Whether there is a specific entity of "borderline personality disorders" or several characterological and phenomenological syndromes under this one rubric has been the subject of therapeutic controversy (Knight 1953; Grinker, Werble, and Drye 1968; Mack 1975; Green 1977; Hartocollis 1977; Stone 1981; Modell 1983). While much remains unresolved, a current working definition of a sample entity has been provided in DSM-III as follows:
The essential feature is a Personality Disorder, in which there is instability in a variety of areas, including interpersonal behavior, mood, and self-image. No single feature is invariably present. Interpersonal relations are often intense and unstable, with marked shifts of attitude over time. Frequently there is impulsive and unpredictable behavior that is potentially physically self-damaging. Mood is often unstable, with marked shifts from a normal mood to a dysphoric mood, or with inappropriate, intense anger or lack of control of anger. A profound identity disturbance may be manifested by uncertainty about several issues relating to identity, such as self-image, gender identity, or long term goals or values. There may be problems tolerating being alone, and chronic feelings of emptiness or boredom (DSM-III, 1980, p. 321).