People want to know why self-injury is so prevalent in borderline personality disorder (BPD). According to the National Institute of Mental Health’s website, borderline personality disorder consists of unstable moods, behaviors, and relationships, with trouble regulating emotions and thoughts while exhibiting impulsive behavior.
Another characteristic of BPD is self-injurious behaviors and increased suicidality. Cutting and other forms of self-harm are so prevalent in borderline that they seem to have become indicators of it. Of course, not everyone who self-harms has BPD, and not everyone with the disorder self-harms. However, self-harm is widely prevalent in BPD. And I was given the borderline diagnosis probably because I cut myself.
BPD and Using Self-Injury to Regulate Emotions
This leads us to the question of why self-harm is more widespread in those with BPD than those afflicted with other disorders. The answer seems to come back to the concept of control. Self-mutilation can be a way to gain control of our feelings and emotions when we can’t seem to reel them in. We are able to determine the type and amount of pain we feel, instead of letting it emotionally take advantage of us. Since borderline personality disorder is characterized by emotional dysregulation, those with the illness may use self-injurious behavior in an attempt to regulate, or gain some control of, their emotional turbulence.
Is Self-Injury in BPD Attention-Seeking or Manipulative?
To some, the self-harming behaviors of those with BPD come off as attention-seeking or manipulative. There seems to be a belief that the suicidality and self-harm exhibited by those afflicted with this illness are done to manipulate those around them. Since this is an illness that heavily manifests through borderline and relationships, it may be natural to think of the self-mutilation in terms of how it affects others. Is it possible that someone diagnosed with BPD self-harms to get an emotional reaction out of someone? Of course. This doesn’t mean that it’s any less harmful for this stigma to exist against those with BPD. The self-injurious behavior is most likely taking place to gain control of emotions.
So, yes, I can understand why the diagnosis keeps being given to me. When psychiatrists see that I am a cutter, they may conclude that I have some trouble regulating my emotions or moods and use cutting as a coping technique. Considering that self-injury is a borderline trait, they probably use that as a catalyst to build a full diagnosis upon further evaluation. No matter what diagnosis is given to me, I still carry on and find ways to stay in recovery.