Category Archives: Borderline Personality Disorder

How Meaning is Generated in Borderline Thinking States


carl-jung-presentation-fd-16-638Mentalization, Attribution, and Meaning in Borderline Personality Disorder
Most people probably believe that their mental picture of life, people, and experiences represents an accurate representation of reality. The mental assumption is that thoughts or attribution made about observations are relatively fixed and stable that accurately describe  reality.  However, consider the possibility that perception about others, objects, experiences, or life situations might be interpreted or distorted because of the way the brain functions, interprets, and assigns meaning to things and people. Intentional stance, or how human beings recognize attribute meaning of others can be  distorted by a deficit capacity to “understand each other in terms of mental states—thoughts and feelings, beliefs and desires—in order to make sense of,  and even more importantly,  to anticipate,  each others’ actions” (Fonagy, 2000, p. 1130).

Intentional stance is a technical label that psychologists use to describe the theoretical application of cognitive processes within “mentalization or reflective function, which denote the understanding of one’s own as well as others’ behavior in mental state terms” (p. 1130).  For instance,  in the developmental phase of early childhood, mentalization may assign false beliefs about self,  others,  or behaviors from “inappropriately equating mental state with reality” (p. 1130).  The problem clearly identified is a faulty assignment of meaning to an experience, which embeds a belief creating a skewed perception of reality.  One important matter concerning the origin of faulty assignment and mentalization distortion stems from skewed thinking processes often associated with the symptomatic patterns of Borderline Personality Disorder.  One direction of research focuses attention upon causes of the disorder and reports that, “Evidence on the aetiology of BPD is conflicting.  Some research supports a biological basis for the disorder.  First, there are indications that erratic mood swings, social cognitive difficulties, and maladaptive behaviours may be caused by prefrontal and temporolimbic dysfunction, as cited in (Swift, 2009, p. 23).  For many practitioners, the importance of research focuses questions upon the ways that Borderline Personality Disorder links to mentalization deficiencies and the ways maladaptive behavior correlates with the inherited biological basis for personality disorders.

As well as, framing an understanding the biological aetiology of (BPD), an effort to further explain how meaning allocates thinking absolutes in (BPD) perception the answering research questions.  In the work of Robert J. Gregory (2007),  he explains the process of attribution by stating that,  “Attributions help … to understand ourselves,  our experiences in the world,  and others’ intentions” (Borderline Attributions, p. 133).  Indeed, it is possible that perception of experiences,  self-understanding,  and others intentions may have to do with the way thoughts work to organize a belief into an absolute held to be true about reality.  Therefore, attribution is a reliable measure to form a stable perception of reality, but when there is an “identity disturbance or pathology of the self-structure” (Borderline Attributions, p. 131), can reality constructed by a mental state accompanied by a  Axis 1 mental health condition consistent with Borderline Personality Disorder.be an accurate reflection of reality?

The challenge of understanding the mental processing hierarchy of the presentation of a person with definable conditions associated with BPD presents great difficulty in maintaining an effective way of managing stable thinking states.  To illustrate the level of challenge that practitioners encounter treating (BPD); Ann R. Bland, Carol A. Williams, Kathleen, Scharer, and Shari Manning (2004) point out that, “Mental health providers describe individuals diagnosed with BPD as among the most challenging and difficult patients they encounter (APA,2002; Sable, 1997)” as cited in (p. 656).  Consequently, a challenge for therapists presents through the fundamental difficulty associated with mentalization accompanied with emotional processing, which affects attribution of meaning.  Consequently, faulty assignment of meaning into irrational beliefs about people, events, and life situations impedes progress for clinicians in the way that the interpretation of perception, emotion, and logical information is interpreted.  On one level, the information from research indicates that the level of difficulty faced by psychology practitioners is challenging in a clinical setting. Therefore, it is reasonable to assume that difficulty is equally magnified within a social system of family members, spouses, and friends who may be trying to rationalize living in conjunction with an untreated person with (BPD), while having a limited grasp of mental attribution processes.

The Impact of BPD on the Family System

The aggregate problem magnified in a BPD personal a relationship is that “Borderline personality disorder (BPD) can be thought of as a disorder, which affects not only the person with the disorder, but also those around them systemically.  People with BPD have ongoing emotional pain that is often most intensely felt in their relationships with others” (Giffin, 2008).  Indeed, the ongoing pain of a person with a borderline personality is not a solitary event that only affects the person with the disorder;  it has an impact upon everyone in the social system of relationships.  When it is someone that you love and have lived with,  it is very hard to come to terms with the unusual behaviors because the behavior coupled with a skewed sense of reality may mean that something is happening you may not fully comprehend.  Unfortunately,  the depths of events are very difficult to understand without realizing the nature of a personality disorder coupled with a mental illness.  Indeed, behaviors seen and heard in the experience of life confuses the meaning of events about the disorder.  The confusion results largely from a lack of awareness about ambiguous and confusing actions witnessed.

While many people have an understanding that something seems off,  the conditioning that naturally occurs in a relationship system coupled with unusual behaviors are difficult to identify because of the strong emotional connection to persons involved, along with a lack of objectivity about occurrences in emotional charged familial relationship.  Consequently,  one of issues often neglected is the systemic effect deeply felt because of the intense emotional pain felt in relationships with others.  Obviously,  one issue of concern with is the personality disorder and the effect upon the person with the disorder.  However,  equally important is how the personality disorder effects family systems, i.e., those most directly affected by behaviors,  feelings,  and experiences not easily deciphered in a way that makes emotional sense.

Unfortunately,  the daily happenings with borderline personality presenting symptomatic behaviors is confusing to sort out,  partly because,  “persons with borderline personality disorder attempt to generate meaning,  eliminate ambiguity,  and maintain idealizations by assigning polarized attributions of value,  agency,  and motivation to their experience” (Gregory, 2007).  The application that Gregory makes points out one of the confusing and maddening behaviors is symptomatic for many borderlines.  The behavior confuses many onlookers because onlookers are blindsighted by polarized meaning characteristic of borderline personality thinking patterns. Others may not realize the way (BPD) thought generating meaning,  value of internal perception, and efforts made to eliminate ambiguity that is inconsistent with the  (BPD’s) perception of life is a natural and unrecognized pattern of behavior.

The challenge for individuals in relationships with borderlines is to understand how the disorder causes behaviors that attempt to put a spin events, people, and reality to match the mentalization and attributes, which have assigned meaning to a perception of reality skewed by idealization.  A point that is worthy of noting is the particular way thinking occurs that is unique in borderline presentation. A notable way of thinking that is characteristic of borderline personality is the linear patterns of polarization.  One trait is all good or all bad thinking about others and situations polarized by black and white thoughts that discount abstract and ambiguous ideas that are inconsistent with felt perception of people and life events.  Gregory (2007) describes the splitting pattern of thinking by stating, “The observation that patients with BPD exhibit opposing,  binary attributions has been incorporated into psychiatry’s modern diagnostic classification system,  points out this thinking pattern characterized by splitting. Patient perceptions of self and others are noted to be either all good or all bad, i.e. “characterized by alternating extremes of idealization or devaluation” (American Psychiatric Association, 1994, p.654).  A challenge in the family and social system where (BPD) exists is to understand the thinking swing that occurs resulting in idealizing or devaluation with no middle ground.

An important area of struggle that families experience in the relationship dynamics stems from inadequate understanding or poor information among most people living in social relationships with a person with (BPD).  Therefore, there is a missing link between lived-experience and understanding about how attribution contributes to unique perception.  In addition, perceived anomalies about life events related to the way meaning generates beliefs in the mentalization process.  Unfortunately,  a negative reaction that some people experience is that feeling caught by the emotional double bind within relationship dynamics that puts family in a position of becoming the villain or unwitting participant in the cycle of dysfunction and emotional pain stemming from (BPD) attribution.  In fact, realizing that life experience for a borderline personality affects daily living in a very real way every day because of the important role that relationship plays in the way that self-valuation attaches meaning to perception because of (BPD).  Consequently,  the person without an informed understanding of the impact of the importance of emotional pain felt in relationship and the way information interprets emotional meaning to reduce ambiguity.

Therefore, the subsequent difficulty of managing relationships for family and friends in a healthy functional way challenges life every day.  Indeed, the distinct difference contained within thoughts, meaning, and reasons for polarized idealization places persons in the circle of relationships with (BPD) at risk for behavioral and mental health problems.  When a borderline personality interprets meaning and attribution in a skewed manner because of the way the disorder affects thinking patterns,  the attribution should not be oversimplified and understood as a malicious choice,  but rather a personality disorder with very difficult symptomatology.  Because (BPD) is characterized by extremes in how behavior impacts management and treatment, “Health professionals often view personality disorders as an issue of self-control and choice rather than an illness (Kendell 2002). However, research shows that people with the disorder are prone to other psychiatric illnesses and or substance misuse.  Personality Disorder: No Longer a Diagnosis of Exclusion (NI MHE 2003) was published to facilitate best practice in the treatment and care of people with the condition”,  as cited in (Swift, 2009, p. 22) .  Therefore, making sense of the application of research data demonstrates the impulsive self-control and polarized thinking patterns resulting from polarization often are coupled with other mental health diagnosis that complicate the personality disorder presentation with psychiatric conditions.  Obviously,  the level of difficulty experienced in relationships deeply impacts what is perceived about self,  others, and situations and magnifies the deep pain felt by the person with (BPD).  However,  every person with the disorder is in a system of relationships dramatically affected by the way casual,  romantic,  and familial relationships with the borderline personality take place. Unfortunately,  in many cases,  the disorder is undiagnosed or under diagnosed and the result demonstrates patterns of impulsive reckless,  and sometimes,  self-destructive behaviors resulting in broken or damaged relationships,  and misunderstanding about the things that are happening.  When people do not seek assistance from professionals trained to diagnose and treat personality and mental disorders,  the effects can be devastating to a borderline, as well as, the people in a system of relationship who love and care about the things they are experiencing. Indeed many times fractured or destroyed lives of person’s with the disorder, as well as, the extended social system affected by secondary issues not adequately understanding mentalization, resulting from Borderline Personality Disorder.

Mentalization and Attribution in a Social-Relational Context

This particular attribution pattern associated with (BPD) demonstrates a vital connection between thinking, personality, and socialization disruption.  For this reason, associating the focal point of mentalization and attribution with symptomatology presenting in the context of interpersonal relationships suggest a rationale for ongoing patterns of instability.  In support of a correlation between thinking,  meaning,  and relationship behaviours (BPD), describes “‘a severe disturbance in the characterological condition and behavioural tendencies of the individual, usually involving several areas of personality, and nearly always associated with considerable personal and social disruption’, according to the ICD-10 Classification of Mental and Behavioural Disorders (World Health Organization 1992)”, as cited in (Swift, p. 22).

In fact,  the connection between ongoing difficulties and presentation of beliefs and behaviours delineates severe disturbance, areas of personality, and social disruption as symptomatic patterns observed.  Further observation in relation to the effect of (BPD) falls into categories defined as characterological, or (“enduring”) forms of psychopathology,  that characterize personality traits present from adolescence, early adulthood, and into adult life.  For this reason, the nature of how mentalization and attribution effects relationships has a systemic relationship to lifespan development and social attachment patterns that reinforce a belief construct in the person with the (PD) and confuses those involved in relationship disruption episodes.

                                                                               References
Bland, A. R. (2004). Emotion processing in borderline personality disorders. Issues in Mental Health Nursing, 25(7),    655-672. doi:10.1080/01612840490486692.
Fonagy, P. (2000). Attachment and Borderline Personality Disorder. Journal of the American Psychological Association, 48(4), 1129-1146 doi: 10.1177/00030651000480040701 48 no. 4 . Retrieved April 16, 2011
Giffin, J. (2008). Family Experience of Borderline Personality Disorder. Australian & New Zealand Journal of Family Therapy, 29(3), 133-138. Retrieved from EBSCOhost.
Gregory, R. J.-1. (2007). Borderline Attributions. American Journal of Psychotherapy [electronic version], 61(2), 131-147 Retrieved from EBSCOhost on 4-16-2011.
Stobie, M. R.-K. (2009). Borderline Personality Disorder, Divorce and Family Therapy: The Need for Family Crisis Intervention Strategies. American Journal of Family Therapy, 37(5), 414-432. doi:10.1080/01926180902754760.
Swift, E. (.-2. (2009). Borderline personality disorder: aetiology, presentation and therapeutic relationship. first of two articles [electronic version]. Mental Health Practice, 13(3), 22-25. Retrieved on April 16, 2011 from EBSCOhost.

BPD Central – borderline personality disorder resources – basics


If you are looking for a resource with basic information that is linked to more exhaustive information about Borderline Personality Disorder, take a look at this site.

The Klown Within  ~ 1 of 3 photos
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BPD Central – borderline personality disorder resources – basics. (Click on link to open)

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Borderline Personality Disorder: the Relationship Disorder


The image illustrates some theory of famous ps...Family life that includes relationship  with a borderline personality contains  the potential for creating a domino effect  of relationship problems characterized by toxic  behaviors and interpersonal problems that have the potential to disrupt, shatter, or even destroy social and family relationships.  While it is common for most people to overlook what is occurring in the midst of a family interactions, it does not change the cycle of pain and disruption experienced by everyone involved.  In fact, because others are not often exposed to the extreme relationship dynamics that work beneath the surface, they simple do not understand the deep emotional pain and difficulty in managing life. Quite often friends, who do not understand, mysteriously ignore happenings and the behavior goes unrecognized for years.  Strangely enough other people never question or really understand the difficulty faced by what is happening in daily interaction because it is not affecting them every day.  As a result, one difficulty with this type of behavioral disorder is the lack of realization that “Borderline personality disorder is a serious mental disorder with a characteristic pervasive pattern of instability in affect regulation, impulse control, interpersonal relationships, and self-image effect” (Lieb K., 2004, p. 453).  Consequently, many people who have the disorder, as well as, the people surrounding them rarely understand many of the things that are happening or why they are happening.

Furthermore, misunderstanding  is magnified by the absence of sensitivity to the significance of behaviors experienced daily.  It is because expectations of normality are set very subtly within a social context of family systems and relationships. When anomalies are the daily experience and at the center of the way families interact desensitization prevents family members from understanding and paying attention to things taken for granite or ignored.  Therefore, without a distinguishable way to dissect behavior from a borderline personality the majority of people do not understand how to connect the dots between behavior and pathology in personality disorders. Unfortunately, families that have borderline personalities as a part daily relationship patterns, often are confused about  the relationship disorder characterized by others as extreme.  Often, family members find themselves the target of abusive outburst of anger, which triggers more misunderstanding, confusion, and results in enabling behavior or rescuing actions.  The result is that functionality in relationships disable healthy responses with the individual, as well as, with the extended family.  Therefore, when families do not  recognize what (BPD) behaviors and patterns of relating indicate, the result is personal confusion in the experience of life  and a tendency to develop a reactionary lifestyle to emotional events.  Consequently, in many cases families develop natural mechanisms to adapt and manage things  misunderstood with strategies that may not be beneficial or healthy.

The problem, (BPD) that is not understood, contains a fundamental potential for failure and feelings of frustration about life.  The result is an inability to construct healthy ways of living and relating effectively resulting from a fundamental misunderstanding of borderline behavior.  Consequently, a relational mythology constructed by families paints a picture of perceived functionality; thereby establishing a group expectation that seems normal for the family, but what is normal?

The adaptive behavioral effects are cloaked by denial of the existing reality that something is wrong.  As a result, the outcome demonstrates an inability to experience functional intimacy; thereby hiding the problem that is beneath the unusual behavior occurring.  As a result, there is a life where secrecy, emotional abuse, codependency, and bullying behaviors are major themes accompanying the daily interaction within family life.  Consequently, confusion is the rule attached to a distorted self-concept.  What results is a feeling of disempowerment fueled by belief that this can never change resulting in relating through acquiescing to dysfunctional patterns erroneously felt to represent a safety zone to experience life.

Family Systems

All families develop coping strategies for managing relationships, but often times those ways are not the best approach to address the central issues within a family system.  It is a plausible reality that the family members inside the system do not understand clearly what is happening and are confused or in denial. Therefore, not being able to see the problem clearly results in a distorted sense of reality and skewed expectations of life.  As a result, family rituals, expectations, phenomenology and internalized mores’ create demands for participating in family life, which contribute to social reinforcement of problematic behaviors.  Therefore, enabling acceptance of anomalies that otherwise would be considered unacceptable.  Indeed, everyone likes to believe that they are objective and that they are not contributing to destructive patterns of relating, that in effect are damaging, and many times destroying relationships. However, the question that participants in the system need to ask is what role is going to be played; will it be the enabler, the excuser, or the examiner? The person  who decides to be a rescuer participates in the destructive behaviors excusing and then enabling by refusing to acknowledge there is something that is not right. Unfortunately, it is thinking and believing that helping means fighting to keep everything  the same.

Motivators and Influences

One essential problem that is fundamental to misunderstanding BPD is that most people do not know any more about personality disorders than we do about cancer.  When I think back upon my own experience with cancer and my wife who died from cancer; I often wonder why this went undiagnosed and untreated, while we were seeing doctors who should have understood.  Also, knowing what I know now, why did we not pay closer attention to clear indications that there was a problem and do something about the cancer.  The problem was that it was diagnosed too late for her to recover and the end result was that the cancer that was hidden destroyed her life. What might have been avoided, if we had taken time to think, brought an unimaginable reality and destruction of everything that was loved and hoped for in life.  Borderline personality, for some people, is eating away at things that create and sustain healthy relationships.  Also, because BPD  is not recognized or easily diagnosed as a result, it is often misunderstood. Unfortunately, the unimaginable destruction is becoming a reality the longer the disease is ignored.

Genetic Influence

A problem existing  within  mental disorders is establishing what the relationship is between symptoms and the etiology of biological problems.  Historically, an  ongoing debate focuses upon the question of origin or cause.  Can mental illnesses be inherited or is personality disorder caused by a negative impact of life events, trauma, stress, or other related symptoms?  A source providing clarity is medical history connected to of the family of origin. Research performed about genetic factors of mental health indicates that, “There are several lines of evidence from family studies supporting a possible genetic association of borderline personality and affective disorders” (MacKinnon, 2006, p. 6). As a result, family medical history, mental health histories , and relationship history create a link to what is happening.

When anomalies in behavior occurs what can be made of the connection between biology and behavior?  An assumption might be made that the borderline is angry or acting out. This  is a  behavior cue that something is seriously wrong and very puzzling–especially when family and acquaintances treat behavior as unimportant.  One response to what happened is in understanding how genetic-biological history of the person is organized. In general, science connects the conditions in the family history and suggests a link between the behavior that causes someone, who gives every indication that they are apparently honest and intelligent in other ways to engage in impulsive and reckless behavior without thought of consequences.

What causes emotional dysregulation to occur when there is a perceived, intense feeling of abandonment, rejection, or loss of control?  It may be that what is hidden by a casual look at circumstances may be better understood through looking at genetic predisposition indicating what motivates a person who looks like an upright individual to suddenly rationalize extreme behavior, while totally disregarding the autonomy of other  family members.  It is perplexing, at the very least, to understand why BPD individuals act as they do.  Consequently to sum it up, when there is a strong history that suggests mental health disease demonstrates significant patterns through family history, genetics, and systemic behaviors; there may be sound reasons to conclude that there is an identifiable systemic pattern for the behavior being elicited by the ongoing emotional dysregulation.

Unfortunately, denial and a fundamental lack of understanding creates a state of denial that promotes a false sense of security that life is under control.  However, the great danger is that when behaviors suggest BPD and it is ignored, families convince themselves that it is not happening and live with constant confusion and disillusionment. A good question to ask is whether creating a mythology and magical thinking can negate the serious effect of what is really happening?  A philosophers question about perception says: ‘if a tree falls in the forest and no one is there to hear it, does it make a sound”?   The moral is the quote reminds us to think about what may be happening around us that is actually happening, but we just are not aware of what is happening because we are not attentive to things that are happening.  The fact is that things that are not heard or understood often reveals something hidden in the secrecy of a  family system where denial provides a false sense of security that creates a artificial safe zone.  It is a place where the noise of behavior is not being heard by those around the Borderline, but that does not mean BPD behaviors are not happening in the context of life.

References

Lieb K., Z. M. (2004). Borderline personality disorder. The Lancet , 364, 453-61, doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(04)16770-6.

MacKinnon, D. F. (2006). Affective instability as rapid cycling: Theoretical and clinical implications for borderline personality and bipolar spectrum disorders. Bipolar Disorders , 8 (1), 1-14. doi:10.1111/j.1399-5618.2006.00283.x.

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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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How Abuse Defines Self-Concept


Silhouette of a woman in a cave looking at her...
What Life Looks Like After Being Abused

How to Understand the Effect of Abusive Relationships

No one plans to be in an abusive relationship, but, unfortunately many people find themselves growing up or living in or victimized by abusive people.  A relevant fact that is well supported by studies is that individuals who were verbally abused, emotionally, physically, or sexually by people who victimize them during the developmental process of childhood are at risk for finding themselves in the role of an abuser as an adult.  What needs to understood about the cycle of abuse is that abusive people define, destroy, and distort what normality looks like in life.  Therefore, instead of developing normal pathways of experience that provides a healthy baseline of self concept, self- esteem, and healthy patterns of social identification in relation to others your experiences, emotions, and judgement becomes skewed, distorted, and blurred by victimization that confuses how one sees themselves and predicts behavior that will be tainted and skewed by the lived-experience of life.

As a result children and adults who are abused in life may not know how to set standards –boundaries and develop a healthy view of  self, others, life experiences and balance feelings and perceptions about what is really happening in life.  Consequently, the controlling and defining perception created by abusive life events may feel familiar when similar experiences occur in later life because abusive experience enculturates life with distorted values and expectations.

For many people, normal can become the abnormal or even comfortable, while at the same time being very destructive to any healthy view of self.  Individuals who are abused come to expect it and sometimes cannot find a feeling of normalcy because an expectation of self and how “the self” relates to others in the social world has been defined by the expectation that abuse is normal.  As a result, many people who are abused find themselves drawn to abusers, like a moth to a flame and experience a repeated cycle of abuse throughout life.

Powerlessness Hurt, Anger, and Confused Feelings from Abuse Distorts Self Understanding.

The abused person often struggles with feelings of powerlessness, hurt, fear, anger, and guilt about what has happened to them.  Guilt internalized sends a message to the abused that they are to blame, they are at fault, which scars understanding of personal value.  Ironically, abusers tend to struggle with the same feelings –worthlessness, and devaluation that stems from distorted self perception.  In addition,  abusers are also likely to have been raised in emotionally abusive conditions where they learn to be abusive as a method to cope with their own feelings of powerlessness, hurt , fear, and anger.

Consequently, abusers are drawn to others who see themselves as helpless, appear to be naive, a victim, or who do not have a strong sense of identity and self image. The benefit to the abuser is that identification of the “Mark” allows the abuser to feel more secure and in control, which take the focus off dealing with their own feelings, and self-perceptions.  Therefore, emotional abuse victims can become so convinced that they are worthless and believe that no one else could want them, which ties them and their self worth to the abuser and the abuse. Unfortunately, many people remain locked in abusive situations because they believe they have nowhere else to go and no one else would want them.  An ultimate fear for the abuse is being all alone.

Relationships Have Predictable and Systematic Patterns which Govern How Behaviors Occur.

All human behaviors have have underlying response drivers that work in concert within a social, cultural system in a family unit.  Developing a reflective process of thinking about behavior, triggers, responses, and outcome will tell us a lot about why things work the way they do with others.  A beginning step is in understanding the pattern of your own relationships, especially those with family members and other significant people, is a first step toward change.   Many people who have been abused in life will have distinguishable patterns of the kind of people that they are drawn to, but fail to understand why they continually wind up with abusive partners and unhealthy functioning in relationships.  As a result, a lack of clarity about who you are in relationship to significant others may manifest itself in different ways.  For example, “switch hitting” is when you may act as an “abuser” in some situations and as a “recipient”of abuse in others.

Reflection may lead you may discover that there is a tendency for you to be abused in your romantic relationships, allowing your partners to define and control you.  While at the same time, in friendships, you may play the role of abuser by manipulating, trying to use guilt to create conformity through controlling behaviors while professing that you are only trying to be a  “help”. Consequently, the process of entering into a reflective way of knowing yourself and understanding your past can prevent abuse from being recreated in your life experience.

Self Concept is a Predictor of How the Abused Behave Toward Themselves: Are You Abusive to Yourself?

Often we allow people into our lives that treat badly because we expect to be treated badly.  The unfortunate truth is that if we feel contempt for ourselves or think very little of ourselves, we may pick partners or significant others who, like a mirror,  reflect this image back to us.  It is true that if we are willing to tolerate negative treatment from others, or treat others in negative ways, it is possible that we also treat ourselves similarly?  If you are an abuser or a recipient of abuse, you may want to consider how you think about yourself and treat yourself. In your private thoughts, what sort of things characterize your inner dialogue?  Do thoughts such as “I’m stupid” or “I never do anything right” dominate your thinking?  The art of Learning to love and care for ourselves increases self-esteem and makes it more likely that we will have healthy, intimate relationships.

Emotional Abuse May be as Simple as Having Your Needs Denied

One way of looking at emotional abuse is being denied the thing you need when you need it the most. John Bradshaw says something similar to this. He said, “we were most shamed at the times when we were most in need.”

Emotional Abuse Invalidates, Rejects, Ignores, Mocks, Teases, Judges, or Diminishes Someone’s Feelings as Unimportant.     

Constant invalidation may be one of the most significant reasons a person with high innate emotional intelligence suffers from unmet emotional needs later in life.(1)  An emotionally sensitive child who is repeatedly invalidated becomes confused and begins to distrust his own emotions.  He/she  fails to develop confidence in and healthy use of his emotional brain –one of nature’s most basic survival tools.

To adapt to this unhealthy environment, the working relationship between thoughts and feelings becomes twisted.   The emotional responses, emotional management, and emotional development will likely be seriously, and perhaps permanently, impaired when there is constant invalidation.  The emotional processes which worked for him as a child may begin to work against him as an adult creating psychosocial or personality problems.  In fact, one definition of the so-called “borderline personality disorder” is “the normal response of a sensitive person to an invalidating environment” (2)  Psychiatrist R.D. Laing said that when we invalidate people or deny their perceptions and personal experiences, we make mental invalids of them.  He found that when one’s feelings are denied a person can be made to feel crazy even they are perfectly mentally healthy which is the pattern of a Borderlines relationships toward their unwitting victims who resist their control.

Recent research by Thomas R. Lynch, Ph.D. of Duke University supports the idea that invalidation leads to mental health problems.   He writes “… a history of emotional invalidation (i.e., a history of childhood psychological abuse and parental punishment, minimization, and distress in response to negative emotion) was significantly associated with emotion inhibition (i.e., ambivalence over emotional expression, thought suppression, and avoidant stress responses).  Further, emotional inhibition significantly predicted psychological distress, including depression and anxiety symptoms.)  Invalidation goes beyond mere rejection by implying not only that our feelings are disapproved of, but that we are fundamentally abnormal.  This implies that there is something wrong with us because we aren’t like everyone else; we are strange; we are different; we are weird.

None of this feels good, and all of it damages us in our development of pro-social feelings and relationships.  The more different from the “mass norm” a person is — the more intelligent or more sensitive; the more he/she is likely to be invalidated by abusive behavior directed toward what is seen as different.   When we are invalidated by having our feelings repudiated over and over and we are attacked at the deepest level of our personhood creativity is stifled, problem solving ability is diminished and self concept is damaged.  What may not be understood in this abuse is that our feelings are the innermost expression of our individual identities and denial of the feelings is a repudiation of personhood.  What should be clearly understood is that psychological invalidation is one of the most lethal forms of emotional abuse.  It kills confidence, creativity and individuality.