Emotional Intensity Disorder: The New Name for Borderline Personality Disorder?

There has been talk for quite some time about changing the name of Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD). Experts believe it is an inaccurate term for the disorder, and sufferers complain of being stigmatized because of it.

When BPD was first being diagnosed, it was thought to be a borderline condition between neurosis and psychosis, which is how the name came to be. Psychologists later realized that wasn’t the case, but the name stayed.

The “borderline” label can be stigmatizing for people suffering from the psychiatric disorder because people make different assumptions about the term. It also suggests that the person’s personality is flawed, which can be upsetting to people with an already unstable sense of self.

“I think a lot of people don’t understand what BPD is, and the word ‘borderline’ isn’t clear to most,” says Nikki Instone, PhD. “If changing the name to something that more people can relate to helps them understand the nature of the disorder, then I’m all for it.”

Emotional Intensity Disorder a Popular Choice among Patients

In a survey, the following names were nominated by clinicians and patients as possible substitutes for Borderline Personality Disorder:

  • Emotional Regulation Disorder
  • Emotional Dysregulation Disorder
  • Emotional Intensity Disorder
  • Emotionally Unstable Personality Disorder
  • Impulsive Personality Disorder
  • Impulsive-Emotional Dysregulation Disorder

Patients preferred Emotional Intensity Disorder while clinicians primarily opted for Emotional Regulation Disorder. However, the working group of the revision to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-V) proposed the name Borderline Type.

Emotional Regulation Disorder and Emotional Intensity Disorder are more accurate terms because they reflect the real symptoms associated with the disorder: emotional dysregulation, impulsive behavior, and cognitive dysregulation.

“The name Emotional Intensity Disorder is fine. It seems to be a more accurate description of the disorder,” Instone says. “The key is the emotional instability that is often extreme, or intense.”

The Treatment and Research Advancements Association for Personality Disorders (TARA) is spearheading the movement to bring about the name change. It is also backed by Thomas Insel, MD, director of the U.S. National Institute of Mental Health.

What’s your preference on a new name for BPD?

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One Response to “Emotional Intensity Disorder: The New Name for Borderline Personality Disorder?”

  1. Simon Hubbard Apr 11, 2012 at 3:59 pm #

    According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the name of this disorder is – Emotionally Unstable Personality Disorder, Borderline Type. I would suggest that this IS descriptive of the illness. The experience of transient psychosis that some of us experience demonstrates that we are, indeed, right on the ‘borderline’. If people do not understand the word ‘borderline’, all they have to do is ask their doctor or just look it up! After all, the nature of most illnesses, mental and physical, is not obvious just from the name. The people that complain about the word ‘borderline’ are likely in denial about having the illness at all. Emotionally Unstable Personality Disorder, Borderline Type is a diagnosis I’m comfortable with (as are many of my peers). So, please stop this silly debate and redirect your time and your energy into helping us come to terms with the huge impact we are faced with day-in, day-out. Thanks – Simon.

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