Below are excerpts from articles and testimonials
that further describe the condition known as Borderline Personality
They have been pieced and assembled in such a way as the reader may
understand most aspects without having clinical knowledge. As you
read them, look deep into your own life and if the symptoms or circumstances
described mirror your life in any way, please contact a mental health
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Borderline Personality Disorder
Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) is one of the most controversial
diagnoses in psychology today. Some researchers, like Judith Herman,
believe that BPD is a name given to a particular manifestation
of post-traumatic stress disorder: in Trauma and Recovery, she
theorizes that when PTSD takes a form that emphasizes heavily its
elements of identity and relationship disturbance, it gets called
BPD; when the somatic (body) elements are emphasized, it gets called
hysteria, and when the disassociative/deformation of consciousness
elements are the focus, it gets called DID/MPD. Others believe
that the term "borderline personality" has been so misunderstood
and misused that trying to refine it is pointless and suggest instead
simply scrapping the term.
What Causes Borderline Personality
Borderlines are born with an innate biological tendency
to react more intensely to lower levels of stress than others and
longer to recover. They peak "higher" emotionally on less
provocation and take longer coming down. In addition, they were raised
in environments in which their beliefs about themselves and their
environment were continually devalued and invalidated. These factors
combine to create adults who are uncertain of the truth of their
own feelings and who are confronted by three basic dialectics they
have failed to master (and thus rush frantically from pole to pole
- vulnerability vs. invalidation
- active passivity (tendency to be passive when
confronted with a problem and actively seek a rescuer) vs.
apparent competence (appearing
to be capable when in reality internally things are falling apart)
- unremitting crises vs. inhibited grief.
Clinicians try to teach clients to balance these by giving them training
in skills of mindfulness, interpersonal effectiveness, distress
tolerance, and emotional regulation.
Borderline Personality Organization
Diagnoses of BPD’s are based on three categories of criteria.
The first, and most important, category, comprises two signs:
- the absence of psychosis (i.e., the ability to perceive reality accurately)
- impaired ego integration - a diffuse and internally contradictory
concept of self. A well known expert in the field is
quoted as saying, "Borderlines
can describe themselves for five hours without your
getting a realistic picture of what they're like."
The second category is termed "nonspecific signs" and
includes such things as low anxiety tolerance, poor impulse
control, and an
undeveloped or poor ability to enjoy work or hobbies in
a meaningful way.
Some doctors believe that borderlines are distinguished
from neurotics by the presence of "primitive defenses." Chief
among these is splitting, in which a person or thing
is seen as all good or all
bad. Note that something which is all good one day
can be all bad the next, which is related to another
symptom: borderlines have problems
with object constancy in people -- they read each action
of people in their lives as if there were no prior
context; they don't have
a sense of continuity and consistency about people
and things in their lives. They have a hard time experiencing
an absent loved one
as a loving presence in their minds, rather they begin
to perceive the person as a threat and the source of
problems and issues. They also have difficulty seeing
all of the actions
taken by a person over a period of time as part of
an integrated whole, and tend instead to analyze individual
an attempt to define their individual meanings as it
pertains to their present
circumstances. People are defined by how they last
interacted with the borderline.
Other primitive defenses cited include magical thinking
(beliefs that thoughts can cause events), omnipotence,
of unpleasant characteristics in the self onto others
and projective identification,
a process where the borderline tries to elicit in others
the feelings s/he is having. Also included as signs
of BPO: chaotic, extreme
relationships with others; an inability to retain the
soothing memory of a loved
one; transient psychotic episodes; denial; blame transference
and emotional amnesia. About the last, "Borderline
individuals are so completely in each mood, they have
great difficulty conceptualizing,
remembering what it's like to be in another mood."
Borderline Personality Disorders criteria in order
of their importance:
- Intense unstable relationships in which the borderline
always ends up getting hurt. This symptom is somewhat general,
but it is considered so central to BPD some doctors would hesitate
to diagnose a patient
as BPD without its presence.
- Continual transference of blame issues to others, mainly close
relatives or relationship partners.
- Repetitive self-destructive behavior, often designed to prompt rescue
or gain attention in the same manner as hypochondria.
- Chronic fear of abandonment and panic when forced to be alone.
- Distorted thoughts/perceptions, particularly
in terms of relationships and interactions with others
most close to the Borderline.
- Hypersensitivity, meaning an unusual sensitivity to
nonverbal communication. This can be confused with distortion if
practitioners are not careful. Some survivors of intense long-term trauma may
have unrealistic notions of the power realities of the situation
they were in, their notions are likely to be closer to reality than
the therapist might think.
- Impulsive behaviors that often embarrass the borderline later leading
to a transference of blame, typical with BPD.
- Poor social adaptation: in a way, borderlines tend not to know
or understand the rules regarding performance
in job and academic settings and content themselves with those circumstances
that allow their behavior.
The Diagnostic Interview for Borderlines,
It considers symptoms that fall
under four main headings:
o chronic/major depression
o anger (including frequent
expressions of anger)
o vindictiveness (including
frequent periods of punishment
o odd thinking
o unusual perceptions
o nondelusional paranoia
3. Impulse action patterns
o substance abuse/dependence
o sexual deviances and
changes in desires
o manipulative suicide
o manipulative medical
or legal gestures
o compulsive spending patterns
o project starts lacking
an end result
o other impulsive behaviors
4. Interpersonal relationships
o intolerance of aloneness
o abandonment, engulfment,
o stormy relationships
o removal of emotions
from loved ones
o devaluation of self
o necessity to win
at all costs
The DIB-R is the most influential and best-known "test" for
diagnosing BPD. Use of it has led researchers to identify four behavior
patterns they consider peculiar to BPD: abandonment, engulfment,
annihilation fears; demandingness and entitlement; treatment regressions;
and ability to arouse inappropriately close or hostile treatment
In I Hate You -- Don't Leave Me! Jerold Kriesman and Hal Straus refer
to BPD as "emotional hemophilia; [a borderline] lacks the clotting
mechanism needed to moderate his/her spurts of feeling. Stimulate
a passion, and the borderline emotionally bleeds to death."
Traits Involving Emotions
Quite frequently people with BPD have a very
hard time controlling their emotions. They may
feel ruled by them. One researcher (Marsha
Linehan) said, "People with BPD are like people with third degree
burns over 90% of their bodies. Lacking emotional skin, they feel
agony at the slightest touch or movement."
1. Shifts in mood lasting only a few hours.
2. Anger that is inappropriate, intense or uncontrollable.
Traits Involving Behavior
3. Self-destructive acts, such as self-mutilation
(physical or emotional) or suicidal threats and
gestures that happen more than once.
4. Two potentially self-damaging impulsive behaviors.
These could include alcohol and other drug abuse,
compulsive spending, gambling,
eating disorders, shoplifting, reckless driving,
compulsive sexual behavior.
Traits Involving Identity
5. Marked, persistent identity disturbance shown
by uncertainty in at least two areas. These areas
can include self-image, sexual orientation,
career choice or other long-term goals, friendships
and values. People with BPD may not feel like
they know who they are, or what they think,
or what their opinions are, or what religion
they should be yet require others to agree with
their choices. Instead, they may try to be what
they think other people want them to be. Someone
with BPD said, "I
have a hard time figuring out my personality.
I tend to be whomever I'm with."
6. Chronic feelings of emptiness or boredom.
Someone with BPD said, "I
remember describing the feeling of having a deep hole in my stomach.
An emptiness that I didn't know how to fill. My therapist told me
that was from almost a "lack of a life".
The more things you get into your life, the more
relationships you get involved in,
all of that fills that hole. As a borderline,
I had no life. There were times when I couldn't
stay in the same room with other people.
It almost felt like what I think a panic attack
would feel like."
Traits Involving Relationships
7. Unstable, chaotic intense relationships characterized
by splitting (see below).
8. Frantic efforts to avoid real or imagined
Splitting: the self and others are viewed as "all good" or "all
bad." Someone with BPD said, "One day
I would think my husband was the best and I loved
him, but if he challenged me in
any way I hated him. There was no middle ground
as in like. In my world, people were either the
best or the worst. I couldn't understand
the concept of middle ground and the arising
problems I created were never my fault."
· Alternating clinging and distancing behaviors (I Hate You, Don't
Leave Me). Sometimes you want to be close to
someone. But when you get close it feels TOO close and you feel like you have
to get some
space, then blame that person for leaving you,
eventually believing absolute and complete blame of the other person. This happens
· Great difficulty trusting people and themselves. Early trust was
usually shattered by people who were close to
the Borderline, often a father and in fewer cases a mother, thus the mistrust
spouses. (i.e.: Mother issues directed towards
wives, father issues directed towards husbands.)
This often results in divorce
by the Borderline.
· Sensitivity to criticism or rejection.
Feeling of "needing" someone else to survive.
· Heavy need for affection and reassurance.
· Impulsive spending with little regard for needing the purchase.
· Continual presentation of gifts to those the Borderline has transferred
blame to. Especially spouses or children.
· Some people with BPD may have an unusually high degree of interpersonal
sensitivity, insight and empathy.
9. Transient, stress-related paranoid ideation
or severe disassociative symptoms.
This means feeling "out of it," or
not being able to remember what you said or did.
This mostly happens in times of severe stress.
Miscellaneous attributes of people with BPD:
· People with BPD are often bright, witty, funny, life of the party.
· They may have problems with object constancy. When a person leaves
(even temporarily), they may have a problem recreating
or remembering feelings of love that were present between themselves and the
Often, BPD patients want to keep something belonging
to the loved one around during separations until the mere sight of it angers
· They frequently have difficulty tolerating aloneness, even for short
periods of time.
· Their lives may be a chaotic landscape of job losses, interrupted
educational pursuits, broken engagements, hospitalizations,
· Many have a background of childhood physical, sexual, or emotional
abuse or physical/emotional neglect.
Commonly, transplacement of blame to a person that the Borderline
is most closely connected to which eventually drives the other person
away, then is thought of as the source of all of the Borderlines’ problems
in the past relationship.
· Extreme vindictiveness towards close family members or loved ones
of medical, legal or financial ploys in order
to maintain a level of interactiveness despite being the originator themselves
problems they have caused.
The Blame Game
An article by A.J. Mahari
Published on: June 20, 1999
In my journey of healing from Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD)
without realizing it for a great number of years I was constantly
blaming others for my problems and for my pain.
It is very typical for someone with BPD to honestly believe, while
in the throes of a cognitively distorted thought process that everything
they feel is someone else's fault. So often, a person with BPD will
take out their confusion and pain on those who try to care; on those
who try to get close and try to stay close. What happens when someone
tries to care of to be close for many with BPD is that once a certain
line is crossed in closeness or familiarity the other person ceases
to be who they are in the reality of the world of the borderline.
Borderline narcissism takes over. What is then experienced from the
inside (usually unbeknown to the borderline) is a very deep and intense
transference. What the borderline feels deep inside (often this is
a very large amount of pain) is projected out on to the close person
(or caring person) who often then becomes a "parent figure" as
a transference takes place.
What this means is that instead of being in the here and now with
someone who is trying to care about you and know you, if you have
BPD, you somewhat dissociate from the here and now and re-play out
an old relationship (usually parent-child dynamic--or a primary relationship
in which you did not get your needs met as a child) causing you to
lose sight of both who the "other" is and who "you" are.
This happens because many with BPD cannot meet their own needs and
tend to look for others to do this for them.
The scene is then set for the recapitulation of pain. The borderline
demands from the "other", who is being experienced as someone
from their past. This other person, not knowing what is unfolding
has no chance to be able to find the right response, or enough of
any response that will please the borderline for long. The person
with BPD then does the push-pull, in an effort to gain or maintain
control. They feel out of control because they are re-experiencing
painful feelings from their pasts. So unmet needs continue to escalate
and the borderline gets angry and demands more from the other person.
The other person, no doubt is confused, feeling attacked and like
they can't do anything "right" enough begins to pull away,
in one form or another. This is the classic repeat of the borderline
nightmare of abandonment. But if you have BPD, and you haven't worked
through this you may not realize that you, yourself are causing your
own abandonment. The abandonment is perceived abandonment. In reality
they are not abandoning you they are taking care of themselves, which
every human being has both the right and responsibility to do.
Well, within the scenario I've described above the is the blame
game. Person A feels blamed by the borderline. The borderline feels
blamed and shamed and let down and abandoned by person A. Person
A then feels attacked by the borderline. Person A may attack back.
The borderline then feels like a helpless victim which will then
precipitate either their further acting out or acting in. Person
A then feels in a no-win situation. The borderline keeps upping the
anti, demanding what he/she needs and wants. At this point the borderline
has regressed to a child-like state wherein they are the center of
the universe. This is their reality. The other person, person A has
no idea now what is going on.
The blame game begins right here. The borderline blames the person
A for (essentially whatever those close in childhood did to him/her)
everything. Usually the borderline cannot see their role in this.
(Not until a certain amount of healing has taken place.) Person A
blames the borderline. Then both blame the borderline's past. Others
in their lives, [parents, siblings] jobs, therapists....etc may also
be blamed. No one knows how to take responsibility here and usually
at this point enmeshment is deep and intense. When any two people
get enmeshed everything can seem foggy and unclear. From this clouded
haze each party, like a blind bird flying in the wind seeks control
in an effort to protect themselves and to try to regain some balance.
For person A in this scenario you cannot "win". You are
going to be blamed because often the borderline has lost total sight
of you. (Or will for periods of time) You have become someone from
their past that they could not trust.
The key to understanding what becomes the "blame game" is
for the person with BPD to want to get better. To want to get better
means be ready to face the pain. It is only when you face the pain
that you will begin to gain a healthy perspective from which you
can then think less distortedly to the point where you will be able
to recognize when you are so triggered as to blur your past with
someone in your present.
Personal responsibility is key here as well. You must take responsibility
for your needs, your wants, your pain, your actions and you must
learn that there is no excuse for abuse. Blaming anyone else, even
someone who abused or hurt you in childhood is not going to help
you heal now. It will not help you meet your needs. It will not help
you learn how to maintain relationships. It will not help you to
Blame is a defense mechanism. The pain is real. The pain feels immediate.
It can also feel very overwhelming. If you have BPD and you do not
learn to catch the triggers and see the patterns and take responsibility
you will continue to drive people who care about you away and do
great emotional damage to yourself and to others in the process.
Taking responsibility for yourself and your emotions now is the
only way to end the blame game. To unwind the clues that are no doubt
there in your thinking before you get into this pattern over and
over again it is important to discuss with your therapist what you
feel and think just before you have "blow-ups" with others,
or just before you lose your temper, or just before you begin to
push and pull or manipulate, control or get physically intimidating
and or abusive.
What happened in your past needs to be unwound today. Blaming anyone
for the choices that you've made as to how to cope with your past
up ‘til now is not a healthy choice. It is often a very lonely
and isolating choice to make.
Stop blaming anyone or anything else.....look to yourself. These
are your patterns and when you work to understand them you can. When
you can understand the blame game you will no longer have to go there.
The result will be happier and healthier patterns of relating.
Anonymous Account of the Borderline Personality Disorder.
look, do you see yourself in the above explanation? If you’ve
come this far, and have really read the page in depth, we’re
proud of you and you owe it to yourself and those you’ve hurt
the most to understand that it’s not your fault, but you are
the one who has to make it right again. No matter what you’re “Alternate” has
done or how far it’s gone, those who truly love you will understand,
forgive and yes…CONTINUE TO LOVE YOU! They always have, you’re
a wonderful person! Do all you can to fix your past. Start by clicking
the link below and good luck. Let us know if we can help and rest
assured that anything you tell us stays with us. We don’t collect
information and will never pass along your email address or personal
A site with several good links to understanding and
treating BPD. We’ve found a lot of helpful information here
Depression and Bi-Polar Support Alliance
often go hand in hand with Borderline Personality Disorder, you may
some alternate views here.
Resources for Obtaining a Mental
taken a great step forward by looking here, we’re proud of
you. Best of luck!
A dating site with consise descriptions of various personality disorders.