activation reflected heightened levels of arousal.

2. Resourceful

Because individuals with BPD experience emotions at an intensity significantly stronger compared to the average person[9], they often encounter situations that demand quick thinking. The heightened emotional response often pushes them to escalate situations beyond the norm, requiring them to devise smart solutions, which develops their capacity for innovative thinking. While resourcefulness is a valuable skill, these individuals often fail to recognize or acknowledge it as one of their BPD positive traits.

3. Resilient

Positive traits of BPD include resilience, defined as the capacity to recover from adversity, trauma, or harm. BPD is one of the most common psychiatric disorders. It is estimated that the prevalence of this condition in the general population ranges from 1.6% to 5.9%, with the higher percentage observed in the United States [10]. A significant number of individuals diagnosed with BPD have grappled with adverse behaviors, including

  • Eating Disorders – up to 65.4% [12]
  • Substance Use Disorders – up to 72% [13]
  • Self-Harm or Self-Mutilation – up to 80% [6]
  • Suicide – accounts for 9% to 33% of all suicides[11]

The mere fact that BPD individuals demonstrate the ability to navigate their emotions in the midst of these challenges reflects resilience and sheer willpower in response to their tough life experiences. They show incredible strength of character, and the ability to use coping mechanisms.

Interestingly, the prevalence of BPD is estimated to be greater in women (about 75%)[10]. While this statistic is thought to over-represent women and under-represent men, the severity of BPD symptoms and the use of immature and neurotic defense mechanisms together with emotional and avoidant-focused coping strategies is higher in men[6].

Related: Neuroticism in Psychology - this article explains why some people are significantly more negative, neurotic, and difficult than others, detailing their personality profiles.

4. Intuitive

Individuals with BPD often possess a high level of intuition. One good thing about BPD is being deeply in tune with own feelings and emotions. This manifests in the ability to quickly and accurately sense the emotions of others from their facial expressions without any explanation [2][5]. This typically translates into an intuitive understanding of friends’ thoughts, sometimes even before the friend realizes what’s on their mind!

5. Courageous

People with BPD are straightforward and genuine. They are bold and don't hesitate to express themselves clearly, making directness one of their strengths. While these positive traits of BPD may not always be popular in certain circles, many people appreciate the honesty and straightforwardness it brings. Or, as Isabel Thielmanna described Individuals with BPD in her research paper[8]:

“Willing to Give but not to Forgive”

6. Passionate

One of the main positive traits of Borderline Personality Disorder is showing intense dedication to their passions[7], whether it's a particular person, art, dance, music, sports, food, literature, or any other interest. They naturally immerse themselves wholeheartedly in whatever captivates them, requiring no external encouragement to pursue their passions. This innate drive is one of the BPD positives that makes them hardworking and committed to realizing their dreams. It's truly inspiring!

A Final Note on the Positive Traits of Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD)

In conclusion, individuals with BPD have positive traits too. The range of emotions, from sadness to anger and aggression, is counterbalanced by enthusiasm, joy, perseverance, and their empathetic nature. These individuals embody the traits of healers, lovers, and, above all, survivors. Discard the stigma and provide an opportunity. Remember: No one is a one-dimensional being. Someone with BPD is more than a diagnosis and deserves a chance to be accepted, respected, and loved.