There are a few typical symptoms or characteristics that can appear in borderline syndrome. This includes disregarding one's own experience, an increased vulnerability in the emotional experience as well as the fading out of emotional reactions. So-called blinding, an insufficient opportunity for problem solving, impulsiveness as well as black-and-white thinking and dissociatines are part of it. Further symptoms are the so-called active passivity and self-harming behavior (e.g. by scratching). The following text explains the symptoms characteristics.

Read more on the topic: Borderline syndrome

Selfharming behaviour

Almost 80% of borderline patients develop self-harming behavior at some point in life. These often very different types of self-harm (cutting, burning, draining blood, etc.) are in most cases not intended to kill, but rather to end a state of excitement. After harming themselves, patients often state that they "feel" themselves again
had to.

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Cracks as a symptom of borderline syndrome

Scratching is a symptom that can occur in patients with borderline syndrome and that is probably the first thing many lay people associate with borderline syndrome. Scoring is a type of self-harming or self-harming behavior. Typically, sharp objects such as a razor blade are used to inflict injuries on yourself. Numerous cuts on the forearms are often taught. Depending on how deep the injuries are, this leaves scars. Aside from scratching, there are other types of self-harm, such as causing burns or pulling hair out. The affected patients cite the reason for the self-harming behavior that they can feel themselves better again, that they relieve internal tension or that they can drive away the inner emptiness that torments many patients. Self-harm can also be used to manipulate the outside world. Often the patients know about the effect that these injuries trigger in their social environment and they use this to get someone to turn to them. Rarely is a suicide attempt the target of scratching. In general, self-harming behavior does not only occur in borderline diseases. Other mental illnesses can also be associated with self-harming behavior, such as depressive episodes or obsessive-compulsive disorder. During adolescence in particular, self-harming behavior occurs without being an expression of an illness.

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Disregarding one's own experience

With borderline disorder, patients have already “learned” in childhood, through a mostly abusive or otherwise negative environment, that they should not listen to their feelings, because they are “wrong” anyway. This also leads to the fact that in patients with borderline syndrome important feelings are often not taken seriously and ignored.

Increased vulnerability in the emotional experience

It often doesn't take much to blow a borderline patient up. Even little things are enough to provoke a violent and long-lasting reaction.

Fading out of emotional reactions

For fear of possible negative consequences, many patients try not to allow certain feelings in borderline situations (e.g. shame or anger). There is emotional control and ultimately fading out.


Due to a great desire for recognition, but also out of overconfidence, patients with borderline strive for extraordinary performance in certain areas of life. However, this can have the consequence that they blind their immediate as well as their therapeutic environment. Borderline patients thus appear more competent in areas of life in which they are very insecure.

Lying as a symptom of borderline syndrome

Numerous symptoms can occur in sick people, but what is central - as the clinical picture suggests - is an unstable, changeable, ambivalent and often changing way of thinking and acting from one extreme to the other.
Another central point in the symptoms of borderline disorder is the fear of those affected to be abandoned. It mostly has its origin in unstable or traumatic family structures in childhood.
Borderline patients suffer from this fear of loss and often try to contain the danger through so-called manipulative behavior.
This can also lead to manipulation through lies. However, this is only one of the many possible symptoms that characterize the interpersonal relationship with a patient with a borderline disorder.

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Inadequate problem-solving opportunities

It is not always possible to simply block unwanted feelings. Often enough, they have an impact on patients with borderline and lead to bad emotional states due to the increased vulnerability mentioned above. Unfortunately, it is not uncommon for borderline patients to try to endure these conditions with the help of drugs and alcohol.


In states of great arousal, borderline patients typically find it very difficult to keep their impulses under control. Actions are taken without worrying about any consequences. This can e.g. risky driving, binge eating or unprotected intercourse with strangers. Not infrequently there are also spontaneous outbreaks of violence or destruction in this context, such as Throw or smash objects.

Mood swings as a symptom of borderline syndrome

Mood swings, or mood instability, are typical symptoms for patients with borderline illness. Feelings can quickly switch from one extreme to the other, leading to emotional outbursts and impulsiveness. Quarrels and conflicts with others often arise. In a relationship, those affected often switch quickly from strong affection to clasps and strong devaluation and pushing away from the partner, but mostly with a pronounced fear of being abandoned. Relationships between borderline patients are often described as very intense but extremely unstable and often changing.

Also read our topic: Mood swings

Relationships in people with borderline syndrome

The borderline personality disorder is located as a subgroup of the emotionally unstable personality disorder.
This name already gives an idea of ​​what the relationship behavior of the sick can look like.
Affected people often have traumatic experiences in their childhood, whereby the perpetrator is often also an important caregiver. On the one hand, the child seeks protection and security, on the other hand, it connects fear with this person. This can lead to the development of contradicting ways of thinking, which can later show up in behavior. Patients with a borderline disorder often suffer from severe fear of being abandoned by their partner and intensively seek their closeness and ensure their affection. On the other hand, there can be a change of feeling within a very short time in which the person affected pushes away and devalues ​​the partner. Such relationships are either characterized by a rapid and erratic change of quarrel and reconciliation, or the person concerned often leads to changing relationships that begin very intensely but can also end very abruptly.
This ambivalent and highly fluctuating behavior in interpersonal relationships is a very common symptom of borderline personality disorder, but there are also patients who can lead long-term and relatively stable relationships.

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Black and white thinking

Black-and-white or all-or-nothing thinking is a constant companion of the borderline patient. There are usually only these two options for him. This thinking is found in dealing with other people, this means e.g. if someone cancels a date, it can only mean that he hates me. But it is also not uncommon when dealing with oneself. For example, if I Instead of being clumsy in my first tennis lesson, I may never touch a tennis racket again and, when asked, say that this is the stupidest sport there is.


The dissociation in borderline describes a change in one's own perception, one's own thinking, but also one's own controlled movement. Borderline patients often get into this state, which is perceived as very strange by the environment and by the patient himself, without a specific trigger. You are not "completely in the world" here. You are e.g. unresponsive and unable to move. After a while these symptoms disappear and borderline patients often cannot remember what happened.

Passive activity

Often borderline patients try not to convey their suffering with words, but rather to show it, to demonstrate it. This is often done with great effort. The patients can then often not accept offers of help, as they appear to be inadequate. The aim here is that the other person can and will change the patient's condition if he correctly understands the suffering shown. Usually, however, this only leads to a turning away from the circle of acquaintances, as these people usually feel very helpless.

Depression as a symptom of borderline syndrome

The pure borderline illness itself is not associated with depression. However, patients with borderline personality disorder are at increased risk of developing other mental illnesses. One speaks here of Comorbidities. These diseases, which are more common in borderline patients, include depression, addiction disorders (drug or alcohol addiction), anxiety disorders and eating disorders. Depression is the most common comorbidity in borderline illness. If there is depression in addition to borderline illness, the use of antidepressants can be helpful.

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Borderline symptoms in men

The symptoms of borderline personality disorder in men initially differ little from those in women. The clinical picture is one of the emotionally unstable personality disorders. Accordingly, a very common symptom in those affected is an unstable emotional behavior pattern. The emotions often fluctuate quickly between two extremes. This can also be seen in interpersonal relationships. Those affected quickly change from a pronounced need for support and fear of being abandoned by their partner and emotional coldness and rejection. Interpersonal relationships are therefore often characterized by a sometimes very stressful alternation between arguments and reconciliation or a rapid succession of relationship partners. Another common symptom in both men and women is unstable self-image. This can be seen, for example, in frequently changing values ​​or life plans and the inability to pursue longer-term goals. Self-devaluation also plays a major role here. Often the borderline personality disorder is accompanied by self-endangering behavior. These include risky behaviors such as careless driving, substance abuse, promiscuity, and eating disorders. Furthermore, the borderline disorder often leads to self-injurious behavior such as the infliction of burns or cuts. Suicide attempts are also not uncommon in patients with a borderline disorder. Several reasons can be assumed for this behavior, including the attempt to avoid being abandoned or the desire to feel yourself again or to relieve inner tension.
This is due to the fact that patients often report suffering from an agonizing feeling of inner emptiness and dullness. In borderline disorders, so-called dissociative symptoms can occur. The patient feels alienated from himself, a change in the perception of space and time occurs, the feeling as if the person concerned is standing next to him and can no longer feel himself. Frequently, patients with borderline disorder develop multiple addictions to addictive substances such as alcohol, nicotine, and drugs (Polytoxicomania). So all of these symptoms occur in women as in men. However, there are symptoms that are more common in one or the other sex.

For example, men are said to have more pronounced impulsive behavior with aggressive outbursts and high-risk behavior as well as rebellion against authorities. There are also differences in the comorbidities, i.e. the diseases that those affected suffer from in addition to the borderline disorder. Men are more likely to have antisocial and narcissistic personality disorders, while women are more likely to experience depression and eating disorders. Substance abuse is also said to be more common in men than in women.

Causes of Borderline Disorder

The borderline personality disorder is considered a subtype of emotionally unstable personality disorder.

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The causes for the development of such a clinical picture are manifold, there are some cornerstones to which great importance is attached.

It is now assumed that not only such a cornerstone acts as a triggering factor, but that Interplay of several of these pillars leads to the development of a personality disorder of the borderline type.

It should be noted that only a small proportion of people who are exposed to such events actually develop such a disorder.

The borderline personality disorder comes in at around 1-2% of the population.

At the beginning of the possible chain of causes in the development of diseases there are usually the human genes. In the case of borderline disorder, too, there is evidence that certain genetic factors affect the Predisposition to the development of the disease increase.

As far as we know today, however, it is not genetic factors alone but their interaction with certain ones social and environmental influences.
According to scientific opinion, these influences primarily include the development of the borderline disorder traumatic experiences in early childhood. These include, for example:

  • emotional neglect,
  • sexual abuse and other experiences of violence,
  • an unstable home with frequent arguments
  • Parents with an addiction background and pronounced impulsiveness.

The decisive factor here seems to be that the perpetrator in the child's environment is often also an important caregiver.
So the child experiences Emotional extremes as the Need for protection and security and Fear of abuse projects onto one and the same person, so that contradicting ways of thinking arise, which are memorized and later also show in one's own behavior.

Accordingly, people with a borderline personality disorder in adolescence and adulthood often fluctuate in a relationship with rapid and unpredictable changes between two poles.
On the one hand there is the Idealization of the partner on the other hand its devaluation.

However, this does not necessarily mean that all people who suffer from a personality disorder of the borderline type come from antisocial family backgrounds. Even people who grew up in completely intact and sheltered families can develop a borderline disorder over time.

Symptoms of a personality disorder

Personality disorders are characterized by the fact that those affected have rigid behavior patterns and are not able to adapt these behavior patterns over time, i.e. cannot learn from mistakes, so to speak. Those affected differ significantly in their perception, feeling and behavior from mentally healthy patients. There are several personality disorders, so symptoms can vary widely.
Borderline disease is also one of the personality disorders; it is known in technical jargon as an emotionally unstable personality disorder.Typical symptoms can be moodiness, frequent emotional outbursts, impulsiveness, acting without considering the consequences, tendency to manipulate and lie, self-harm, change from strong clinging and pushing away and devaluing in interpersonal relationships and a recurring feeling of inner emptiness.
People with paranoid personality disorder are often suspicious, easily injured and very sensitive to rejection.
In the case of schizoid personality disorder, those affected tend to withdraw from society, have a preference for fantasy, and can only show feelings to a very limited extent.
Antisocial personality disorder disregards social norms, those affected show no empathy, there is a very low tolerance for frustration and a low threshold for aggressive, violent behavior.
Histrionic personality disorder is characterized by superficial emotions, theatrically exaggerated behavior, selfishness, a lack of consideration, as well as being very ill-health and a constant desire for recognition.
Patients with an anankastic or obsessive-compulsive personality disorder are perfectionistic, often self-doubting and prone to control.
Anxious-avoidant personality disorder is characterized by feelings of anxiety, inferiority, and insecurity. There is an urgent desire for affection and acceptance as well as a pronounced sensitivity to criticism.
People with dependent or asthenic personality disorder have difficulty making decisions on their own and thus always rely on other people to make those decisions for them. You submit to the wishes of others, there is a strong fear of separation.

Further information on this topic can be found at: Personality disorder

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