The Possible Transformation: From BPD to Full-Blown Narcissism

Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) and Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) are both classified as Cluster B personality disorders in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5). These disorders are characterized by dramatic, overly emotional or unpredictable thinking or behavior and manipulative, challenging interpersonal relationships. Although BPD and NPD share some similar symptoms and behaviors, they are distinct disorders with unique diagnostic criteria. However, the question arises: Can a person with BPD eventually develop a full-blown narcissistic component after practicing and dishing out abuse for years?

Understanding BPD and NPD

Before delving into the possible transformation from BPD to NPD, it’s crucial to understand these disorders. BPD is characterized by a pattern of unstable relationships, self-image, and affect, along with marked impulsivity. On the other hand, NPD is characterized by a pervasive pattern of grandiosity, need for admiration, and lack of empathy.

Can BPD Transform into NPD?

According to the DSM-5, personality disorders are enduring and persistent styles of behavior and thought, not episodic states that come and go. Therefore, a person diagnosed with BPD cannot “transform” into NPD over time. However, it’s not uncommon for individuals to exhibit traits of multiple personality disorders. This is known as comorbidity.

Comorbidity of BPD and NPD

Comorbidity refers to the presence of two or more disorders in the same person. Research suggests that there is a high degree of comorbidity between BPD and NPD. This means that a person can exhibit symptoms of both disorders, but it does not mean that one disorder transforms into another.

Impact of Abuse on Personality Disorders

While it’s true that abusive behaviors can exacerbate the symptoms of personality disorders, it’s a misconception that abuse can cause a person with BPD to develop NPD. Abuse can certainly worsen the condition of a person with a personality disorder, leading to more severe symptoms and behaviors, but it does not change the fundamental nature of the disorder.


In conclusion, while BPD and NPD share some similar characteristics and a high degree of comorbidity, one does not transform into the other over time or as a result of abusive behaviors. Both disorders are complex and require professional diagnosis and treatment. If you or someone you know is struggling with symptoms of a personality disorder, it’s important to seek help from a mental health professional.