Below are excerpts from articles and testimonials that further describe the condition known as Borderline Personality Disorder. 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 professional, pastor, county agency, or us. We can research your geographical area for providers that may offer assistance or just if you need an anonymous person to talk to, we would be happy to help. You can contact us at .

The information below is not intended to treat or diagnose any illness or disorder, rather to inform others and direct them to assistance. This information has been gathered and displayed here in whole or in part from publicly accessible websites we have found in our research. Where credit was found, it has been noted. The Rizzotto Family Trust is not responsible for its content, assembly or, accuracy. If any author of copyrighted material does not wish it to be presented here, please accept our apologies and contact immediately.

 

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 Disorder?

Borderlines are born with an innate biological tendency to react more intensely to lower levels of stress than others and to take 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 of):

  • 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 their life’s 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 actions in 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, projection 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, Revised Sample

It considers symptoms that fall under four main headings:

1. Affect
o chronic/major depression
o helplessness
o hopelessness
o worthlessness
o guilt
o anger (including frequent expressions of anger)
o vindictiveness (including frequent periods of punishment of others)
o anxiety
o loneliness
o boredom
o emptiness

2. Cognition
o odd thinking
o unusual perceptions
o nondelusional paranoia
o quasipsychosis

3. Impulse action patterns
o substance abuse/dependence
o sexual deviances and changes in desires
o manipulative suicide gestures
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, annihilation fears
o counter-dependency
o stormy relationships
o removal of emotions from loved ones
o manipulativeness
o dependency
o devaluation of self
o masochism/sadism
o demandingness
o entitlement
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 relationships.

DSM-IV Criteria

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 abandonment
· 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 often.
· 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 of respective spouses. (i.e.: Mother issues directed towards wives, father issues directed towards husbands.)

This often results in divorce enacted 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 other. Often, BPD patients want to keep something belonging to the loved one around during separations until the mere sight of it angers them.
· 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, divorces.
· 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 of the 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 find yourself.

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.

 

Links

Anonymous Account of the Borderline Personality Disorder.
Take a 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 information.
http://www.mhsanctuary.com/borderline/anon.htm

BPD Central
A site with several good links to understanding and treating BPD. We’ve found a lot of helpful information here as well.
http://www.bpdcentral.com/links/medical.shtml

Depression and Bi-Polar Support Alliance
These conditions often go hand in hand with Borderline Personality Disorder, you may get some alternate views here.
http://www.dbsalliance.org/index.html

Resources for Obtaining a Mental Health Professional
You’ve taken a great step forward by looking here, we’re proud of you. Best of luck!
http://www.dbsalliance.org/resources/Referral.html

Personality Disorders
A dating site with consise descriptions of various personality disorders.
http://www.datehookup.com/content-personality-disorders.htm

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The information contained in this site is not meant to substitute for medical care or treatment. Nothing takes the place of speaking with your doctor or other medical care professional. Sources have been credited where known. If a source is not credited properly, please let us know.