City Research Online

"Borderline Personality Disorder’ a ‘Catch-22’ diagnosis: A Foucauldian Discourse Analysis of women’s experiences of ‘Borderline Personality Disorder"

Ali, R. D. (2022). "Borderline Personality Disorder’ a ‘Catch-22’ diagnosis: A Foucauldian Discourse Analysis of women’s experiences of ‘Borderline Personality Disorder". (Unpublished Doctoral thesis, City, University of London)


There is much research looking into ‘Borderline Personality Disorder’ (‘BPD’) from a positivist ontological perspective and more recently, a variety of qualitative studies focusing on the subjective experiences of people with ‘BPD’ (Crawford et al., 2007; Rogers & Dunne, 2011; Stalker et al., 2005, Horn et al., 2007). However, research adopting a critical perspective to the construction of ‘BPD’ is limited, providing a rationale for undertaking a Foucauldian Discourse Analysis (FDA), enabling a macro focus exploring the construction of ‘BPD’ and the subject positions afforded within dominant discourses.

This study found the psychiatric discourses placed women with ‘BPD’ in stigmatizing, pathological, ‘othering’ subject positions, shaping how these women constructed their sense of self. In particular the analysis showed women with ‘BPD’ were located across competing discourses within ‘double-bind’ subject positions; for example, penalising some women for being ‘too ill’ (those who engaged in self-harm), or for presenting as too ‘functioning’ (through their appearance or ability to work), thereby declaring them as ineligible for therapeutic treatment. Women were also seen to be positioned as ‘bad mothers’ and ‘promiscuous’ drawing on gendered discourses. Psychological discourses were drawn upon to offer empathic understandings to these women’s feelings of anger and pain, through trauma explanations and the subject position of the client. This study found women with ‘BPD’ demonstrated resistance through the take up of positive self-representations, destigmatising and normalising talk of mental health. Charity settings enabled women to escape the diagnostic category and be seen as something more than the diagnosis.

Publication Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
Departments: School of Health & Psychological Sciences > Psychology
School of Health & Psychological Sciences > School of Health & Psychological Sciences Doctoral Theses
Doctoral Theses
[thumbnail of Ali-Thesis-2022-Redacted.pdf] Text - Accepted Version
This document is not freely accessible until 30 November 2025 due to copyright restrictions.

To request a copy, please use the button below.

Request a copy


Add to AnyAdd to TwitterAdd to FacebookAdd to LinkedinAdd to PinterestAdd to Email


Downloads per month over past year

View more statistics

Actions (login required)

Admin Login Admin Login