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Diagnosis Is Not Real, It's a Theoretical Model

answered 12:34 PM EST, Sun June 30, 2013

My son was seen by a therapist and she diagnosed him with Borderline Personality Disability. Would this be the reason he cannot stand being around lots of people? He gets tired and overwhelmed by groups of people or being in a restaurant. I am curious if this is part of Borderline Personality-yet he doesn't want to be alone. With him two's a company three's a crowd. And when he feels happy or low, man do his reactions get intense. I'm still worried about the social part of it. He just won't do groups- even if it's family, he'll come but he dreads it and complains it's almost as if he's not there. He's just someone looking in.


David Johnson Says...

This is a question that is best asked of your son's therapist. What you describe sounds like some form of social anxiety which is not necessarily related to borderline personality disorder, but can be depending on circumstances.

Knowing your son's diagnosis has limited value to you. You can look up resources to help understand your son, but a diagnosis will not predict his behavior. Diagnosis can also be a barrier to understanding him and place artificial limits on the relationship with your son. Your son's behavior is the not the result of his diagnosis. Don't assume his life and goals are limited in any way by his diagnosis. The risk is that you, your son, and other people who know can contribute to what might be called a self-fulfilling prophesy. In other words, if you or your son think of his behavior as consistent and unchangeable, you and he are likely to contribute to his staying the same by expecting certain behavior and not other. Try as we might, we still communicate our expectations to each other. A misunderstood diagnosis can also place false limits on your son's self-concept, limiting what he expects of himself. If you and he believe change can occur, it is more likely that it will. Then it is more likely those psychological barriers won't prevent change, but in fact enhance the possibility of change.

Diagnosis is a model of mental health behavior, it does not describe a real entity. A diagnosis is most useful for your son's therapist who can communicate to other professionals with one word a cluster of symptoms that maybe related. Diagnosis is not an exact science. Your son's diagnosis could change based on more knowledge of your son's behavior.

Diagnosis in no way should be seen as a barrier to meeting goals, or make changes in behavior over time.

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Page last updated Jul 02, 2013

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