Monday I gave a lecture to a group of about fifty highly educated retirees about the mental illness Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD). The first thing I did was ask everyone to raise their hands if they had heard of this malady. Every hand went up. The fact that the subject of my talk was announced in advance may have ensured a unanimous response. I next asked the audience if anyone could give a good description of this mental illness. Not a single hand was raised. This response is typical when asking people if they understand the manifestations of this mental illness. The general lack of understanding about this disease supports the idea that calling it the UNKNOWN MENTAL ILLNESS might be appropriate.
This situation may change if people do a serious evaluation of Donald Trump’s actions in light of the 9 criteria used to diagnose BPD. A careful comparison appears to indicate that he meets 8 of the 9 criteria when only 5 are required to make the diagnosis. If a consensus is reached that Trump has this mental illness, the condition may become better known. Public awareness of the signs and symptoms of the condition would be discussed at length and the disease would no longer be considered the Unknown Mental Illness.
The biggest roadblock to a greater public understanding of this disease is the name. The term BORDERLINE is terrible and gives no indication whatsoever as to the signs and symptoms of the disorder. All the other mental illnesses have names giving some clue as to what actions the patients display. Hearing that a person has Bipolar Disorder, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, or Post-traumatic Stress Disorder allows one to quickly form a mental picture of the manifestations of the condition.
The International Classification of Diseases calls this condition Emotionally Unstable Personality Disorder which is a far better name. If this was the name used in the United States, many more people would have questioned whether or not Trump had the condition since he is clearly emotionally unstable. Another name for the condition might be Faultfinding Personality Disorder since these individuals are chronically finding faults in others which causes them to have ongoing relationship problems. Does Trump have relationship problems? Throughout the world? Those suffering from BPD are also always finding faults with themselves resulting in very poor self-images. While Trump’s narcissistic traits propel him to boast he is the greatest, this likely covers his true feelings of inadequacy. His insecurity in turn leads to many dysfunctional responses such as anger, impulsivity, abandonment fears, lying, and difficulty judging what is real and what isn’t. These traits are very much a part of his personality.