Deception and Borderline Personality: What Could have Been?

Scared child
Fear and the Borderline Personality

I know that you believe the things you are seeing and hearing are true representations of reality that contributes meaning to behavior observed in others and situations. In fact, if someone questioned the validity of the events and things happening within the context of immediate relationship, family, or social interaction, you would probably would not accept it and most likely would believe the questions would appear out of character. To suggest that there is a large gap in meaning of events that you do not understand between appearance and reality would not seem possible. However, consider for a moment the possibility that there are things not understood that you do not know about pointing to an incomprehensible pervasive pattern of behavior consistent with a personality disorder. There is no doubt that a important issue to consider is how little that most people actually know about mental health and personality disorders. Therefore, quite often behaviors not acknowledged create dysfunction in families and relationships instead of being able to a meaningful way to understand that certain behaviors, attitudes, and responses are reasons for concern. Consequently, assigning meaning to behaviors that equate behaviors as “our normal” is often a reaction to misinformation rather than actually understanding why a set of circumstances and behaviors occur as they seem to the untrained observer. The result leaves a family system without understanding the possibility of what could happen if treatment options and understanding creates solutions.

What makes this most difficult is when it is someone that you love and have lived with throughout life and there is this constant recurring roller coaster of emotions and behaviors. Obviously, it is very hard to come to terms with what these unusual emotions, behaviors, and response mean in the context of life. When behavior along with a skewed sense of reality and a feeling that something is not right, but we cannot put our finger on the exact problem constantly nags at relationships, it creates constant stress for everyone. People have different responses, one to dismiss it totally and the other is to react against the person, the behavior and actually make things worse instead of better. Unfortunately, the impact and depth of life events most certainly will face misunderstanding without first realizing the nature of a personality disorder coupled with a mental illness. Medical problems including mental illness and personality disorders cannot be the basis for valuing people as individuals. In fact, family and relationship partners must understand that the mental-personality disorder is not the person, but the medical experience of a disordered person. Consequently, the deception associated with Borderline Personality Disorder is not a deception by the person, it is a pervasive pattern of behaviors when undiagnosed, misunderstood, dismissed, and unmanaged; results in assigning faulty meaning and motivation to behavior that is personal and not medical or psychiatric.

Confusion regarding the appearance of the symptomatic patterns of the disease results from a lack of understanding about the meaning of ambiguous and confusing behaviors observed. The daily life experience with a borderline personality are confusing to sort out, partly because, persons with BPD have a biological factors that affect cognition and environmental factors that evokes associate mentalization and perception of life, people, and events. The resulting behavioral patterns flow from a unique process of assigning meaning and to the lived experience of life. As a result, Borderline Personality Disorder is often deeply entrenched as a part of a family system where comorbidity exists within an overenmeshed relational dysfunction without realizing the source of systemic problems existing in the experience of life events. What eludes many people is the high functioning; intelligent, capable person who looks successful on the outside, but is constantly in crisis on the inside. As a result, many with BPD expend much of their emotional energy hiding the disorder and it goes unrecognized until a crisis places the individual in a hospital or therapists care.

As a result, the underlying reasons for behaviors goes on undetected or misunderstood, as something else or someone else’s problem, until a relational crisis or life events evoke acting in or acting out behaviors resulting in diagnosis and potential treatment and understanding of the disordered personality condition.

Unfortunately, most families do not understand mental health conditions and because of the stigma of general mental health conditions by many people, individuals are resistant to seek treatment. Therefore, there is ambivalence in families to talk openly about personality disorders or mental health conditions. As a result, life with a with Borderline Personality results in many families loose a sense of relational balance without understanding the underlying pathology that creates a domino effect of dysfunctional behavior in a family system.

The result from a lack of clinical understanding contributes to dysfunctional relationships, where members become enablers to make life work or react by participating in emotional relationship dysfunction that is chaotic and sometimes results in fractured families. Unfortunately, when BPD remains undetected, the personality disorder contains the potential to damage and destroy relationships. When misinformation, reaction, and dysregulation dictate how people behave toward a personality disorder; the results bring personal loss for families and relationships. In many cases loving family members unwittingly programmed by the dysfunction of the disease to enable a constant need to rescue; thereby, they reinforce a lifestyle of misunderstanding about the disorder and allow the person to go without medical assistance.

While children are growing up and families are interacting with spouses relating; the missing piece of information not understood is why borderline dysregulation results in a disrupted relational system bringing chaotic patterns that reinforce exaggerated responses. Parents who raise a borderline child and are not aware of the problem frequently blame themselves, react on an emotional level and blame themselves later in life. The guilt says that if they would have known, they could have changed the outcome of life for the person who is a Borderline Personality. Many people report that they feel victimized, confused, while at the same time assuming responsibility and living in constant turmoil because the family members do not understand the complexities of this personality disorder, nor how to self-regulate. Obviously, family members who do not have daily interaction or are not the primary attachment figure of the borderline may believe this is just anomalies or extreme behaviors as normal part of life. Obviously, when there is a lack of understanding about the patterns of behaviors associated with Borderline Personality Disorder and the daily experience of life, the disorder goes unrecognized by most and the chaotic experience continues for the BPD, as well as, those in the immediate family system.

Not all Borderline Personality symptoms will present with the exact patterns in every individual person in the same way creating confusion for people who are not mental health practitioners. It is common for borderline personalities to appear to most people as a very normal person and go unnoticed by people in the extended family, friends, and circle, of acquaintances. Nevertheless, at the same time the disorder is inflicting excruciating emotional pain upon the person with BPD, as well as, close family members who do not have a clear sense of the range of behaviors that just does not make sense. The response of many family members can be confusion and feeling a little crazy themselves.

A common behavior associated with borderline personality is acting out or acting in exhibiting attention seeking behaviors convincing enough to evoke a sympathetic response. The natural response to acting out is to engage an enabler or to gain a rescue for the Borderline from every impending crisis, which is real in the perception of the person with BP. The behavior of acting out has resulted in many Borderline’s being labeled as a “Drama Queen”, i.e., individuals who “act out” to gain the sympathy and support of others. This biologically driven performance is portrayed to deflect attention away from the intense fear that triggers the behavior. Obviously, people who witness this who do not fully understand what is happening respond to console and rescue the person from their tragic circumstances. The fear of rejection, abandonment feels real, even though it may be irrational. The borderline personality believes it to be true.

As a result, Borderline Personality Disorder drives the thinking, feeling, and behavioral responses from emotional dysregulation to irrational fears and result in behaviors that systematically manage a unconscious lifestyle played out in an ongoing drama witnessed through behavior patterns of “faking it” to make it in the world of skewed perception that the pathology that borderline personality creates. In the dramatic behavior, the intense fear of abandonment and continual belief that imminent rejection is always on the horizon manages the behaviors exhibited. Therefore, at the heart of the BPD’s crisis management, the morbidity potential attached to the phobic thinking drives the fear that eventually he/she will be “found out” and face permanent abandonment and rejection. Consequently, the behavior often observed centers around a drive from disorder thinking and emotions to manage life at the cost of others that contributes to a life-long pattern of attempting to control people, information, and perception in ways that spin others reality to match the mentally distorted by a disordered view of life events and others. The goal of the pervasive thinking pattern is to control, so abandonment will not happen and hide the underlying problem from people around them from no sense of self-resulting in fear of rejection.

The danger felt by the person with Borderline Personality Disorder motivated by neurotic fear of being found out and facing possible rejection or abandonment, stems from disordered emotional processing and cognition. As a result, the very idea of someone exposing the reality of borderline behavior is a trigger that evokes fear of exposure along with the subsequent fear of abandonment. Consequently, the potential of facing this stress triggers the core issue, the fear of abandonment, isolation, and public exposure to the truth resulting in Borderline Rage.

The behavior following demonstrates an intense feeling of rejection, pain, along with outbursts of anger. Then, neurotic fear triggers defensive mechanisms that try to regain control. Borderline Personality mentalization attempts to paint the world and perception of others with a skewed mental perception of the meaning of life events and others by convincingly re-spinning reality to those around them in a way that matches their own. Resisting this point of view acts as a trigger of behavior sometimes observed bringing borderline rage, acting out, as well as, acting in behaviors from emotional dysregulation resulting from the perceived threats.

If you are the person who understands the deception and the personality disorder patterns and you decide to challenge the dysregulating behavior patterns, be prepared to become the focused object of rage motivated by irrational belief that you pose a threat for abandonment, social isolation, and rejection. Understand that rage is directed at you because of disordered thinking from BPD in a very personal way that is an attempts to destroy you and disable your voice, to speak credibility to everyone she/he can influence. Something to remember is that in the case of a borderline, the loss of control coupled with the fear of abandonment triggers a heightened level of stress that is unmanageable, which results in unmanageable emotional state that dysregulates. Therefore, emotions, such as panic, heightened compulsivity, and attention-seeking behaviors, result from inability to regulate emotional states. Consequently, a common experience for many BPD’s occurs along with dysregulation and splitting occurs. Then, what was once all good has suddenly become all bad.

This symptomatic pattern from BPD’s threatened with a feeling of lack of control, or being found out, is the manifestation of anger toward the object of their irrational fear. The irrational fear that BPD mentalization and assignment of meaning causes produces a mental mythology that you are all bad because you do not affirm the skewed beliefs of the world as the borderline views it through their thinking. In the distorted reasoning of a dysregulated 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 about them and who may expose the undiscovered BPD. Therefore, before assuming responsibility for the rage, pain, and dysfunction, remembers that this is not your fault, it is the product of biological and environmental experiences from Borderline Personality Disorder.

To understand this more, the behavior pattern of the borderline demonstrates intense fear of being discovered is rooted in an irrational belief that she/he will be abandoned if people really understand who they are and others will stigmatize them, abandon them, and ultimately reject them. The 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 borderlines 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 contrasts with villainizing those who do not comply with the distorted reality constructed BPD perception. As a result, borderline’s are capable of extreme behaviors when they irrational thing results in dysregulated emotions. Typically, Borderlines surround themselves with people, who are largely undiscerning, unaware, many times co-dependent, and capable of easily being influenced by the characterological traits of Borderline Personality Disorder.

If you are not willing to join the company of the borderline 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 often characteristically demonstrates 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. There 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, very innocent, never responsible, and do not deserve this treatment.

One way that borderline, control manifests through is isolating support mechanisms that the BPD person believes you depend upon for functionality in life. Therefore, do not be surprised if you are isolated, discredited, and witness risk-taking behavior that many times results in criminal mischief in passive aggressive ways. 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 you before you can abandon them. In addition, it is common for dysregulated borderlines to destroy your personal property, assault your credibility privately, while projecting their own behaviors on others. The goal of these behaviors are to deflect from themselves any belief that they are indeed suffering from Borderline Personality Disorder; then paint a picture they are a victim and 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, borderline personality functions is to constantly keep the object of their behavior in “no win” situations creating powerlessness to respond to the distortion in order to reinforce the myth they uniquely created about you.

Borderline Personality Disorder demonstrates victim behaviors quite well. In fact, people who are not supportive of the victimization of the BPD can easily become the object of rage and accusation. A common description “the emotional vampire” becomes a reality and behavior is acted out in ways that emotionally drain the emotional sponges who are emotional empaths without healthy boundaries. For their audience, a stellar performance is given to endear sympathetic attention, while the BPD is divides people from one another to meet their personal need to be the center of attention. The insidious behavior from the disorder operates from a deflated, empty ego and an absence of a secure individual identity. The actions of Borderline Personality Disorder reinforces a distorted sense of self, both projected and protected, while at the same time painting the picture of victimization by others. In the deception, the PD functions to achieve is personal empowerment by isolating those who are threaten irrational fears from a need control the persons who are the objects of the relationship disorder.

In the act of anger focused on the threat, BPD is empowered through passive aggressive behavior designed to express anger passively in order 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 are attempts to dis-empower secretly anyone who might validate their greatest fear, being found out and losing control of their image and others affirmation.

A characterological feature of BPD is no middle ground. The cognitive behavioral perspective is characterized by “splitting”: everything and everyone is either “all good or all bad”. 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 many times 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 because 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 charm from the wounded child. Unfortunately, having BPD in a family and not understanding the peculiar behavior results in deception and constant confusion. The result is that family members misunderstand, criticize, or enable behavior. Because the borderline is so intuitive emotionally, the BPD behavior is adept at hiding reality in drama. As a result, family members acquiesce to disordered thinking boundaries are distorted and the unrecognized borderline behaviors result in the loss of potentially healthy relationships and what could have been is lost in the confusion.

A further problem for BPD’s and relationships is that many people are unaware of is that the borderline will more than likely crash and burn at some point in life. When the day of awakening comes for you 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 out of sync. When that moment of awareness comes; then you will feel the pain of wondering what you did wrong and if you would have only know how thing could have been different.

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, because of an acting in event. One thing is for sure, that behind the borderline is a painful life, broken dreams, and people who are experiencing the constant grief from the emotional upheaval being experienced.

If you are reading this, you more than likely understand exactly what I am saying. If there is a borderline in your life, time will write a story that will have themes that you may believe are deception, manipulation, dividing, and splitting that are intentional. Awareness is the first step at having the building blocks for a healthy way to approach a very challenging personality 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.

Think about the ways this disease affect the life of the undetected BPD and their families and relationships, 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 personality disorder that could change the way that 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.



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71 thoughts on “Deception and Borderline Personality: What Could have Been?”

    1. Thanks Risa:

      I appreciate your comments and I don’t m ind if you use anything that is here. I write theses articles to be of help to those trying to understand. I hope to hear from you again.


  1. Your article is right on the money. If only…. is right. Breaking all contact is often the most rational, yet most painful, thing a family member or friend of the borderline can do. If the borderline gets help, improves, and keeps working on avoiding destructive behaviors, I would happy to be in contact with that person again despite the risk of a relapse–but only if my presence in the person’s life would not cause a relapse. Are there other causes of BPD other than childhood sexual abuse? Why do some borderlines consider themselves to be “strong people” while they do not have the courage and strength to risk facing themselves and get help to improve?

    1. they consider themselves strong people because they live their whole lives feeling they are about to be rejected and are alone. They don’t know who they are, they don’t really connect with anyone because their constantly shifting moods internally affecting thinking patterns and leave them feeling isolated. Often the things that cause these behaviours to develop in the first place are coping mechanisms following trauma or abandonment, something that has affected you so deeply that the thought of facing it could make you want to kill yourself. The reality is that painful memories are awful to deal with but will not actually kill a person but to a borderline..’why take the chance?’.
      Borderlines feel emotions far more strongly than most people. Every day occurrences can make them devastated or in despair so you can imagine how a truly traumatising matter could be hard to face. This is one of the reasons borderlines consider them selves to be ”strong people” as you put it.
      While it shows courage and strength to face your demons,living your life and growing up carrying immense emotional pain and not having killed yourself shows A LOT of strength for someone who is always on an emotional roller-coaster and feels completely alone. I understand that borderlines can be very difficult to be around but they are also some of the most loving and empathetic people to be around because they are so sensitive themselves they empathise strongly with others. I would lastly like to say that while many people can recieve help to get some control over there impulsive behaviour with long term therapy and support there is still a lot of stigma out there sadly that borderlines should just be ‘ignored’, something which is a fate worse than death to a be rejected or abandoned when seeking help or support, abandonment fears is a huge part of the illness and stems from lack of support or understanding from a young age.

      1. Just a question to “Littlemissmellu” … are you speaking as a borderline or about borderlines when you say, “I understand that borderlines can be very difficult to be around but they are also some of the most loving and empathetic people to be around because they are so sensitive themselves they empathise strongly with others.”

        I ask that because the one thing I note about the BPD in my life is that she has no ability to empathize with anyone. Her feelings about any given situation whether it is a situation she has blown out of proportion or elsewise are always centered around her feelings and how she sees it, and if you disagree in any way with her feelings and the way she sees something, you are in for big trouble with allegations of being a liar and most likely a 2-4 hour conversation following where her only goal is to make sure that you surrender any beliefs you have about a given situation to come into alignment with her skewed perception of the situation. Forget trying to explain how you saw it … I have tried to lay out countless situations about how someone else might be feeling or how I myself have felt with regard to situations that involve her, and while she may respond with words that make you think she understands,it always reverts back to seeing the situation as she experiences it and it is set in stone that any given situation happened only the way she believes it happened. If she has the ability to put herself in someone else’s shoes, I have yet to experience that, and while she is a loving person when she is in that “loving place,” if you do anything that sets her off, she turns into a vicious lion.

        So my curious question would be for BPDs, knowing this may not be a hard and fast rule for all BPDs: Do they view themselves as empathetic and loving because all that I have experienced with my BPD and others I know who have BPDs in their life is the consistent finding that they have little ability to be empathetic. This is why it is so difficult to remain in relationship with a BPD … in her eyes, I am always wrong, I’m always a liar, I’m always being blamed for everything, I’m the cause for the pain in her ilfe, yet when she comes out of her “funk”, there’s no one better than me. And I might note again, she has never been diagnosed with BPD – she is high functioning, and will rip you to shreds if you even suggest BPD, so whether she just has a lot of BPD characteristics or truly is BPD, the roller coaster ride has become way too toxic. I feel sad for my sister that she struggles with fears of being rejected or abandoned, but to remain in relationship with her is just too painful. I love what gratianatura said, “If the borderline gets help, improves, and keeps working on avoiding destructive behaviors, I would be happy to be in contact …” so it’s not me “ignoring” her or wanting to abandon her, it’s her inability to face herself that continues to push me away. If only …

        (I can’t seem to get it to say “Sad in Colorado” … please do not post my name … would you remove it and post “Sad in Colorado”. Thank you!!)

      2. I disagree. The empathy that you are talking about is actually askew as well– internalizing it back towards self when hearing a similar rendition any of the multitude of hurt feelings that the BPD individual holds on to and can relate to. Everything comes back to “you” (* the borderline). It seems that they are secure in their position (?) because they’ve become conditioned to it, it works for them. it’s all they’ve ever known–and ultimately defiant little brats who chose not to properly tend to the underlying and unresolved issues that need to be faced and put to rest. It’s as if they know this yet are willing to put it aside as “bullshit and that nothing will ‘fix’ them anyway; re-living the fact that I’m the way that I am because my parents were f…ed up and the fact that my brother kicked my ass all the time and made me suck his ___. I was told that I was no good, that I was a mistake, I was stupid and unwanted, etc. nothing is going to change anything. So, what it seems like to me is that they are willing to (in desperation and fear .. and pure selfishness) see if maybe you’ll be ‘the one’, different than all the rest of them, but if that doesn’t work they are still willing to ‘use’ you and suck the very life out of you because, after all “they’ve been fucked over all of their lives”, by the whole damned world and in their strife they are going to hurt you because they want you to “feel what they feel like inside.” .. Like some sick self-retribution– at least they don’t have to feel all alone in their inner misery and so long as they are ‘choosing’ to remain the perpetual and perfect ‘victim’ they can just pick up and go on to the next one using up people like one uses resources (that don’ t belong to them) and to live with themselves they denote blame onto you, get to feel gratification for getting that edge on ‘unsuspecting’ you .. Really? I don’t know but it sure seems like it could be just that.

        And all of those hurts are self-perpetuating revolving around staying stuck in victimhood; not recognizing the askew belief system and taking initiative towards change; therapy; getting help. I’m not refuting the fact that they feel hurt, have been hurt – but what I’m wondering is if that person is aware of being triggered and in that process re-victimizes themselves and ultimately is blaming the significant other at hand– and this is due to a bent perception (belief system) and the subsequent (unconscious) series of behaviors and attitudes that are invoked which hold them fiercely and irrefutably unable to be present in their awareness of seeing both sides to the point of absolute denial of any wrong doing to the other and causing an unfair (unbearable) hurt onto them that will never be acknowledged or recognized by the BPD individual; which would necessitate having empathy. They can be empathetic to another’s cause but unable to practice affective empathy when they are directly involved. And that’s messed up!

        The person I was involved with was all too self-consumed with his own feelings. It was like an auto-pilot indemnity and for him to actually stop himself and consider anything from my perspective, as if he were in my shoes was a foreign concept. He was unable, not unwilling (because that wouldn’t even of been considered) it was something he was just not capable of doing. He never wanted to talk (to me) but he’d listen to any number of chicks that came around with a sob story about their boyfriend who did them harm, no problem. He could identify with them, and I would be thrown into a lump sum group of people as being the “controlling” and abusive one!?. To him, the way he saw it, was that: All I ever wanted to do was fight, argue and let him know that (in my eyes) he could never say or do anything right. Which was anything but the truth. I wanted to resolve and restore closeness … what in actuality, more than anything else, was a misunderstanding, most of the time. Because it was made into a misunderstanding because he would not communicate, and he wouldn’t do that because he didn’t want to deal with anything that he surmised as stressful; a genuine emotion. But how do you explain an actual betrayal when he would confide in another and push me away? Tell me that he loved me (when he felt me slipping away) but never acknowledge what he had done and the way he hurt me? How could he apologize and resolve anything when he ‘didn’t see it that way? And how can he not see it for the way it was? The obvious became the oblivious. And the cycle never ended. And invariably it was “all bad” for me and there was nothing I could do to turn it around. The only way I could ever be relieved and get any comfort would be if I conceded (by letting it go and saying I didn’t like the distance between us; which alleviated the constant conflict and crazy-making pain of being ostracized and made to feel like the outcast. This would give the illusion of peace, but it never was, and he went on acting like nothing ever happened; he was never accountable and that charm of his seductive self as “the victim” fell putty to any outsider not really knowing. My suffering never ended.

  2. Thanks so much for your comments and questions. I get the sense that you have some personal experience that has been painful. All mental illness takes an unfortunate toll on the lived experience of life. There times when detaching and sometimes putting physical, emotional, and psychological distance between a person and the borderline. The issue is that many people who live with or experience the impact of the condition may develop a pathology of their own which needs assistance, boundaries, and management. In response to causes, there is a lot of research that suggest multiple reasons attributed to developing BPD. One issue that is central is trauma in childhood, but also there factors connected to genetics, attachment patterns, and abandonment.. Since BPD is a complex disorder with diagnostic criteria that is outlined in the DSM-5. One area of confusion is understanding empathy and as is most personality dysfunctions scoring high in narcissism empathy or the inability to experience empathy is a central factor in the disease, as well as, a precursor to understanding that mental health is in question. The presence of what people often see and call empathy is self-directed to gain trust or advantage, not a true concern that is an expression of healthy mental health.

    1. Hi “sad in __________”, I am speaking not only from personal experience of having bpd but also from knowing several people who are properly diagnosed with it. If she hasn’t the inability to empathise perhaps she does not have bpd, its something which takes a great deal of time to properly diagnose even if somebody may have similar traits its something they would have felt for basically all there life etc. Also, it is possible that she feels a lot of empathy but does not show much sympathy which is rather unfortunate for those around her. Most peoples reactions about any situation are centred around your own feelings if it pertains to yourself..i can be frustrated when people misunderstand me at times and explain to them my feelings and my perspective but generally speaking, though I may be introspective and absorbed by my overwhelming feelings I empathise with others deeply, I feel sad for others when they have a bad day or a tough time, if someone I know is emotionally hurting I feel so much pain that I cannot fix it, I am very sensitive to the emotions of others and spend most of my time trying to care for other people, its how I feel close to them. People have said to me many times ‘oh you read my mind’ or ‘how did you know that?’..i do not listen so much to what people say as much as I pick up on behaviour and facial expressions, its almost like I feel the emotions of others without them telling me, that is because I have experienced a lot of emotional extremes and upsets and at times not been able to show it and had to hold it in. It makes you very aware when you see others walking around acting fine when they are not, its like an emotional radar. Of course all people are not like that, borderline is a very complex disorder and there would be hundreds of combinations to peoples symptoms and behaviors pertaining to it, there’s a wide spectrum so I speak from my own experience and from the borderlines I have come across.

      You make it sound like the person you speak of can only see there own feelings and no one elses, the only time I could say I behave that way is when I am very, very upset, deep in crisis and people are not listening to me. If someone is saying I am fine because I look fine it is infuriating. If someone tells me I am too sensitive because I cried about something they did not find upsetting, I will not be told ‘you are over reacting’ that to me is like being told, ‘you may not cry, you may not respond to how you feel’ that is the sort of time I would really argue with someone badly, especially if they were insistent I was over reacting because a reaction is different for all people, what might slightly bother one person might make someone with borderline feel utter despair. I can acknowledge that to OTHER people, things may not affect them the way they do me, but I will not be told I am over reacting because no emotions are wrong, they just are. I certainly have the ability to put myself in the shoes of others, to feel extreme guilt when I may not have even done something wrong, its almost automatic, when most people would feel sorry for say, being late to meet you for coffee, I would feel so ashamed, guilty, like a let down, a terrible friend and expect to be hated for it.

      In my case I really value the opinion of others because for me to be loved is so important and so if I know that I have hurt someone or there feelings on something, I can better support and care for them. I suppose it is part of being indispensable, if you are needed you will not be abandoned..or something silly like that * shrug *. I cannot speak for all bpds only for myself and in my case I would say I am very loving and very empathetic they are probably my best qualities and what have help me survive and be ‘high functioning’ I hide most of my symptoms from people fiercely, only a few very close to me get to see more of how I ‘truly feel’ and by that I mean often very sad and angry and lost. I am surprised you say you know other bpds with lack of empathy, I have read many people say such things online and I do find it very odd and often wonder if people assume others are bpd or if they have some other personality disorder and have been incorrectly diagnosed. People who do not empathise at all or do not empathise with OTHERS fit more into the catchment of a disorder such as narcissism..they do feel and care but mainly for themselves. In my experience a borderline will put most people before themselves as they usually feel a lot of emptiness and self loathing, to connect with people is essential as being alone is unbearable so while they may be at times moody , angry or much sadder than makes sense they are generally very very gentle caring people in my personal experience. It seems you have taken it personally that I mentioned above that borderlines are often ignored by people…you have taken it to heart and that is your own issue but what I was saying was that many people really do believe to ignore someone with an illness is best, I was not only talking about the general public but sadly, mental health professionals. It does sound that she does not want to face whatever it is all these feelings and behaviors stem from but she may not even have borderline and its a tough road trying to push someone to get help who just doesn’t want that respect I can understand if you are not as involved with the person as you could be, you must protect your own feelings too and that is quite understandable. The only book I have read that I felt covered the topic of borderline excellently is ‘I hate you don’t leave me’ I believe you can find the pdf of it online if you do a google search. Perhaps you could link it to the person your message pertains to and ask them to read it to ‘see what they think’. It is my experience that to be told you have an illness is not something anyone welcomes,(i had a strong suspicion my best friend was bpd and thought if she sought help it would benefit her) no less mental illness, sometimes giving the information so that a person can read and think ‘hmm that’s so odd I feel just like that!’ can work a little easier when it comes to mental health, especially with a borderline who I do believe really will scream in your face till you faint and take it as a huge insult. After all a personality disorder is a huge part of a person and its not some sickness that is cured with a pill. Some people look for answers desperately, others are in denial and cannot accept. Good luck!

      1. This constant talk of empathy in borderlines is very frustrating. The ability to empathize doesn’t necessarily mean active empathy, which you do touch on by saying that there might not be a display of sympathy. Being able to read people might be a form of empathy but don’t forget that being able to read people also serves the borderline (or anyone, for that matter) to stick it to a person when they least expect it. Anyone can use a trait for good or for bad. I think we need another word than empathy. If empathy is used to describe deep emotion and sensing another person’s feelings, it does a disservice the people who use empathy for good. Self-absorption is key to borderline behavior given their constant fear of abandonment and being found out. Deep emotion and trying to read people to avoid being screwed over is not empathy.

        And putting aside your own needs is not empathy.

        I’m quite certain my sister is borderline. Having read hundreds of accounts of peoples’ experience with a borderline in their life, rages and unfounded accusations and blame, to name a few, are hallmarks of the relationship. There might BE empathy but if it is is unexpressed and given the behaviors one is exposed to, it’s really irrelevant if empathy is such a huge part of the borderline’s makeup, as you say it is. I’m absolutely certain my sister is not NPD. But I have rarely witnessed her putting aside her own needs in favor of someone else’s. Quite the contrary. She might be thinking she doesn’t deserve something but her outward behavior is to grab at what she wants, everyone else be damned. Again, she might not think she deserves it deep down, but what does that matter if the only thing the other person sees is the outward behavior?

        All discussions of borderline behavior and how borderlines wish people would respond to or understand them often misses the clarifying point of whether the person is diagnosed or not ,and whether those around them know of the diagnosis. AND that there has been a degree of honesty and recognition that despite the diagnosis, that the borderline takes full responsibility for their own behaviors, and their emotions.

        But that is often not the case.

  3. I have a younger sister who I suspect has BPD. I have a 2-year AA in psychology, so not enough training to know what I am searching for, but I have been researching on the internet about BPD for a few months now and have even talked to a psychologist to get myself help. I am brought to tears every single time I read someone else’s words and experience because it feels like they read my mind and wrote it for me. I am 45, and for the first time in my life, because she started attacking the credibility of my husband and children, I was forced to deal with the reality that something with her wasn’t right. I could never put my finger on it, but a friend suggested BPD and gave me a book to read (Stop Walking on Eggshells). It rings so true for me.

    The sad thing for me is that now that I have this information, and want to help my sister, because I am not a doctor and cannot diagnose her with it or make her get help, trying to rally my family around it so we can help her, my sister has lashed out at me with claws of a grizzly bear, and my mother continues to enable her, cannot see it, and while she says she cannot sacrifice one daughter for another (as if I was asking her to throw my sister to the wolves), she makes me feel like she has sacrificed me. And my dad is so afraid of standing up to my mom or my sister (because he has walked on eggshells his entire life with both of them), that I am left feeling very alone and sad and detached and wishing I didn’t know anything about BPD or suggesting it to my family because it has caused so much emotional pain, especially for me because I am the brunt of my sister’s anger.

    I have great support from my other sister and a couple of great friends who listen, but to stand alone and not second-guess myself because I want my sister to get some help is very difficult. I have finally realized that as important as family is to me, it is way too toxic to allow her in my life because she refuses to acknowledge that she may have a problem. My parents keep insisting that we all get together because they want this to get resolved, but I have told them that until the read the books and learn about BPD, it is a useless cause. Of course, they don’t believe that … they think it’s as simple as me going in and telling her what she wants to hear … and it is … until the next problem arises.

    So what do you suggest? Am I correct in standing my ground that I must stay away from her until my parents read up and get some knowledge under their belt about BPD? I have also said I will not get together unless there is a professional psychiatrist/counselor/psychologist in the room who can listen, but I don’t know that that will even help. I am just at a loss. Maybe I just have to go this cold road until she is further entangled in this disorder and causes pain to another family member.

    A little background information: She was never sexually abused. We have some psychiatric illnesses in the outer family (mom’s sister, and a 1st cousin) and 4 of my mom’s sister’s have been treated for depression as have some other cousins. Furthermore, I believe my sister has some abandonment issues due to my parents separating when she was young, my parents moving her away from my sister and I when she was in high school to another state, another move when she was 18 when I took her from my parents and moved out of state with her because she was afraid something would happen to me, her being jealous of a boyfriend I had and her moving out, but telling me I abandoned her, and the list goes on and on.

    Thanks for listening and thanks for any thoughts or suggestions you may have for me!

    1. Sorry it has taken a while for me to get back to you. I never cease to amazed at the lack of understanding about BPD from families who experiencing the behaviors and deception that comes. In response to your question, sometimes the only response in a family system where a BPD goes untreated and the family system supports the person by enabling the dysfunction, the only response may be to withdraw. One of the important issues is self-care in a family system with borderlines and staying healthy. Many times that is the only response that can be given. As I have stated two great fears of BPD’s are being abandoned and being found out. I would encourage you to take a time out and think through any actions, and if possible, talk to a mental health professional yourself to assist you in the decisions that you feel necessary. Take care and best wishes.


      1. Hey Ronnie,

        Thank you. I actually have withdrawn for the past six months, have never felt better, I have been meeting with a counselor, and my family is just now FINALLY realizing that there just may be some truth to what I have suggested about my sister and BPD, so I have a tiny bit of hope that at least my immediate family can gain those boundaries that are so needed. My mother, however, continues to enable my sister, but my parents sought the advice of a personality disorder counselor this last week as well, and have set up for all of us to see him. We had a “family meeting” last Saturday with my BP sister and of course, as I already knew would happen, it was a disaster. She said at first she would go to counseling, but within 12 hours, decided that there was no hope of any counselor helping my other sister and I, so therefore, no reason for her to go to counseling. I know this is classic BP behavior, and I see right through them, but my question has now become …

        is there anything you can say to a BP when they are high functioning and adamantly opposed to the suggestion that they have BPD to at least get them thinking? I have read some other blogs where people just blast their ex-spouses, ex girlfriends/boyfriends, etc., in what seems to be hopes that the BP will be shamed into finally getting help or realizing that they have a problem, but watching my sister, she is so engrained in her disorder that the realities she has made up about me and ex-boyfriends she belives to be the truth. She does not understand why I think she has BPD, and maybe deep down, she really does know she has a disorder, but I can’t help wanting to find a way to help without enabling. She has hurt me to the core with the brutal lies she has made up about me to the point I don’t want to be around her, but I love her, and it is killing me that she is so deceived. While walking away has been good for me emotionally, I can’t help but feel I am leaving her drowning. I can’t find any site that gives ideas on what to say, and maybe that’s because there isn’t anything to say other than walking away and letting her experience the pain, but since she is not a low functioning BP meaning she has never tried to commit suicide, she is not promiscuous, she doesn’t drink or do drugs, doesn’t cut, doesn’t put herself in situations where she sees the need to get help, how does it help for me to just walk away (other than emotionally it has helped me heal). “No longer sad in Colorado”. Thanks!

      2. Hi:

        Thanks for your response. I appreciate your perspective and the important things that you are sharing because what you are facing is such a difficult and heart-wrenching issue to face. What you may be feeling is the need to rescue or to try to help fix what is wrong. The unwitting victims of the BPD many times is faced with what you have experienced, the lies, accusations, dividing, manipulation, and the distorted beliefs about reality. My advise would be to continue working with your mental health professional and make the focus of your energy self-care until you are secure enough to engage in the BPD issue with your sister. One of the important things is to have clear boundaries about your relationship and communicate in what you say and do. Another issue is to extend love in healthy ways that does not contribute, enable, or rescue. Detach from the emotional impact of her behaviors with an understanding that she has a skewed sense of reality and no matter what she believe that you are not responsible for her condition. You are right that high functioning BPD’s are very difficult to live with and/or manage simply because most people will not understand and the pattern goes undetected. She will have to come to the place of wanting help before she can engage in recovery. Sorry to say, but that is not anything that you can do anything about. The best thing is to build a system of boundaries to guide your relationship, get in touch with a support group, and accept that your sister has a disease that you cannot fix. Free yourself to be who you need to be and relate in the ways you can.

        Best Regards,


      3. Thanks for sharing your story. In response to your question, “is there anything you can say to a BP when they are high functioning and adamantly opposed to the suggestion that they have BPD to at least get them thinking?”, I have to say based on my experience that anything you say makes the issue worse. Because the BPD is high functioning and has a mentalization process that distorts reality to match their perception, the best response is for you to to love from a distance that is governed by boundaries that you can manage. You did not cause the pd and you cannot fix it. I know that you want to to help, but your help will just get you deeper into a no win situation. Most borderlines have to break before they get help and as long as you rescue and enable, help will not be possible because their is always a way to evade reality. The borderline’s greatest fear is being found out and when you reveal your understanding; then you become the the target-focus of the borderline rage.

    2. In response to, “So what do you suggest? Am I correct in standing my ground that I must stay away from her until my parents read up and get some knowledge under their belt about BPD? I have also said I will not get together unless there is a professional psychiatrist/counselor/psychologist in the room who can listen, but I don’t know that that will even help”, you cannot fix a personality disorder. When you love someone, you want to help them, but they must be willing to accept help. You are in a double bind, a no win situation. BPD must run its course until intervention is possible. Until then, you need well established boundaries that you can live inside. The fact is that you cannot fix someone else, no matter how much you love them. Your efforts would be better focused on how to manage life with a borderline who is undiagnosed.


      1. Ronnie this is a very good not so good at using this website..i did try to reply to a question that ‘sad in _______’ asked me and it always takes me forever to make a point in a short and concise manner :P. I like your answer and think it is very fair and balanced to both ‘sad in ________’ and her sister who has some sort of undiagnosed difficulties that affect herself and her family. Honestly i have read many nasty things people say about borderlines and I have seen borderlines hating people who state there frustrations bu think the situation is truly hard for all involved, you give sensible advice, good man!

      2. Thanks for your contribution and sharing your experiences. This is a very difficult subject matter because of the complexities that surround those who have been diagnosed and those who have not. Obviously, no one lives in a bubble and everyone is affected in some way through the challenge to understand, be understood, and live with the conditions of life. I hope you can find encouragement and hope for your life.

        Best to you….

  4. Your article touches on issues I’ve had first hand experience with. My husband’s ex. His teen daughter (who has lived with him 15 years & me 12) just moved in with the ex. The ex has vilified us, made herself the “poor me” victim & brainwashed this child. The courts allowed this move. Why, because the daughter & mother manipulated the GAL. There was never any stability with the mother, moving 15 times in as many years.
    Not attending school functions, including conferences. Always telling my husband he is wrong, even when he was right. Fabricating stories in court. Even going as far as getting a school counselor to be a witness, even though the counselor didn’t know us. So daughter is living with mother for one week and gets in a car accident. Does anyone call us?
    No, mother said since the injuries were superficial she didn’t have to.
    My husband is beside himself with grief over the loss of his relationship with his daughter (only child). She sings her mother praises & ignores the man who read stories at bed every night for 13 years. Who comforted her when her & mother fought. A man who stayed home for work on all her sick days because mother “has a job to go to”. A man who went to EVERY school function & stayed to the end of it. Who made sure she went to her friends birthday parties, while mother wouldn’t live in her school district, let alone take her to her friends.
    I’m sorry, I’m rambling. All the years of pent up frustration have taken their toll. Daughter is in counseling, went with Dad for a couple sessions. Nothing has changed. Her current counselor & their counselor suggest he just give her space. She is now on her third counselor this year. Don’t know what the suggestion will be from them. But the more space Dad gives her, the more time mother manipulates her and vilifies him.
    Will it ever end? Will this child ever see what her mother is doing to her?
    Will she ever realize what her mother has done to her relationship with Dad, let alone me? I guess only time will tell.
    Thanks for hearing me out.

    1. Wow, what a powerful story that is an example of how situations like this are beyond human understanding placing families and individuals, such as yourself in no win situations. I do hear what you are saying and, unfortunately, you are in a situation where there are no easy answers. What is most important is self-care, you must take care of yourself and find people and ways that can connect you with healthy balance. BPD is such a complex problem within a family system and requires understanding of the problems and ways to create boundaries to regulate behaviors and interaction. Thanks for your post and for sharing your story.


  5. Thank you so much for writing this excellent article. I have borderline in my family and recently experienced the painful ordeal of being split out of the life of someone I love dearly. Since I, too, have suffered the pain of bpd behavior, I did some research and wrote a book. If you are interested, you may wish to visit my website. Thanks again for your insightful article!

    1. Thanks so much Marylin, like you the problem has led to a lot of research .This article was birthed out of a need to know the truth in a crisis. Thanks so much for your comments, support, and identification with a very complex problem that has no easy answers.

      1. Thank you so much for this article. I am experiencing this exact thing. I am the only one in the family that has figured out that my mother in law has BPD. I am the villian in the family because I have removed myself from the drama. She is on this campaign to ruin me. It is so hard and lonely being in this position. I so badly want the rest of the family to see what is going on but she has them brainwashed. This article is my support. Thanks

  6. Sue:
    Thanks for sharing and I identify with what you are talking about because I am the person who identified the behavior and the object of focused externalized behaviors. It is well documented in research that as borderlines express their greatest fear and internalize abandonment, they disregulate; then focus anger, rage, passive aggressive behavior upon the person who knows their secret, what they are out of a deep seated fear they will be outed to others. So, the BPD engages in splitting behaviors –everything is all good, all bad, I love you, I hate you, please don’t leave me, attention seeking, drama, action out and acting in behaviors focused on control, because they feel such a lack of control at this point. This is a common response and should not be internalized as something wrong with you, because it is the borderline who has the distorted sense of reality. It is borderline behavior and the emotional dramatics will suck the life out of you, make you and others to feel you are crazy, and then abandon you emotionally, physically, financially, and in every other way. It is a way of winning, so they will not feel abandoned and experience the loss of control feared;then, ultimately be found out by others. Don’t think it is strange that she has turned others against you and isolated you through innuendo or by spinning a reality that that is skewed by a borderline mental perception of reality. I too wish others could see, but when you do see, you can no longer sacrifice your own well-being and sanity for the sake of enabling and rescuing a BPD individual. Focus on yourself and what you have and build a life with healthy people. It may never get better, but it will be all-right if you understand what is happening and build a healthy life ….. Ronnie

  7. I’m sorry this is a very long reply, I just can’t believe the haunting accuracy of this article and I need to share my story with someone. I feel like this has been written about me and my situation!
    My Stepmother has BPD, yet no one but myself and one other family member has come to realize it. Unfortunately, we have both been completely ostracized, humiliated, slandered and defamed to the rest of our family to the point where we have little to no contact with the others anymore.
    Most of the damage she’s done started with her demonization of my biological mother years ago, while simultaneously victimizing herself to me. I fell into her trap and cunning lies as a young, naive teenager, as she pretended to be my “best friend” while actually using me as a tool and a pawn against my mother. It drove a wedge between my mother and I, never allowing us to form a close bond until she was ultimately in her death bed. Even then, there was a slight distance felt between us as a result of almost 20 years of brainwashing.
    The saddest part for me, and the burden I have to live with every day, is when I think of those years that I had been tricked, lied to, and literally robbed of my relationship with my own mother. Unfortunately when the “light” finally went off in my head, and I realized I had been lied to all of those years, my mother was already gone. It happened only months after she had passed, and I never had a chance to say I was sorry to her for blaming her for all of those years when she, in fact, was a victim.
    My heart chokes and I feel sick every time I think of it.
    Although her twisted games, abuse, and emotional terrorism went on for years, it got the worst when I actually stood up for myself finally and said “No more!”
    My stepmother immediately began acting strange and very anxious after my mothers passing. She would pretend to be sympathetic, but then deliberately set me up in various “no-win” situations to make me look ungrateful for her love to my father. She would run crying to him about how much she loved me like a daughter and how I was selfish and I didn’t appreciate her. She turned on the “Whoa is me!!” act right around then, so strong to my father, that my jaw literally dropped when I heard the things I was being accused of. She was turning everything possible around and making it about HER so that no one, especially my father, would grieve or pay any attention whasoever to my mom, even after she was gone.
    She started accusing me of things like not being there for her, even though I was doing absolutely nothing out of the ordinary and had been nothing but kind to her. In fact, in the wake of my mom’s death, I flew out to them for support and to feel like part of a family.
    One pathetic straw she somehow managed to grasp at that time, was that I had not sent her a birthday card recently. “After all that I’ve done for her!” she claimed. Even though I did, in fact, sent her a very nice and loving email, that same day, wishing her a Happy Birthday, (which she of course never mentioned).
    The list of absurd accusations at that time hurled at me went on, but somehow, through her extremely dramatic displays of behavior, her total victimization of herself around others, her ability to turn on and off the tears at the drop of a hat, and her lifetime of emotional manipulation tactics and experience, she was able to completely dupe multiple people into believing, that I am indeed the crazy one! I am apparently the terrible person who’s spreading lies and destroying the family, I am a disgrace to my own family, and I am the one who lives a life worthy of shame and embarrassment…..etc.
    The mere birthday card incident was all the ammo she needed to finally confuse and sway my dad into attack mode, to defend her, and ultimately do her dirty work.
    I also think that when my mom died, she saw me in a weakened state, and figured it would be finally a good time to single me out since my real mother was out of the way. During this time I was keeping most of my feelings about her death completely inside, and keeping my interactions with people on a very superficial level. I didn’t even want to talk about my mothers death, let alone use it as a way to call attention to myself. My stepmothers bizarre thoughts, paranoia and accusations were all completely manifested in her own head!
    She then made the most desperate of all claims shouting to my father that my mother “never loved me”, and somehow convinced him that I should be more worried about her since she “was actually more of a mother to me anyway!” (although she never raised me and I’m a grown woman!!). When I was then berated with these verbal attacks, (and they were screaming, hysterical, verbal attacks,) I had decided that they had gone too far. I retracted and announced my refusal to participate and engage in anymore abusive behavior. I was done participating after 20 years of being utterly mowed down and attacked time-in and time-out. My heart was too heavy and broken after losing my mother to even care about her fanatical meltdowns anymore and I simply didn’t have the energy to participate, even if I were to actually see an outcome of engaging that kind of unhealthy behavior.
    That action alone, by standing up for my self and saying I wouldn’t tolerate her behavior, has literally launched an almost 3 year long, full-blown, attack that has included, among many things; spreading horrible lies to anyone she can get to listen (all of which reflect her OWN actions and things she’s actually done to me!), along with character defamation, ludicrous accusations, and almost complete isolation from my family.
    Divide and conquer. That’s her favorite tactic in the genocide she’s created within my family.
    My father is totally blinded by her lies and manipulation, and defends her behavior. He doesn’t even realize that, he too is a victim. Even though I have never displayed anything but love and honorable behavior toward everyone in my family, he has now told me that I am no longer worthy of his last name.
    I am not allowed contact with my younger sister anymore, (she’s 14). Besides my stepmother blocking me from contacting her via phone, internet, etc., I have been told by multiple people that she literally sits her down routinely and tells my her that I never loved her and that I was never there for her anyway, so she shouldn’t care that I’m not a part of her life now. She also cries to her about how much I’ve hurt her and destroyed our family.
    It is all part of her brainwashing game. I know it all to well. It’s the exact same thing she did to me for 20 years with my mother.
    She has even had the nerve to contact my mother’s family via Facebook in her desperate attempt for more “recruits” against me, again, spreading all kinds of bullshit lies that have absolutely no foundation whatsoever.
    She “reaches out” to people and pretends to be concerned about me to other members of my family, claiming she has all of this firsthand inside information about my life, and many people have now believed her because they can’t actually see me or my life for themselves since I live in another city. Also, it’s hard for some people to question a so-called “concerned mother” while batting her eyelashes saying “boo-hoo, we only want what’s best for her”!!
    Sometimes, I can’t even believe the absurd lengths she has gone to, to completely destroy my integrity.
    I have had to hide any public profiles online like my work blog and Facebook, etc. at times because she stalks them, scanning them for information to skew and feed back to my dad and other family members in attempts to disclose new information on what a “loser” I am.
    If she can’t find anything, she just makes it up because my father can’t use a computer anyway to check.
    I’ve had to block their numbers because they were harassing me, calling over and over and over, screaming, and threatening. I even had a lawyer write me a “Cease and Desist” letter which I have on hand, ready to send the next time the phone calls begin.
    My work and creativity have suffered because of all of the emotional stress that this has caused me, my relationship with my boyfriend has suffered, my relationships with family members have been severed, and my mental and physical health have suffered as well.
    I was told by my doctor last year that I was exhibiting signs of PTSD or “Post Tramautic Stress Disorder” and prescribed benzodiazepines for the severe panic attacks I was having regularly and also because I had broken two of my teeth from grinding them so hard at night. I now take medication everyday for acid-reflux and chronic heartburn that my doctor says is aggravated, if not caused by, high stress.
    I am an artist, I paint all day. Although I often work long days, many hours a week, I wouldn’t consider what I do a “high-stress” lifestyle. In fact, I love what I do and enjoy every other aspect of my life as well.
    The high stress has come from the reign of terror that this woman has inflicted upon my family and myself.
    I have now been completely robbed of entire relationships with both of my parents, and any other family member within her sight. Not only has she attempted to destroy me and any ties to my family, but she has also verbally, emotionally and physically abused the rest of my younger siblings who were unfortunate enough to have to actually grow up in the same house as her, causing wounds that will take a lifetime to mend.
    It is utterly sick, destructive, bullying behavior and she will continue to bulldoze anyone who stands in her way threatening to expose her for the monster that she really is. She needs to be stopped.
    Unfortunately, I don’t know what to do in a situation like this except to continue to run for my life, as fast as I can, far, far away from her.

    1. Wow Sara, what heartbreaking story that I know all too well. I understand the level of difficulty that you face seems insurmountable, but remember that borderlines put people in no win situations, are dividers, emotional vampires. drama queens, and master manipulators. The effort that is placed by her is to control you and if she cannot control you, she must destroy you to prevent her worst fear, being found out. You are not crazy, and you have to detach and build your own life by caring for your own soul.

      Best Wishes,


  8. Thanks Ronnie,
    And thanks so much for posting this article online, it really helped me a lot to read. There needs to be more light shed on BPD’s, and the distortion campaigns they create in order to bulldoze others. The damage that they can inflict can be monumental. Not only are they destroying countless innocent people’s lives, but they are ultimatly sealing their own fate as well.
    While she may seem to think that she has “won” when creating this kind of alienation and division, I’ve been told by others that things have continued to get much worse with her behavior, anxiety, stress, drinking, etc. It’s really now only a matter of time before she literally self destructs, and her worst fear of being found out and total abandonment will probably come true.

    1. Thanks for the response, she only wins if you don;t detach and recreate your life…. Her worst fear has come true , you abandoned her, so she has to abandon you to feel like she is in control, but she has no sense of herself.. Thanks so much!


  9. I do appreciate that you’ve included so many of my posts into your article. Being someone who struggles with BPD there’s nothing better than feeling appreciated and valued for who you are and what you have to offer.

    Your article is very cohesive as it touches on both the major and more subtle issues of those who struggle with this disorder.

    BPD starts in biology, gets stirred with trauma and is shaken in culture. It’s a nasty drink that sometimes tastes delicious but most of the time makes you terrified and sick.

    1. Thanks Jaen, I do appreciate the work that others do in this area and the contribution that is made to understanding BPD,.. As one, who has personal experience with working with the symptomatic patterns so common to borderline personality disorder, I cannot fully understand the personal impact of suffering from the unique ways that BPD integrates into a systemic way of living. However, I can understand the rocky road that the much misunderstood confusion that surrounds those in a family system where the etiology presents. I am glad for the work that you do and am happy that I can link to articles like yours which creates greater understanding and validity for the lived-experience of those who suffer with, or because of the confusing, but understandable behavior.

      Thanks so much,


  10. Dear Ronnie,
    This is the most incisive and timely article on BPD that I have ever read. Perhaps because it’s not clinical and seems to speak from an experience of living in close contact with a person with this disorder.
    It’s very timely, because I have only in the last few weeks woken up to the fact that my older sister displays all the characteristic you portray in this article.
    I moved thousands of miles away from my large family because of the pain, confusion and poison that seemed permeate almost every member of my family.
    I longed to understand why we weren’t a loving caring family. Hoped I could do something to turn it around and to be honest, wasted years of my life trying to figure out a way to ‘make it better’.
    As they say, no good deed goes unpunished with people who suffer this type of disorder, so no matter how caring, giving or supportive I was, nothing changed and in fact, I think I was seen as a bit of a sucker.
    That changed when I returned home after 30 yrs with a detached view of my family and through quiet observation I could see, exactly as you describe, how family members has unwittingly enabled the BPD in our family to cause suspicion, mistrust and a very poor view of all the other family members. The family became divided. Little camps formed, someone was constantly scapegoatted, and we all blamed each other, based on the opinions we had formed from our very discreet and clever BPD.
    As I observed and listened to my older sister, it became very clear to me, that she lied, manipulated, distorted reality to suit her needs and waged an unbelievable war or hatred and rage towards anyone who did not join her when she turned from seeing someone as ‘all good’ to ‘all bad’ evil in her words.
    I can now see so clearly how well we were manipulated and how we enabled her behaviour. It don’t think about ‘what could have been’ I think about ‘what can be’ and by that I mean, freedom from her influence, freedom from the fear of her bullying and character assasination and manipulation.
    I have to say, she was very clever and very subtle in most things, that is, apart from the rage when she discovered at one stage, that her manipulation had not worked and backfired on her.
    What astounds me is, the need for control is so pervasive that it encompasses the most petty to the most insidious.

    Example: She invites me to lunch. Tells me to choose the location. I do so and inform her which restaurant we’ll meet. She then sends me the name of another restaurant, nearer her home. So I tell her I’ve booked a table. She calls on the day and cancels, claiming she’s sick.
    We arrange to meet again, somewhere closer to where I live. She tells me, she can’t park there (there’s a huge parking area), she can’t travel by public transport because she gets dizzy and may fall on the rain line. She can’t walk far.
    A week later, she tells me she drove and parked at the same location and walked around the entire mall, (which is huge by the way).
    Another time, she tells me she’s very keen to meet my new companion, so I make a date for her and her husband for lunch. She calls the night before to say she wants to tell her husband, that I cancelled because she had a fight with him and doesn’t want him to come and wants to come alone, so will tell him, she’s visiting a friend. I didn’t agree and cancelled the lunch.
    Three months later, she tells me she was very keen to meet my new companion, but I never responded to her numerous requests!!! I tell her the true circumstances, that she didn’t want her husband to come. She denied it and tried to convince me that I had ignored her requests. I persisted with my answer, I did, you didn’t want your husband to come and we cancelled because of that.
    These are just petty every day behaviours. The more insidious, poisonous and destructive, are heart breaking. She destroyed a relationship between myself and another sister that I was very close to. I have to admit, I played a part by allowing myself to be sucked into being manipulated and influenced.
    That was my wake up call. After destroying that relationship, she became very friendly with the sister in question, poisoned her so that we could never repair our relationship. She died, I was banned from the funeral, unable to give care and support while she was ill and she was never able to accept my apology and attempt to repair our relationship, because she was still under the influence of BPD, causing her to be suspicious and angry towards me.
    Thanks for your post. It has only helped me in my resolve to keep my eyes and ears open with this sister. We communicate mostly by phone and email, I don’t get sucked into her hate campaigns, I won’t encourage her by sympathising when she acts the victim, because I know, she is projecting all her anger and frustrations at her own emptiness, boredom and bitterness, onto someone else, to avoid taking responsibility for her own feelings.
    It’s interesting to note, that when a BPD knows that you are on to them, that they back peddle and tread carefully! I don’t confront her, I simply don’t encourage her. She is my sister, I would like to maintain some contact, but I will not be an enabler and will not tolerate one more drama aimed at me either.
    It’s comforting to know that someone else has such insight into this problem, because it is so well disguised that if I spoke to anyone about it, I’m almost sure they would think at the very least, I was exaggerating.
    Best wishes, Katrina

    1. Katrina:
      Thanks so much for your kind words and sharing your story. It is a real story to me that is personal and resembles many of the same experiences of many people who read. I have written a number of articles on my blog about BPD because it has been a personal interest observed from experiences that has put many miles between families who cannot see what is happening. I am glad that this helped you to put a point of reference on your own experience. I know that you are not exaggerating because I have been there and have the T-Shirt. Be encouraged, this is one of my most read articles and you are not alone.


  11. Hi Ronnie,
    I must have read your article at least 50 times, it seems to me that you and I have similar stories of bpd within the family , as I also married into a family riddled with bpd, and denial from extended family members.
    It took me much research on the web to identify what was happening within the family, and more importantly to me ! First let me state for the record ,that I,am not married to this person but for all intent and purposes ill refer to her as my wife as we have been together for 13 years and have excepted the responsibilities of husband and father ,not only of her 2 children, but my 2 children as well.
    I’ve always noticed something odd in my wife’s daughter , something a could not quite put my finger on, I always felt off center with her, constantly trying to have some form of relationship with her, but it was like trying to gather up smoke, there was just nothing there to have a relationship with , no matter what I did I could not get close enough to make a connection. Some how I knew she had abandonment issues as her father left when she was young and had convinced her mother to seek some professional help from a psychologist having both her and her mother attend at the same time, that lasted about a 2 wks before her daughter stated she would rather talk to her friends.
    Unfortunatey there is no hand book on how to deal with a already dysfunctional family so I stumbled on blindly hoping things would work out, possibly showing by example and discipline how a family network works trying to bridge my family with hers, so we could all have some assimilation of a family unit and happiness ie Christmas with her family one year , thanksgiving with my family the next……..I think what I,am trying to say is I was considerate to everyone concerned and tried to do the right thing for all parties.
    On one particular thanksgiving we hosted thanksgiving of just my wife’s family which was about 15 people, in the mist of the family gathering her daughter made a dramatic leap away from me as if I grabbed her ass! I don,t believe anyone was aware of this action but me, from that point on I would not be in the same room alone with her, and completely stopped trying to have any form of relationship with her other then being respectful of her presence in the house, then would either promptly leave or do some work in the garage ( she was 28 at the time ) not a child !!!!!.
    In my entire relationship with there mother I have never seen or heard her discipline or correct any of there bad behavior- drugs, gambling, promiscuity ,lying, etc……..NEVER, NONE, ZIP, NADA………this is not exaggerated , she Dident even raise her voice……EVER ! But there was no end to the amount of bullshit she would heap on me……! And it all included yelling screaming and circumventing arguments that never ended. A year or so passed and she got involved with a guy I liked for a change, or at least had a decent job, car, apt…etc. we invited both of them for Christmas at our house thinking all was good , and she had finally settled down and was stable, Christmas went well and the next day dropped her in the city 60 miles away with her mother as there was a snow storm coming.
    JANUARY 13th- 6am – the police shut down my road, 6 or 8 police cars and and a NYC patty wagon where at my door asking for me. I was arrested and brought into the city, and would not tell me what for………….9 pm that night I was informed my wife’s daughter had accused me of robbing her apt. And another apt. In another apartment building…………courts, lawyers, restraining orders, false accusations, hired detectives to get 4 videos of me in different stores at the time of the robbery, she had convinced her boyfriend that it was me ,even thou the robber was on film ( Hispanic 23 year old guy ) I,am white 55.
    Needless to say the mental, emotional and financial aspect of all this was enormous to say the least…….and the Da was hot and heavy to get a conviction, and she was calling them constantly for the same……..anyone who has ever known me would think this was ridicules ! A years worth of going to courts and fighting restraining orders the courts finally ex sponged the the whole thing, but not before I collapsed from a seizure at work, I Dident,t believe I was stressed over the whole thing, but obviously I was. Her mother was with me the entire day of the robbery, but as usual had nothing negative to say about her daughters criminal behavior, she even had the balls to call her and ask if she could help pay for her cell phone bill because we were broke ! WTF.
    A year or more of feeling like I was loosing my mind I stumbled across your article……….and there it was ! Everything I couldn’t put into words, all of her odd and bizarre behavior which I have barely touched on explained eloquently for a simple layman as myself could understand.
    As many believe bpd derives from sexual abuse, I don,t believe this to be true in her case as her mother has many bpd qualities and her father was mentally ill. Dealing with the extended family was and is a huge waste of my time and energy as the denial is so thick it’s impossible to break thru………although they will except what was done is wrong they will not hold her accountable for it, and continue to have relationships with her as if nothing has ever happened.
    I,am in the process now of leaving the relationship , as I,am a shell of the person I used to be from the abuse of the 2 bpd,s in my life.
    I’ve also searched victims of bpd and found out I have issues of my own that need attending to, it seems you don,t get involved with a bpd without having your own issues !……………thanks for the well written article, I knew nothing of bpd before…………I,am a friggin proffesional now, I took one look at jodi arias and knew she was a bordeline, spitting image of my bpd right down to the lack of empathy and compulsive lying. Thanks again.

    1. Sorry to hear about your experience and the damage done to your life. This story is too common and yet so misunderstood by most. All borderlines paint themselves as the victims, while destroying the objects of their dysfunction. In reality people with BPD such as this do not realize nor usually care about the personal devastation that their disorder brings to others. The frustration of understanding it while no one else does keeps the relationship partner in a no win situation because an person whose mentalization process and meaning is so skewed by the disorder, they really believe what they are thinking, doing, and spinning is real.


  12. Ronnie,Thanks for the timely reply.
    Please don,t post what I,am about write !
    I Dident realize when I posted that my full name was attached, when I’ve posted in the past it never came up. Is there someway you can change this ? Or at least delete post until I can correct issue ? I,am not that computer savvy and would be much appreciated ,for obvious reasons. I’ve posted this from WordPress so I wouldn’t have same issues as fb which I’ve now deleted permanently . I will assume you understand the significance of doing so. I hope you can help, thanks again Steve O

    1. Thanks for having the courage to act and share. You are not alone, there are more people than you know having experiences like this story depicts. I am sorry for your painful experience, but glad for your understanding, compassion, and decision to determine what will happen in your life. It is hard when you understand and others don’t…..

      Grace and Peace…


  13. I dated someone from work who later I found out has BPD. For most guys the verbal abuse can be tough but reckless sex and lying end up being the deal breakers. Emotional vampires indeed. Never did have sex because her sexual aggressiveness in the beginning was a warning sign. I had my health to think about and did not want to give my soul in the process of going that far. I feel bad for anyone who has this disorder I truly do as its extremely hard to live a normal life. Having said that I feel good that I was probably the one guy who did not take advantage of her even though she thinks otherwise. Do BPD women actually care more for a guy who does not sleep with them? Or remember them over other guys who do? I often wonder. I told her from the beginning I only had pure attentions unfortunately the feelings were not mutual. Like what you suggested in your article that if your unable to deal with this type behavior (disorder) walk away. I did but I look at the positives as I did learn a lot not only about the disorder but also about myself. Indeed education is key. Thank you for your article

    1. Travis:
      Thanks for your comments and sharing your experience. Not everyone can deal with the life with a person with BPD because of the lack of understanding about the disorder. The presentation is very ambiguous and confusing. In response, to the sexual issue. A common trait is high impulsivity and risk taking sexual behavior. Some borderlines engage in this type of behavior because of a deep need to cement the relationship with acceptance. Many people report a very sexualized experience as a control over relationship partner. This is a very complicated personality disorder and BPD’s are not bad people, but people with a severely distorted perception of reality. I hope that you find a loving relationship that is healthy and functional. Best to you….

  14. Ronnie:
    Thanks for replying it helped me make sense of my situation. I re read your article as well reading other articles on this disorder. I’m lucky I got out as her last words to me were your out of jail! Your right its the disorder I despise not the person. Wished she did not have it as you said at the end of your article “what could have been”. However I would like the answers from this 3 part question if you don’t mind. Does a bpd female remember the guy who does not sleep with them over others? Honestly I think she conquered any guy that came in her path way as she is so convincing until she met me. Second now that I did break up with her should I fear from her at work. She is back but so far no drama has occurred. luckily for me our common friends (2 people) know me well enough not to believe her story as they kind of lived through the experience with me. I grew from the experience but do you think she did too? Thanks again for reply and your well wishes everyone deserves a healthy and functional relationship

  15. Ronnie,
    My situation seems to be different from most I find while researching BPD. I still can relate to what non-bpd are experiencing.
    About seven+ years ago a family moved to our area and joined our church family. The girl had been abandoned by her bpd birthmother at around the age of 3-4. She was two and a half years older than our daughter, our only, but overtime they became best friends. She was amazingly creative, talented and smart. Vibrant and energetic, often hyper-bubbly but so was my daughter. She always appeared super happy.
    As the friendship with our daughter grew she alienated her stepmother and her father more and more. As the girls pretended to be sisters, I became mom. Over time, I noticed the focus shift away from my daughter to myself.
    She had to be touching me. Her foot touching my foot if she stood near me. Playing with my hair. Resting her head on me… even if I was walking through a store. She invade my bubble… constantly. The little girl game of pretend became a real effort to make it a reality on her part. I kept trying to set boundaries, point out the odd and inappropriate behavior and overwhelming neediness. She was draining my tank. I had been sucked into her game of trying to fill this void in her life that the abandonment of her mom left her with. But no matter how much I gave, it was never enough and her constant drama over my safety and where-abouts were irritating. But for my daughters friendship and concern for this girl I thought tolerating some oddness was worth what good I might be doing.
    Then I noticed she not only was not focused on my daughters friendship but was intentionally trying to emotionally hurt my daughter and steal her friends and family. I confronted the issue. She admitted doing it with intent. I was angry. I was hurt. My daughter loved her friend and held nothing against her. And even though my daughter wanted to put up with it I was not ok with it. I would not tolerate this. I could put up with a lot that was put on me but I was not going to have her hurting my daughter. At one point when my daughter was out of state she told me straight up, she wished my daughter wouldn’t come home. She was jealous and resentful of her and she was sorry ‘that she had not hid it better…’ Everything my daughter had though was a friendship was an act. It was all to get into our stable loving home and hope to replace our daughter and receive all the love we had for her.
    I told her that because of her feelings, I was going to withdraw my family from her. Period. I stopped all communications and all personal contact.
    Her friendship with our daughter was over, and really had been over for many years, but her obsession with me did not diminish as I had hoped. She had already so immersed herself into my entire family I felt angry that I could not avoid her. She was obsessed with my sister and my mother also. My sister was out of state but they talked on the phone and were friends on Facebook. Everyone still loved her. They understood my need to protect my family and withdraw but they felt the need to continue to love her through her difficulties. I get that. With a normal personality, that would be appropriate.
    After a year of cyber stalking anonymously, (I knew the text were from her), she started contacting me directly. She was turning 18, becoming an adult and graduating… her friends were making plans for college and she was panicking. HER MAKE BELIEVE WORLD WAS COLLIDING WITH REALITY. What if I wasn’t coming back into her life? What if she had to go to college away from where she could at least get a visual of me every Sunday?…
    She asked to come back into my life… I told her our relationship may never be the same but there would be zero relationship unless she go receive professional help. She did, but admittedly only to appease me, but with no intent of correcting her behavior. She was diagnosed BPD with abandonment issues. She attended 6 sessions.
    Then she had a melt down. Panicking she was losing me… She cried to my mom. My mom told her plainly that I was not her mom. She lost it. Sigh… She dropped off her box of keepsake items at my parents, along with a letter for her “mom”. My parents had accepted the box and unknown to her, had gone to meet me and my family for a bike ride. Three days later, her stepmom called looking for her since she hadn’t been heard from in days. I feared the worst. A week later, I get a phone call. It was her calling me from the mental ward at a local hospital. She had tried to OD on pills a mile and half from my house. I was the only person she would talk to. I was the only person who could see her or talk with her doctor. My heart wanted too. I wanted to rush down there and hug her… but as I ended up telling her, I would not reward her bad behavior, and a suicide attempt was bad behavior. After agonizing over how to react without being sucked back into a world of behavior I was not ok with, I called the doctor and informed them to watch her closely because I was going to make it clear I was not going to be apart of her life any longer. That she needed to have no contact with me or my family. I do not see anyway that I can be of any good to this person if I am her addiction. I am not sure if the doctor told her my intentions but she has stopped calling, at least for the day. I would like to tell her myself for closure but if I never get the chance, that is ok also. I care about this girl. I care about her family. She has destroyed her family. They are only a fragment of the family they used to be and they are still being hurt by her behavior and rejection.
    My family, extended included, is now starting to seeing the extent of the situation. They understand that it is not enough that I withdraw, but that they also need to extricate themselves.
    Sigh, this is a painful process. It is full of guilt and question marks. Second guessing mixed with relief. I want out. I want to help. But I think getting out is the only way to help. I am no longer riding the roller coaster of emotions alone. I have the support I need to make this break. I’m praying for the salvation of this now young lady and the repair of her shattered family.

  16. Hi Ronnie,

    Longtime any response to my last comment? Also for the one above? I’m am intrigued on your response as I find it informative. Thank you in advance!

    1. Travis:

      In response to your questions, I read your post again and no I do not think she values you more because you did not have a sexual encounter. However, because high impulsivity and sexual behavior are intertwined in the relationship disorder, it may be that because you spurned her efforts to act out sexually and form a bond that she may feel abandoned and the same time highly attracted. The more you resist the greater the potential for dysregulation and erractic behaviors. The second question you asked was did she benefit as you did. My response would be that it is highly unlikely because mental attribution and meaning are skewed by the personality disorder. The point is that you arrive at conclusions that are extremely different because your brain is wired differently than a borderline. I hope that answers you questions. Have a great evening.

    2. I don’t think you should worry. Try to understand that behaviors come from the other person involved. Having healthy boundaries and maintaining autonomy is a critical factor in having relationships. You have to decide what the boundaries are and stick with them. Ultimately, you are not responsible for what others do and are not at fault for another person’s way of behaving. When you realize that there are reasons for the behaviors, it frees you from the cycle of feeling responsible, guilty, abused, etc. People only have power over you that you surrender. So, you can regulate your life by managing you level of involvement. BPD persons need love and acceptance just like every one else. Unfortunately, when they dysregulate the pendulum of emotions will swing to extremes, which results in difficult relationships. Some people choose to completely separate because they are not equipped to handle the challenges and other choose to manage the relationship. Since it is a very personal matter for every person, some of these issue need to be weighed against what is able to be invested and if it is a hill you are willing to die on. I wish you the best.

      Ronnie L. Murrill

  17. Ronnie:

    Thanks again. Much appreciated. Lastly should anyone who had a relationship with a BPD be afraid of future contact. As she is a co-worker I am bound to run into her. Do I have anything to worry about? After all I never hurt her even though in her mind I did. Have a great evening. I can say from these posts I am glad there are many like you who are experienced in this to help the masses who don’t have BDP. Cheers

    1. Travis:

      Future contact should be at a healthy distance and with clear boundaries that you set. Just don’t put yourself in a position where you can be compromised and surround yourself with supportive friends. Just be healthy and well.

      Take care of yourself because no one else will… 🙂

      1. Thank you for you comments and I am truly sorry for your struggles. I have a great appreciation for those who suffer and a great love for truth and honesty. Blessings to you!

  18. I am a 33 yr old woman with BPD, although I’ve only realized it over the past 3 years or so. I have never heard a point of view from the “other side” that is from someone with personal experience as well as being very educated on the subject as you are. For the most part I agree with what you have to say. I read all the comments and I hear that there are people out there that are experienceing BPD “abuse”, if you will. I was sad for them to read their stories and I don’t doubt it. However, I have noticed that several times you made statements beginning with “all borderliners” or “all people with BPD” and then followed with a blanket statement and putting us all into a box that we fit nicely in with a big fat BPD label. I do have a problem with that. We don’t all fit into a box. It’s not different from any other disorder in that there are ranges on the spectrum of severity. Some people will be on the extreme end of BPD while others will be on the mild side. I find that I am on the mild side in some aspects and more severe in others. I was not sexually abused, but was promiscuous. I was not abandoned, but lived in a household where my emotions and personality were suppressed to the point that I was constantly invalidated and began living a secret life inside my head that no one knew but me. I hid my secret self due to an intense fear of being rejected by my parents (mostly my father). I was rejected each time I had an idea, thought, opinion, etc.. that he did not share. I grew up trying to please other people and never knew who I truly was bc I was the chameleon that blended with whoever I was with in order to feel that I fit in and was accepted. All I ever wanted in the whole world was acceptance for who I was even though I was different. I love littlemissmellu’s comment. I agree with it whole heartedly when she talked about our strenght due to living life in such an emotional turmoil constantly. I don’t remember you mentioning anywhere in your article about the intensity of the emotions that BPDs feel. Our emotions are felt on a scale that other people can’t comprehend if they haven’t felt that way themselves. What I want to stress is that not all of us are trying to be manipulative when we are emotional. Sometimes it just boils down to the fact that I can’t regulate my emotions or self soothe, so I am in more pain that the typical person feels in a given situation. My actions are reactions based on the intensity of the emotion. The emotion that feels so real that it convinces me if I don’t learn to analyze the emotion in my head. My actions aren’t based on trying to control someone. My actions are based on trying to get people to understand me, understand the disorder, and understand that my reactions have to do with ME, not them. BUT, just bc my emotions aren’t regulated properly, they are still very real to me, and they are especially still very valid. I did not ask for this disorder. I am someone lucky enough to have gained enough maturity to realize that I have to own some of my behaviors. I do own them. I own them and attempt to get help for them in efforts to live a happy life with my husband, family, and friends. So, what I’m trying to get across is that just bc someone is borderline, it does not mean that every thing they do is manipulative, nor does it mean that every emotion is dysregulated. I understand that in extreme cases all contact might need to be broken. But I have very real problems in my life, and every argument I have with my husband is not infused with borderline-ness. Sometimes I am completely right and the other person is completely wrong. This may be an example of my faulty perceptions, but while I was reading your post, what seemed to be screaming at me was that due to the fact that I am borderline my perceptions are always skewed and I am never on the same planet with other people. That’s not true. I have plenty of perceptions that are entirely in line with “the real world”. I feel that people on the receiving end of BPD, depending on the severity, should learn how to communicate with their BPD about WHY the BPD is feeling the emotion they are at the time. Just because the perception is skewed does not mean the emotion isn’t valid. I want people to understand that I am experiencing turmoil that is causing my reactions. I want to be comforted when I feel the percieved abandonment. Just tell me you love me despite my actions/reactions. I just want to be accepted and understood as someone who is different, but not bad. Lastly, I want to point out that I am one of the most compassionate, caring, and sensitive person that I know. I didn’t always put myself in other’s shoes to try to understand them, but I make conscious efforts to do that now. Once again, many BPDs may not seem capable of doing this. But it is not across the board. Some of us can do that very well. I hope you won’t mind if I reblog this

    1. Thanks for your response and honest observations. I think that you make several important points that are worth thinking about as I read your post. One is that not all borderline personalities fit in a box that easily describes how life is experienced and effects those in ongoing or family relationships. Quite often, I hear the term stigma applied to how those who have had life altering experiences with someone with the personality disorder when their experiences are shared. While on the other side people with the disorder stigmatize people who have not understood the events, behaviors, and confusion and speak out about their experience. BPD, was in the early part of the 19th century labeled as a relationship disorder because the disorder presents within the context of relationships; therefore, much of what is written in this article is about relationships and the impact upon people in the system. My observation is that there is much misunderstanding of those who have BPD and also those who have had life damaged and faced great loss in the context of the relationship to a person with BPD. Another point is that BPD follows a wide spectrum of behaviors that are unique to the individual, so not all borderlines are in a box of consistent predictable behaviors. For that reason most psychologist and therapist consider BPD difficult to treat and challenging to diagnose because the disorder presents symptomatic patterns within relationships that are a-symptomatic outside of the triggering relationship. For that reason BPD is misunderstood, confusing, and well hidden by a high functioning person. Often the triggers are within relationships with certain individuals who experience the dysregulation of a wide range of emotions. I response, one of the issues that is misunderstood is the mentalization process of borderlines who are dysregulating. I am working on another article that deals with the thinking process of the BPD and how meaning is attributed to others and life experiences. I know many of the things written in this article may be hard to relate to for a borderline, but there are two sides to the experience and much of the research that is done focuses on the conditions and treatment of BPD and not upon the equal amount of devastation that victims of the disorder experience. To be fair, this article is not a one stop comprehensive article that describes every facet of BPD. It is intended to help the person who has been in a no win situation and has little understanding of the experiences of being in a relationship that you can see described in the responses of others. I do not think that people experiencing BPD should be stigmatized into a general category, but I also think that people who who have experienced the extremes of BPD should not be invalidated and treated as if there is something wrong about what they have felt, experienced, lived, and lost. In conclusion, I think that more studies need to be done to help people on both sides of the spectrum. Thanks so much for sharing you thoughts, feelings, and experiences.

      1. Thank you for your thoughtful response. We need more people like you helping to shed light on this disorder. I appreciate your thoughts and especially efforts to help people going through the consequences of BPD behaviors. You are very right that the loved ones of sufferers need support and to be understood as well as the sufferers. I appreciate that the article was more targeted to that audience. Thank you again for your article and responses!

    2. I am so touched that you felt a connection to my comment i am almost crying and telling my husband happily ‘omg look, another person with bpd, this lady gets what im saying!’ 🙂 sometimes im afraid to comment on websites where most people commenting are those hurting from the rage of a borderline or a suspected borderline sufferer..i am afraid someone will say ‘yeah of COURSE you see things THAT way you ONE of them, your perception is skewed!’ ..yes well my perception is TIMES but i am a deep thinker and a reasonably intelligent young woman so i do like to share my thoughts and i appreciated that you as a borderline also took the time to reply here so that others know that we feel for them at being in hard situation but that not all borderlines are so emotionally engaged that they dont empathise or feel guilt or shame for sudden frustrating reaction they may have, we are sensitive not just to ourselves but to others, we do care..and we do try our best even though it is a constant effort to try and respond to facts rather than impulsively react to what we feel most..our emotions! x

      1. @littlemissmellu: It is so great to get the perspective of someone battling BPD. Thank you so much for being bold enough to be on this message board and communicate your perspective. It takes a lot of courage to do that and I applaud you for it. My fiancee is showing a lot of the defining symptoms of BPD. I love her dearly and do not want to lose her but the intensity of the erratic, impulsive, hurtful, disrespectful and belittling behavior has started to take a toll on my physical and emotional well-being. If possible, it would be great if I could communicate with you directly. I really do want to help my fiancee or at least try to understand her better. She has given me the happiest moments of my life. I know I cannot fix her but I at least do not want her to ever feel like I did not care to understand her. If possible, please drop me a one-line @ so that I may correspond with you directly. It is truly great to have someone like you share your experience.

        Last, but not least, a huge shout-out to Ronnie for this article. It is well-written and truly puts things in perspective.

    3. No one said that borderlines are trying to be manipulative or lie. The point is that that is how it is perceived by the receiver. An extremely common aspect of the disorder is to change facts to suit emotions. Especially if shame is involved, which it often is. X incident happens. When the non-BPD tries to discuss the incident but is told by the BPD that it never happened, then a terrible confusing discussion ensues, or a fight. The non-BPD is made to feel crazy because they do have a grip on objective reality. There might even be witnesses. And to be told reality didn’t happen is severely damaging to the non-BPD, especially if exposed to this their whole life.

      So, while I hear your pain and your wish to be understood, my question would be, do all the people who you wish would give you some slack know that you have BPD? Because it’s completely unfair to expect anyone to give a person slack who is breaking the rules of normal social interaction. You’re asking people to make a giant leap that goes counter to all that they know of how the world functions.

      The other interesting thing about expecting some slack is that very few borderlines are diagnosed and they get pissed if someone suggests they’re borderline, and yet there’s a lot of asking for empathy around an issue for which they don’t typically take responsibility.

    1. Thanks for your comment and appreciate your input about this material. I edited the profanity out of your comment because this is a G rated site.


  19. Ronnie,thank you for the article.I read it with great interest and also quite a few of the responses that were quite enlightening.I was also quite moved by much of that which I read and could identify common themes.

    At the moment of writing I am probably several days from being forced to sign papers for a divorce that I do not want from my separated wife. It is not I who have sought the divorce but her and she does not after a passage of time have to give any reasons.To be frank if she had she could probably invent a few that might be convincing so at least I will be spared that.
    If I had any choice I would choose that she seek some help that she needs rather than impulsively{as it seems to me} deciding on this course of action.Actually its her third application for a divorce as the previous did not seem for reasons opaque to me to have gone ahead.Each time she has applied it has put me through the mill.

    With reference to help I have found that she is highly avoidant of considering that she has any more problem other than being a person who has low confidence issues.
    Ironically I am a mental health professional myself and despite my experience it has taken me long years to get a coherent picture of what her problems actually are. I was aware of low moods, cognitive distortions, passive aggression, despair, blame, denial, impulsivity, feelings of unworthiness, unlovability, transient paranoia,feeling a victim/martyr, pushing away, exaggerated demands, nothing ever being good enough{including me} always expecting the worst to happen, devaluation, creating chaos from nothing etc. I could not put it all into an overall scheme till I started to work with a patient group in the hospital I work in that presented me with a diagnosis I had never had much previous experience with that of BPD.

    As far as I can gather, she has never had an official diagnosis of any sort other than perhaps anxiety and has carefully managed what she has told her Dr so as to conceal what I have observed. The same Dr has blandly used patient confidentiality to prevent my even being able to tell him my observations and concerns and blithly brushed me aside telling me-that its all in hand- despite the fact that I am likely to have had much more mental health training than him.

    I believe that she is a high functioning BPD and is able therefore to maintain a very different face to the world at large than she has to me.Much of that other face has also been hidden from her children{most of whom are now grown up}

    Sad to say, although quite predictably few who know the both of us have believed me, I have had to look for support for myself via counseling which I will take up when I need.
    My best wishes to you all who your own lives and stories to deal with. Do however seek help for yourselves this condition is potentially so health destroying both mentally and physically that you must.

  20. Thank so much much Edward, like e you, I have lived with the Borderline and because I am aware or the problems associated with the disorder, I have made an effort to inform, educate, and share information to help family and spouses to understand the anomalies and confusion of this disorder. It seems that we are living in a world where many people are disillusioned by a mental health condition that has the capacity to disrupt the experience of life in such a profound way. God bless you on your journey to health and functionality.


  21. Ronnie, I just stumbled upon your article tonight as I am always looking to understand what is happening to my father. I feel my father suffers from BPD. However, in your opinion, what happens when someone with BPD is outed publicly and their lies and perceptions are attacked and proved to be delusions? The deepest fears of rejection and abandonment are thrown right in their face? What do you suspect they might do when hundreds of people are making fun of them, calling them out and involving the police in a small town?

    Some background: I am the eldest child, I removed myself from my family at a young age to go away to school, and now I can see the patterns of behaviour clearly. My mother cannot and goes along with whatever my father says. My father lost his mother this summer and his father 7 years ago. My younger brother is dying of ALS. My father in turn has been spending all of his money on crazy ideologies and bad investments. I thought he was addicted to the high of spending. He’s been spending money, pretending he’s something he’s not.

    Recently he’s been arrested for criminal harassment and his behaviour is escalating. I am at a loss as to what to do. I have two small children and I have stayed away to save myself the stress. Any advice to prepare me for what is to come would be appreciated. Thank you.

    1. Sorry for the delayed response. I have been in a crisis myself. However, you say you feel that your father suffers from BPD. It sounds like your not sure. My advice would be to seek professional advice. Indeed, he could have the disorder and if so, publicly exposure will only turn the rage on the person who exposes him. One thing that is important to understand about BPD is that there is an intense fear of abandonment and mental attribution is not the same as a non BPD person, so he believes what he is doing is correct. Other factors to consider is that abandonment can trigger acting out and acting in, or self harm, so I would be cautious and be sure to act in the best interest of all. Binge spending and high levels of impulsivity are consistent with BPD, but also Bipolar an other mental health issues. Criminal behavior, risk taking are also symptomatic patterns. My advice is to care for your own family and yourself by effecting clear boundaries and separation if possible. As I said, if you feel the need, seek help from a mental health counselor who can assist you in finding the right answers. Best wishes..

  22. I am so happy to have found this article. Just two days ago I nearly lost all my calm and wanted to honestly just walk away from my sister or just punch her in the face! that is how irritated I was.

    she has epilepsy and bipolar disorder, we live in Hong Kong. She uses her sickness as an excuse for everything. I always felt she was deceptive and uses people like pawns, she uses her sexuality in public to get favours done. she spends hours dolling up and trying to meet people online. She has called the Hong Kong police many times falsley accusing people of rape. Running away from cab fares. Basically shes been enabled to the point where she thinks she can do anything and get away with it because the HK goverment declared her not fit for work.

    I see through a lot of her facade tho and I see how she manipulates others into thinking shes the victim.

    I would gladly follow the ‘victim’ line if I didn’t catch her behaving differently to different people. we went to the same high school. i have accidentaly ran into her bullying people or being a complete ‘gangsta’ while this whole time we thought she was quiet and a bit slow. because that how she behaves at home she always plays the quiet stupid one. doesnt talk, answers things wrongly on purpose, says shit on purpose that is illogical to evoke a reaction from the family.

    But if ever you walk past her room she would be on the phone talking to her friends in such an attitutde that I question the soft victim exterior she puts on at home. always reminds me of the first time when i was liek ‘whoa sis, i never knew you hada gangsta side?’

    This whole time I have been tearing my hair out because my mother is her enabler. While I try to lay boundries down. I spent 5 years away from home at uni in (2005-2010) UK, mum called me every other day saying the sister has gone mental.

    I am just so damn happy that you pointed out some of the things. The fear of being found out. The fear of abandonment. Yes! they have an illness but at the same time. if everyone goes around enabling them. It is the people who live with the BPD who suffer the most. the passers-by only see the spectacle the BPD ass-hole creates. Not the people that the BPD is with and have to deal with on a continuous basis. Thats why I have zero shame when i tell her off harshly. I seen the way she behaves shes not that soft. There had been times like in your article I questioned myself. But not always. Reading your article just made it so clear.

    I am at that stage where IDGAF anymore, I play hardball. Mum sometimes comes to me with the ‘oh dear, she is sick just be nice to her’ its like no! She has stolen money from my room so many times, my girlfriends jewellery. If ever I ask here where the missing money or jewellery is. its I dont know. but someone is taking it! and I doubt it is my mom who has a full time job. Sis just sits at home all day playing the victim. got expelled from 3 schools in high school cos she was such a rebellious ‘badass’. Was in a court case last year for shoplifting. which she beat. shes had numerous abortions. been in police custody before. the list is endless of how irritating it is to live with her. Sometimes i just want to cut her off but our mother just enables her to no end. without ever really sitting down to talk to her. Thats another irritating point. When I see who is enabling her and making her worse. It’s sooooooooo ANNOYING! When I tell my mother she is enabling her but she then goes and screams back at me for not dealing wit the sister. its an endless cycle of screams and confusion.

    I have read a lot on the issue to come to the conclusions she just needs boundaries. Mom contradicts it all the time with her enabling and being emotionally manipulated by the sis with BPD

    I am going to force my mom to read this article. She doesnt like reading so if she doesnt read it im going to read it to her. becasue you sir have hit it right on the money. Thank you so much for taking the time to write this.

    And thanks for letting me vent on your comment section haha

    1. Everyone needs to vent when they are overwhelmed by cycles of behavior that you describe in your post and when the symptoms of BPD present in a family unit and are not understood clearly by parties involved, it results in misunderstanding, reactionary responses, enabling behavior, co-depedency, abusive behaviors. While self-help is a place to find general understanding about mental health and personality disorders, a mental health clinician should be consulted for direction and diagnosis. BPD is a serious personality disorder that can result in self-harm, destructive behaviors, and in some cases suicide attempts. In addition, risk taking behaviors can result in danger to the person in a host of different ways. I hear what you are saying about your level of frustration and remember that you cannot fix this, it is not her fault that she has a mental disorder, it is an illness, it is very frustrating, and she needs professional help to get better. I hope you find the answers that you need ….

      1. Long overdue, but, thank you very much for your kind advice. I am sorry I didn’t thank you earlier as you didn’t need to spend the time to tell me this.

        I’ve figured distance is the best solution after trying again many times. I now have a wife and a 6 month old son to look after and I can’t afford to let them down. But, thank you for your words. They mean a lot and they have stuck.

        Best regards,

  23. This has really helped me understand why my sister has treated me the way she has after all these years. She has literally put me through hell at times then she’d reel me back in, be lovely then hurt me at the worst times (wedding, birth of my kids, special birthdays etc)
    Our mum has schizophrenia and our dad was a drinker. There’s a long story but I can see the patterns dating back to childhood… She’s always hurt me, raged, bombarded me with texts to say I’m sick and a danger to my kids! She even convinced / manipulated my long life friend that I was mentally ill about ten years ago (I was living away at the time) but she finally saw through my sister and then my sister went ballistic with her (she was captured!) irrational texts etc..
    My family just stay out of it and say it’s such ashame… As if both our faults… I can’t try any harder… And I’ve Chosen to stay away… I went to our grans 80th and she didn’t come. She lives next door to my gran so no excuse. It must have been because I was there.
    I think she believes Im the one who is ill. She texts people to say I need cbt and I have drink problems etc… I’d never say to her that she is because it’s inappropriate and she would rage … But she’s happy to tell everyone I am. I know I’m fine. I spoke to my uncle who works in mental health and he suggested I research this topic but can’t get involved. So here I am. I feel at peace. I love her very much but now understand why she behaves like this.
    I just hope she manages to get through her life… Her husband is under her control and she manages childcare so really thrown with how she manages to run a business in her home when she’s capable of behaving the way she does. It is chaotic in her house admittedly but I don’t judge since I lived with my mum with schizophrenia whilst she lived at dad’s with his wife and I accept various behaviours. I just wish her well but need to focus on my family and being in a positive happy environment. Thanks for sharing this blog.

    1. Thanks for sharing your story. It is helpful to find a place where you can find some resolutions. Your story is very common among families of those with a person with BPD in the system. Once alienation takes place and there is an awareness that you know, the splitting begins, the rage, the dividing, the passive aggressive behaviors, the projection of conditions on others to build a protective wall, and many other behaviors. Oddly enough, many people with BPD are high functioning, low empathy individuals and very successful in one part of life. In the early years of psychology, BPD was labeled the relationship disorder because that is the axis of dysfunction. You should not blame yourself though, it is not your fault and you cannot fix it. Disorders such a this require management and if the person we are discussing is not in treatment, you can only manage your life and responses. Thanks for writing.

      Best Wishes,

      Ronnie L. Murrill

    1. Payne – thank you for this. My response isn’t really towards what you are sharing, but from what I have learned over the last few years.

      By the time I found this blog, I was deeply hurting over a relationship that I did not want to throw away, and I was in the mode of trying to figure out how to fix it. Through this blog, I realized a few things.

      While learning about BPD and all the other “personality disorders” out there (histrionics, NPD, etc.) which was EXTREMELY helpful because I finally understood there was something wrong and that help was available, I also realized in my attempt to “help” my sister that labeling her with “BPD” was the absolute WORST thing I could have ever done (especially for those who are considered “highly functioning” BPDs). Rather than giving insight into how to deal with our problem, it sought to further alienate and damage the already waning connection we had. Think about it – in psychology’s “understanding” and labeling of someone as BPD, the issue is with abandonment, so suggesting to someone that they’re basically “broken” and that they have the problem only serves to push them further away – at least that’s what happened in my experience. So in my writing here today, I will refer to “BPD” for the sake of understanding, but I no longer look at my sister in the light of this label.

      What did help? We sought out counseling, and what the doc shared was the example of an iceberg. While we only see the tip of the iceberg, underneath the water looms a huge body of ice. He likened that body of ice to a family structure, and the tiny tip sticking out was the person hurting the most. In psychology, the person with “BPD” would be the tip of the iceberg, but if you look at the iceberg, it’s one structure, so his point was that while “tip” is what is seen and heard (the person hurting the worst who expresses that hurt), it is not just the tip with the problem, it’s the entire iceberg, and truly in our family dynamics, we have identified quite a few “problems” that have led to these family “flares.” How horrible to put it all on my sister as if it was her fault. We each play a part, and while she is the one who is most vocal and reactive, there are things the rest of the family does and says that incites that flare in my sister.

      Now in saying that, there is something different about that person who is hurting the most, so I don’t want to diminish that they experience and react to matters differently than the average Joe but they have to figure that out on their own. Truthfully, my sister thinks and processes things differently than most of the family, but my point is that there are still things that I as part of that family can change and adjust so as not to “flare” my sister’s reactions. I am part of the problem, and I personally think that anyone who is in a relationship with a “BPD” has their own issues they bring to the table that “flare” the reactions of the “BPD.” If that person, rather than dumping it all on the “BPD” can learn different tools to respond and react to the “BPD,” then I think relationships can be salvaged, mended, and restored as I am experiencing with my sister.

      It takes a LOT of work and unfortunately, most families are not given the tools they need to have a well-functioning family. They just do what they’ve learned in their family of origin and pass it on. I think it takes people who are willing to look at themselves and be willing to change things.

      And finally, I think there is an element of healing that is rarely touched on and that is nutrition. I am a firm believer that nutrition or the lack of nutrition is the second and sometimes first leading cause (family dynamics being the first) of a lot of illness and disease. My sister has been working out and eating organic and has added supplements into her diet, and I have noticed a HUGE difference in her anxiety and ability to deal with outside stressors, so I just wonder rather than taking drugs because that’s all doctors seem to prescribe anymore (as if someone missed out on a dose of Ritalin in their cereal bowls as a child), how much good nutrition plays in the functioning of our brains.

      Anyhow, just wanted to give a little update. Blessings and peace and hopeful answers from a different perspective to those who are the “tip” of the iceberg and those who are part of that same iceberg.

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