Did Lady Diana have a Borderline Personality Disorder? (5 reasons why she had BPD)

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In this article, we will explain why we believe Lady Diana had a Borderline personality disorder. We will also look at the causes, symptoms and treatment methods for BPD and how to cope with the mental illness.

Did Lady Diana have Borderline Personality Disorder?

It is uncertain whether Princess Daina had Borderline Personality Disorder. It is, however, suspected that she had BPD as she had the following seven out of nine symptoms required for diagnosis;

  • Unstable relationships.
  • Unclear or shifting self-image.
  • Impulsive, self-destructive behaviours.
  • Self-harm.
  • Extreme emotional swings.
  • Chronic feelings of emptiness.
  • Explosive anger.

The other two symptoms required for diagnosis are;

  • Fear of abandonment
  • Feeling suspicious or out of touch with reality.

The life of Lady Diana

Sally Bedell Smith, wrote a biography that detailed the life of lady Diana. The biography shows the compelling symptoms of borderline personality disorder that lady Diana was presenting with, although a formal diagnosis was never made. The departure of her mother and the emotional detachment of her father is thought to be the underlying factor of the development of borderline personality disorder.

Sally goes ahead and says that a close member of the royal family disclosed that prince Charles had consulted a psychiatrist and a doctor who confirmed that the description of Diana fit that of a person suffering from borderline personality disorder. She was also prone to self-harm, extreme mood variations, bulimia, and had a compulsive need for approval.

The biography also stated that the British upperclass viewed mental health issues with disdain and Lady Diana was expected to get herself together instead of seeking for help. Her husband prince Charles, however, made an effort to find treatment for her during their honeymoon. She was prescribed with tranquilizers which she refused and Prozac, which she took for a short period.

She, however, was using sleeping pills for years. She also disliked therapy and at one time, when addressing patients at a psychiatric clinic in London, she said, “they were unlikely to find much help from ‘some psychotherapist or someone just reading a book.” sally described Lady Diana as a woman who needed and craved for attention and reassurance as she was expected to behave in a certain way.

Despite Lady Diana passing her O-levels, she was expected to go for training on how to fit in and make friends with people at her aristocratic level. She was qualified for only two professions; cleaning and childcare.

She also encountered a lot of bile from the royal family as she was not the ‘ideal wife’ to prince Charles. He was expected to marry a woman who was educated, intelligent, independent and with a strong sense of self. Diana was a complete opposite of this and many people said that she was not a ‘proper lady’ who deserved to married in the royal family.

Despite all this, Lady Diana stood tall and faced all those adversities with courage. She was also philanthropic, was compassionate about the sick,poor and those that were on the verge of death. She was understanding, gave people hope and above all, treated her children the right way. 

 What is Borderline Personality Disorder?

BPD (its acronym) is a mental disorder that affects how you feel about yourself and other people. It also causes problems in carrying out normal day-to-day activities. Just like lady Diana, people with BPD have a negative self-image, find it difficult to control emotions, and have a succession of unstable relationships.

People with BPD dislike being alone and have an extreme fear of abandonment. However, their negative characteristics of irritability, mood swings and impulsiveness tend to push people away. Including those who love and want to have a meaningful relationship with them. 

The symptoms of BPD start in early adulthood and seem to worsen in young adulthood nonetheless, the symptoms tend to improve with age and one can function normally with BPD.

Signs and symptoms of BPD

Some of the signs of BPD discussed were seen in Lady Diana’s case. These signs and symptoms of BPD include:

Emotional symptoms

The emotional signs of BPD include:

  • Sorrow
  • Shame 
  • Terror
  • Rage 
  • Feelings of sadness and emptiness (long-term)
  • Severe mood swings. Some people feel suicidal and then feel better after a few hours. Mood swings vary; some feel better in the morning and some in the evening.

Cognitive symptoms

  • Having upsetting thoughts, i.e. thinking that you are a terrible person
  • Auditory hallucinations. Some people hear voices in their heads telling them to harm themselves.
  • Prolonged episodes of hallucinations, i.e. hearing voices and delusions, i.e. believing that your family members want to kill you.

The cognitive symptoms of a worsening condition show the need to seek medical help.

Behavioural symptoms

  • Self-harm, i.e. cutting yourself with a razor, burning your skin with cigarettes. The symptoms might go to the extreme of trying to commit suicide.
  • Reckless behaviour, i.e. having unprotected sex with strangers, binge drinking and excessive use of drugs, and going on shopping sprees.

5 reasons why we believe Princess Diana had BPD.

Since you are now aware of Borderline Personality Disorder symptoms, let us look at the signs that qualify her to have BPD.

Feelings of emptiness/ loneliness

According to a special report in the New York Times, her aides reveal that she often spent time alone once she retreated from the public eye. This time was used to ponder her perceived inadequacies, to think about her past, her enemies and plotting schemes.

Unstable self-image

The report also reveals that she had trouble with identity issues more so after becoming a member of the royal family. She did not know when her public life stopped and her private life began.

Impulsiveness

According to her brother’s eulogy, Princess Diana would at one moment be mature, helping others and at other moments immature and childlike. She was also known to have reckless love affairs.

Severe mood swings

Her brother reported her being level-headed while at other times childish and exhibiting severe anger outbursts. 

Explosive anger

Princess Diana was reported to have impulsive angry outbursts. This symptom was often noted when she retreated from the public eye. 

Causes of BPD

There is no single cause that can be identified as causing BPD. However, some factors predispose you to get BPD. They include;

Genetics

There is a likelihood of BPD genes being passed from one generation to another. Research has shown that if a twin is diagnosed with BPD, there is a likelihood that the other one will have it too. There is no gene for BPD, so these findings should be treated with caution.

Problems with brain development

An MRI showed that people with BPD had a problem with the development of parts of the brain that regulate mood. They include; 

The hippocampus; regulates behaviour and self-control

Amygdala; regulates emotions

Orbitofrontal cortex; involved in planning and decision making

Brain chemicals

Altered levels of the neurotransmitters, especially serotonin, have been linked with depression, aggression and failure to control destructive urges.

Environmental factors

Common environmental factors common in people with BPD include exposure to long-term fear or distress, experienced physical, emotional or sexual abuse, parental neglect, and growing up with a family member with a mental illness.

Unresolved fear and anger from childhood can make you put unrealistic expectations on other people, like expecting people to be like a parent to you, expecting others to bully you, idolising others and behaving like others are adults and you are not.

How to cope with borderline personality disorder

Ways of coping with BPD include:

  • Learn the grounding techniques that can help you focus on the present and divert your attention from harmful thoughts. Grounding techniques include counting from 0 to 10, 10 to 0, clenching and unclenching your fists, curling and uncurling your toes, or remembering the names of everyone in the room.
  • Avoid alcohol and substances abuse as they can destabilize your emotional state
  • Listen to calming music when feeling low
  • Eat healthy balanced diets
  • Practice gratitude. This helps to inspire positivity in life.
  • Have sufficient sleep
  • Keep in touch with your feelings and emotional states by journaling.
  • Keep a positive company that will encourage you.
  • Share your feelings and fears with your friends
  • Visit your therapist regularly.
  • Identify your anger triggers so that you can stop early.
  • Engage in physical activities that can divert your mind away from harmful thoughts.
  • Take a warm shower when experiencing a borderline episode
  • Express yourself through art.

Treatment for BPD

Medication

There is no medication for BPD but medication can be given for the symptoms that manifest, i.e. antipsychotics, antidepressants and anxiolytics

Therapy

Dialectical Behavioral Therapy will help you respond to emotional situations with positive coping mechanisms and with reason and proper judgment. This will reduce seeing things in white and black.

Hospitalization

This is necessary if you are experiencing extreme symptoms like suicidal thoughts and attempts, or hallucinations and delusions that are affecting your daily functioning and relationship with others.

Conclusion

In this article, we explained why Princess Diana had Borderline personality disorder. We also look at the symptoms, causes and treatment methods for this mental disorder. Finally, we look at how people with BPD can cope with the condition and live meaningful lives. We hope this information was useful.

Frequently asked questions: Princess Diana Borderline personality disorder

What personality type Did Princess Diana have?

Princess Diana was an INFP personality type.

Was Princess Diana a narcissist?

Though she portrayed a couple of narcissistic personality disorder symptoms, they were not enough for a full diagnosis. She was also known to be kind and affectionate, especially with her children. A character that narcissists are not known for.

What was special about Princess Diana?

She was the first royal bride to have a paying job before engagement. 

Citations

Bedell, S.S. (1999). DIANA IN SEARCH OF HERSELF Portrait of a Troubled Princess. New York, New York. Times books.

Salters-Pedneault, K. (November 09, 2021). Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) Criteria for Diagnosis. Verywell Mind. Retrieved from: https://www.verywellmind.com/borderline-personality-disorder-diagnosis-425174 

The New York Times. (n.d). Diana in Search of Herself Portrait of a Troubled Princess By SALLY BEDELL SMITH. New York, New York. The New York Times. Retrieved from: https://archive.nytimes.com/www.nytimes.com/books/first/s/smith-diana.html 

Fletcher D.P., (February 2001). Diana in Search of Herself: Portrait of a Troubled Princess. Retrieved from https://ps.psychiatryonline.org/doi/10.1176/appi.ps.51.2.259#:~:text=Diana%20often%20wept%20before%20and,other%20than%20borderline%20personality%20disorder

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