As with anything complex, Borderline Disorder comes with its own language. The Black Sheep Project, working with clinical professionals, has assembled this glossary to help you understand key terms that you are likely to encounter as you explore our site and learn more about how Borderline Disorder affects you and those you care about.
Acetylcholine: a neurotransmitter that stimulates or inhibits the activity of neurons in the brain.
Activating antidepressant: an antidepressant that has stimulatory rather than sedating properties, such as bupropion (Wellbutrin).
Amphetamine: a stimulant of the central nervous system used to treat ADHD in children or antisocial adults.
Amygdala: an almond shaped cluster of neurons located in the middle portion of the temporal lobes of the brain. It is the central structure in the brain system that processes emotion information.
Anterior cingulate cortex: a strip of cortex located in the middle portion of the frontal lobes of the brain that monitors and modulates behavior.
Antipsychotic agent: a member of a class of drugs used to treat the symptoms of psychotic disorders such as schizophrenia. In low doses, some of these agents also appear to be effective for some patients borderline disorder.
Antisocial personality disorder: antisocial personality disorder is characterized by a pervasive pattern of disregard in violation of the rights of others present since the age of 15 years, and an individual of at least 18 years old.
Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder: a category of mental disorders characterized by developmentally inappropriate short attention span, poor concentration and frequent hyperactivity and impulsivity.
Behavioral domains: clusters of behaviors that are grouped according to a common characteristic such as emotional control, impulse control, or thinking and reasoning.
Bipolar ll disorder: a mental disorder characterized by hypomania and associated with depressive episodes.
Borderline psychotic: a term previously used to describe people with borderline personality disorder.
Borderline schizophrenia: a term previously used to describe people with borderline personality disorder.
Dissociative episode: periods of time when thinking, behavior, and memory occur outside of a person’s awareness.
Dopamine: a neurotransmitter that stimulates or inhibits the activity of neurons in the brain.
Dopaminergic activity: relating to the neurotransmitter activity of dopamine.
Dorsolateral prefrontal cortex: areas of cortex located on the lateral portion of the frontal lobes of the brain that are involved with the processes of thinking and reasoning.
Ego functions: those psychological processes that regulate our thoughts, feelings, and responses to external reality.
Ego psychology: that division of psychology that focuses on the mental processes that enables us to deal effectively with our thoughts, feelings, and responses to external reality.
Emotional lability: unusually rapid fluctuations of mood that are not proportional to the experiences that elicit them.
Empirical research: carefully designed and controlled research studies that lead to quantifiable results.
Etiology: the causes or origins of a medical disorder.
Factitious illness: characterized by physical or psychological symptoms that are intentionally produced or feigned.
Gamma aminobutyric acid (GABA): the brains primary inhibitory neurotransmitter.
Glutamate: the brains primary stimulatory neurotransmitter.
Hallucination: a false sensory experience that has no external stimulus.
Hippocampal formation: brain structures that are located on the middle portion of the temporal lobes near the amygdala. They are critically involved with the processes of memory development.
Histrionic personality disorder: a disorder characterized by a pervasive pattern of emotional and attention seeking behavior beginning by early adulthood.
Hyperreactive: having or showing abnormally high sensitivity to stimuli.
Latent schizophrenia: a term previously used to describe people who had some of the symptoms of borderline personality disorder.
Libido: sexual interest and motivation.
Magical thinking: the conviction that thinking is the equivalent of action. It is present in the dreams of children and in patients with a variety of conditions, and is characterized by an unrealistic relationship between cause and effect.
Major depressive disorder: a mental disorder associated with a severe and sustained decrease in mood, decreased ability to experience pleasure, changes in sleep, appetite, weight, inappropriate guilt, impaired thinking, concentration, decision-making, and suicidality.
Methylphenidate: a stimulant of the central nervous system used to treat ADHD and narcolepsy in children and adults.
Multigenic disorders: disorders that require a number of genetic mutations before the disorder manifests itself.
Narcissism: refers to one’s capacity to value or “love” oneself.
Narcissistic personality disorder: a disorder characterized by a pervasive pattern of grandiosity, the need for admiration, and the lack of empathy beginning by early adulthood.
Neural: Pertaining to one or more nerve cells.
Neuroleptic agent: a member of the original class of drugs used to treat patients with psychotic disorders, such as schizophrenia, and low doses, some of these drugs also appear to be useful in some patients with borderline disorder.
Neuromodulators: neurotransmitters that regulate the activity of neural pathways and circuits, e.g., dopamine, serotonin, acetylcholine, and norepinephrine.
Neurotic: the term originally used to describe mental disorders that do not have psychotic symptoms.
Neurotransmitters: chemical messengers secreted by neurons that stimulate or inhibit other neurons.
Norepinephrine: a neurotransmitter that stimulates or inhibits the activity of neurons in the brain.
Nucleus accumbens: a cluster of subcortical neurons in the frontal lobes of the brain that are associated with the processes of motivation and reward.
Open label trials: research studies in which the medicine used is known to the patient and to the research team.
Orbitomedial cortex: a portion of the cortex located on the lower middle part of the prefrontal lobe of the brain, associated with the experience and regulation of feelings.
Oritomedial circuit: the cortical-subcortical pathway of neurons associated with the orbitomedial cortex.
Panic attacks: discrete episodes of severe anxiety associated with marked symptoms of physiological arousal and a sense of impending death.
Paranoid thinking: the false belief that others are planning harm against one.
Parasuicidal acts: self-injurious behaviors that are not intended to result in death.
Posttraumatic stress disorder: a mental disorder occurring after exposure to a traumatic event threatened death or serious injury, that is persistently re-experienced and results in avoidance of situations that will recall the trauma, and is associated with symptoms of increased arousal.
Pre-schizophrenia: a term initially used to refer to patients who had symptoms similar to borderline personality disorder.
Primary clinician: a psychiatrist or other mental health professional skilled in the diagnosis and treatment of a disorder.
Prognosis: expected response to treatment or the natural outcome of a medical disorder.
Projection: the unconscious psychological attempt to deal with anxiety by attributing one’s own unacceptable attributes to the outside world.
Pseudoneurotic schizophrenia: a term initially used to refer to patients who had symptoms similar to borderline personality disorder.
Psychoanalysis: a form of psychotherapy based on the psychoanalytic theory of human development and behavior, formulated by Sigmund Freud.
Psychodynamic psychotherapy: a form of psychotherapy based on learning and applying body of knowledge about complex conscious and unconscious thoughts, feelings, and behaviors.
Psychosis: symptoms of a mental disorder characterized by episodes of significant loss of contact with reality, often accompanied by delusions and hallucinations.
Psychotic episodes: periods of psychosis.
Resident: a physician who is in graduate training to qualify as a specialist in a particular field of medicine, such as psychiatry. The American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology requires four years of postgraduate training in an improved facility to qualify for board examination in psychiatry.
Risk factors: genetic mutations, and developmental and environmental events, that increase the probability of developing a medical illness.
Schizotypal personality disorder: a disorder characterized by difficulty in developing close relationships associated with odd perceptions, distortions, and eccentric behavior beginning in early adulthood.
Seminal article: an article that significantly influences and stimulates later thinking and research.
Serotonin: a neurotransmitter that stimulates or inhibits the activity of neurons in the brain.
Serotonergic activity: involving activity of serotonin in the transmission of nerve impulses.
Stress-diathesis model: the concept of the interaction of a biological (genetic or developmental) predisposition to an endless and environmental factors or stresses that increase the likelihood of developing the illness.
Tardive dyskinesia: “late appearing abnormal movements”; spontaneous movements developing in some patients exposed to antipsychotic drugs. Typical movements include tongue writhing or protrusion, chewing, lip puckering, finger movements, toe and ankle movements, leg jiggling, or movements of neck, trunk and pelvis. These movements range from mild to severe, and may occur singly or in many combinations.
From Borderline Personality Disorder Demystified, Revised Edition: An Essential Guide for Understanding and Living with BPD by Robert O. Friedel, MD, with Linda F. Cox, LCSW, and Karin Friedel copyright © 2018. Reprinted by permission of Da Capo Lifelong, an imprint of Hachette Book Group, Inc.