Due to its borderline personality disorder’s (BPD) complex nature, some may ask, “are people with BPD dangerous?”
The answer can be “yes” and “no,” depending on the person. Those with BPD experience strong emotions and feeling. In some cases, these emotions can lead to intense anger (sometimes referred to as “borderline rage”) and subsequent violence. ¹
Throughout this article, we’re going to take a deeper look at the dangers people with BPD pose to those around them. At the end, we invite you to ask further questions.
BPD and Violence
When it comes to violent acts, research shows they’re more often committed by those with BPD. However, this isn’t to say that BPD increases a person’s risk of committing violence.
Ultimately, this comes down to this individual and how they react to BPD’s effects on them. More notably, whether or not they show the symptom of impulsive behavior.
As the leading cause of physical aggression, impulsive behaviors are fairly common BPD symptom. ² Still, such compulsivity doesn’t always lead to violence. Instead, it can lead to other forms of impulsive conduct, such as risky sex and substance abuse.
Furthermore, one study shows people with BPD aren’t at higher risks for violent tendencies. However, they do often show signs of other mental health conditions, such as anxiety and antisocial disorder. ³
With this said, there’s no substantial evidence that BPD increases violent behavior. More specifically, there’s no evidence in concerns with the general public.
BPD and Strong Emotions
But are people with BPD dangerous to those their in a relationship with?
If you’re dating someone with BPD, you may have noticed violent tendencies within your significant other. In such cases, your spouse is likely using aggression as a means to handle strong emotions.
While not true for everyone, many people with BPD have experienced violence during childhood. ⁴ In turn, they’ve developed trauma that makes it difficult to handle strong emotions. In order to ease stress of these emotions, some people with BPD use aggressive behaviors.
Furthermore, people with BPD often struggle with self-identity. In turn, they become less trustworthy of other people. Such feelings can lead to fears of abandonment and rejection. ⁵ Again, while not true for everyone, some may react to these strong emotions with aggression.
This aggression is namely a trait of impulsive behaviors, as mentioned above. Still, not everyone that struggles with impulsivity due to BPD will react in a violent manner.
Are People with BPD at Risk of Becoming Violent?
Since there’s little evidence to suggest BPD increases violence, it’s difficult to determine when a person with BPD is at risk of becoming violent.
Chances are, if someone you love with BPD has not shown signs of violence, they will not develop violent tendencies. As discussed, many people with BPD never show signs of aggressive behaviors.
If you do feel threatened from someone with BPD (even if not by violence), you should take the matter seriously. While it’s not always the case, negative situations as such can lead to violence.
Under such circumstances, the first priority is getting yourself to a safe place. From there, you’ll want to find professional help for your loved one. The best way to do so is through a therapist that specializes in BPD. ⁶
If you find that therapy is not helping you feel safer with your loved one, further professional treatment may be required.
While BPD may increase the risk of violence towards others, those that struggle also risk violence towards themselves. This can appear in either self-harm or suicide. ⁷
Suicide & Crisis Lifeline
If you or someone you love struggle with suicidal ideation, it’s important to seek help as soon as possible. In cases of emergency, you should call 911 or go to your nearest emergency room. In other cases, you can call the 24/7 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline at 988.
For loved ones, some therapists recommend safety plans for people with BPD who may commit acts of self-harm. The best route is to identify triggers and develop coping mechanisms to overcome these. It can also help to ensure your loved one is in an environment where self-harm isn’t as easily accessible.
So, are people with BPD dangerous? While the risk is there, it’s not significant enough to avoid someone with BPD. In fact, with the right support group, a person with BPD has a better chance at overcoming the condition and potential aggressive tendencies.
Still wondering if people with BPD are dangerous?
We invite you to ask further questions in the comments section below. If you have any further knowledge to share – whether personal or professional – we’d also love to hear from you.
¹ Journal of Psychopathology and Clinical Science: The rejection-rage contingency in borderline personality disorder.
² National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH): Borderline Personality Disorder
³ BMC Psychiatry: Borderline personality disorder and violence in the UK population: categorical and dimensional trait assessment
⁴ BMC Psychiatry: Borderline personality disorder and childhood trauma: exploring the affected biological systems and mechanisms
⁵ Guilford Press Periodicals: Rejection Sensitivity and Borderline Personality Disorder Features: The Mediating Roles of Attachment Anxiety, Need to Belong, and Self-Criticism
⁶ U.S. National Library of Medicine: Treatment for Borderline Personality Disorder
⁷ frontiers in Psychiatry: Self-Harming and Sense of Agency in Patients With Borderline Personality Disorder