People with borderline personality disorder are usually more sensitive than most people to environmental circumstances. The perception of impending separation or rejection, or the loss of external structure, can lead to profound changes in self-image, affect, cognition, and behavior.
They experience intense abandonment fears and inappropriate anger, even when faced with a realistic time-limited separation or when there are unavoidable changes in plans. For instance, a person with this condition may experience sudden despair in reaction to a clinician’s announcing the end of the hour; or panic and fury when someone important to them is just a few minutes late or must cancel an appointment. They may believe that this “abandonment” implies that they are a “bad person.” These abandonment fears are related to an intolerance of being alone and a need to have other people with them. Relationships and the person’s emotions may sometimes be seen by others or characterized as being shallow.
A personality disorder is an enduring pattern of inner experience and behavior that deviates from the norm of the individual’s culture. In order for a personality disorder to be diagnosed, the behavior pattern must be seen in two or more of the following areas: cognition (thinking); affect (feeling); interpersonal functioning; or impulse control.