What Is ‘Quiet’ Borderline Personality Disorder? (Psych Central)

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Quiet BPD is an unofficial term for when you engage with symptoms inwardly, instead of outwardly. Having quiet borderline personality disorder (BPD) — aka “high-functioning” BPD — means that you often direct thoughts and feelings inward rather than outward. As a result, you may experience the intense, turbulent thoughts, emotions, and behaviors that characterize BPD, but you try to hide them from others.

BPD is a mental health condition that affects approximately 1.6%Trusted Source of the population. It’s characterized by instability in moods and behaviors.

There’s a lot of stigma around BPD, partly because many therapists once believed it was untreatable. However, nowadays, there are effective therapies to improve quality of life and even lead to “remission” — no longer meeting the criteria for a BPD diagnosis.

What does ‘quiet BPD’ mean?

Quiet BPD isn’t an official clinical diagnosis, but rather, a subtype. It’s also known as the “discouraged subtype” of BPD, a subtype suggested by psychologist Theodore Millon. This subtype is often hard to spot. If you have quiet BPD, you direct moods and behaviors inward, so other people don’t see. Your emotions and behaviors may feel like a roller coaster with many ups and downs. You may have difficulty in your relationships due to fear of abandonment. If you have quiet BPD, you may have low self-esteem and often feel angry, depressed, or anxious. In addition, you may have a history of self-harm, suicidal thoughts, or both.

With quiet BPD, you may also feel guilt or shame. As a result, you might engage in self-destructive behaviors when trying to hide your feelings from others. Strong emotions could lead to harmful behaviors like self-harm or heavy substance use. Note that while BPD is marked by “under-control” of emotional regulation, the hallmark of quiet BPD is “over-control.” People with any type of BPD experience the same internal dysregulation and inner turmoil, but folks with quiet BPD are masterful at masking their pain — so they may appear cold, distance, or aloof as a result.

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