Fear and the Borderline Personality
I know that you believe what you have been told is the truth and you would not believe it, even if someone told you otherwise. However, consider for a moment the possibility that you may have been deceived by a pervasive pattern of behavior consistent with a personality disorder. What makes it most difficult is when it is someone that you love and have lived with throughout life. Indeed, it is very hard to come to terms with the unusual behaviors because the behavior coupled with a skewed sense of reality. Unfortunately, the depth of events like this cannot be understood without realizing the nature of a personality disorder coupled with a mental illness. Indeed, the confusion about the presentation of the disease result of a lack of awareness about the ambiguous and confusing behaviors . Unfortunately, the daily happenings with a borderline personality are confusing to sort out, partly because, persons with BPD have a biological and environmental predisposition to thinking patterns that results in thinking patterns that are based upon a faulty process of assigning meaning to reality. As a result, Borderline Personality Disorder is often deeply entrenched within family systems who live with dysfunction without realizing the source of systematic problems that exist. Therefore, because many are high functioning, intelligent, and capable of hiding the disorder, it goes unrecognized until a crisis places the individual in a therapists care. As a result, behaviors go on undetected or misunderstood, as something else, until a life events bring the person to a place of help. Unfortunately, the result of living with Borderline Personality is that many families loose a sense of balance in how relationships occur. As a result, the lack of clinical understanding contributes to dysfunctional relationships, where members become the enablers in the way life is experienced every day. Unfortunately, when undetected the personality disorder contains the potential to damage and destroy relationships when finally discovered. In many cases loving family members are unwittingly programmed by the dysfunction of the disease to enable, rescue; thus reinforcing the misunderstanding about the disorder. As a result, family, spouses, and others feel victimized, assume responsibility , and live with constant turmoil; while believing it is a normal part of life. When there is a lack of understanding about the pattern of behaviors witnessed among those with Borderline Personality Disorder, many times the disorder goes untreated and the chaotic experience continues for the BPD, as well as, those in the family system.
Obviously, not all Borderline Personality symptoms will present with the exact patterns. This is one reason why it is so confusing to bystanders who are not mental health practitioners. It is a common experience for the borderline personality to give the appearance of being a very normal person to most people and unnoticed by people in the family, friends, and circle, of acquaintances. Nevertheless, at the same time the BPD is inflicting excruciating emotional pain upon family members through a pervasive pattern of behaviors that just does not make sense. The response of many family members can be confusion and being made to feel a little crazy themselves. A common behavior of the Borderline personality is to act out or act in exhibiting attention seeking behaviors that are convincing enough for onlookers to evoke a sympathetic response. The natural response to acting out is to enabler or to rescue the Borderline from every impending crisis, which seems very real to the BPD. The behavior of acting out has earned many Borderline’s the label of “Drama Queen“, i.e., individuals who “act out” to gain the sympathy and support of others. This calculated performance is portrayed to deflect attention away from the internalized fear beneath the behavior. Obviously, onlookers who do not fully understand what is happening, so it triggers a response to console and rescue the person from their tragic circumstances. As a result, individuals with Borderline Personality Disorder are constantly managing a lifestyle unconsciously played out in a constantly developing drama where they are constantly “faking it” to make it in the world their skewed perception creates. In the drama played out, the great fear of abandonment and continual threat of rejection must be managed by by the behaviors exhibited. Therefore, at the heart of the BPD’s crisis management is the morbidity potential attached to the phobic thinking that sooner or later he/she will be “found out” and face permanent abandonment and rejection. Consequently, the behavior often observed centers around a concerted effort to manage life at the cost of others that contributes to a life-long pattern of manipulating people, information, and perception in ways that spin reality to match their mentally distorted view of life. The goal of the pervasive thinking pattern is to manipulate, control, and hide the underlying problem from people around them on a daily basis.
The danger felt by a Borderline is motivated by the neurotic fear of being found out and facing the possibility of being rejected or abandoned. As a result, the very idea of someone exposing the reality of the borderline behavior is a trigger that evokes fear of being exposed along with the subsequent fear of abandonment. Facing this stress, triggers the core issue, the fear of abandonment, isolation, and public exposure to the truth resulting in Borderline Rage. Consequently, the behavior following is an intense feeling of rejection, pain, along with outbursts of anger. Neurotic fear triggers defensive mechanisms designed to try to regain control of the skewed mental perception of many Borderlines by re-spinning reality to those around them. Therefore, what results is rage, acting out, as well as, acting in behaviors resulting from emotional dsyregulation from the perceived threats.
Unfortunately for you, if you are the person who identifies the deception of the borderline, be prepared to become the focused object of rage motivated by an irrational belief that you caused abandonment, social isolation, and rejection. Rage is directed at you by the Borderline in a very personal way that is designed to destroy you and disable your credibility to everyone she can influence. Something to remember is that for the borderline, the loss of control coupled with the fear of abandonment triggers a heightened level of stress that is unmanageable, which results in dysregulated emotions, panic, and the attention seeking behaviors that will follow. Consequently, a common experience for the BPD is when dysregulation is triggered is that splitting occurs and what was once all good has suddenly become all bad.
This symptomatic pattern among Borderlines threatened with a feeling of lack of control, or being found out, is to turn their anger toward the person who knows their secret and threatens the myth that they have created. In the distorted reasoning of the Borderline, the identifier endangers their ability to maintain a feeling of control, which in turn triggers emotional dysregulation under the stress. Then, comes the anger, rage, passive aggressive anger focused by the internalized threat upon the person who knows their secret and may expose the BPD to accountability for their distorted behaviors. So, before you assume responsibility for the rage, pain, and dysfunction, remember that this is not your fault, it is BPD.
To understand this better, the behavior pattern of the the borderline, which demonstrates intense fear of being found out is rooted in an irrational belief that she/he will be abandoned if found out and others discover that they are a fake, drama queen, and manipulator. Their behavior commonly presents the BPD as a wounded child on one side . Among others behavior can demonstrate acts of striking out, outbursts of anger, using innuendo, accusation that vilifies person perceived to threaten the borderline’s need control reality. Meanwhile, the drama is painting a picture of their own victimization by others or events that surround them. Consequently, the picture painted is the image of a wounded child and their innocence in every situation in contrast with villanizing those who do not comply with the spun reality constructed in the BPD perception. As a result, borderline are capable of when they feel their ambiguous reality is questioned and their mentally constructed myth is debunked. Typically, Borderlines surround themselves with people, who are largely undiscerning, unaware, many times co-dependent, and capable of easily being duped by the coercive manipulation and deception that is characteristic of the thinking patterns of the Borderline Personality.
If you are not willing to join the company of the Borderlines enablers and participate in their plan, then you should expect your life to become very difficult. Borderline behavior toward individuals they cannot manipulate or control will be characterized by rage, distorted reason, and skewed perception fueled by a firmly held belief that this behavior is justified, correct, and you deserve intense cruel actions. It is because in the skewed perception of the Borderline you are just being mean and viscous to the wounded, innocent child who is actually a suffering saint. At the same time, the wounded child has a sense of entitlement to behave as they do no matter how bad, nor matter the consequences for others, no matter who they damage. Their is no sense of functional pro-social behavior and much like typical anti-social behavior the BPD insists on being supported and given what they want most. What they want to feel most is that they are in control of those around them so they will not be abandoned. As a result, in the thought process of the Borderline they are so, so very innocent, never responsible, and do not deserve this treatment.
For the borderline, control manifests through isolating support mechanisms that the BPD person believes you depend upon for functionality in life. Therefore, they will isolate you, discredit you, and many times engage in criminal mischief, risk-taking behaviors to prevent you from being independent of them. Common areas of isolation, such as family relationships, children, grandchildren, friends, relationships, and financial resources are the target of the Borderline to exhibit passive aggressive anger and to isolate in order to feel in total control. Also, it is common for Borderlines to destroy your personal property, assault your credibility privately, demonstrate passive-aggressive anger, projecting their own problems in behaviors that demonstrate the intense rage and fear felt in an internalized feeling of a loss of control. The goal of these behaviors are to deflect from themselves any belief that they are indeed suffering from Borderline Personality Disorder and to paint the picture that you are actually the one that has a problem, Therefore, the splitting behavior, “all good turns to all bad” is a reality and suddenly you are secretly the victim of the lethal behavior of Borderline rage. In fact, Borderlines work to constantly keep the object of their behavior in “no win” situations to create powerlessness to respond to manipulative distortion in order to reinforce the myth they uniquely created about you.
People with BPD play the role of victim quite well and make every person who disagrees with their perspective about their mistreatment the object of rage and accusation. A common description “the emotional vampire” becomes a reality and behavior is purposely acted out that emotionally drains individuals around the For their audience, a stellar performance is given to endear sympathetic attention, while the Borderline is dividing people from one another to meet their personal need to always be the center of attention, by playing the victim. Their insidious purpose is to feed a deflated, empty ego and an absence of a secure individual identity. The actions of the Borderline reinforces a distorted self-perception about their own image, constantly being projected and protected, while at the same time painting the picture of victimization by others. In the deception, the goal is to achieve is personal empowerment by isolating those who are threats, dividing relationships, and ultimately feeling the “power of control.”
In the act of anger focused on the threat , the borderline is empowered through passive aggressive behavior designed to express anger passively to confuse and retaliate at the same time. Passive–aggressive anger is passive in how it is presented and seems to be innocent, innocuous, and well hidden. However, the toxic anger felt from rejection, abandonment, and perceived threats results in toxic debilitating behaviors toward persons who are the source of threats to the BPD. As a result, the pervasive actions of the borderline are attempts to dis-empower secretly anyone who might validate their greatest fear, being found out and loosing control of their image and others affirmation.
For a borderline their is no middle ground. The life perspective characterized by “splitting”: everything and everyone is either “all good or all bad”, becomes a normal way of life. Obviously for the BPD, having the inability to regulate emotions under stress causes the dysregulation of emotional responses into extremes, anxiety, and intense behavior. For instance, ” I hate you, please don’t leave me” is a statement that expresses the extremes of a borderline splitting in a dysregulated emotional state. For the unwitting relative, partner, victim, it is a psychological double-bind that is emotionally confusing and traps them in a no win situation, where there seems to be no escape. Adults who enter into relationships with borderlines feel brainwashed, abused, and stay in a state of emotional confusion by the BPD’s accusations, manipulation, and criticisms. This principle stated by Benham says: “The techniques of brainwashing are simple: isolate the victim, expose them to consistent messages, mix with sleep deprivation, add some form of abuse, get the person to doubt what they know and feel, keep them on their toes, wear them down, and stir well.” What a vivid picture of daily life with an unregulated, undiscovered, and untreated Borderline Personality at work spinning reality.
The problem experienced in the deception is a functional inability to achieve genuine intimacy in relationships as a result of the perpetual deceptive manipulation of the Borderline. The behavior occurs to create an image of life that is spun, as if it is reality for those around them. The deception convincingly persuades the audience with dramatic, impassioned presentation of need through charm utilizing the seductive power of emotional manipulation. Unfortunately, having BPD in a family member and not understanding the peculiar behavior results in deception and constant confusion leaving a belief for some that they are crazy. This insidious behavior empowers in borderline personality to go undetected. The result is that family members enable behavior: thus contributing to the patterns of destructive behavior. Because the borderline is so adept at hiding reality in drama, family members believe the distorted perception of the borderline and have a perception that they are being supportive and helpful, but in reality family members become the unwitting accessory after the fact in the drama being played out.
The fact that many people are unaware of is that the borderline will crash and burn at some point in life. When the day of awakening comes for you and and you begin to suspect that something is wrong, you may go back and begin to recollect the childhood memories, inconsistencies, and behavior cues that tell you something was off. When that moment of awareness comes; then you will feel the pain of being so thoroughly deceived: that painful feeling of being the unwitting participant in the confusing and destructive behavior patterns. Unfortunately, because you have been so thoroughly deceived, you may still wrestle with the idea that this could never be. There is a deep sense of regret that can manifest when you realize that you have been placing blame for what has happened upon another person, who in reality has been the object of the borderlines rage and distorted reality. Unfortunately, for the Borderline, many do not realize their problem until they wind up in an emergency room, in a courtroom, a prison, as a result of an acting in event. One thing is for sure, that behind the borderline is a trail of broken lives, broken dreams, and people who are experiencing the constant grief from the emotional upheaval constantly being experienced.
If you are reading this, you more than likely understand just exactly what I am saying. If there is a borderline in your life, time will write a story that will have themes of deception, manipulation, dividing, and splitting. Awareness is the first step at having the building blocks for a healthy way to approach a very challenging personalty disorder. Only you can make the decision to listen and consider the impact of what is occurring and learn to do what is best for you. The unfortunate fact is that many borderlines do not find the help needed to enable an effective life until relationships are damaged and what could been is lost through the deception that empowers the borderline who continues on a path of self-defeating behaviors and deceiving those around them.
As I think about the ways this disorder plays out, I am reminded of what John Greenleaf Whittier said, ” The saddest words of tongue or pen is what could have been.”
Something to think about is that there is help available for those who suffer from this tragic personality disorder that could change how life can be experienced for the borderline and those around them. There is no shame in having a mental illness, the shame is that people who believe they are helping by rescuing and enabling, while actually hurting the borderline by actively supporting the behavior, which destroys relationships in families every day.