Symptoms & Diagnosis

BPD Name Change Is Being Considered

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When Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) was first being diagnosed, it was thought of as a disorder that didn’t fit into the category of a neurotic or psychotic personality. People who were diagnosed as having BPD were considered to be on the “borderline” between neurosis and psychosis.

Through research, it has been discovered that BPD is a distinct disorder with its own set of complex symptoms. The primary symptoms of Borderline Personality Disorder include intense emotional experiences and instability in relationships and behaviors.

Now that more is known about BPD, there has been a recent movement in the therapeutic community to rename the disorder to something more accurate. Thomas R. Insel, MD, director of the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), is one of the experts calling for a reexamination of the name Borderline Personality Disorder. He discusses the label of BPD and the outlook for treating the disorder in a recent blog posting.

Alternative Names for BPD

Recent surveys of clinicians and patients provided the following names as possible suggestions when renaming Borderline Personality Disorder:

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

Of those, Emotional Regulation Disorder was the most popular among clinicians and Emotional Intensity Disorder the most popular among patients. The latest revision of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, DSM-V, has proposed the name Borderline Type.

What do you think about a new name for Borderline Personality Disorder? What would you recommend?


  1. “Borderline Type” is no more descriptive than borderline personality disorder. Might as well keep it as BPD as make that meaningless change. Both Emotional Intensity Disorder and Emotion Regulation Disorder are more descriptive of what it really is. Of the two, EID is probably the more descriptive, so I vote for that one.

    Based on what I have been reading about BPD, it is a wonder they don’t recode it on Axis I.

  2. I agree, Emotional Intensity Disorder seems to be the best choice for sure..feel like I can connect to it more. I would be so heartbroken if I had to tell people I had Emotionally Unstable personality disorder…That should be a definite 100% No!!

  3. When I was diagnosed my clinician called BPD, “Emotional intensity disorder” she said it was a better discriptive title and I agree. When I try and explain it to people they always comment that the name should be changed, funny when you think about it.

  4. Impulse Regulation Disorder.

    Must be a name that does not make sufferers feel ashamed.

  5. my doctors diagnosed me with ’emotionally unstable personality disorder’ which i absolutely hate. even though i know i fit the criteria, that name just sounds horrible. i would say that Emotional Regulation Disorder or Emotional Intensity Disorder sound the best.

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  7. The name BPD suggests all sorts of crazy things like I am on the borderline of being a normal/ subnormal person, on the borderline of being aceceptable/unacceptable… the lsit goes on. I could live Emotional Intensity Disorder much easier but I suspect people still wouldn’t have any idea what the hell it is. But… I’m glad a name change is being considered.

  8. The name Emotional Regulation Disorder seems less stigmatizing. I totally agree with Cate as to how the term Borderline is perceived. I so hope they change the name soon!

    Anyone suffering from mental or emotional issues needs more understanding and less stigma if these problems are to be resolved.

  9. I don’t think it is a real impact one way or the other and people are very in the dark to as to the meaning of either.

  10. I hate all of the names. All of them make me feel ashamed and bad about myself. Might as well call it “F–ked Up Personality Disorder.” I would definitely rather be called “Borderline” than to be called “emotional” or “impulsive” anything! But I know that I don’t get a choice in the matter, and that people with degrees are going to change the name to something which makes me feel even worse about myself than I already do.

  11. Michdelle

    I don’t like the idea of being called “emotionally unstable.” We deal with enough stigma already, for having a mental health issue, that most people really do not understand. After all the research that has now been done on BPD, I think it just needs to be brought into the light and the public needs educating about “personality” disorders, as so many others suffer too. They have now proven through brain imaging techniques that the emotion regulation control in our brains does not work properly, and that the part that deals with emotions is broken as well. So maybe a name involving the part of the brain that is not working properly. Truly, as a sufferer of this illness for over 30 years, I don’t care what they call it, as long as they continue to work towards ways that will help free us from these prisons we build for ourselves and can’t get out of. To all other sufferers: may you find some peace and may there be a light at the end of the tunnel for us all. xxx

  12. rosestetler

    Emotionally Intense would be ideal since every emotion is intense beyond the norm.

  13. Please consider signing this petition to change the name & axis of BPD in the new Diagnostic & Statistics Manual. Some proposed names are:

      Emotional Regulation Disorder, proposed by Marsha Linehan, Ph.D. (an expert in BPD)
      Emotional Processing Disorder
      Emotional Deficit Impulsivity Disorder

    More information can be found at the site & you can leave a comment on what name you think is best… Thanks

  14. Here in Finland they’ve already changed the name to what translates as “unstable personality disorder”. Talk about stigmatizing.

  15. Tanya Harewood

    I personally find the name change disgusting. Who wants to be called unstable? Isn’t BPD hard enough to get understanding and respect without judgement. It’s a living hell enough. Just leave the name how it is and spend the money that would have been spent on changing the name, stationary, all sorts of stuff, and put it into treatment of the illness instead.

  16. a mental health worker told me how bpd would have a name change. why not be truthful and call it for what it is post traumatic stress. hence ,’ emotional traumatic stress disorder’. isn’t that what we all have been through? all the people with bpd not only have tough enough lives being called bpd, just tell it how it is. when people came back from war they had a name that describe what hell they had gone through, but we neither fit to the left or to right, we don’t quite fit in. all the big wigs sitting behind the conference tables stating what we should be called. for Christ sake get it right this time so drs, mental hospitals ect treat us with the respect we deserve.

  17. Doesn’t matter how the name makes you feel, the name should be fully descriptive of what it is. Unstable has got to be in the name, because instability of emotions, relationships, self-image, etc., is the primary characteristic of the disorder.

  18. What about complex PTSD? Or C-PTSD? I thought this was the same as BPD? Or is it that not all BPDs have been abused or have a post-traumatic bases? I know I do. I would say all of my symptoms were brought on by a history of childhood abuse. But I know that is not the case for everyone who has BPD.

  19. I feel Emotional Regulation seems to be what best describes what I feel…when I must explain to others “what is wrong” me, interact with employers or friends, attempt to maintain a relationship. It also seems to be the best description to help my children understand their mother & our dealings at home with my moods and / or feelings on a daily basis. PTSD, Anxiety, Depression come into play & also fairly accurately describe my situation, but in combining all of those and noting when / how my reactions change along with how I cope with the emotional changes…Emotional Regulation just seems to fit the best, encompassing it all.

  20. I think something like “Why Dad Rages Disorder”

  21. Emotional Traumatic Stress Disorder — ETSD — is perfect. Thanks, Ardie, for coming up with it.

  22. I am a female with high functioning autistic spectrum disorder and have been fascinated with how many of my traits mirror bpd. Emotional regulation is part of my condition too. And I have experienced turbulent relationships and extreme anxiety around rejection. The more I read and reflect the more I believe there might be a link. As far as the name… What about hyper sensitivity disorder?

  23. I say leave it as is and don’t spend the money on a name change. Instead use the money to raise awareness and to get better care for those with BPD and for support for people with family members who have BPD. But I suppose if I was throwing in a re-name suggestion why not combine some suggestions with what its already called something like Emotional Personality Disorder or Borderline Emotional Disorder. Idk anyways good suggestions and comments by all. :)

  24. I agree that all of suggestions on the list are stigmatizing, as is the name Borderline Personality Disorder. The name should not further invalidate emotions, since this is how the problem came to exist in the first place. I think the word “trauma” should be in the name, or “invalidation.” It’s really post-traumatic stress of being invalidated. I don’t mind “Complex PTSD.” Maybe “Post Traumatic Emotional Pain Disorder,” or “Invalidated Emotional Pain Disorder”?

  25. I hate them all. Just calling it a disorder is bad enough, but the name should give us the validity we need. Of all the mental illnesses to have, this one is awful because who would empathize with us? We’re our own worst enemies. My BPD takes the form of rage, so what’s the best way to tell the world I can’t control myself and I’m fighting my own impulses just to stay alive? How do I explain that I’m paranoid, but smart, volatile, but scared, filled with judgements and hatred, but needing affection more than anything? My husband knows how to deal with me: he holds me until it’s over. Is there a name that helps people understand that love is what we need most, even when we do everything we can to make love impossible? Borderline Personality Disorder isn’t even a full name–it’s a placeholder that squeezes us in between all the other real, recognized and funded disorders. I have something that makes it impossible to work, impossible to get along with people, impossible to see the world the way everyone else does. Something Latin, possibly about self-hatred, identity distortion… Since “emotion” is already a dirty word with most of the world, let’s find something biological to pin it on.

  26. Please replace “disorder” with “condition.” Either Emotional Regulation/Dysregulation or Intensity Condition.

  27. As a psychotherapist, and someone who has suffered from Anxiety and Depression disorders, I understand the concern regarding stigmatization. My preference is for the name of the disorder to reflect the symptoms in the most honest manner. It has been a long hard fought battle to have Depression understood as a health issue just like diabetes. BPD is also a health issue.
    That said, out of the many personality disorders, often people with BPD can leave a trail of pain in their wake which can cause so much destruction that others have to separate from them physically just to survive. A depressive disorder can do the same (I am aware of this.) Psychiatric descriptions are not created to make clients feel better. They are created to help everyone get a general idea of the current health concerns in terms of specific symptoms. I believe Emotional Dysregulation Disorder is the most honest fit. That said, names of disorders aren’t that important to me as a therapist. It’s more imortant to see the person as an individual who is suffering. That’s my starting point. They are a person first, not a disorder. The names of disorders may help the client and others understand the general scope of the problem and if medication may need to be addressed. Other than that, being open and willing to hold your client’s pain in a safe place while they try to figure out how they want their future to look is of the upmost importance.

  28. I agree with emotional intensity disorder. Regulating my emotions was always the most difficult thing for me. So glad to be off the emotional roller coaster.

  29. Turbothymic personality disorder
    Heterothymic personality disorder

    Turbo meaning unstable/disturb like turbulence
    Hetero meaning mixed/different

    Personally, I like turbothymic or turbothymia. Prevents the layman from misunderstanding what is meant by unstable or the accompanying discriminatory notions that go with ’emotionally’ and ’emotionally unstable’


  30. I would leave it as borderline personality disorder… or pick a name that encompasses all the symptoms

  31. Some times I feel everything extremely I don’t feel it at all. All-or-nothing thinking and behavior. Impulsive. A feeling of emptiness. Incapable of having a relationship without hurting them. Suicidal Behavior.
    Sexual promiscuous how to fill that empty hole inside. There’s no medication that takes it away in therapy helps a little bit but it’s not a guarantee it’ll go away so it’s always going to be there

  32. Please this really needs to happen. My wife suffers from this and will not seek treatment because of the negative association with the outdated term. Its hard enough to get those who have this affliction into therapy. Labeling it as being on the boarder with psychosis makes it almost impossible. They fear abandonment more than anything. In their minds who would be with and love someone his is almost a psychopath.

    This changes needs to happen for the good of people who suffer from it and their loved ones.

  33. A medical name ought to have terms relating to the disorder. For example: CJD or Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease gives no information about the disease whatsoever, whereas if someone presents with a myocardial infarction, a doctor or nurse knows what that entails immediately and what course of action to take. Borderline personality is far to vague and can be misinterpreted in a multitude of ways. This is my argument for the naming scheme set out in my previous post:

    Turbothymic personality disorder
    Heterothymic personality disorder
    Turbo meaning unstable/disturb like turbulence
    Hetero meaning mixed/different
    Personally, I like turbothymic or turbothymia. Prevents the layman from misunderstanding what is meant by unstable or the accompanying discriminatory notions that go with ’emotionally’ and ’emotionally unstable’

  34. As a clinical psychologist, I agree with both Ardie and Linette. I think Emotional Dysregulation DO is the best descriptive label. However, I believe the disorder belongs in the category of Trauma and Dissociative Disorders–not Personality Disorders. This change may make it less stigmatizing as well.

  35. Consider renaming BPD to:

    Post Traumatic Emotional Processing Disorder (PTEPD)

    The name change that I’m suggesting better reflects and identifies with the disorder by definition and by association. And because Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is widely recognized both clinically and by the mainstream population it would act as a source of credibility while significantly lowering the negatively attached stigma under the currently entitled name of Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD).

  36. Remove the word ‘personality’.

    As a sibling of someone who suffered BPD I witnessed the name of this cause more damage as it is misleading and inaccurate. My sister rejected the diagnosis partly because of its damaging name and subsequently didn’t receive the help she needed. The very name of the disorder fuels the suffering.

    The term ‘personality’ is problematic. ‘Personality disorder’ erroneously implies there is something wrong with the essence of someone’s character, their very nature. She needed help with her emotional regulation and managing relationships, not her personality. Her personality was beautiful the way it was.

    I vote Emotional Regulation Disorder.

  37. Ruben DeLaRosa

    I like EDD myself. Emotional Dysregulation Disorder. I feel it’s just the right balance of being descriptive but jargony enough but not scarily so that non-educated people would be more curious than scared, perhaps leading to more open discussion of the condition.

  38. Every one of your options includes the word “Disorder”. We are talking about a population who have a 10 percent suicide rate and are known for being extremely sensitive. If there is a chance to change the name, surely we could consider this as an opportunity to destigmatize diagnosis as much as possible and come up with something that sounds more ambiguous?

  39. Markos S.

    I have always felt that the term “Borderline Personality Disorder” is discreditable, stigmatizing, and embarrassing. Most importantly, I want “Personality” removed no matter what the change may be. I prefer the first choice, “Emotional Regulation Disorder”, as, this has to do with Emotions, NOT one’s “personality”. Thank you.

  40. Markos S.

    (Edited response here) – I have always felt that the term “Borderline Personality Disorder” is invalidating, stigmatizing, and embarrassing. Most importantly, I want the word “Personality” removed no matter what the change may be. I prefer the first choice, “Emotional Regulation Disorder”, as, this focuses specifically with one’s Emotions, NOT one’s “personality”. Thank you.

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