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A Quick Guide To Borderline Personality Disorder and Rage

Throughout life, you may have met your fair share of people who seem to get angered easily or have a difficult time controlling their temper. While anger management can be a common problem for anyone, individuals with Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) are known to suffer from the symptoms of having inappropriate, intense bouts of anger or a difficult time in controlling their anger.

In some cases, individuals with BPD will experience extreme, intense anger issues often interpreted as rage. This specific form of rage is often referred to as Borderline Rage, named for its specific association with the personality disorder. BPD sufferers are known for being extremely easy to anger, where even the smallest thing can be interpreted incorrectly and cause the person to explode on anyone and everyone in their vicinity.  Here are some interesting facts about BPD and rage.

BPD Rage is Explosive and Powerful

Individuals with BPD often are angered easily and once angered, their rage can build to extremes. They can become irate over a misplaced word or action that they perceive to be directed at them. They can seem to get angry over nothing and simply direct the explosive rage towards whoever is in their path.  In some cases, their rage can intensify so quickly that homicidal thoughts become prominent in their minds.

BPD Rage is unlike traditional anger

Recent studies have begun examining the sources and experiences of anger for those with BPD. Some studies have revealed that in many cases, the anger response may be the same as those without BPD, but that the feelings of anger or rage do not dissipate in the same manner. Individuals with BPD often experience longer lasting feelings of anger or rage, in a sense providing fuel for a fire that continues to grow the longer they hold onto those feelings.

BPD Rage is believed to be a product of the fear of abandonment

For many individuals living with BPD, fear of abandonment is a driving force for many of their actions. Abandonment is experienced as a loss of control over the situation or person, leaving them alone to deal with whatever is left behind. Many instances of BPD Rage is a product of the internal feelings of abandonment and loss of control. Since anger and rage is typically experienced as a powerful emotion, these counter the feelings of hopelessness and lack of control that accompanies the common symptoms of the disorder.

BPD Rage can be triggered by love

In almost all instances for individuals with BPD, there is an internal conflict between wanting to love and be loved and an inability to feel trusting enough to allow that closeness to develop. The internal conflict, combined with the mixed emotions of not being able to establish trust, become a perfect storm for BPD rage to develop.

The individual with BPD is often more afraid than those around them

While being the person who experiences the result of the rage from someone with BPD, the BPD sufferer themselves is often more terrified. BPD Rage, for the sufferer, is an experience of a complete lack of control. In some cases, the individual may consciously be aware that their anger or rage is not appropriate to the situation but feel powerless to help them. The sense of spiraling out over a spilled drink can make them feel that they will not be able to ever calm down and return to a sense of feeling normal.

Treatment Options

As with many forms of mental disorder, it is important that the individual with the disorder seeks the appropriate type of treatment. Many treatment options are available to assist the BPD sufferer in dealing with their rage.

Therapy based treatment

Therapists and psychologists can provide a wide array of techniques and programs to help the BPD sufferer learn to begin to manage their anger and emotional responses. Techniques like dialectical behavioral therapy use processes by focusing on cognition to help the individual become more aware of their emotional responses. Dialectical Behavioral Therapy includes four components such as mindfulness meditation skills, which teach the individual to fully experience situations without judging them as positive or negative experiences, and instead just reflect on the experience itself.

Additional programs such as schema therapy help the individual target the sources of their anger and learn to deal with them more appropriately. Schema Therapy utilizes the concept of patterns of behavior and thinking which create the unwanted behavior. The therapy process then helps to identify the origin of these patterns so that the schema is eventually dismantled. Schema therapy is thought to be particularly helpful for BPD as it is believed that many of the symptoms are developed from unhealthy schemas earlier in life.

Medications

Many medications that are used to help alleviate symptoms of BPD are often recommended as a counterpart to psychotherapy programs. It is important to remember that while medications can be part of an effective treatment program, it is impossible for any medication to eliminate the feelings of anger entirely. Anger, like many emotions, is a natural response and while medications can help to lessen the intensity of the emotional response, total elimination

Dealing with someone who is struggling with BPD can be challenging and overwhelming at times. Their rage can come out of nowhere and seem to last far beyond an appropriate amount of time. It is important to remember that if you or someone you love is dealing with the difficulties of BPD, it is important to have some understanding and seek the treatment advice and guidance of a mental health care professional.

If your spouse, partner or friend is the one suffering from the disorder, keep in mind that during the rage episodes, it may be impossible to help them to calm down. In fact, in attempting to help them let go of that anger, you may create distance and even more reason for the individual to remain enraged. Providing support and understanding and encouraging them to seek treatment options from a mental health professional are the best tools for giving them some control over their symptoms.

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Angela Sartain, PhD Psychology
Angela Sartain, PhD Psychology

Angela is currently finishing up her doctoral degree program in General Psychology. In her free time, she enjoys spending time with her family, reading, and crafting crochet dolls for her small business.

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