Nadia

At first glance, Nadia was an above-average, successful twentysomething. She had been working as a physiotherapist for two years, had a nice apartment, and many friends. It was only when you got to know her better that you realized how unstable she really was.

Nadia had a rich social life. She always had plans and seemed to be juggling several groups of friends. In reality, Nadia wasn’t able to establish healthy relationships with anyone. She would pursue someone’s friendship intensively only to distance herself from that person all of a sudden. She always claimed she had been wronged in some way or that people had stopped liking her.


Nadia had a good paying job with a permanent contract but -as I later found out- she had been “invited to leave” her previous one. The final straw had been Nadia’s emotional outburst in the presence of a patient. At the new clinic, she was experiencing the same issues that had gotten her fired. She, again, had a difficult relationship with her supervisor and disagreed with most of her decisions and assigned tasks.


The most worrying thing about Nadia was her dangerous and self-damaging behavior. It was common for her to go back home with a guy she had met that same night. Initially, we shrugged it off. After all, we all had a liberal mentality and we thought she was just enjoying her life and her freedom.

It was only when Nadia admitted she never practiced safe sex that we realized her behavior wasn’t just about being free spirited. She said she didn’t need to use condoms as she was already taking the pill to avoid getting pregnant and that the possibility of getting an STD made it all more exciting. She also said she would sometimes try drugs that were offered to her without knowing or caring for what it was.

We asked Nadia to at least let us when she was going home with a stranger but she refused to do so. She would disappear in the middle of the night and turn off her phone. This last point made people distance themselves from her as it was too much to handle.


In one of the rare instances in which Nadia seemed more calm and mellow, she confided that she sometimes felt like the ugly duckling and other times like the most attractive woman in the room. That was the reason why she acted the way she did, she claimed.


After some months during which I only saw Nadia occasionally, she called me to let me know she had decided to move to another city. She wanted to start from zero and leave her past behind. She said she would look for a psychologist there, as I had advised her. She did and she was eventually diagnosed with borderline personality disorder.



Prevalence in the general population: 0.7%– 1.6%*
Comorbid with: Schizotypal (15.2%), Paranoid (12.3%), Antisocial (9.5%)*
More common in females
Course: Symptoms actually improve once the person affected reaches their 30s

*Sources: Lenzenweger et al. (2007)

Torgersen, Kringlen, and Cramer (2001)
Zimmerman, M., Rothschild, L., & Chelminski, I. (2005)

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