Baca dalam Bahasa Indonesia
Read in English

The Search for Identity and Borderline Personality Disorder in the Youth

Your teenage years are the best times of your lives.

Many of us have heard of this saying. Although it may be true for some, the opposite is the case for many. The teenage years can be exhilarating, but it can also be depressing or even scary; it all depends on our own personal experiences during these times. These experiences help us find who we truly are, and while some people could find their self identity with ease, it takes more effort for others (who may face challenges or struggles in the process). 

The journey of the teenage years

The teenage years, classified as the 13th to the 21st years of life, are truly a phase that is filled with constant change. A transition from childhood to adulthood, this is the era in our lives where we start asking profound questions like, “who am I?”, “how do other people perceive me?”, and “what is the purpose of my life?” The long journey towards finding our true identity and what our role is in this world starts here. And as if that wasn’t challenging enough, the rise of puberty contributes to the pattern of impulsive thinking, lack of self control, and a heightened emotional sensitivity and response that is often observed in this stage of life.

Not everyone gets to breeze through teenagehood on a positive note. Due to various reasons and backgrounds, one’s inability to cope with their teenage years could ultimately lead to long-term confusion about their identity and their place in this world, as well as fostering an unstable perception of one’s own self. Their personality is no longer whole, which often leads to the development of personality disorders such as Borderline Personality Disorder.

Borderline Personality Disorder in teenagers

Borderline Personality Disorder, abbreviated as BPD, is a personality disorder that is often marked with a difficulty in forming and maintaining healthy relationships, volatile emotions and impulses, and shaky self identity. As evident in these symptoms, BPD is inextricably linked to the process in which many teenagers find their identity; as a result, this soul-searching journey may increase one’s likelihood to develop BPD.

Currently, BPD in teenagers is regarded as a common mental illness. A journal published in 2014 found that around 1.4% of teenagers have been observed to exhibit symptoms of BPD at the age of 16; at the age of 22, this number increases to 3.2%. The most common sign of BPD in teenagers is self-harming behavior and suicidal tendencies, which are often caused by increased impulsivity and elevated risk-taking behaviors in the teenage years as a response to an unpleasant emotional stimulus. Other data suggests that BPD is usually first observed in teenagehood, peaks in adulthood, and begins to dissipate afterwards (Kaess, 2014).

In Indonesia, personality disorders in teenagers currently receive inadequate attention. Methods for early detection for personality disorders exist, but not many have been able to fully take advantage of them as it’s generally quite difficult to properly diagnose personality disorders at an earlier age range. For teenagers, a simple thing they can do is to continually reflect on their mindset, emotions, feelings, and actions; if they feel like something is off, it’s highly encouraged that they seek help from a professional as soon as possible.


In general, BPD is often found in teenagers. The teenage years are a time of soul-searching and emotional development, which renders teenagers more susceptible to the effects of BPD. One of the most common signs of BPD in teenagers is self-harm. Women are more likely to be diagnosed with BPD than men; however, BPD could affect anyone of any sex, age, or personal background.

Kaplan, H. I., Sadock, B. J., & Grebb, J. A. (1994). Kaplan and Sadock's synopsis of psychiatry: Behavioral sciences, clinical psychiatry. Williams & Wilkins Co.

Kaess, M., Brunner, R., & Chanen, A. (2014). Borderline Personality Disorder in Adolescence. PEDIATRICS, 134(4), 782-793. doi: 10.1542/peds.2013-3677

Chapman, J., Jamil, R., & Fleisher, C. (2020). Borderline Personality Disorder. Retrieved 18 November 2020, from