The 4 Subtypes of BPD

Theodore Millon

Because just understanding Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) in general isn’t hard enough, 4 subtypes were identified by the late Theodore Millon. I knew about the Quiet Borderline and the Classic Borderline so to learn that there are 4 more ways to look at BPD is overwhelming but hey, I do love diversity!

The Discouraged Borderline

  • clingy
  • follow the crowd
  • dependent
  • angry inside but can explode if pushed
  • likely to harm themselves
  • moody, somber, quiet
  • suicidal thoughts, gestures, attempts, completion
  • the “quiet borderline”

The Impulsive Borderline

  • flirtatious, captivating, elusive, superficial
  • thrill seekers
  • highly energetic
  • easily bored
  • impulsive
  • unpredictable

The Petulant Borderline

  • unpredictable
  • irritable, complainers
  • impatient
  • defiant, stubborn
  • disgruntled, pessimistic, resentful
  • torn between relying on others and keeping their distance for fear of disappointment
  • switch between feelings of unworthiness and anger
  • explosive anger

The Self Destructive Borderline

  • impulsive
  • self hatred
  • self mutilation
  • engaging in dangerous behaviours (ie: reckless driving)

 

Hands downs down I am the Petulant Borderline. Petulant means “childishly sulky or bad tempered”, which I find to be offensive and dismissive but I guess sums up the “style” of that particular Borderline. Of course, we need to keep in mind that the behaviours mentioned can exist in all the subtypes. For example, I engage in self harm and also have suicidality but would not strongly identify with the substypes predominantly associated with those behaviours.

Regardless of your BPD subtype you are still an amazing person with a lot to offer and you deserve to be the person you want to be! Knowing these subtypes could help in counselling so you can identify more closely which areas you need to work on. Remember that there are many positives about you as well. I know I may complain a lot but I’m standing up for myself which is something I never used to do. We are people first.

Sources/Further Reading:

http://cynthianne.hubpages.com/hub/Four-Primary-Forms-of-Borderline-Personality-Disorder

http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/impossible-please/201310/do-you-know-the-4-types-borderline-personality-disorder

http://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/borderline/2012/01/becoming-more-specific-subtypes-of-borderline-personality-disorder/

 

 

 

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30 thoughts on “The 4 Subtypes of BPD

  1. I think I’m probably the petulant subtype too! 😀 But with a definite mix of most of them. Do you think these are good subtypes? I’ve read different figures for the numbers of “subtypes” before. I’m not sure how much I really believe this, and how much I think it’s just a division of traits. Although I appreciate your posting it, and welcome new insight.

    • I’m torn between appreciating it and thinking it’s just another way to further divide us.

      I think it would be beneficial if it was used in the initial diagnosis and treatment but it’s not. We’re all lumped together despite there being over 200 symptom combinations. I have met a few people with BPD who are nothing like me, more quiet, but we’ll be seen and treated as the same. Regardless, the first step would be finding decent BPD treatment which is almost impossible.

  2. Thank you for this. Someone very close to me MAY be have BPD. It has not been diagnosed, yet, but a lot of it fits. From this list I see “petulant” as being the most likely, with a bit of discouraged. Do you have any links that would be helpful for the friend/partner/family member of someone with BPD? The push/pull part of it is particularly difficult, especially when the push episodes are cruel and explosive. I have my own issues, being (probably) Bipolar II Rapid Cycling, so combine that with BPD and…oh dear.

    I’ve been following your blog for quite a while, under a different blogging ID, and find your posts compelling.

  3. Excellent read! Thanks for sharing! I understand that a ‘movement’ is underway to change the label BPD as it’s now being recognised more and more as a very severe and potentially fatal mental illness!! At long last!!

      • Yes, that’s very true. Educating others is vital in explaining the symptoms of many Psychiatric illnesses. I don’t know what the proposed ‘new’ names are though, and would be very interested in knowing!😉 Personally, I took great offence when I was told I had Borderline Personality Disorder. To me, borderline suggests ‘bordering’ between something not quite there, but actually is, then adding Personality Disorder suggests there’s something wrong with my personality!! Lol! I don’t think so!!!! In my case, BPD is a side effect of Complex PTSD. It was a life time of other dysfunctional peoples actions which landed up with a multitude of Traumas… Again not my fault. I despise references to disorders of something having a personality disorder… As it’s as though it is me who has the problem. 🌸

      • Some of the proposed names have been:
        Emotional Regulation Disorder
        Emotional Intensity Disorder
        Emotional Impulsivity Disorder
        Emotional Processing Disorder

        All of which make me feel pretty horrible lol

        I have a problem with Personality Disorder for the same reasons! We’re taught that our personality is what makes us who we are and then ours is labeled “Disordered”. And then we’re supposed to look at ourselves as not being our disorders? Maybe that’s easier with a mood disorder, you are not your mood. But how can I do that with a personality disorder?!?!

  4. The Petulant Borderline
    unpredictable
    irritable, complainers
    impatient
    defiant, stubborn
    disgruntled, pessimistic, resentful
    torn between relying on others and keeping their distance for fear of disappointment
    switch between feelings of unworthiness and anger
    explosive anger

    The Discouraged Borderline
    clingy
    dependent
    angry inside but can explode if pushed
    likely to harm themselves
    moody, somber, quiet
    suicidal thoughts, gestures, attempts, completion
    the “quiet borderline”

    I deleted the symptoms of the ones I don’t relate with, but still leaves me relating to the above, and I am not sure which one is closest to me, I am a little bit of both, so maybe I am a mix. It’s all so confusing sometimes.

    I guess I would lean more toward the discouraged borderline. I am not sure, I am torn between these 2. I have anger, but I do need to be pushed before it comes out, I don’t generally just explode in anger without being pushed, be it by someone else or stress.

    • We all have bits or else we wouldn’t have been given the diagnosis or strongly relate to it if we haven’t been diagnosed. I have found also that depending on the situation and/or the people I will be have differently (which many of us do given the many roles we play in our lives). I’ll be more “petulant” with my partner and more “discouraged” with friends in terms of showing anger.

      • Very true. I agree that we do relate to different bits, for me it all boils down to how I am feeling and the environment I am in, I many times change who I am to blend into my environment better.I have a hard time explaining it so I hope it makes sense…

  5. It kind of bothers me when they do this, try to figure out the specific subtypes of BPD. I get why, BPD presents in such vastly varying ways, but I still feel like its just another way to overgeneralize. I never fit into one group or another. No matter how people break it up, I always fit in all the categories, depending on my mood, the time in my life…

  6. Hi i just want to know im not one specific subtype i have a few of each personality what is it then just bordeline personality disorder or must you fall in a subtype a d why be liabeld pls tell what i am if i have a few of everyone thx much appriciated

    • I am not a medical professional and cannot make any recommendations. If you have concerns I strongly suggest speaking with a mental health professional who can point you in the right direction.

  7. I consider myself a “Discouraged Borderline” in recovery. I’ve always been quiet. But you can always blow up if pushed too far. I imagine it like a can of soda pop. Shake it and eventually it will explode. Same thing with Quiet Borderlines, I believe. Push us too far and we can explode too. Clingy, dependent, somber – that’s me too. (But not as much now!) 🙂

  8. I’m fairly certain that you and most of your readers are aware that – for many years – it was thought either that Borderlines could not be treated, or that effective treatment would take YEARS that no Borderline would stick around to complete. During that time, many shrinks refused to accept them into their practices for fear of what they could/would do to the shrink personally when angry or disappointed – judging all from the far end of the spectrum that TV likes to sensationalize.

    I wonder if that has lingered in the back of the minds of many care providers, which contributes to the lack of effective care. Attempt at classification of “types” is at least an indication that more attention is being payed – as annoying as it is to be reduced to a type.

    Mental Health Care needs a serious upgrade overall – it is difficult for ALL dx’s to locate effective care. Sad, sad, sad – VERY disappointing – and a big impediment to those of us who are trying to figure out how to lead effective lives regardless.
    xx,
    mgh
    (Madelyn Griffith-Haynie – ADDandSoMuchMore dot com)
    -ADD Coach Training Field founder/ADD Coaching co-founder-
    “It takes a village to transform a world!”

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