The concept of Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) has evolved significantly since the designation was first described over 70 years ago. In 1980 when BPD was formally defined in DSM-III, most professionals viewed it as a diagnosis bestowed on difficult, unremitting, pain-in-the-ass patients. But it remained obscure to the general public. The original edition of our book, I Hate You, Don’t Leave Me: Understanding the Borderline Personality, in 1989 was one of the first referenced books directed to a general readership, as well as to professionals.
Starting in the 1990’s and into the twenty-first century other books on BPD have been published. Several of these are memoirs written by non-professionals describing family members, lovers, and themselves with borderline symptoms. During this time, greater public awareness of BPD has emerged. Movies, TV shows, and other fictional media references to BPD often portray those afflicted as wildly crazy, frequently suicidal, and sometimes dangerous. Fictional characters with borderline quirks can be attractive, dramatic, and colorful enough to animate a story. But they are often depicted as the villain of the piece. BPD is lumped with schizophrenia, bipolar disease, and substance abuse to explain erratic behavior.