by Jim Hall and Perry Hoffman, Ph.D.
In recent a ground-breaking New York Times front-page article, Expert on Mental Illness Reveals Her Own Fight, published Thursday, June 23, 2011, borderline personality disorder (BPD) has been brought to the attention of millions worldwide. Marsha M. Linehan, Ph.D., one of the foremost experts on treating BPD, announced that she, too, has suffered with this disabling mental illness. By developing Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT), the most evidence-based treatment for BPD, Dr. Linehan already has brought to many a promise of a pathway to "a life worth living". Now, with her courageous announcement, she is bringing a visible message of hope to all who seek relief from the pain of mental illness.
People involved in learning the skills of Dialectical Behavior Therapy can now experience a heightened comfort in the credibility of this therapy knowing the creator has walked in their shoes.
BPD is an often misunderstood, serious mental illness characterized by persistent instability in moods, interpersonal relationships, self image and behavior. It is a disorder of emotional dysregulation. BPD, one of the most common mental illnesses, is still one of the least understood, and therefore one of the most under-diagnosed and under-treated disorders. While less well known than schizophrenia or bipolar disorder (manic-depressive illness), BPD is just as common, affecting between 1 - 2 percent of the general population.
NAMI and the National Education Alliance for Borderline Personality Disorder (NEA-BPD), provide essential information and services for BPD and other major mental illnesses. Parents, spouses and children bear a significant burden. Often, family members are grateful to be educated about the borderline diagnosis, the likely prognosis, reasonable expectations from treatment, and how they can contribute. These interventions often improve communication, decrease alienation, and relieve family burdens. Family training and support programs such as NAMI's Family to Family and NEA-BPD's Family Connections are in great demand.
There are therapies and skills for individuals and families alike that are truly hopeful for recovery with BPD. Now, with this public disclosure by Dr. Linehan, those who live with BPD can observe living proof of leading a successful life with a serious mental illness.---