A recent article published in the journal Assessment explores the differences in the frequency of diagnosis of borderline personality disorder (BPD) based on sexual orientation. Sexual minority individuals are diagnosed with BPD at a higher rate, and the researchers question how the diagnostic criteria exacerbate bias and discrimination.

“Appropriately understanding the factors that are associated with BPD diagnosis among sexual minority individuals is underscored by the potential deleterious outcomes associated with the diagnosis,” the main investigator, Craig Rodriguez-Seijas, from the Department of Psychology at University of Michigan Ann Arbor, writes.
“The diagnosis of any psychiatric disorder without appropriate cultural sensitivity risks inadvertently harming consumers psychologically or socially through misdiagnosis.”

The researchers suggest a significant overlap between the diagnostic criteria of BPD and common experiences of psychosocial distress observed among sexual minority individuals. For example, sexual minority individuals are more likely to experience interpersonal difficulties due to rejection sensitivity, which may be construed to fit the BPD criteria of interpersonal instability and efforts to avoid abandonment.

Sexual minority individuals are also more likely to have higher levels of suicidality and self-harm behaviors, which fit the BPD criteria of recurrent suicidal behaviors. In addition, sexual minority individuals are more likely to engage in high-risk sexual behaviors and substance use. This can be seen by mental health professionals to fit the BPD criteria of impulsivity. The BPD criteria also include identity confusion, a normative developmental stage of sexual minority individuals.

Read the full article at Mad in America.