This case study investigation considers typical and potentially unique characteristics of older (> 50 years) Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) patients and describes their impact on an inpatient psychiatric unit encompassing a therapeutic milieu setting and multidisciplinary treatment teams. The somatization of symptoms, in particular, and the associated therapeutic, medical, and psychopharmacological interventions, result in prolonged and elaborate treatments that undermine clinical and personal boundaries, clash with managed care directives, and engender frustrating and elusive transferential and countertransferential reactions. Moreover, the guilt-inducing nature of somatization and physical frailty in older individuals, combined with the well-documented ability of BPD patients, regardless of age, to incite stormy and ‘split’ relationships, are linked characteristics that may describe a diagnostic subtype of BPD. Rather than suggesting a diminution of psychopathology as BPD patients age, the results of this investigation indicate that their persistent difficulties may only be altering in content and in pathological adaptation to changing needs.
Psychiatric Quarterly – Springer Journals
Published: Oct 3, 2004
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