A Sense of Emptiness
- September 01, 2021
- Personality styles and personality disorders
BY JOHN M. OLDHAM, MD
Feeling empty? Do you feel like your life lacks meaning or purpose? Most people are familiar with such a solid-grey inner experience from time to time. Maybe it can be a motivator to take on some challenges or make changes.
But when the emptiness seems to be a frequent or constant experience, that could be a signal that something more serious is going on—perhaps a personality disorder.
Mercurial or Borderline?
The NPSP25 is not designed to be used to diagnose personality disorder. Rather, it provides a profile of a person’s mix of normal personality styles. All styles present advantages and disadvantages. Observing which styles are strong in a particular pattern can help identify strengths to call upon for problem-solving.
Take a look at the Personality Style-Personality Disorder Continuum. Note which personality disorders potentially correlate with which styles. One example is Mercurial Style, which, when extreme, might signal the possible presence of Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD).
Sense of Emptiness
Recently, Medscape asked me to comment on a study by Dr. Carlos Grilo and Dr. Tomoko Udo, looking at suicide risk factors in patients with BPD. The study itself appeared in the Journal of the American Medical Association.
The study found that two factors typical of many patients with BPD appeared to be warning signs of potential suicide risk. One is not surprising: a pattern of self-injurious behavior. The other may seem less obvious–a sense of “emptiness,” a concern often reported by individuals with BPD. But it’s not necessarily anything that anyone else would be aware of. That’s why doctors and mental health professionals need to inquire about it
Help is available
Do seek professional advice if you suspect you or someone you care about has BPD—or pervasive feelings of emptiness. BPD can be quite distressing and can impair one’s social and occupational functioning. The good news is BPD is common and treatable.
Photo by Mitchell Hartley on Unsplash