It is the first week of the new year! A time when resolutions with no chance of success are made as we stare into the future with an optimism that things might be better. In the spirit of gazing into crystal balls to peek into what lies ahead, I thought I’d share my mental health/“personality disorder” predictions of the year to come. Let me know what you think on twitter, Facebook or comment below and I’m interested in any predictions of your own.
Keir is a Lead Therapist in an NHS Specialist Service and provides training, consultation and therapy around complex mental health problems through beamconsultancy.co.uk
1- 2020 – The Year Borderline Personality Disorder becomes more mainstream.
In general I’d say the public knows very little about personality disorder. Part of what makes me say this is that too many mental health staff know nothing about it either. What do I think is going to make this change? Well the year begins with the Royal College of Psychiatrists launching their Position Statement on Personality Disorder. This will get the diagnosis talked about, not least because I think theres likely to be some controversy around how the ideas are presented. The profession of Psychology has already put out their de facto position statement in the form of the Power Threat meaning framework, and I wonder if the other professions will now feel obliged to say something about those with this diagnosis. It is becoming increasingly unacceptable for professionals to say they don’t work with this client group and my hope is professional bodies increasingly make this explicit.
Outside of mental health world, the term personality disorder is increasingly coming into public consciousness. In 2019 we’ve had the UK actors Nicola Thorpe and Joe Tracini talk about their experience of being diagnosed with BPD, alongside the American comedian Pete Davidson. There’s lots of campaigns that try to get us to talk about about mental health more, but I think the modelling that high profile people have this diagnosis will make it easier for us to discuss issues around it more. In addition the campaigner Sue Sibbald has made it onto the New Years honour list (to my knowledge the first person associated with Personality Disorder to receive such an honour) which I think will again help to stimulate debate.
In the media we have Hattie Gladwell of the Independent regularly talking about her diagnosis and people like Paul Kelso at Sky looking at inappropriate detentions. The stigma, exclusion and harm caused to people who get this diagnosis is being talked about more and more.
Now many people will think that wider recognition of a mysogenistic and harmful construct is nothing to celebrate whatsoever. I might well be wrong but I think its very difficult to critique a concept that no-one has any idea about. People don’t respond to issues they are ignorant of, and I think they’re more likely to be concerned about people who have lived though neglect, abandonment and abuse if their plight is talked about more, particularly when the wrongs that have been done are labelled as a disorder in the person themselves.
One disadvantage to this is that the UK parliament has lost the one person with an MP badge who I’ve ever heard mention the term personality disorder, let alone put his name to something critiquing the label. Norman Lamb leaves a hole in parliament far larger than the space he took up. I hope someone else sees the continued exclusion and discrimination of this client group as a cause worth fighting for. If nothing else I hope someone considers we could save money by not locking people in locked rehab facilities miles from home.
2020, the year “Personality Disorder” enters the public consciousness?? Let me know what you think.