Why are gifted people often diagnosed as borderline?

HPI or Borderline? Why do we confuse the two?

Before I knew I was a zebra, I was diagnosed as borderline.

No, I’m not borderline.

I’m not borderline, but I do have some of the characteristics of borderline personalities . High-potential and border line personalities are often confused because of our sometimes complicated emotional management.

As I tried to figure out what was wrong with me, I thought I might be bipolar or borderline! Yes, yes, I was really trying to understand what the fuck was happening!

High Potential and Borderline, same characteristics?

In my long quest for identity, I finally made an appointment on my own, with a psychiatrist.


Just before my 30th birthday I really felt the need to understand. I felt like I was running out of steam, always looking for something better, always wanting more and at the same time being unsatisfied. However, I had already seen several psychologists and the answer was always the same, normal with great lucidity!

I was fed up with being told I was normal when I felt like I was completely crazy.

Remember: psychiatrists do not treat giftedness

Having never been diagnosed as a young zebra, in adulthood my psychiatrist only perceived the malaise I was experiencing and the feeling of being out of step. Ok, I admit the extremist side too…

So he diagnosed me as borderline… But the question is, why did he immediately think of borderline personality when we discussed my difficulties?

Similarities between Borderline and Zebra personalities.

Gifted people, especially undetected gifted adults, share certain characteristics with borderlines, or at least, our somewhat atypical functioning can create confusion between borderline pathology and our state of mind?

My characteristics as a gifted adult

For example, I admit that I live my emotions intensely, everything is exacerbated! Lhe sensitivity on my skin, the tears that come quickly, the fear of not being up to the task, the anguish when I feel like I’m completely useless in this crazy world

Then there are all the things that bother me on a daily basis: sensitivity to smells, light, seasonal changes, rhythm, music, light, the environment!

The borderline resemblance

All these characteristics could be perceived as belonging to borderline personality disorder.

So when I explained all this to my psychiatrist, who was very nice by the way, dedication H. and also my completely improbable life path as an atypical profile… The guy said, “Banco, I’ve got a lead.

Honestly, when I went to see him, I was at the end of my rope. He must have thought I was completely depressed, on the verge of the abyss…

He must have hesitated between hysteria, depression and a borderline state ^^! But in the end he opted for borderline!

What is a borderline personality?

First of all, before knowing whether you’re gifted or borderline, it’s a good idea to define what someone with a borderline personality is!

Borderline personality

Bordeline personalities are dichotomous, seeing life in black and white. The borderline is an emotional addict. His moods and his life will depend on one person. Remember, emotional dependence is bad! And as a zebra, we can have this fear of abandonment that sometimes makes us fall into dependence (and also into thenets of manipulators!). So Be Careful, addiction is taboo, we’ll all get over it!

Borderlines have high expectations of a person, and the slightest disappointment will turn them from lovers to haters.

We, well ok me :D, I’m super sensitive and I’m intense in my reactions, but on the other hand I don’t have the emotional lability of a borderline person. For the definition of lability see google is my friend. No, I’m just kidding…

Emotional lability

Definition of emotional lability :
Variability and instability of emotional manifestations, which can swing rapidly between outbursts of joy, tranquility and spectacular outbursts of anger or tears.

I admit, I’m an impulsive person, but I’m impulsive when I know I’m right (I don’t really like being wrong 🙂 ), or to express something that seems obvious to me!

But that doesn’t stop me from questioning myself very often! And above all, I think I’m an emotionally stable person.

Giftedness is not a pathology!

By the way, if you’ve landed on this page, it’s because you too may be asking yourself the question: “Am I bipolar, borderline or zebra?

Psychiatrists’ misdiagnosis

Many gifted people are diagnosed as borderline before being identified as high potential. So, no, you’re not“crazy” and you don’t necessarily have any pathologies… Unfortunately, psychiatrists are trained to treat pathologies and often know nothing about giftedness. Moreover, giftedness does not appear in the DSM4.

What is the DSM4?

It’s a book written to list and classify mental disorders, following 30 years of research in the United States. The 4th version of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual was published by the American Psychiatric Association in 1994.

This 4th version contains a classification of the syndromes usually encountered in psychiatry, organized along five axes.
The five axes are defined as follows:
I Clinical disorders
II Personality disorders and mental retardation
III General medical conditions
IV Psychosocial and environmental problems
V Overall assessment of performance

So the easiest thesis for them is often borderline pathology… which doesn’t exactly help us little zebras to regain our self-confidence!

But don’t panic! Good things come to those who wait, and especially to those who get to know themselves!

Giftedness is a genetic inheritance: we’re all born with high potential!

I insist, we are born gifted! We live our whole lives as high potentials, and obviously giftedness doesn’t just happen one morning, or at some point in our lives…

We’re born a bit strange, we stay strange with our strange brain ^^ but when we know it afterwards, it can be really cool!

Being a zebra, a brain with a different way of functioning

A quick physiological reminder: giftedness is a particularity linked to the mechanics of our brain. We have a tree-like way of thinking and a very rapid rate of information processing, almost twice as fast as the average person.

So it really has to do with genetics. Basically, as I’ll have green eyes all my life, I’ll be a zebra all my life too!

You’re not born borderline, you become one,

Unfortunately, we often become borderline as a result of childhood trauma. It usually appears in late adolescence or early adulthood.

There are mood swings, hyper-reactivity and strong impulsivity. The basic affective tone is negative, and the disorder is characterized by general instability. The borderline is generally depressive and anxious.

Strangely enough, even though I was a little surprised by this diagnosis, I was relieved that my uniqueness had finally been taken into account!

After my shrink mistook my giftedness for a borderline disorder, he sent me to a psychologist specializing in CBT to work on my relationship problems, which in this case were not an affabulation or an error of judgment!

A zebra can also be borderline. In the case of a zebra who has had a narcissistically perverse parent, this is quite common.

The therapy with my psychologist specialized in cognitive sciences.

Anne, my therapist specializing in cognitive and behavioral therapies and victimology, followed me and helped me find myself.

The importance of therapy when you feel out of step with others

I can honestly say that this therapy has changed my life. As I worked on my difficulties in understanding others and in forming stable, serene relationships, I gradually came to understand that I had a particular way of looking at the world.

And finally, by taking a step back and changing the way I looked at myself, I intuitively discovered my giftedness.

Having been diagnosed as borderline, I initiated change! In conclusion, don ‘t hesitate to ask for help and consult professionals… It took almost two years from my first psychiatrist’s appointment to the WAIS results. I’m repeating myself, but please be patient!

The first enemy to fight is within ourselves, and often the only one!

The differences between borderlines and giftedness

To help you see things even more clearly, I invite you to watch the brilliant AFORPEL conference, which explains perfectly well the differences between borderlines and high potentials, and above all why the medical profession can easily confuse the two.

To find out more about borderline personality disorder, read Dominique Page’s book Borderline, retrouvez son équilibre.

If you’re looking for concrete tools to help you become more grounded, I’d recommend reading personal development books. I also recommend the book Suivez le Zèbre (Follow the Zebra), in which I give you tips on how to better understand yourself.

You can also find more information, resources and tools on Giftedness in Mel POINASbook. With a lot of humor, Mel tells the story of the discovery of her giftedness and the routines she put in place to finally find her place!

Le livre

Écrit par une HPI !
Un témoignage et des solutions concrètes pour découvrir, comprendre et apprendre à vivre en étant HPI.

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