Message from the President

Dear Colleagues,

Some time ago I received a letter and a paper from a 20 year old woman from Italy, let’s call her E. Her ability to voice how it feels to suffer from Borderline Personality Disorder was remarkable, so I got her permission to share her message “They call us Borderline” with you. “Our soul is screaming”, E writes. “It screams and falls into an endless abyss bleeding. That’s us. We need help”. In these days, as you all know, our diagnostic systems are being revised, and strong voices have advocated for a total removal of the Borderline diagnosis along with all other specific PD diagnoses and to replace them with a single dimension ranging in severity from personality difficulties to severe personality disorder. There could be psychometrically good reasons to do such a thing. But diagnostic concepts have more functions than their mere nosological ones. They are also extremely important tools for effective communication. Not only communication between researchers or clinicians. In our field we need robust and acceptable diagnostic entities to support our efforts of communicating realistically to the public in a non-stigmatizing way about the suffering, severity and risks involved in Borderline Personality Disorder, but also about the existence of effective treatments and the need to make them available to more people. Therefore, we have made strong efforts, with our partners in the ISSPD and NASSP, to work with the WHO to seek better solutions for the PD diagnoses in the upcoming ICD-11 than the ones that so far have been on the table. We have been in constructive dialogue with the WHO and we have presented our views in a recent paper in the Journal of Personality Disorders (Herpertz et al, 2017).1 At this stage I am happy to inform you that our work has been fruitful. A compromise solution, allowing us to keep the BPD diagnosis as a specifier of PD in the coming ICD-11, was reached in September, and presented by the WHO working group at an open meeting during the recent ISSPD congress in Heidelberg. We think this compromise is very wise as it will probably prevent what we feared could be a major setback to treatment development and implementation and to our efforts of communicating to users, families, gate keepers, clinicians, and the many groups in society who make decisions about providing and funding treatment programmes. Needless to say, we will keep you updated with more information about this important issue in forthcoming newsletters and at conferences.

The ESSPD Board continues to work hard to develop the organization along the lines we have presented previously. This entails recruiting new members of high academic standing to join us in our efforts of creating an academy of excellence. So far, we have been very successful. Our number of members, recruited through special invitation, has increased by 50% since we launched this initiative. In this newsletter we have included a copy of the new members nomination form and we would encourage you to use it to target people you believe belong to our ranks. More information on how to nominate new members can be found on our website www.esspd.eu.

The ESSPD board has recently entered into an affiliation agreement with the scientific journal Borderline Personality Disorder and Emotion Dysregulation (www.bpded.biomedcentral.com), an open access journal within the BioMed Central family. This agreement entails several advantages for us as a society; more visibility and more channels of communication at the same time as there is no subscription fee for readers. The affiliation agreement has so far been made as a time limited arrangement to be evaluated before further decisions are made.

The planning of the 5th International Congress on Borderline Personality Disorder and Allied Disorders in September in Sitges/Barcelona is developing nicely. You will find more information about it in this newsletter and on our conference website. We are also developing the plans for our 3rd ESSPD Workshop conference on PD in Budapest in the spring of 2019 – more details to be announced soon. We hope you will find useful information on these matters in this fall issue of the Newsletter. As usual, Dr Sophie Liljedahl has prepared a summary of a new selection of some of the most innovative contributions to the PD research literature in the recent months.

1 Herpertz S, Huprich SK, Bohus M, Chanen A, Goodman M, Mehlum L, Moran P, Newton-Howes G, Scott L, Sharp C. The Challenge of Transforming the Diagnostic System of Personality Disorders. Journal of Personality Disorders, 2017; 31: 1-13.

Lars Mehlum, President of the ESSPD