BPD & Other Personality disorders

What are personality disorders

Personality disorders @ Auckland Therapy counselling and psychotherapyThe common factor of all personality disorders is isolation. Sufferers feel an unbridgeable gap between themselves and other people that developed at an early age and continues into adulthood. This feeling of being alone and misunderstood can result is extraordinary frustration and emotional pain.

Like all people in emotional pain they will develop various ways to relieve the pain. For some, with a frantic, desperate type of loneliness, may develop larger-than-life personalities while others will develop some sort of emotional amour, others will shutdown emotionally and close themselves of from the world.

Sometimes their reactions to life may seem extreme. Like having a physical injury, for someone already in emotional pain, even a little knock may be excruciating. A bit like being a burn victim - everything little thing hurts! But like everyone else, they are just trying to keep it together as best they can.

It is also likely to effect their sexual expression in various unhelpful ways such as impulsivity, shutdown, chaoticness or fragmentation at the level of sexual identity.

For some the intensity of emotional pain may lead them to hate themselves or blame the world. At times they may even act out on this and 'punish' themselves or others in an attempt the reduce their suffering.


Thus, in response to early and ongoing emotional pain, people may develop personalities that interfere with their life and relationships and are: 

  • odd or eccentric
  • dramatic, emotional or erratic
  • anxious or fearful

Personality disorder are distinct from episodic disorders such as anxiety and depression as they are relatively unchanging. They are also district from psychotic disorders as people with a personality disorder are still in touch with reality. Of course they are not immune to anxiety, depression etc.

Diagnosis is a controversial subject as a personality diagnosis is sometimes seen as an easy way of scapegoating people considered 'difficult' and a way of putting them in the 'too-hard basket'. There is also a considerable amount of misdiagnosis of other conditions such as Autism/Aspergers, PTSD, traumatic brain injury etc.

BPD Borderline Personality Disorder

Personality disorders @ Auckland Therapy counselling and psychotherapyThis controversy is particularly true of BPD Borderline Personality Disorder. For people labelled with BPD, this diagnosis is often unhelpful as the evidence strongly suggests that BPD is most often the result of seriously disrupted childhoods including trauma, abuse or neglect.

Indeed, there is a strong move to change the diagnostic label from BPD to Complex PTSD. This change in label is more than window-dressing as it :

  • acknowledges the reality of difficult childhoods and the impacts on personality development
  • provides hope for recovery through treatment of the trauma and PTSD


While the origins of personality disorders are often complex, psychotherapy offers patiently steadfast and on-going treatment. An empathic and skillful therapist helps the process of healing by:

  • understanding what's going on
  • heal the underlying emotional injuries
  • build real and meaningful connection
  • gaining self-knowledge and insight
  • make real and significant change

Also see Trauma & PTSD,  Mental health issuesBipolar disorder, Sexual abuse or Emotional issues

Find a therapist

Please note: In Auckland we are fortunate to have publicly funded specialist treatment programmes that offer an range of services not possible in private practice. If you suspect you have a personality disorder your therapist will assess this with you. They can then recommend treatment options and explain what resources are available including public services. Depending on your wishes, the severity of your symptoms, and the support you need, they may continue working with you or refer you to other public or private services.

For adults

See a map of Therapist Locations or find an Auckland Therapist by suburb or learn more about the Counselling Services we offer.

For children & teens

We also have an excellent specialist team of Child, adolescent and family therapists experienced in working with children and teenagers experiencing personality difficulties.