Laura Tidd: “Border Lands: Women’s Experiences of Diagnosis, Treatment and Everyday Life with Borderline Personality Disorder”

In Students by General Account

This research seeks to explore the meanings women attach to their diagnosis and treatment of Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD). As BPD is a frequently misunderstood – though commonly used – label, those who carry the diagnosis face great stigma in both social and clinical settings. By engaging with women who have had a diagnosis of BPD, this project aims to provide an original account of how women navigate the experience of marginalisation via the label of a complex psychiatric disorder, through an understanding of diagnosis as a biographical disruption in life-course after Bury (1982). For the methodology, the research will take a sample of 30 women from support groups in the North East. It will utilise a combination of art-based workshops, semi-structured interviews and focus groups using visual stimuli to provoke discussion and create rich data. It will also analyse literature which details the treatment of women diagnosed with hysteria in the 18th and 19th centuries to uncover shared discourses between contemporary and historical practices, themes, and assumptions underpinning women’s mental illness. This data set will be interpreted using discourse analysis, which will engage with the complex ways women construct and reconstruct their identities and lives following a diagnosis. This research will provide an original contribution to the sociology of psychiatry, filling a gap in the sociological literature regarding BPD by integrating the voices of the women who have been diagnosed with the controversial disorder into the work.