Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) 3

In Psychotherapy, Spirituality & Personal Growth by Dr. Keith Witt

bluebrain2By some measures, 1% to 2% of the population suffer from borderline personality disorder—and I do mean “suffer.” Feeling alternately better than everyone, and then so worthless that you don’t deserve to live, combined with endlessly seeking out intimacy and then ruining it with relentless sadistic attacks on the ones you’re closest to is not a fate I’d wish on anyone. (For more details, check out this post:  The Borderline Ball and this one: Borderline Personality Disorder 2: Projective identification can transform into sacred tantric practice .) Borderlines, like all people, want love, success, intimacy, beauty and health. They can look normal when they aren’t in defensive states–which can show up as raging attacks of devastating intensity. High functioning borderlines can ascend to the highest levels of government and business. Pick up any paper and you’ll find successful powerful people who periodically become paranoid and need to punish competitors, employees, family members, and often themselves with psychological and physical violence (yes, physical violence as in bodies damaged by self-mutilation, physical assault, and criminal neglect). Low functioning borderlines, on the other hand, look pretty crazy almost as soon as you meet them. Compulsively entering paranoid rages and self-destructive abuse cycles leaves you fairly disabled when it comes to having any kind of consistent happy life. Low functioning borderlines fill prisons and mental hospitals and have about the same employment rate as schizophrenics. Most of us have some borderline traits: we like to get even if we feel wounded, we can negatively exaggerate comments and actions to make them bigger deals than they actually are, and we may do destructive things when we get really mad. But, normal neurotics like us usually feel guilty afterward, apologize, and change for the better. (If you’d like to be especially good at this, receive caring influence and let it transform you.) Borderlines often go crazier if you push them to look at their own sadistic tendencies. A classic example is a marriage fight I’ve seen hundreds of times—a normal neurotic husband forgets the couple’s anniversary (or is late to the restaurant, or tells his friends that his wife had breast surgery, or…). The husband explains, “Forgetting our anniversary does not mean I hate you and want to punish you!” while his wife glares at him venomously, knowing he is a lying bastard who needs to suffer. During stressful angry moments like these, borderlines feel abuse stories forming like dark clouds. Projecting your ‘I want to punish’ self onto another, and then viciously attacking, is called projective identification. It’s the signature defense of BPD. So what to do if you have BPD? Find a good therapist who understands BPD. Have sessions once or twice a week for two to four years, working on you holding on when you’re mad, and interrupting crazy distorted thoughts and behaviors when you believe you’ve been injured. Remember, when you feel hurt you are usually the one amplifying or even creating the problem. A second big part of your work will be to learn how to choose healthy partners and treat them respectfully and generously, resisting siren demands to “Attack! Attack!” when you get mad (for choosing “Five Star” candidates for healthy partnership, see A Five Star Practice for Creating Beautiful Relationships and my second TEDx talk on the VIDEO PAGE.) If you hang out with a borderline who’s not in therapy for their aggression and distortion, reconsider your relationship. People are powerful, and crazy people are crazy powerful. On the other hand, I’ve known lots of people who started out with borderline traits or personalities and then gradually transformed themselves into magnificent, loving, wise beings. A wounded soul deciding to do whatever it takes to turn away from anger and violence towards love and compassion transforms a nightmare life into a beautiful epic story.