The Four Types of Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD)

Home » Mental Health Blog » The Four Types of Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD)

October 9, 2023

Are you concerned you or a loved one may have borderline personality disorder? It’s a common disorder that affects over 5% of the population. However, not everyone has the same experience. 

In fact, four subtypes of the disorder are different from each other. So, what exactly are the types of borderline personality disorder?

The guide below will differentiate them for you. From their individual characteristics to the treatment options, you‘ll be ready to take the next step towards getting the help you need with helpful knowledge.

Are you ready to get started? Here’s an in-depth look at the four types of borderline personality disorder: 

What Is Borderline Personality Disorder?

Borderline personality disorder is often defined by its effect on impulse control, emotional regulation, and personal relationships. To be diagnosed, a person must have four of the traits listed below: 


      • Feelings of emptiness 

      • Continuous suicidal thoughts or self-harming behaviors 

      • Unstable sense of self or a serious identity disturbance 

      • Emotional insecurity exhibited by intense anxiety or irritability 

      • A noticeable pattern of intense and ultimately unstable romantic relationships in which the other person is romanized and undervalued 

      • Impulsive in at least two areas which pose significant risks like substance abuse and unprotected sex  

      • Inappropriate episodes of rage and anger or difficulty in controlling anger 

    With borderline personality disorder, people are more sensitive to emotional stimuli. For instance, if a conflict arises with a loved one, a person with BPD is likely to experience distress and may even participate in self-harming behaviors. 

    Coping with BPD requires overcoming continuous emotional turmoil. If a person doesn’t seek treatment, they’re at a larger risk for suicide. In fact, about 70% of people with BPD will make at least one suicide attempt during their lifetimes. 

    Thus, treatment is crucial to the health and safety of all people with BPD. Effective treatment can not only help people manage their symptoms, but it helps people learn how to live a happy life.


    The Four Types of Borderline Personality Disorder

    Theodore Millon created a classification system that placed people in one of the four types of borderline personality disorder. Below are the four subtypes: 


    People who exhibit the borderline impulsive subtype are usually characterized as attention-seeking and risk-taking. People describe these individuals as seductive and even charismatic. 

    However, they’re susceptible to self-harming behaviors and suicidal thoughts and actions. Many people with borderline impulsive disorder share similar traits with other personality disorders. For instance, they can be overly dramatic, emotional, and even at times unpredictable. 


    People with this subtype resemble the core BPD subtype identified by researchers. In fact, people who suffer from the discouraged subtype tend to be clingy, co-dependent, and less assertive. Also, they’re often compliant and agreeable in a variety of situations. 

    However, they’re likely to feel depressed, powerless, and may even struggle with their anger. Thus, individuals with this subtype are susceptible to self-harm and suicidal thoughts or actions. 


    People who have petulant borderline personality disorder are often critical, pessimistic, and easily disappointed. They may feel offended and decide to react out of rage or anger. Feeling unwanted, unloved, or unworthy are all big trigger points for these individuals. 

    In fact, these individuals are often erratic in relationships and demonstrate the “push-pull” philosophy. Meaning that they usually feel a strong or deep bond with a person, and they begin to push them away.  These individuals also exhibit symptoms of paranoid personality disorder and even some traits of depression disorders. 


    People with self-destructive traits tend to be self-loathing, involved in risky behavior, and are usually introverted. These individuals cast an unusual pattern of conforming to other people’s beliefs and expectations then acting out in anger. 

    Such anger and frustration may not only be directed to others but also towards the individuals themselves. In fact, people with self-destructive traits tend to have an increased rate of suicide. Also, they’re known to share characteristics of depression disorders. 

    What Are the Treatment Options?

    There are three common treatment options for BPD: talk therapy, medication, and day treatment. 

    Talk therapy centers on the thoughts that can cause certain behaviors and actions. With this therapy, people learn how to control distress and learn how to cope with intense emotions.

    While there are no current medications that treat BPD, certain medications can decrease the underlying symptoms. For instance, a doctor may request antidepressants, mood stabilizers, or even antipsychotics for a patient to take.

    Keep in mind that usually, talk therapy and medication are used in combination with one another. That way, a patient can talk through their emotions while reducing their symptoms. 

    However, day treatment provides a more intensive treatment plan. This treatment is usually for emergency purposes.   

    It’s for those who may be headed towards a crisis. With day treatment, a patient will experience accelerated therapy and perhaps even alternative medications to prevent a crisis from occurring. 

    How SoCal Empowered Can Help

    Borderline personality disorder is a serious medical disorder that should be carefully treated and managed. Thankfully, there are a variety of treatments at your disposal. With the right help, you can learn how to manage your symptoms and cope with known triggers.  

    Whether you or a loved one suffers from the impulsive, discouraged, petulant, or self-destructive subtype, you can start bringing more peace to your life today with regular treatments. So what are you waiting for? Go find an effective treatment plan you feel comfortable with. 

    To learn more about the types of borderline personality disorder, contact our Orange County mental health professionals. We look forward to helping you through your journey of healing and wellness! 

    You May Also Like…