Many definitions and meanings have been proposed for borderline personality disorder. This most controversial of all personality disorders is best understood as a heterogeneous syndrome manifested by egosyntonic affective instability and impulsivity (behavioural dyscontrol) and propensity to cognitive-perceptual distortions in the context of a chronically unstable interpersonal relationships.
Early psychoanalysis did not explicitly deal with borderline personality disorder, although a careful retrospective study of the literature shows that some of Freud's classical patients (e.g. the wolf-man) would have been diagnosed today as typical borderline cases. Stern (36> was the first to use the term 'borderline' in 1938, placing borderline patients on the border between neuroses and psychoses. The concepts of 'ambulatory schizophrenia', 'as-if' personality, 'pseudoneurotic schizophrenia', 'borderline states', and 'psychotic character' paved the way to the contemporary concept of borderline psychopathology. In 1947, Schmideberg (3Z> first described borderline as a disorder of character which was 'stable in its instability'.
Phenomenological research was started by Grinker et al.,(38> who proposed a borderline syndrome, and by Gunderson and Kolb,(39) who described the distinguishing features of the disorder. Spitzer et al.(40) introduced diagnostic criteria, labelling the condition 'unstable personality'. Their description led to the differentiation of two disorders—schizotypal and borderline—and their official acceptance in DSM-III.
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