What Hope of Healing is There for Someone With Borderline Personality Disorder?

Christ's Power Cuts Deep

What hope of healing is there for someone with borderline personality disorder? Dr. David Powlison, counselor and faculty member at Christian Counseling and Educational Foundation (CCEF), describes the symptoms of the disorder and encourages Christians to believe in Christ’s power to help. 

David Powlison has been doing biblical counseling for over 30 years and has written numerous articles on counseling and on the relationship between faith and psychology. His books include Speaking Truth in Love, Seeing with New Eyes, Power Encounters, and The Biblical Counseling Movement: History and Context. 

David noted that part of the question is, “What do you make of psychiatric labels?” He said that psychiatric labels describe only symptoms, and life and people live in those symptoms. Those diagnosed with borderline personality disorder have the following symptoms:

  • extreme emotional volatility 
  • rage
  • fear
  • anxiety
They can also be ballistic and highly manipulative, take everything personally, attempt suicide, and drive everyone around them crazy, even those who care for them.  

Do you know anyone who’s been labeled with borderline personality disorder? If so, would you add anything to that list? If so, what?
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What makes borderline personality disorder so devastating is that those who have it experience very human emotions. Imagine what it would be like to feel:

• utterly helpless, abandoned, and alone

• full of fear

• like a queen or king in your own micro-universe, in a world empty of God and meaningful relationships 

• hungry for power

• extremely materialistic 

• at war with the whole world

• angry, power hungry, and vengeful

People with borderline personality are truly stuck in a very difficult life.  

Take a minute to pray for all those who suffer with borderline personality disorder. If you want to, write the prayer below.
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Within the psychiatric world, David said borderline personality disorder is considered untreatable—like a death sentence. Christians have a different perspective, though. David said he and his colleagues have known people who fit the description of borderline personality disorder and seen positive change in them over time.  

Have you ever seen progress in someone you know with a disorder such as borderline personality disorder? If so, what changes have you seen? What do you attribute those changes to?
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David told a story shared in an article written by Jeffrey Boyd. Throughout Jeffrey’s career in psychiatry, he saw one profound change in a client: Leslie. Leslie suffered from borderline personality disorder, but having a baby prompted her to search for a solution to her problems. She came to know Christ and admitted she finally experienced acceptance and peace. Leslie never again attempted suicide. It was a profound psychological re-orientation.  

Matthew 19:26 (ESV)

26But Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”

Scripture quotations marked (ESV) are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®, copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

What hope does Leslie’s story give you in light of Matthew 19:26?
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If healing doesn’t come for the person you know with borderline personality disorder, what can you do to support them and/or their family?
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As David said, people with borderline personality disorder are really struck—their diagnoses is really deep. Christ can, and does, cut just as deep, though. A person with borderline personality disorder feels as if they’re the center of the universe, but when Christ takes over, his world begins to take a completely different shape. 

This video is a publication of the Christian Counseling & Educational Foundation (CCEF). All content is protected by copyright and may not be reproduced in any manner without written permission from CCEF. For more information on classes, materials, speaking events, distance education and other services, please visit www.ccef.org.