top of page

Is Declining Attention To Hygiene A Sign That BPD Is Getting Worse?

Borderline Personality Disorder doesn’t get worse. And for this answer to make sense, you have to understand what Borderline Personality Disorder is, and what it is not.

First of all, we should begin with my credentials, so nobody gets the idea that I’m simply guessing about these things. Secondly, I will explain why Borderline Personality Disorder itself does not get worse, and then finally, I will give you some insight regarding the personal hygiene question.

Credentials: I had Borderline Personality Disorder, unaware, for the first thirty-five years of my life, as powerfully as anybody has ever had it. After a major crisis, which resulted in me discovering that I had lived with the disorder for my entire life, I spent the next seven years becoming an authority on Borderline Personality Disorder in the interest of eliminating it from my life once and for all - something I achieved, and which I use the experience to help others do for themselves today.

(For the record, thirty-five years of direct experience, plus seven years of intense analysis, followed by the real, measurable results of being authentically cured, outweighs any doctorate degree on the planet.)

The credentials are important because the world is overrun with ‘authorities’ on Borderline Personality Disorder who do not genuinely understand what they are talking about. These are the same ‘authorities’ who wasted the first two years of my recovery with outright falsehoods and misdirection when I was desperately searching for insights and all I had access to was their style of conflicting, erroneous information. When I say ‘erroneous’, I’m not always referring to dramatically-erroneous information. But this doesn’t matter, because the information that is most destructive, by far, is of the subtly-erroneous type, and this is the category that pretty much every other voice on this subject falls into.

Now that we’ve set the groundwork for this discussion, let me tell you why Borderline Personality Disorder doesn’t get worse.

Borderline Personality Disorder isn’t defined by its symptoms. Instead, it is defined by its cause.

This is worth making a note of and thinking a long time on. Let me say it again: Borderline Personality Disorder isn’t defined by its symptoms, but rather by its cause.

In other words, seemingly out-of-place, dramatic emotions isn’t Borderline Personality Disorder. An aversion to intimacy isn’t Borderline Personality Disorder. Cheating isn’t Borderline Personality Disorder.

Behaviors, thinking, feelings - none of these things are Borderline Personality Disorder.

Borderline Personality Disorder is the thing giving birth to these behaviors, thoughts, and feelings. But no thoughts, feelings, or behaviors are the disorder itself. The influence that Borderline Personalty Disorder has over thoughts, feelings, and behaviors are symptoms of the disorder, not the disorder itself.

The cause of Borderline Personality Disorder itself, this is to say, the thing at the root of it all, is what Borderline Personality Disorder is. And this thing at the root of it all, the cause, is constant. It doesn’t fluctuate.

Why is this subtle distinction important? Am I just splitting hairs?

This distinction is important because exactly 1/3rd of the authentic cure to Borderline Personality Disorder is accurate information. The straightening out of subtle, nuanced misconceptions about the very nature of the disorder itself, and then of the nature of feelings, of self, and life, is imperative for genuine, full recovery.

What is the true cause of Borderline Personality Disorder? You’ve been told lots of things, haven’t you. For example, the ‘experts’ really get their kicks regurgitating the lie that it is ‘trauma’ that is at the root of the disorder. They want to paint the idea in your head that you are dealing with some strange form of PTSD or shell shock. But this is a lie.

You’ve been told that the sensitive personality you were born with is the cause. This also is a lie. And it’s one of the worst kinds of lies, because it furthers the belief - in people who are already struggling with false misconceptions about the inherent nature of feelings and self - that the cause of the disorder involves some inherently defective thing about who they are as people. This is malpractice and incompetence on the part of the ‘professionals’. Reject it.

Well, I won’t go into every single lie you’ve been told for this particular article. But you get the idea: There are a lot of lies, and we would be here all night if we covered every one of them now.

So what really is Borderline Personality Disorder? In other words, what is the true cause of it?

Borderline Personality Disorder is the result of living with the following two unconscious beliefs:

1. My feelings are inherently irrelevant and shameful, devoid of worth.

2. If my feelings are inherently irrelevant and shameful, devoid of worth, then so am I.

That’s it. I just described for you, in fine detail, the entirety of what Borderline Personality Disorder actually is. It is these two unconscious beliefs. You may not even have been aware that you were living with them.

These two beliefs are what naturally give birth to all of the resulting symptoms (that is, the naturally-resulting thoughts, feelings, and behaviors that come from living with those two beliefs).

Just real quick, what is the opposite of Borderline Personality Disorder? In other words, what foundation do perfectly emotionally-healthy people live on by contrast? Emotionally-healthy people live with the following two foundation certainties:

1. My feelings are never good or bad, right or wrong.

2. My feelings always inherently matter, and so do I.

Spend some time imagining how these two, healthy, fundamental certainties very naturally influence the healthy person’s thoughts, feelings, and behaviors as they navigate life. (And here you might have always thought these people were faking being content and having harmonious lives. No, they weren’t faking. They don’t have anything to fake. The underlying, concrete certainties about the nature of feelings, self, and life, that they live with accurately interprets the reality we all live in, which then naturally results in lives that harmonize with this reality.)

Now spend some time contrasting this with the two fundamental beliefs that form the bedrock of the person with Borderline Personality Disorder. Can anybody who lives with the certainties that the very nature of their feelings are shameful and devoid of worth be content? No, of course not. Can anybody who lives with the certainty that they themselves are devoid of worth truly love themselves, or be willing to fully open up and experience true intimacy? No, of course not.

Every single symptom that is associated with Borderline Personality Disorder traces back to the two fundamental misperceptions about feelings, self, and life that I detailed for you here.

How did those unhealthy subconscious certainties get there? ‘Trauma’?

No. Trauma did not cause you, as a child, to adopt these erroneous perceptions. It was the environment you grew up in where you received regular, ongoing, subtle, false messages. And how were these messages communicated? Through ‘trauma’?


Remember, Borderline Personality Disorder is not shell shock, or PTSD. Borderline Personality Disorder is not a reflex, like jumping when a loud noise occurs.

Borderline Personality Disorder comes from the poor emotional education we received when we were children. This is what causes us to adopt the two erroneous concepts about the nature of our feelings, of self, and life.

Who were our emotional teachers? Who are every child’s emotional teachers?

That’s right, it is our parents, or our immediate caregivers. And the way they educated us incorrectly about the nature of feelings, self, and life, had nothing to do with ‘trauma’, even in the cases of those who experienced physical abuse. Rather, we received this poor emotional education by means of our emotional teachers’ attitudes.

Do you see the distinction, and the importance of that distinction? Not ‘trauma’. Attitudes.

Our caregivers’ unhealthy attitudes communicated false concepts to us, day after day after day, for years, while we were young and figuring out what life was all about, and the very nature of things like our feelings, our sense of self, and life. This is why they are so interwoven into us today.

Do you also see why disorders and conditions such as these thrive among individuals in these types of families, even being passed on to children? Not because of genetics (another favorite lie of the professional community). It is because most, if not all, members in these families receive the same unhealthy emotional educations, passed on by unhealthy attitudes.

The same erroneous perceptions regarding the very nature of feelings, self, and life, get passed on to children, and then to their children, and on and on.

People can’t have proper attitudes about what they understand incorrectly, and they can’t deal with you with attitudes that are healthy when their own attitudes are unhealthy. So you can’t come from a family where everybody shares these same subtle, unhealthy misconceptions, and yet emerge with a healthy attitude about the nature of these very fundamental things that determine if we are living with a healthy understanding of life - and therefore experiencing harmony in our approach to it - or if we are living with unhealthy, inaccurate perspectives that cause our understanding of life to clash with reality and create disorder and chaos.

The original question involving hygiene is a question that deals with just one of many symptoms of Borderline Personality Disorder. You see, anything that is a natural result of the cause of the disorder is merely a symptom. It is not the disorder itself.

Hopefully by now you can see why Borderline Personality Disorder itself - the cause at the very foundation of it - cannot worsen. Because the cause, or the disorder itself, is merely a misconception about the nature of feelings, self, and life. As such, it is a constant. It doesn’t swell and fade. No, Borderline Personality Disorder itself is at the same intensity, all the time.

Having said all of this, symptoms may come and go, intensify and ebb. In this case, the symptom we’re talking about is self care.

Personal hygiene, and the neglect of it, falls into the same category of self-harm. After all, self-neglect is self-harm.

Do you see why a person who lives with the concrete, fundamental certainty that they and their feelings are inherently irrelevant and shameful, devoid of worth, might neglect their care, or practice self-harm?

For contrast, let’s go back to the healthy person who lives with the concrete certainty that their feelings are never right or wrong, good or bad, and that their feelings, and they themselves, have inherent value. Does this person neglect their own needs? No, they don’t. Because they genuinely care about themselves. The natural result of caring about something genuinely is that you always take care of it the best that you can. This includes hygiene.

But back to the person with Borderline Personality Disorder. We’ve already established that this person lives with the underlying, concrete certainty that his (or her) feelings inherently do not matter. They are inherently a source of humiliation and shame. By extension, this person himself or herself is inherently a source of shame, and lacks all worth.

Do we have to use our imaginations very hard to now understand why the person living with this as his emotional foundation might neglect taking care of his hygiene? Symptoms such as these intensify or ebb depending on many factors of what is happening in a person’s life at any given time.

Deep depression, for example, (which can directly cause a person to neglect self-care) is one powerful symptom that can directly result from Borderline Personality Disorder. (You can easily trace depression back to the distorted core beliefs and you don’t need to be a rocket scientist to do it.) But if everything else in the person’s life is going well, perhaps depression may not be at the forefront for a period of time. There may be enough external distractions to keep it at bay, and a powerful enough external illusion that life is good.

For example, in my personal case, as long as the money was flowing, and I was doing well in my career, and I had many women clamoring for my attention, I was pretty happy, superficially speaking. Note that none of these external things can create genuine contentment in life for a person who lives with the underlying, unhealthy, erroneous certainties that we’ve defined here. But it serves to distract the person with the disorder from the painful realities that he believes himself to live with.

Stress and other natural pressures of life can cause symptoms that have been held in check for all of a person’s life to finally emerge, and this might very naturally seem like a ‘worsening’ of the condition to a person on the outside who doesn’t understand the true nature of what they are seeing. The person’s condition is not worsening, but maybe they have less control over the results of the unhealthy thinking that has always been there under the surface.

As we get older, we naturally take on more forms of stress from many different directions. Increased responsibilities in jobs, new homes, financial pressures, children may come into the picture. Symptoms that before were easy to keep in check may suddenly become impossible to control completely. (People with Borderline Personality Disorder are not idiots. They know what is socially acceptable and what is not, and so they naturally try to keep many of these things in check.) This certainly happened in my case.

When I talk about my major, life-changing Borderline Personality Disorder crisis, this was not a situation where the disorder itself got worse. I’ve already explained to you why that can’t happen. You can’t believe a certainty more than you already do. The entirety of Borderline Personality Disorder is built on the erroneous certainty about the inherent nature of some fundamental things (feelings, self, and life).

I simply became unable to manage all of the symptoms as effectively as I had always been able to do. The reason for this was exactly what I described a moment ago: Increased pressures, responsibility, and stress. I had just bought my first home that needed $20,000 worth of repairs, which I was trying to do myself, for the most part. I had been given the privilege of representing the hospital where I worked with public speaking engagements monthly. I loved this honor, but there’s no question that it was a tremendous source of stress at the same time. My best friend in the world of over 20 years was killed in a tragic car accident around this time. These are just a few of the pressures I was dealing with at age 35, which I had never before had to deal with in my life up to this point. So I’m certain the resulting crisis that I experienced might have appeared to involve entirely new behaviors by outsiders, but this simply was not true at all. Nothing I did during that period of time was anything I wasn’t already geared for, but had simply held at bay successfully for my entire life. And why had I been successful?

I like to compare it to a guy riding a unicycle and juggling oranges. For him, juggling three oranges while riding the unicycle is probably a piece of cake. He doesn’t even break a sweat. But let’s say that every 60 seconds, we toss him another orange, and he has to keep juggling, all while riding the unicycle.

How long do you think it would take before this fellow reaches his limit and suddenly the oranges go flying everywhere and he flies off his unicycle?

Can we say that he fell off the unicycle because his juggling suddenly and inexplicably worsened?

No, of course not. He simply met his match and the circumstances were more than he could continue to handle. This is what my crisis was like.

The decline of somebody’s attention to personal hygiene might fit into this same category. He or she could be experiencing more in life than they can handle all at once, and attention to something is going to suffer. Or, it could simply be depression. One major indicator of depression is the lack of interest in self-care, and as we’ve already explained, experiencing depression as a direct result of living with the two distorted core beliefs of Borderline Personality Disorder is almost completely unavoidable. Those two distorted core beliefs certainly don’t naturally give birth to feelings of optimism, positivity and contentment, that’s for sure. Quite the contrary.

But what we know for sure is that Borderline Personalty Disorder - the very disorder itself - is not worsening. Anybody who says otherwise does not genuinely understand the nuances of what the disorder actually is, and what it is not. Borderline Personality Disorder itself stays constant, no matter what the rest of us see from the outside.

3,786 views2 comments

Recent Posts

See All

2 Kommentare

Laura Davis
Laura Davis
30. Juni 2020

Hey Brian,

I know you wrote this years ago, but here I am, on 30th June 2020, reading this article and being massively impacted by it.

I was diagnosed with BPD over two years ago, shortly after having been raped. Of course, it wasn't the rape that 'caused' it, but it could have been the last orange to cause me to fall off the unicycle, to quote your example.

I never really understood -why- I had BPD. I had a relatively normal childhood, but I guess, as you say, it's the subtleties that make the biggest difference... One day, I hope I'll be in control, but as of now, I am not. Thanks for writing this.

Laura, from London, England.

Gefällt mir

Daniel Hofmann
Daniel Hofmann
27. Nov. 2019

Hello Brian,

Thank you for this excellent article, which goes against what I have read so many times from so-called experts.

I am a therapist and I lived with a woman with borderline disorder and that's exactly what you explain so well.

Daniel living in France

Gefällt mir
bottom of page