Sunday, June 18, 2006

Walking on Eggshells: Dealing with the Borderline in Your Life

Many times, patients or others ask me for a recommendation for a book or help for dealing with an angry, destructive person who is ruining their emotional health. My recomendation for a self-help book when coping with the aftermath of the borderline personality is Stop Walking on Eggshells: Taking Your Life Back When Someone You Care About Has Borderline Personality Disorder. But first of all, what is a borderline and how do know if that is what you are dealing with?

Certainly, one cannot diagnose someone without evaluating them, but many times, the descriptions people give me of their significant other, parent, child, or friend leads me to wonder if the advice seeker is dealing with a borderline. The DSM-IV describes the symptoms of Borderline Personality Disorder as:

1. frantic efforts to avoid real or imagined abandonment. (not including suicidal or self-mutilating behavior covered in Criterion 5)

2. a pattern of unstable and intense interpersonal relationships characterized by alternating between extremes of idealization and devaluation.

3. identity disturbance: markedly and persistently unstable self-image or sense of self.

4. impulsivity in at least two areas that are potentially self-damaging (e.g., spending, sex, substance abuse, reckless driving, binge eating; [not including] suicidal or self-mutilating behavior covered in Criterion 5).

5. recurrent suicidal behavior, gestures, or threats, or self-mutilating behavior

6. affective instability due to a marked reactivity of mood (e.g., intense episodic dysphoria, irritability, or anxiety usually lasting a few hours and only rarely more than a few days)

7. chronic feelings of emptiness.

8.inappropriate, intense anger or difficulty controlling anger (e.g., frequent displays of temper, constant anger, recurrent physical fights).

9. transient, stress-related paranoid ideation or severe dissociative symptoms.

There are even books on how to divorce a Borderline or Narcissistic Personality that give strategies to reduce the damage done to a person during the process. In a book entitled, "Splitting," one section looks at how a borderline can convince your own lawyer that they are right and turn the lawyer against you--I believe it and have seen it happen. I have worked in places where people believe that a borderline must be right because they are "intelligent." Intelligence and craziness are not separate traits--sometimes, someone who is intelligent can be even more emotionally damaging because they are smart enough to carry out manipulations that others can only dream about. So what do you do when encountering the borderline in your life?

Here are some tips from "Stop Walking on Eggshells" (page 140) with some of my own advice thrown in--for brevity's sake, I will list just a few, but if you want more detail-- get the book or go to BPD Central.

1) Stop "sponging" and start "mirroring"--that is, some of those involved with borderlines tend to soak up the borderline's pain and rage and think this is helpful, but in reality, it is like filling up a black hole of emptiness and nothing is good enough. You can try to placate the borderline and work hard to give them love, care etc. but it is never enough. Instead--reflect the painful feelings of the borderline back where they belong--with the borderline.

2) Stay focused and observe your limits. Show by your actions that you have the bottom line. Communicate the limits clearly and act on them consistently. Protect yourself and your children by removing them and yourself from the situation. For example, if a borderline flies into a rage and starts accusing you of things you did not do, tell him or her that you will be taking the kids out until they calm down and you can talk later.

3) Ask the borderline for change. Figure out your personal limits (get help from a therapist if needed) and communicate these to the borderline in a clear manner. However, ask for changes in behavior, not necessarily for changes in feelings--that is, you can ask them to change the behavior of yelling at you, but don't tell them not to be angry.

Finally, the best advice for those who are not yet involved legally with a borderline is a statement I heard from a colleague recently, "Borderlines make great girlfriends (or boyfriends) but you wouldn't want to marry one."

That, I think, sums it up in a nutshell--no offense, but the damage I have seen on victims of those who have borderline personality is not something to be taken lightly. People say that those with BPD can change but often times, they wreck havoc on their spouses, children and/or parents and the abuse lasts a lifetime. Children of those with BPD have trouble in future relationships by seeking out the love of the BPD that they could never get or by avoiding people in the future for fear of more emotional blackmail. Spouses of the BPD seem devastated and often end up with lives of quiet desperation or in the throes of accusations in court and parents end up believing that they are inadequate and incompetent. None of it sounds promising.

Have any readers been involved with a borderline personality disorder--either married to one, or have a parent, child or friend with this disorder-and if so, how did you cope?

Update: Some readers have emailed or asked for more information on a promising treatment for BPD called Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT). Take a look at for answers about DBT.


Blogger DADvocate said...

I believe my ex-wife had/has at least strong border line tendencies. The "splitting" was almost always present in some form or another whether in our relationship or between she and other members of her family.

When we divorced and fought over custody she could be very convincing but would usually blow it by losing composure at some point and showing extreme hostility. As in your example, she is intelligent and people would initially buy into her stories, etc.

Your tips on dealing with BPD are good but I found it impossible after 10 years of marriage. We've been divorced/separated 9 years now. The last couple of years she seems to be mellowing. She's now 45 years old. Does BPD diminish somewhat with age?

2:51 PM, June 18, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dr. Helen---

I don't have any in my personal life, but the above is a chillingly accurate description of a colleague in my department. Sure, you can divorce a spouse with this, but what do you do with a BPD with tenure?

Steve the LLamabutcher

3:32 PM, June 18, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My Ex, I believe, is borderline. Definitely bipolar, possibly narcissistic personality too. My 18 year old son, who has bipolar, may also be borderline as well, but I also believe that all of the above, along with autism, schizophrenia, chronic depression, conduct disorder, ADHD, etc., are all part of a very long spectrum of brain disorders. The rate of co-morbidity and overlapping of signs and symptoms would certainly support that.

Anyway, my Ex ... it's ALL about him. Everything. He is perfect, he can do no wrong. I, however, am a horrible, evil, selfish, bad mommy ... really! Just ask him!

Actually, it is almost laughable the way he projects his flaws, faults and short-comings on to me. Everything he ever accused me of, he had done, or would do in the future. He used to know how to push all my buttons, to make me get hysterical and enraged so easily ... until I made a conscious decision to not allow that anymore. The next time he played the game, and I remained cool, calm and collected ... he LOST it! Seriously lost it, to the point where he was hospitalized with suicidal ideation.

Watching the dynamic of his relationship with his wife, our children and me is like watching a train wreck ... horrifying, yet fascinating. He is a total slave to her approval, to the point where he has sacrificed the needs and best interest of the children. She was uncomfortable with me around, because he showed that he was not "over" me three years post-divorce. So he pretty much shut me out of the children's lives. Of course, because I was not allowed to see the children as much, that made me a bad mommy.

Oh ... yes, he had custody. He convinced the lawyers and judge that I was incapable of providing for the children properly, as he had been doing solely on his income alone while I stayed at home. Go figure.

If, on the 29th, it sounds like a nuclear bomb goes off in Oak Ridge, it hasn't. That will be the day my Ex, thinking he will stop paying support for our son, now that he is 18 and out of school, and I will start paying him for the 16 year old still in his custody, will be told that he has to continue paying for the 18 year old, due to his disability and also for the 16 year old, because she is coming to live with me (she's tired of living with a step-mother that calls her a whore). It should make for a pretty spectacular meltdown.

How do I cope? With my Ex, I just shut off all emotion. I let go of all feeling for him. If I don't care about him, I don't care what he says about me, anymore than I would some stranger on the street.

With my son, it is a little different. Lately, it has been "Let go and let God." I talk to people, my mother mostly. People who understand or at least try to. There are many days when I don't think I am coping well at all, and I may too need a bed at Peninsula very soon. But I keep it together somehow, perhaps by sheer force of will, knowing that if I fall apart, there isn't anyone that can pick up the pieces. My children still need me, and that is what keeps me going ... one day at a time, or sometimes, one hour or even one minute at a time. Whatever gets me through.

3:51 PM, June 18, 2006  
Blogger Craig R. Harmon said...

For a more hopeful example, my wife and I have been married for 11 years. She's been diagnosed with Borderline Personality and more recently with Bi-Polar Disorder. We have found that, with medicine (Geodon and Depakote) and ongoing psycological counseling, she has improved markedly.

3:55 PM, June 18, 2006  
Blogger The Future and The Past said...

my wives arent borderline, yes you heard me right, my wives.. i have 4 of them.. dont worry i am not a bigamist, they all share the same body.. my wife is a Multiple personality, its not always easy but i love them all, she has bi polar, not seen any major borderline, but then again, a lot of those symptoms described can be said to fit most of humanity.

she has 5 female personalities, one a child and 4 adults and 4 males, and they are all different, they speak diffent, have different mannerisms, and she is happy with them, and so am i, but isnt that the point, if your happy with your situation why change it for some potential health that may never happen.

i think a lot of these psychological problems are being over diagnosed, if in the past before psychology became popular, and they seemed to have survived it, then whats the problem with people now. the problem i see now is using psychological problems (i hesitate to use the word problem) to excuse bad behaviour, i cant do this as my child has autism, i cant do that they have adhd. plus all the medications they are on, which cost a lot, it makes me wonder if they deliberatly diagnose minor problems, and make them out to be more than they are just for the medical companies to make money

but if it hurts no one, then whats the problem. now i know its not for most people being with a multi, but for me and my love it does. and they are all happy with it, and me, and i am happy with them.

4:12 PM, June 18, 2006  
Blogger M. Simon said...

This sounds a lot like PTSD.

I think a big pointer in that direction is self medication, or what we prefer to call it in America - substance abuse.

Is Addiction Real?

BTW the new head of NIDA agrees with me - "addictiion" is 50% genetic and 50% environmental.

Given the amount of substance "abuse" in America the untreated population is huge. And how do we deal with the under treated? Punish them for treating themselves. Cute.

4:16 PM, June 18, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've been dealing with someone who I suspect may have borderline ... I used to get upset when this person, who is pretty intelligent, used to come up with elaborate schemes about how I or someone else had betrayed her, were plotting to harm her, and so on. At some point you have to stop letting the stuff get to you -- You can't become emotionally invested with the person any longer or their projection and anxieties will destroy you.

4:18 PM, June 18, 2006  
Blogger M. Simon said...

PTSD diminishes with age.

See the Max Planck Institute study by B. Lutz.

4:21 PM, June 18, 2006  
Blogger M. Simon said...

Here is the B. Lutz link.

4:25 PM, June 18, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

With the exception of "suicidal" and "self mutitlating" your description of Borderline Personality Disorder fits my ex wife very closely. I coped for 20 years by keeping my temper, steering angry conversations around to real world concerns, investing time and emotional energy into the children, going out with the boys one night per week, doing the cooking, and taking the kids skiing every winter weekend.
Finally, when the children were off to college, I divorced her. That improved my life enormously. And the children stay with me rather than with her on school vacations.

4:26 PM, June 18, 2006  
Blogger FastNed said...

Nine months into a relationship, after placing her in rehab twice (with her consent) I was unable to take any more. Compulsive sex with my friends, theft, prostitution for drug money and on and on and on. I told her on Friday that I could not take any more and that she had to move out by Sunday.
I returned from work on Saturday to discover she had killed herself in our bed. Initially, I ended up in handcuffs in the back seat of a police car but when other police arrived, they found a suicide note on the kitchen counter.
I was more than astounded to have several of her family advise me that she had been diagnosed as Bi-Polar years earlier - no-one had ever thought it important to mention to me!
I really don't know what I could have done different as the relationship was destroying me - it did not excite me to learn that many of my so-called friends had bedded her (undoubtedly at her instigation) but even so!
That was January of 1997 and to this day I have been unable to make a long term committment to another woman.

4:34 PM, June 18, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

With 18 years of marriage behind me and divorce pending, I am only now getting to grips with her BPD (7 of 9)after two years of separation from my wife. The "Walking on Eggshells" book series were a great help four years ago when I first found them.

Initially, I found her the complement to my introversion, and hoped to learn from her and so help end my social isolation. Instead I found a bottomless pit of need absorbing any and everything I had and being cursed for not having enough. Moreover, her "you don't care about me!" perceptions were here justification to hoard (shopping - clothing by the cubic yard, for example) and punish through tirades and deliberate credit card abuse.

My seeking guidance over 10 years with and without her all had the common outcome - It was MY problem, so when was I going to fix me? Anytime a counselor suggested the least amount of change or responsibility on her part was immediately rejected.

My attempts to stand up for mself were met by the imperious Witch or helpless Waif personalities (see the Eggshells book) and I was bullied or suckered into submission, again. This separation has let me decompress - no daily meddling to put up with - and try and rebuild my self-esteem.

The "Eggshell" books were a good start, but I'm only now getting the social skills to apply them. But at least I can!

4:45 PM, June 18, 2006  
Blogger Jeff Faria said...

I was having a pretty OK day until I read those symptoms. Now I've decided I have most or all of them, and I'll be depressed for a week.

Ignorance may not be bliss, but for me it's as close as it gets.

4:48 PM, June 18, 2006  
Blogger M. Simon said...


A desire for a lot of sex can be an endorphin deficiency. Heroin helps here. Also some bipolars respond well to pot and it is much less dangerous than lithium.

We need to change our outlook from changing such people to helping them. What we see as self destructive may actually be a coping mechanism for what may be a more severe problem without the coping mechanism.

4:58 PM, June 18, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Do you know there are companies whose whole management style/team is like this?

5:04 PM, June 18, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't believe these personality characterizations of the DSM-IV. Any of them. They sound too pat. Too canned and also all-embracing. They sound too much like astrological descriptions for me to accept them as useful. Wht five or more? Is this some sort of family-style Chinese menu?

Of course I understand it doesn't matter what I believe -- I'm just offering that they are just not believeable.

5:10 PM, June 18, 2006  
Blogger Woody said...

I'm glad that I read this. I've had crazy people in my life and it took a few major problems to recognize that I invited them in to my life to hurt me when I was kind to them. I now run when I see any of the same characteristics in potential new friends. However, none of them match some of the crazies that I've read about here, so maybe I'm not so unlucky afterall.

5:25 PM, June 18, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anon - BPD is real. Believe it. The best way to deal with it is at a distance. The best advice in Stop Walking on Eggshells is that the BPD has to make the decision to get better. You can't do it for them. bpdcentral is a great resource, too, particularly the messageboard.

5:56 PM, June 18, 2006  
Blogger Lee J. Cockrell said...

I have a slightly longer response at my blog. (New host, please let me know of any problems.)

The two best stories I've read online about Borderlines are My Trip to Oz and Back (a lesbian recounts her years with a borderline partner), and Thomas Scoville's tale of being married to a borderline, Borderlands. If reading those two stories hit close to home for you, GET OUT OF YOUR RELATIONSHIP NOW. Because offering a borderline help or emotional support often makes them worse, it is a tricky disorder to treat, and probably not possible for someone with an emotional investment in the person.

6:00 PM, June 18, 2006  
Blogger Lee J. Cockrell said...

M Simon -- BPD and PTSD are so similar, they're almost considered redundant diagnoses these days:

6:07 PM, June 18, 2006  
Blogger darwin said...

I have a friend who has never been diagnosed but who meets 5-7 of the criteria for BPD either now or for years of his past. He's approaching 30 and stabilizing a bit but it's been a whole lot of difficulty over the last 15 years I've known him. The most important thing for me was to realize that there is no way for me to fix his life for him. In order to keep myself from absorbing his self-hatred and dissociation, I have had to learn to not care too much. If I am actually powerless to fix him, I have to allow him to fail or struggle in these ways or go crazy myself. I just remind him that I care for him, believe in him and am willing to help him as long as it's not at my expense.


6:09 PM, June 18, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

@Anonymous 5:10

Obviously, you have not had the pleasure of spending a great deal of time with anyone who has any of these personality/mood/brain disorders. See my first post, the third one of thread, where I describe all these "problems" as being part of a larger, single spectrum.

So, yes, it is very much like a family-style Chinese dinner. My son has a large helping of bipolar, with a smaller amount of ADHD, and some side helpings of PTSD, depression, and maybe a bite or two of autism or aspergers. My Ex, on the other hand, has gone hog wild with the narcissistic personality over a pilaf of borderline, and on the side he has a few spoonfuls of bipolar, depression and conduct disorder.

Maybe they are over-diagnosed, more often, I would say MIS-diagnosed. Maybe the increase in numbers of those thusly diagnoses could be due to better treatments and drugs. Instead of being left to waste away in asylums or having their lives shortened by suicide, the mentally disordered are now able to live lives very close to "normal" which would include having children ... and unfortunately, passing along the genes that likely are the cause of these disorders.

Don't poo-poo what you do not understand, and what makes you uncomfortable. These disorders are very, very real ... and often very deadly. Making such allegations as you have does not do anything but cause pain for people like my son, and their caregivers, like me.

6:10 PM, June 18, 2006  
Blogger Maetenloch said...

My ex-wife had BPD. She was never officially diagnosed, but she had all the symptoms listed in the DSM except for self-mutilation. Of course I wasn't even aware of BPD until after her final freakout and the end of our marriage.

What people often don't realize is that someone can be 'crazy' with a true personality disorder, yet be functional and appear successful in their day to day interactions. Apart from the BPD, my ex-wife had many good qualities - she was cute, smart, exciting, and charismatic. All great qualities in a girlfriend, but the BPD was a killer for any real relationship. To reiterate what Dr. Helen said, it's hard to realize how convincing and manuipulative a person with BPD can be. Intelligence + charm + intensity + a disturbed mind can be a diabolical combination. My ex was able to convince her previous therapist that she no longer had any issues, and got her to attend our wedding. She was truly able to convince people that black was just a special form of white. She was even able to convince me for a while that all of her problems including her previous divorce were actually my fault - and I have a pretty strong mental frame! Needless to say, the damage she caused took me a few years to get over.

Even though I'm a nurturing and supportive person by nature, my experiences with my ex have made me a harsher person. I really tried to love her and be supportive, but when dealing with a BPD person no good deed ever goes unpunished. I now view any non-trivial mental illness (much less a diagnosable DSM disorder) as a dealbreaker for any relationship. I know this goes against the ethos of psychotherapy and the healing arts, but there are just too many quality potential spouses out there to waste your life with someone who's known to be 'defective'. Do these people deserve someone who will love and support them as they are? Sure. But let that someone be someone else.

6:23 PM, June 18, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's true that BPD and BP (bipolar) are part of a spectrum; yet, also quite different. While BPD can respond well to intense therapy (I know some BPDs that have done very well) BP is usually best treated by a combination of medication and therapy. And yes, some meds can aid BPDs in improving themselves, but that's far different than meds needed for stabilization period.

And yes, an unmedicated BP can indeed have many symptoms of BPD--Lord knows I did before I got meduicated. (Yes, I'm BP) A good psychiatrist can tease out the difference, usually.

m. simon said: "Also some bipolars respond well to pot and it is much less dangerous than lithium."

I beg to differ. Pot, or any other drug, can push a BP into a psychosis. It happens. I know some who've had tis ha[[en. Not cool. And I dunno how lithium is dangerous; yes, one can go toxic on it but that's hardly dangerous if one knows the symptoms. It's happened to me twice. No biggie, just change the dose.

On the other hand, I know some who use pot as a supplement to or in place of normal meds. Yes, it can do OK for some, but it has never been something I would recommend; quite the opposite. And yes, i'm tired of people saying this or that psych med is dangerous/more dangerous than X treatment. I'm happy to gulp my meds down every night because I know they work and are safe, except to a small portion of the population.

Anyways, I've seen several comments along the lines of "s/he is BP and BPD." I wonder, how many of those who are said to be BP are/have been on meds? Believe me, a properly treated BP is almost a completely different person. As I said, i once was pushing the BPD diagnosis; but after getting medicated, I'm almost normal!

7:17 PM, June 18, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

CNS ... love the forum, Crazyboards. I must make time to do some reading there.

That said, you raise some really good points about meds, self-medicating with pot, etc. I too cringe when Lithium is called "dangerous" ... that statement is borne of ignorance. My dad has been taking it since 1972 with no major problems, and is even mentioned in a med journal article on the safety in long-term use. He was one of the subjects in the UCSD study that was seminal in Lithium becoming the treatment of choice for manic depression, as it was called then. Safe? I have more faith in Lithium than I do Tylenol.

My son, also on Lithium, or supposed to be, is self-medicating with pot. His rationale is that he needs it to stay calm and focused. "But what about the Lithium?" I ask, "You felt OK when you were taking it regularly." He replies, "Having to take it makes me feel like I can't be in control of myself." When I point out that he is just substituting the pot for the Lithium, he just gets that blank stare, shutting me out. In the mean time, he's getting (more) depressed because he can't get a job because every employer is drug screening applicants these days. But he refuses to quit the pot and get back on the Lithium. Welcome to my madness ...

@Maetenloch ... if it is any comfort at all, if any is even needed, I know exactly what you mean. I'm at the point where, if contemplating a new relationship, I would demand a full criminal background check, credit report, psych evaluation, drug screen, HIV and STD tests, and a note from mommy before even agreeing to meet for coffee. Cause I'm worth it ...

8:03 PM, June 18, 2006  
Blogger Assistant Village Idiot said...

I see a good deal of overlap between the PTSD and BPD diagnoses as well. I do not see that huge an overlap with BPAD. Manicky people look a lot like personality disorders because the frontal lobe discontrol mirrors the overemotionality of the borderline.

They do mellow with age. The episodes become less frequent and/or less intense. It may not be healing so much a dampening energy. (But what's the difference, then?)

Don't worry about finding descriptions of yourself in various diagnoses. We all have some maladaptive responses - the difference is whether you can muster a variety of responses appropriate to differing situations, or whether you have to play the same cards repeatedly, regardless of circumstance.

As to the multiple personalities, I have never seen one that was not induced by the desire of of the therapist or the patient. It only happens when you force it to happen.

8:24 PM, June 18, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dr. Helen, this has got to be one of your very best posts. Shedding light on the BPD phenomina can only help. In my work as a therapist, I've dealt with a number of BPD's (not allways clients, sometimes staff) and the work is difficult, demanding, frustrating and highly rewarding.

I'm in mind of two clients, both in long term therapy in which limits had to be set initially broad enough to keep them in therapy, but narrowing as time and control allowed. Both were highly abused as children (though not a prerequisite, it happens fairly often), both in long term relationships and both "given up on" by the psychiatric community. After three years in one case and 5 in the other, it was good to hear that both are doing well (and this is from their spouses, not the client necessarily).

Keep shedding light on these disorders Dr. Helen, you have no idea how far your insights travel via the internet. Thanks.

8:26 PM, June 18, 2006  
Blogger Helen said...


In my experience as a clinician etc., I do believe that BPD gets somewhat better with age--it seems to peak in the 20's and 30's and then improve, but not always--the personality disorders are an inherent part of the personality and difficult to change. However, a new type of therapy called dialectical therapy is promising-it was pioneered by Marsha Linehan and here is more information:

Hi GM:

There are many psychological disorders that people do not understand--I always thought that much of this information was known to the average layperson, but apparently, I was wrong as many people become involved with others with mental illness and do not realize what they are getting into--often until it is too late--Thanks for doing the work needed to treat those who are BPD as it is indeed, very difficult and frustrating.

8:41 PM, June 18, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for the interesting info (came here via your insta-partner). My sister check out many of the items in your list, with the notable exceptions of suicidal tendencies and self-harm (unless you count excessive partying and sunbaking).

I've just recently had hopefully my last conversation with her. Since she was a teenager she has been combative, provocative and easily enraged. I've periodically been abused with such vitriol it usually takes months before the wounds heal. It's personal, nasty and, worst of all, quite convincing - she's a master of personal denigration. I'm not a type who usually backs down from a confrontation, but it's different with family; and I'm a bit old fashioned in that I don't believe in getting into fights with women (no not chivalry, it's just that they're too good at it). I've always been there for her and have proven this many times over many years.

We get on fine for short periods of time, but then it's just one wayward statement I make that's taken the wrong way and she explodes. My parents tiptoe around her, but it doesn't help. She will fire a tirade of invective then hang up the phone or slam the door. As the big brother of the family it's always been my job to reconcile with her. It's never her fault so she has never said sorry. But sometimes I have dug in the heels, so there have been periods of up to five years when I haven't heard from her. She ignored the birth of my first son during one of these periods, and has mostly ignored my second son in subsequent periods, despite the fact that she is his godmother.

This time I put some advertising business her way. I usually use professional agencies, but my parents said she is looking for work, and has a talent for this sort of thing. After only a couple of weeks of (intentionally) minimal contact after providing her with a brief, we have again crossed the threshold of tolerance. In all recent phone conversations she has accused me of having poor communication skills and finished by hanging up on me (yes, some irony there). I follow up with the usual strategy: emailing a grovelling apology for whatever I did to upset her (which I can rarely put my finger on), but it's only a short term fix. The more exposure to her, the quicker I seem to irritate her. The last call I made resulted in nearly ten solid minutes of loud, foul-mouthed abuse (the language gets worse with the years), then accusations via email, copied to others, that I had been unscrupulously exploiting her good nature etc. Then she walked off the job and sent some hefty bills for the unfinished work (which were paid immediately).

She's now in her mid fourties, doing the same histrionics she did as a kid, but now more calculating and manipulative. It still hurts, especially since I know exactly what my motivations were in putting some business her way.

The only lesson I can learn is that there's nothing you can do, so why cop the abuse? Maybe if my parents had, over the years, put their collective foot down and drew the line at certain behaviour, she may have learnt to control herself better. But I'm not sure, as she usually gets what she wants with her performances. Always the centre of attention. Always being talked about. Always feared by family members who want get-togethers to run smoothly (they never do; there's always a drama at the end, with my sister at the centre of it). There's no way she'd even consider medication or behaviour control, and I think this is because she doesn't want to give up the power that her outbursts seem to give her.

Maybe if she had more responsibility in life it would help. But everything is about her. She's single, no kids, and her long term lover is a very wealthy, much older, married businessman. She can be very charming and sophisticated, and fits right in with the Yachts, Lear jets, resorts and loads of expensive Champagne. But it looks hollow to me, and I feel that she's chosen a lifestyle that suits her personality. No responsibilities, no need to ever compromise or adapt.

10:04 PM, June 18, 2006  
Blogger M. Simon said...


Pot like any other medication causes different responses in different people. Some it helps, some it doesn't, and others get worse. If it helps it is one of the safest thereapeutically active substances known to man.

PTSD and the Endocannabinoid System covers the CB1 receptor system in the brain. The amygdala is implicated. It is where long term pain memories are stored. The pain memories seem to be a feature of PTSD and Borderline Personality Disorder.

10:26 PM, June 18, 2006  
Blogger M. Simon said...


You can overdose on lithium and kill yourself. The lethal dose is 1.5X to 2X the effective dose. For pot the ratio is estimated to be greater than 40,000 to 1. No one actually knows what it is because of the very low toxcisity of pot.


I'm so sorry to hear the government is persecuting your son for his choice of medicine. e-mail me (address at Power and Control - on the side bar) if you would care to discuss this off line.


Read Marvin Minsky "Societies of the Mind". We all are multiple personalities. In some of us the personalities are integrated and function as a unit. In others the personalities are at cross purposes - that is when you get the MPD label.

10:44 PM, June 18, 2006  
Blogger TheNewGuy said...

Dr. Helen speaks the truth.

I'm a physician myself, and after receiving some psychiatric training in medical school, I came to realize that I'd dated a number of these walking disasters during high school and college... thank Almighty God I avoided any serious relationship entanglements with any of them. Once you realize that you're dealing with one of these folks, and you understand what drives them, they're really quite fascinating to watch...

But be careful! These patients have the potential to sow chaos and discord wherever they go. They can be charismatic, exciting, and seductive, while at the same time extremely manipulative, they're often very good liars, and they're infamous for pitting people against each other. A bad BPD can create all sorts of problems on an inpatient unit, often splitting and manipulating their fellow patients, to the point of starting fights among them.

Watch out for these people... and don't marry one if you can avoid it. They are the ultimate Black-Hole-of-Emotional-Need, and that underlying fear of abandonment combined with their inner emptiness really drives them to some bizarre extremes.

One of my colleagues had a bit of advice for a young man who came into the ER with his overdosed borderline fiance (she'd taken a bunch of pills after a fight). It was the first time the BPD had really reared its ugly head in the relationship (though the multiple old scars on her wrists from previous self-mutilation episodes hinted at a long-standing problem). The stunned, wide-eyed fiance stood and watched as a half-dozen nurses and techs had to restrain the fighting/biting/spitting/screaming young lady while they snaked an NG tube down her nose to administer the activated charcoal. After hearing that they weren't yet married, my colleage walked over and stood next to the boyfriend, leaned over to the young man and uttered a single word:


11:00 PM, June 18, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


"Obviously, you have not had the pleasure of spending a great deal of time with anyone who has any of these personality/mood/brain disorders."

Don't be so sure. In fact I know a great deal about the symptoms.

And I think that the DSV 'stories' don't ring true to me. The DSM offers are so many traits...too many...for it to be many words and used with what appears to me to be a false claim at accuracy.

I can't quite describe it but there is just something about the DSM which doesn't ring true.

They all sound the same because each syndrome has so many descriptors and, in this case, you have to gave FIVE out of nine to be able to be BPD. The DSM demands that words act with a precision far beyond their capability.

I can'timagine that this is an uncommon criticism of the DSM.

@Anonymous 5:10

11:07 PM, June 18, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've given up on any meaningful relationship with my mother. Her official diagnosis is bipolar, but the people who diagnosed it didn't have to live with her! Given that 30+ years of lithium have done little to stabilize her, and that she fits most of the criteria for BPD, I have my doubts that she's bipolar. She can act surprisingly normal (when it works to her advantage), and I've been taken in by it more than once. Then comes a stream of invective, followed by some sort of dramatic, attention-seeking gesture. (She once made a serious suicidal gesture in front of my then-13-year-old sister.) While she's mellowed a bit with age, the damage is done. I spent my childhood having to act like an adult, and I just don't have anything left for her. After years of guilt, I realize that it's OK to sever ties. If there were a way to officially "divorce" a parent, I'd do it.

Another excellent source is And if you want your jaw to drop at some dead-on characterization, read The Amateur Marriage by Anne Tyler.

Thanks for the chance to vent.

11:27 PM, June 18, 2006  
Blogger Manos said...

My experience with BPD was all mixed up with religion. My BPD ex-wife would use religion a manipulative tool to control me. If she was unhappy (a constant) then it was because I was not being the “godly man of the house.”

I also often felt physcially threatened by her. She would burst into sudden bursts of rage in public places or at my family’s house. The more embarrassing the location, the more likely that it would occur. I would attempt to placate her, make her relax, apologize for any perceived slight. But nothing ever worked.

After finding out that I had a rare genetic eye disease that would lead to blindness, she suddenly left me. Of course she stated that it was because I
“didn’t meet her emotional needs.” But maybe that’s the secret to splitting from someone from BPD, be more needy than they are.

After she left, I realized within a week that I was already much happier, despite my diagnosis. My family was calling me to congratulate me. Thank god we did not have kids. I also think marrying somone with BPD usually comes from a place of insecurity. Now that I am older I would never allow anyone to treat me like that.

11:32 PM, June 18, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

@M. Simon ... I don't recall stating that my son is being persecuted by the government. Businesses are demanding more and more that their employees be drug-free and I support that. I don't particularly care for the people providing goods and services to me be stoners with memory problems, delusional thinking and paranoia. I also have some very personal objections to recreational drug ab/use. My son is dangerously close to being presented with a box for under a bridge if he doesn't clean his act up really soon. I refuse to have a pot-head in my home, not only for the legal liability, but because I watched the drug culture kill my brother. I refuse to watch the same thing happen to my son.

@anony 5:10 ... please forgive, I misunderstood the intent of your post. I agree that the DSM is poorly written and the criteria for diagnosis is too cut and dry, pronouncing the clearly ill as well, and those with minor personality quirks as psychotic in many cases.

11:39 PM, June 18, 2006  
Blogger M. Simon said...


The best kind of oppression is that which is willinly called for.

So let me ask: if the drugs are so harmful and cause such noticable impairment why do we need to test for them?

Did you know that Microsoft only drug tests for cause? Perhaps your son could work there. In fact a Silicon Valley Study found that companies that don't test are significantly more profitable.

I might add that the testing craze peaked a few years back at about 70% of all jobs. It is down to around 45% now and declining. It doesn't do anything useful.

As to recreational use (I'm not sure such a thing exists - however, I will grant you that for the sake of argument) which would be better a drug like alcohol with a 1:4 intoxicating dose to LD50 dose ratio? Or a drug like pot where the ratio is 1:40,000 or more?

12:17 AM, June 19, 2006  
Blogger M. Simon said...


The drug culture never killed any one. What killed them was lack of proper treatment. In my opinion (and in your son's case you admit) chronic use is medical use.

It is pretty pathetic that we live in a country where turning you son out for smoking vegetables is considered rational, wise, and kind. At least that is a step up from turning him in to the police directly.

In any case your son (and other people you allude to) are proof that prohibition is not doing what it is supposed to do: keep drugs from the vulnerable.

Prohibition is an awful flop.
We like it.
It can't stop what it's meant to stop.
We like it.
It's left a trail of graft and slime,
It won't prohibit worth a dime,
It's filled our land with vice and crime.
Nevertheless, we're for it.

Franklin P. Adams, 1931

12:32 AM, June 19, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Children of those with BPD have trouble in future relationships by seeking out the love of the BPD that they could never get or by avoiding people in the future for fear of more emotional blackmail."

So true. My father was BP, I believe, but in those days an Irish alcoholic with rage/abandonment problems did not have a clinical name. It's interesting that today, ten years after his death, he still looms as large to some of us. No one has truly hit a home run in love; most of us have married passive mates or not married at all (too risky). But as life goes on, it gets better. A lifetime of effort does pay off in increased confidence and reconciliation.

12:43 AM, June 19, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think my mother is borderline. All of her way-too-many-for-a-crazy-person children have significant social disfunction and anxiety disorders.

Imagine a large number of children growing up with a borderline mother and a depressed, self-loathing, over-religious father who couldn't stand up to the crazy mom.

And we were very isolated. So isolated that never once during my childhood did a my parents have anyone over to the house. No friends, no one from the outside allowed in. I didn't even know there was such a thing as a restaurant until I was 15.

All of us kids are scattered all over the country, and don't live near them, except for the craziest one of the kids. She and my mom feed each others' craziness.

My mom is very old now, and calls me several times a week. She always has poison to spread about people she thinks have done her wrong, and hurt feelings that have to be carefully tended. And she criticizes every fricking thing my father does. She's a hateful crone.

1:04 AM, June 19, 2006  
Blogger DRJ said...

"Finally, the best advice for those who are not yet involved legally with a borderline is a statement I heard from a colleague recently, "Borderlines make great girlfriends (or boyfriends) but you wouldn't want to marry one."

This reminds me of the Runaway Bride.

1:07 AM, June 19, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

How serendipidous that this blog appeared today. I had just ordered "Stop Walking on Eggshells" from Amazon when I discovered this particular post. My 30 year old daughter is BPD, she has 2 daughters. She was misdiagnosed and treated for rapid cycling manic depression when she was 17. She stayed on meds and in treatment until she was 21. She overdosed and was hospitalized 3 times during that period. Even though she was under psychiatric care she seemed to get worse not better.

When she was 21 she stopped therapy and meds and though her life was a chaotic mess she stayed out of the hospital. She has always been a trainwreck and most of her siblings try to keep her at arms length as her behavior is always so random. She has been in rehab for alchohol and cocaine abuse.

She was sober during her last pregnancy but when the baby was 3 months old she began to drink again. She has moved back in with her alchoholic exhusband, since she lost her job, the first one she'd had since her first daughter was born. She was getting state assistance while she tried to attend school.

She has ripped our family apart recently with her delusions and false accusations, insanity during the holidays. We are still trying to cope with all the ramifications of this last major episode.

She is always in crisis mode. She has been hospitalized twice for assorted reasons over the last year. The last one was an overnight in the ER observation wing because she "accidentally" forgot and took two extra doses of her antidepressants. She hallucinated and had repeated panic episodes in the hospital. The pumped her full of antianxiety meds and sent her home with instruction to go to county outpatient mental health and be evaluated and get some proper meds and treatment.

That lasted all of a week when she bailed because the psychiatrist wanted her to sign a release for all her past treatment records. She is going back to her primary care physician to try to get meds.
The hospital has her tagged as having personality disorders and I have finally realized that all the awful behaviors she manifested couldn't be explained by Manic Depression.

Being Mom, I can't run away, wish I could sometime. I fear for my little granddaughters, who live amid the wreckage.

I am hoping for some perspective for both myself and my other adult children, survival techniques if you will. Some of my children don't really believe she has a mental illness. She can appear fairly normal. Hopefully I can educate them a bit. I discovered the BPD sites that you recommended last week on my own, and I have been reading everything I can get my hands on.

I am saddened by the bleak future of continued chaos for her and her little children.

BPD is a real illness of tragic proportions.

1:18 AM, June 19, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My ex has never been formally diagnosed, but I believe she is a BPD with 8 of the 9 symptoms, as well as the "splitting" and other behaviors that aren't listed as official symptoms.

I've seen everything described above, and yes she's very intelligent, and quite the con artist to boot. She went in for a job interview, was rejected, went back in and talked them into hiring her anyway. I still have a copy of the acceptance letter: "We don't really need you, but we're hiring you anyway." You could practically hear the hiring manager thinking to herself "I really have no idea why I'm doing this. . . . "

We've been separated for almost 2 years now and "officially divorced" since last October. She's engaged again. I pity the man. I'd guess that they'll have 3-5 years together before she gets bored with him and dumps him for the next one. I only hope that he doesn't have children with her that tie him to her, unlike me. Once the children are old enough, I'm sure they'll choose to live with me over her, but until then. . . I wait.

Hopefully she'll mellow with age, but she's only 30, so. . .who can say? The biggest thing I'm worried about right now is protecting my children from her influence as much as possible.

2:47 AM, June 19, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have a parent with this. Now I live in Russia (not the best choice, by the way, if you come from a family of addicts). It never affected me very much, since my mother got custody, but I hated seeing what it was doing to the rest of the family. Maybe I should have stuck around to offer support to them. I've kept in touch, and it seems like things have been better recently. Maybe it does diminish with age.

And now I've just realized who my boss reminds me of. For 3 years, I've been dealing with someone who calls at weird hours (usually drunk), said there was no way I would ever get a promotion (but now that I've got one, apparently it was her idea all along), says horrible things about people when they're just close enough to hear the conversation, hides important documents, and just makes stuff up. I don't know why I've never made that connection before, but it explains why I have an easier time with her than the rest of the staff.

3:01 AM, June 19, 2006  
Blogger jw said...

anonymous 5:04 said "Do you know there are companies whose whole management style/team is like this?"

YES! Yes, I once worked for a company with a BPD management style. HORRID! Terrible ...


I've heard psychs say there is no possible treatment for any of the personality disroders. I've heard other psychs say there is treatment and it works. I wonder which is telling the truth? I'm confused ...


I've seen father's/men's advocates diagnosed with personalilty disorders so that the psych didn't have to deal with the man's very real complaints; (at least that is my opinion on the matter). I do think that politics plays a small, but real, part is diagnosing the personality disorders. If memory serves, these are called Martha Mitchell errors.

4:17 AM, June 19, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Christmas in "almost July" (albeit sad) . . .

Doc--your broaching this subject led me to read everything referenced, and I sit here somewhat dumbfounded--

I once had a chance--I had taken the boys and told my Bride that we would not return until she had engaged a counselor long term.

Twenty years of accusations and acrimony were immediately absolved as she pleaded for us to return.

Unfortunately, I did. Within two years, when she had again attained emotional ascendancy, she filed, walked, and . . .

The lost "wealth" is nothing. But my oldest son went "her way" and contact has been nil. My youngest?

At 26, he is just realizing, even though I have always "been there"--

That I have always been there.

Reading Scoville's narrative was like re-living the past. Now 8 years past the last chapter of my personal horror, and intentionally not seeking a partner (call it fear, refusal to repeat the mistake, idiocy, whatever) . . .

Someone who understands the elements of a loving relationship latched on and will not let go.

Normalcy can never be over-rated. I have it at long last.

Thanks, Doc.

5:02 AM, June 19, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

it seems like everyone speaking on this board knows a borderline, or so on.. if a majority of them are, and it seems to be common, then either everyone on the planet is ill with that problem or its normal.

thats the problem, i am normal, no major problems, but at some times in my life i have done a lot of things on the post, does it mean i am a borderline, no.. all it means is normal everyday people can have moments like that, but they get over it. should everyone be medicated for moments like that, thats the problem, how do we know when its a tiny thing or a major problem.

i used to work at a psychology department and designed some mental health leaflets and spoke to the staff there. the problem is everyone on this planet, if you look at them deeply enough fits all those 9 categories at one point in their lives, or more, but it doesnt mean they are suffering from it. some people use this as an excuse for bad behaviour, i take what psychologists say with a pinch of salt, especially the discovering of problems in everyone.

5:16 AM, June 19, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

of course the answer is always expensive therapy, and expensive drugs,

5:17 AM, June 19, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

@M Simon ... (apologies for continuing this OT line)

You have no friggin clue about the drug culture out there. It most certainly did kill my brother ... in the form of a 2x4 upside his head, in the hands of a pissed off drug dealer that wanted him to buy his wares but he refused. He had finally, after years of trying, gotten himself cleaned up and off the drugs, but this one guy didn't like that. Oh, and he served one year in jail for the murder.

You seem to think that all drug use is self-medicating and for a good purpose. I beg to differ. You see, I have seen a much different view of what these drugs do to people. I have gone into the houses, piled with filth, children dirty, hungry and neglected while those responsible for their care lay around in a drugged stupor, often times dead by the time I got there.

That's the ugly reality of drug abuse ... and you condone that? You're sick.

So let me ask: if the drugs are so harmful and cause such noticable impairment why do we need to test for them?

Because the impairment is NOT that noticeable. Would you really like for the brakes on your car to be installed by somebody that got stoned out of their mind last night? Jazzed up on coke? Shooting up everyday? You think it's OK that the engineer designing the bridges over the interstate is high while he calculates weight tolerances?

You are crazy.

As long as these drugs are illegal, I will not have them in my home. Whether or not I am the user, I stand a risk of arrest if my son is here with his dope. I am not going to do that. Now you may wish that this crap was legal and you could pollute yourself at will with these poisons, but do not try to further your agenda using my son as an example. The pot smoking is ruining what little chances he has at a successful life.

I cannot see how his "self-medicating" with unknown quantity and quality of substances is somehow better than tested, measured, prescribed medications from the doctor is any better. When he takes his meds, he does not feel the need to smoke pot. It's that simple. The hard part is counseling him to see the need for controlling his illness. People like you are of no help whatsoever.


@anonymous 5:17 ... the same can be said for most medical conditions. So, your point is ... ??

7:06 AM, June 19, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

the fat man cometh said...
"the problem is everyone on this planet, if you look at them deeply enough fits all those 9 categories at one point in their lives, or more, but it doesnt mean they are suffering from it."

The issue is consistancy. A lifetime of variation may cover all the points, but the problem is a problem because a significant group of those points are structural to the BPDs' basis for dealing with life.

An extreme example - somebody sorrowful may think about suicide. A BPD may threaten suicide for trivial dissapointments as a routine response!

A not so extreme example - Dissapointment (any cause) = $500 spending spree. Complaint? "Well if you loved me, you'd have a REAL job and there wouldn't be any money problems!"

See the point? BPD is not just the list, it's the consistancy of the list as regular behavior.

LisaKay - Yes, I relate strongly with your comments about shutting off emotion. I thought if I could just tough it out, to show her that I really loved her through thick and thin, she would eventually understand and find some calm. In truth, nothing can ever be enough to fill the bottomless pit of need - just placate it momentarily.

I'm now working to accept that she's lost to me, and not to beat myself up for my failures to stop the damage to her, me, and the family. Separation has helped. There's more to be done, and I'm willing to do it now.

Charlie from 4:45pm

7:21 AM, June 19, 2006  
Blogger M. Simon said...


Prohibition killed your brother. Pharmacists at Walgreens don't treat their customers that way.

You are absolutely right about the effects of prohibition on self medication. Purity and dose are uncertain. I hardly see that as an advertisement for prohibition.

We are never going to get a handle on our drug problems until we understand why people take drugs. I think I have pushed a little understanding in that direction. As I have said the head of the NIDA is in agreement with my analysis. So if I'm not helping neither is she. And she carries more weight.

You might be interested in the work of Dr. Marks in England. He found that the pathologies you noted are greatly reduced when regular supplies of drugs of known purity are supplied to addicts. The USA was so alarmed at his results that they shut down the experiment.

I see all these problems and pathologies as inter-related. It is not the "drug culture" that is hurting us, but lack of treatment for things like PTSD, Bi-Polar, and BPD.

7:31 AM, June 19, 2006  
Blogger M. Simon said...


There is a reason drug companies do not want you polluting yourself with those illegal drugs.

The War On Unpatented Drugs.

Once upon a time self-medication was a right. The medical cartel has ended that for the most part. Not only that but we have declared war on self-medicators.

Addiction or Self Medication?

"Unless we put medical freedom into the Constitution, the time will come when medicine will organize an undercover dictatorship. To restrict the art of healing to one class of men, and deny equal privilege to others, will be to constitute the Bastille of medical science. All such laws are un-American and despotic, and have no place in a Republic. The Constitution of this Republic should make special privilege for medical freedom as well as religious freedom." abridged quote --Benjamin Rush, M.D., a signer of the Declaration of Independence

8:09 AM, June 19, 2006  
Blogger JJW said...

If you have a relationship with a BPD person, they will ruin your life. It's their job, and some will regard it as a 24/7/365 commitment. Throw in generalized anxiety disorder and OCD/perfectionism, and it's a real picnic.

My friends in the medical community express despair when they hear someone is borderline, because typically nothing works. My ex-wife's therapist -- who is excellent and has a fine track record -- told me there was nothing they could do for her.

My wife and I separated about seven months ago after nearly 13 years together. At the time, I had merely reached the decision that I could no longer live with that person -- without knowing I was dealing with a borderline. Given some space, I'm just astonished at how different and good life can be. I've discovered that she apparently inherited BPD from her mother (also learned a lot of the behaviors), which I never realized was possible.

BPD people are black holes. They are parasites, and are capable of inflicting unspeakable psychological abuse. They will blame you for everything that they perceive is wrong with their lives (and there will always be plenty). If you ever experience any difficulty, prepare to be kicked while you are down.

Do not let anyone with BPD into your orbit on any basis. If one is already in your life, eject them. Divorce the spouse, quit the job...whatever you have to do. It's not about trying to manage a person who's a little bit sick and just needs help. BPD is cancer of the soul, and it will take down anyone who gets near it.

I feel incredibly lucky to have survived my experience. Better a thousand years alone than one hour with a borderline.

8:14 AM, June 19, 2006  
Blogger BobH said...

My research methods professor once commented that "Abnormal behavior is just normal behavior at the extremes of the probability distribution". (FWIW, she does research in gratification postponement (i.e., self-control) in young children.) I just wonder if the "abnormalities" in BPD, particularly the manipulative ones, aren't just extreme forms of attitudes and behaviors that "normal" people have and use.

Also, my abnormal psychology textbook explicitly pointed out that there is often not a lot of agreement about which personality disorder a person is suffering. In other words, therapists given the same inputs often come up with different diagnoses.

8:15 AM, June 19, 2006  
Blogger M. Simon said...


I have been explaining what I have found about the nature of addiction for about four years now.

I get reactions from, psychologists, addiction councilors, MDs, police officers, ordinary citizens.

About 1/2 say - aha! it all makes sense now. The other 1/2 gets mad at me for one reason or another.

In the end we will get a science of addiction/PTSD/BPD/ADD/ADHD based on experience, brain chemistry, and DNA. My guess (and recent NIDA reports confirm) is that it it will look a lot like the picture I have outlined. Genetics and trauma. Genetics explains why only 20% are susceptable. Trauma explains why only 1/2 of the 20% have problems.

So 10% of the population has a serious problem. A problem which is seriously undertreated. Those self medicating for the problem are persecuted. I have been looking at this from the PTSD angle, however as some one pointed out above - there may be no difference between PTSD and borderline.

We are on the threshold of understanding. Exhilarating.

9:04 AM, June 19, 2006  
Blogger M. Simon said...


The problem with BPD is that you have personalities that do not communicate with each other. One "I" will make a promise and another "I" will repudiate it, claim it never happened, or is completely out of character - "how could you imagine I would ever agree with such a thing".

In a sense you are correct. All the talents and manipulatiions are normal. However, they are exagerated, repetitive (no learning), and uncoordinated. The talents are also unblended. They activate according to internal rules.

If you haven't lived with one you have no idea. Being one myself (with partial reformation) makes it all the more interesting.

The cure happens from inside. You must force the personalities to work together and drop the ones that will not cooperate. Easier said than done. As in war, every thing that needs to be done is simple. It is never easy.

9:22 AM, June 19, 2006  
Blogger TheNewGuy said...

Some are not making the distinction betweeen borderline traits and Borderline Personality Disorder. The difference is fairly simple... when it interferes, on a consistent basis, with your personal goals, financial security, interpersonal relationship, general functioning, etc, you have frank disorder. There are plenty of people walking around with a trait or two from that list, but it doesn't really interfere with their day-to-day life.

Also, personality disorders are very difficult to treat. Some of them do stabilize by middle age, but I've never seen anyone posit an effective way to counsel or medicate these folks. A psychiatrist colleague put it this way: he'd much rather be treating schizophrenics, where there are only a minority (perhaps 10-15% with the newer atypical antipsychotics) who will never respond to treatment, than any of the Cluster-B personality disorders. The schizophrenics you can help, but the personality disorders? Not so much.

9:37 AM, June 19, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My story isn't unique enough to warrant typing it out--it echoes the stories above and at . But one thing not yet mentioned here is...well, I was lucky in that my BPD GF at the time had been diagnosed and treated for a variety of mental disorders (chiefly bi-polar and chronic depression) and never really felt they were accurate or effective. When she was forced to see a new psychiatrist, and was then diagnosed as having BPD she was somewhat elated because it seemed someone finally figured her out. So the first thing I did was get myself a copy of Stop Walking on Eggshells and I bought her a copy of Lost in the Mirror. She'd always said she felt she, uniquely, could not cope with the world in general and did crazy things (took lots of drugs, manipulated people, stayed in bed for weeks on end, did all sorts of reckless and risky things) to try and cope. But the diagnosis and the book effectively (finally) got it through to her that she wasn't unique or beyond anyone else's comprehension and there was something she (and her mental health professionals) could do to help her get better, or learn how to better live in the world, other than just sticking with her catalog of self-defeating and life-sabotaging behaviours. I got her a copy of Get Me Out of Here which didn't get quite the same reception, I think because it was a bit long and too much of a downer for too long for her to stick with to the end, though I found it an easy read.

10:31 AM, June 19, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

damnit, that looked perfectly ok in the preview....

10:32 AM, June 19, 2006  
Blogger Gibbie the labrat said...

Referring to an above poster, my two graduate advisors were narciscist/borderline. The first was way extreme, very violent mood swings, etc. The second was less so but was a black hole of need. Needless to say I am so glad I graduated. When you are in a situation like that you have few options. Suck it up for 4-8 years, or quit grad school and not get your (hard earned) degree. Since you have no (zero) power in those relationships it's very difficult. At least it ends at some point.

10:40 AM, June 19, 2006  
Blogger Jason Rubenstein said...

I lived with a woman who had BPD. She refused to acknowledge it, and therefore refused to get help. After three years of setting and maintaining boundaries, etc., I left. The three years together was hell, to me - a descent into someone's madness that eventually exhausted me. I have not spoken with her since.

A month after we broke up, she moved in with a new boyfriend and was married a short time thereafter.

I coped by getting help of my own, and learning how to manage my own reactions to her uncontrolled behavior.

10:50 AM, June 19, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think BPD people tend to attract people with emotional or mental problems. I had a close friend who was BPD (which I knew at the time), and I was sure I could fix her and felt guilty whenever she did anything that proved that I hadn't been able to. Shortly after I found the strength to end that relationship, I became emotionally involved with an alcoholic. I was going to fix him too. This pattern went on and on until I hit bottom and decided that I waws the one who deserved all this care and concern I was giving to others. I don't know if there's a diagnosis for my own behavior, but I don't do it anymore, and haven't in several years. When I see that someone has a problem, my first instinct is still to jump in and fix it. The difference is that I don't listen to that instinct anymore. Any 'helping' I do will be only after I'm asked and after I've considered whether it's appropriate for me to say yes.

1:07 PM, June 19, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Of course trying to label someone as having "borderline personality disorder" is a sophisticated way to try to discredit someone that you have wronged, especially if you are a health care professional or have access to them.

1:38 PM, June 19, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was good friends with someone who'd been diagnosed with BPD but stopped taking the medication that had been prescribed for her. Things got so bad with 2am phone calls threatening suicide, manufactured dramas, and other ways of acting out that I eventually had to end the friendship. She became, in many ways, a soulsucker, and my whole life had to revolve around her or she'd go off the deep end. :? It was not the most pleasant time in my life, and I have to say that when another person I recently became friends with started exhibiting some of the same tendencies I ended the friendship. I couldn't do it again.

1:48 PM, June 19, 2006  
Blogger Bruce Hayden said...

I don't buy the suggestion that prohibition is the problem, not illegal drugs, per se. In particular, the person who is closest in my life to have PSD seems to have aggrevated his problems through long term almost daily pot usage to the point where I don't think he will ever be able to cope. I will admit that he might have ended up in a similar situation if he had self medicated with alcohol for that long.

3:07 PM, June 19, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Not to turn this away from BPD, but I've never found quite the resources to help with my own situation. My wife is, without question, a control freak and a bully. She also has hints of narcissistic disorder, but nowhere near the full compliment. But the net result is that I can do nothing right, she can do nothing wrong, and I'm always treading on eggshells, wondering what she's going to lash out at me about. She's a perfect angel to the friends, who seem to have no idea what a raving witch she is to me and the children. We've had one round with child protective services for tripping one of our children, and I've got the brush she broke over my daughter's head and shoulders. Finally, she's obsessed with my mother, swears I'm still married to her, and swears she'll never leave our children alone with her because she'll try to poison them against their mother. Truly bizarre stuff, when I think about it. I'm not trying for an online diagnosis, but this doesn't seem to fit any categories I know of, and this seems a generally sympathetic crowd. Any advice, I'm open to consider.

3:17 PM, June 19, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

M Simon wrote: We need to change our outlook from changing such people to helping them. What we see as self destructive may actually be a coping mechanism for what may be a more severe problem without the coping mechanism.

Helping someone with borderline personality disorder involves helping them change. What is important about the coping mechanism is how it is behaving NOW. For many if not most of the BPD people I have worked with, their behavior made sense at one time. But when they come to see me it is when their behavior is no longer appropriate or helpful. They either change, or get used to being lonely, or live through failed relationshp after failed relationships. Given the choices, I would go with change.


4:25 PM, June 19, 2006  
Blogger TheNewGuy said...

To Anonymous @1:38

Were you directing that comment at anyone in particular?

Your comment is a beautiful projection: health care professionals are petty, revenge-motivated smear artists who use their medical education/expertise to discredit the victims of their pathology.

That's perfect borderline thinking... if that was an attempt at satire, I salute you.

Well played.

4:37 PM, June 19, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I read about borderline people mellowing with age. My opinion, wines mellow, borderlines get tired. It is an exhausting lifestyle, and it burns them out.

Having said that, I have seen dozens of people with BPD get much better. Yes, it did take awhile, but they got much better.


4:39 PM, June 19, 2006  
Blogger silvermine said...

Oh yes. My grandmother. My SIL. A friend's (now) ex-wife. After my experiences with the grandmother and the SIL, I would constantly surprise my friend by being able to predict the behavior of his wife, who he thought was just totally unpredictable. But she followed the exact same patterns. It's absolutely amazing how similarly they all behaved, in what (to normal people) appears to be absolutely illogical ways.

He's still dealing with the fallout on the divorce, after years. She will never let him have peace, no matter how much work and discomfort it is for her. (On the plus side, none of the lawyers seem to be convinced by her).

5:47 PM, June 19, 2006  
Blogger KCFleming said...

Is it just my experience, or are there more borderlines now than in the past?

6:19 PM, June 19, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Is it at all possible that some of what we are seeing is the result of not teaching children how to be self-disciplined? I ask this because my daughter has major problems in the borderline personality area.
If I look back at my father's family, I can see bits of this in some of my aunts, but never the lack of control that she has.
Of course, she had a horrible life-altering experience when she was 19, so maybe that's another part of the equation.
But I can look back and see that I never required the emotional discipline from her that I was "taught."
Just wondering...

7:18 PM, June 19, 2006  
Blogger Helen said...


BPD is five times more common among first-degree biological relativies of those with the disorder than in the general population. I wonder with the increased population if more borderlines have children who are then borderlines --it is about 2% of the population so with a bigger population--there are more. However, they are probably diagnosed more than in the past with more diagnosticians and understanding of the disorder. Perhaps many previous borderlines were in mental hospitals but with the emptying of the hospitals and better drugs, more are out and about.

Anonymous 7:18:

I think you have something there--sometimes people are too quick to pathologize people's behavior that is really the result of a lack of discipline or just plain getting away with bad behavior and no consequences. However, when this behavior follows a familiar pattern as outlined in the DSM-IV and consistently results in a breakdown of functioning, other areas such as BPD can be explored. That said, I do think people are more tolerant and open to being exploited in our society now. Frankly, you could not get away with this type of behavior for long in the olden days--someone would hurt you or something bad would happen. Nowadays, people are taught to be passive and go along with people's pathologies much more readily.

7:31 PM, June 19, 2006  
Blogger Lee J. Cockrell said...

The DSM-IV's description of BPD is far too vanilla and conservative to relate the magnitude of the disorder. Yes, a scholarly/professional journal should be dispassionate but the description simply does not do BPD justice. As can be seen from the posts here, borderlines are ruthless, conniving, mean, heartless, two-faced, manipulative, and worse. It's like a feminine version of sociopathy, and nearly as dangerous.

I think the percentage of women with BPD is higher than 2%, (8-10%?) or maybe it's just that they stand out so much more.

9:55 PM, June 19, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

To Anonymous @1:38

Were you directing that comment at anyone in particular?

Your comment is a beautiful projection: health care professionals are petty, revenge-motivated smear artists who use their medical education/expertise to discredit the victims of their pathology.

That's perfect borderline thinking... if that was an attempt at satire, I salute you.

Well played.

No, I was quite serious. And no, I don't have borderline personality disorder. Mental health professionals are human, and therefore can be dishonest, criminal, arrogant, incompetent, lazy, inexperienced, etc. just like any other group of people. But in certain situations (some of which they can create) they wield a lot of power and therefore can do a lot of damage if they are criminal, incompetent, etc.

12:22 AM, June 20, 2006  
Blogger M. Simon said...


Agreed about change. However, it is very difficult. My own experience was that I had to decide that I was going to change even if it killed me. That kind of resolve is found more often in males than females. Even in males that kind of determination is not common.

In order to control my anger I resolved to let nothing make me angry. I carried that out for 3 years. Every time I got angry I said 10 minutes of prayer. In that time I only had 3 or 4 serious breeches of my discipline.

From what I read here and the current literature suggests that BPD is a variant of PTSD. Trauma is a strong component. It is the trigger. Genetics provides the pre-disposition. Genetics is why this is a hard one for most people to understand. Fear memories decay quickly. Genetics is also why it runs in families.

In another year or so we will have a test for PTSD. All this will become a lot clearer.

A Test For PTSD

That said the kind of coping regimes I would find acceptable - medication, self or Dr. prescribed.

Sex can work with an endorphin defficiency if you can work out parameters that are acceptable to those involved.

Exercise can also help with endorphins provided the interest and discipline is there.

The thing to minimise is self destruction. Hard to avoid if the BPD lives for victim status.

"People of the Lie" by Peck discusses a BPD woman (my observation - not his term). No matter how much the Dr. helped her it was never enough. She was always inventing new defences.

That is another very important tool. Stopping the lies. Statements, agreements, etc. written by the BPD person can be helpful.

One thing that can help is time. Fear memories decay over time. For those with PTSD it just takes a lot longer. Sometimes a lifetime is not enough. Some times a few years will do the trick.

There is so much we don't know. Fortunately answers are starting to come.

2:34 AM, June 20, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

OK I want to put this straight: I am for legalization of pot. No worse than beer and cigarettes combined, IMO. I've never cared if people smoked it around me and have imbibed a few times myself.


Self-medication, regardless of the means (pot, herbs, supplements etc....) is, quite frankly...stupid. Period. I used to self-medicate with alcohol (equivalent of a 12 pack a night or more) and benadryl (125-300 mg) every night just to sleep. Highly manic I was, and extremely dangerous. (Ever seen somebody punch out a window or tear a door apart?)

The thing with lithium et al is that they are taken under the supervision of a psychiatrist. Not a general physician--the smart ones will refer, or even force, a mentally ill patient to see a psychiatrist. Lithium serum levels, for one, get measured regularly to check that they're OK. Regular "med checks" (I have one in a month) see how a patient is doing with meds (i.e., are they working?) and may lead to changes in dosage or types of meds.

This doesn't happen with self-medication. Regardless of consistent quantity/quality, without the supervision of one who knows signs/symptoms (sure, we talk about computer games and stuff, but I know he's probing for signs of returning mania/depression), a sufferer will never be able to truly tell how they're coping. A first-party analysis with one that is in a state where they can't, for all intents and purposes, be neutral, is a flawed look at the "real" state they are in.

Re: Linehan and DBT. On the bulletin board where I am a moderator, one of my fellow mods swears by this. She went through some very tough therapy with a tough-as-nails therapist. AND... she's better. never completely cured, at least not at this early stage, but...well she's 0 for 9 on the scale, and I believe it. She's a wnderful person on the boards, and with luck I may meet her IRL before too long.

It's not about the meds or the therapy. It's about what WORKS. It may take trial and error, but I've heard countless times: the people that stick with it find what works (whether a personality disorder or a mood/etc. disorder), and are extremely grateful to have found a way out of this hell that is mental illness, which I know is kind of a catch-all phrase these days.

Bottom line: in the vein of substance abuse recobery, you have to want to get well--and work at it--to be well.

3:49 AM, June 20, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

it seems to me that everyone or the majority on this board has a borderline experience, but is this a personal diagnosis, or a professional. i am convinced that a lot of these problems are created by the organism of therapy, and they are an excuse for bad behaviour, when i was a kid my dad would never have let me be like that, he would have punished me if i did anything bad, and i turned out pretty ok, can people be taught not to suffer at times in their lives, stop the destructive behaviour by reward and punishment system. direct those energies into more valid ways of expression. Or is it inevitable unless you use drugs and lots of therapy to fix it.

and how come there seems to be not many in the past, in the modern world there are more, but i have never heard of anyone 50 plus being diagnosed.. is it a modern reaction to the modern world.

ptsd, or shell shock as it was called in the 2nd world war, people were taught to cope, a lot forgot it, or tried not to remember, one of my great uncles, was in japan and was in one of the prison camps, and he saw stuff that would make you throw up, yet he became a productive by learning to cope. are we in fact creating more and more problems by pandering to them. whether its pschosomatic, or as a reaction to today.

3:56 AM, June 20, 2006  
Blogger TheNewGuy said...

To Anonymous at 12:22

That is why physicians are highly discouraged from treating those with which they have either a conflict of interest, or a lack of objectivity. It's sound advice, and the rule goes for all specialities. I make it a point not to treat my own family.

As a dermatologist, you might get asked to look at uncle Ed's weird rash... but what do you do when it's clearly secondary syphilis? Do you violate confidentiality and tell aunt Ginny? How about the reporting requirement for the local health department?

A physician or psychiatrist actually dating a patient or carrying on a sexual relationship with one is an individual who will quickly lose their license to practice. Even if the patient initiates it, and everything is quite innocent, that situation is considered an abuse of power, and an extremely egregious one for a psychiatric professional, since their understanding of the patient's psychological vulnerabilities and weaknesses far exceeds that of a layman.

That understanding of what makes people tick can be a double-edged sword. One of my lifelong friends is an outstanding psychiatrist... incredibly sharp and incisive. He's not an unattractive man, yet he's never married. Fortunately or unfortunately, he's so used to employing his clinical skills that he does it almost automatically, and usually has a person's pathologies down cold after the first date. I feel badly for him at times... I think at some point you have to overlook minor flaws in a person's psyche and live with them, but he can't seem to turn off the clinical part of his brain.

On the other hand, there's exactly ZERO chance he'd ever hook up with a borderline, so I suppose there's that...

8:00 AM, June 20, 2006  
Blogger Helen said...


Your friend, the psychiatrist, is using his own defense mechanism (intellectualization) to ward off potential intimacy--perhaps he should look inward to figure out why. I always laugh when people find out I am a psychologist and might be "analyzing them." Yeah, that would be a busman's holiday.

8:11 AM, June 20, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm covinced my mother has NPD, she might also have BPD. For most of my life I was manipulated and treated as a disapointment because I lived my own life and had my own opinions. She ignored e when I was a teen but when I got married she suddenly wanted to be a mother.

When I got married and moved away, she called me every day to try to get me to move back, I almost lost my husband because of her manipulation of me. I was such a fool, I thought she finally loves me! Luckly my hisband was a lot stronger than I was.

After my father died, I believe she went totally off the deep end. During his illness she only focused on her suffering in taking care of him. And believe me my father suffered. She was more hateful to me, more vindictive than I had ever experienced and it effected me to the point that I lost all my confidence and became very depressed. I not only lost my father, but my mother and my brother. ( he became the "good" one) I was so insecure I couldn't cope with people socially. ( i had always been a very outgoing fun loving person) She had me convinced that my father also hated me. She turned my brother against me. My thoughts at that time were if my own parents don't love me there must be something very wrong with me.

After my father died her abuse got manic. She and my brother were constantly on me about how bad I was for moving away. I finally cut her out of my life and slowely began to heal. I have finally gotten some of my confidence back and am rebuilding my life..

she now wants back in. ( on her terms, of course)
However, She refuses to admit anything she did, and by her behavior I can see if I put my guard down she will pounce on what self esteem I have and try to chip away at it until I am back under her thumb begging for her love.

part of me wants a relationship with my mother because she is my mother, and even at 42 years old I want to be loved by this woman, But in my heart I know that she is incaple of loving me or anyone else. NPD & BPD damages the children of those with it. We're unable to trust people, unable to access a situation, because our parent changed reality to suit their needs. They lie, they turn people against eachother all in order to get their own way. they are toxic to anyones sanity.The are relentless in their quest to get their own way and make you submit to their needs. It breaks down your spirit and makes you judge your own sanity.
After a while it's impossible to trust your own instincts.

If people have children with someone who has these disorders please do not allow them custody and only supervised visitation.

The only reaosn I think I survived this woman's upbringing with some sanilty and a sense of self is that she worked and my grandmother raised me.

thank you grandma.

8:25 AM, June 20, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've suspected for a long time that much of the men's movement is the product of individual men's dealings with fully borderline personalities or at least women with borderline tendencies.

Of course, the other component is society's "propping up" of the borderline and saving her from consequences at his expense.

I know that'w what got me involved!

9:23 AM, June 20, 2006  
Blogger Helen said...


So glad you had someone like your grandmother to neutralize the damage done to you by your mother. Part of the problem with borderline mothers is that everyone expects mothers to be giving, loving etc. and when they are not, people (even the children of these mothers) will pretend that they are to spare themselves the reality that not even their mother loves them. However, the borderline (or in your case, the narcissistic) mother does not have the capacity much of the time to see beyond their own needs and feelings--they will damage anyone and everyone in their way. The best way to deal is to depersonalize the pain they inflict--that is, to realize that they are not picking you out of a line-up to hate etc. They hate, treat anyone who is close in a similar manner--it is a pathology of emotional functioning in general. I think this makes it easier to psychological contain the damage by telling yourself that your mother may be incapable of love, etc. but this does not make you unlovable. Maybe it makes you more lovable because you understand how damaging emotional blackmail can be and hopefully, will know not to use it with others you care about.

9:46 AM, June 20, 2006  
Blogger TheNewGuy said...


I'd considered that, and even challenged him on that very point. He waved it off, and insisted he's only looking for a "normal" woman.

He's recently acquired a girlfriend, however, and this one has lasted longer than any of the others (many didn't make it past the first date... and on the plus side of the equation, he has avoided some real disasters that way).

I'll be interested to see how this one turns out.

10:21 AM, June 20, 2006  
Blogger Helen said...


Yes, some people are just picky and end up finding the perfect mate--I hope this is the case with your friend!

10:35 AM, June 20, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

the fat man cometh said...
it seems to me that everyone or the majority on this board has a borderline experience, but is this a personal diagnosis, or a professional. i am convinced that a lot of these problems are created by the organism of therapy, and they are an excuse for bad behaviour,...

Certainly you are welcome to your opinion, but I am by experience entirely at odds with your "created by the organism of therapy" premise.

Logic didn't work - Chapter and verse, documents in hand about personal actions and their consequences: Spending the mortgage money = foreclosure. Result? Denial, diversion, and counterattack.

Emotion didn't work - Pliancy, supplication, tribute, entertainment, tears, drama: Irrelevant in an eyeblink. Result? Hostitlity, projection, and counterattack.

They CANNOT be sated, much less filled. This exists prior to the "therapy," and they have no interest in "fixing" theselves - mostly. It seems the fear of self-discovery and admission of their emptyness is rightous cause to do any and everything up to, and sadly, including, death to prevent from being found out. Any and everything to blame someone else!

The attempt at therapy simply exacerbates the problem because it reveals it. The "organism of therapy" did not cause it in any way.

the fat man cometh said...
...people be taught not to suffer at times in their lives, stop the destructive behaviour by reward and punishment system.

Oh, if only it had been that simple...

There are people who will stand in line and pay good money to hear someone say "it's not your fault." BPDs don't have to bother with that. They already know it's not their fault, it can't be, and it NEVER WILL BE! Any attempt to address that is an instant and direct threat to their being and worldview. And who doesn't passionately defend their core belief?

10:36 AM, June 20, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My wife has some fairly serious borderline tendencies and we've been through four marriage counselors. They're of very little help when the woman in the relationship has problems.

At one point she told our then 3yo daughter "Daddy hates you." A short time later she laid her down in the driveway behind my car to keep me from defusing a "situation" by leaving for an hour. A week later she nearly ran me over with her car.

The counselor said "you seem to have a lot of issues around cars lately."

She had a difficult time realizing how big the problem is until my wife attacked me right in front of her. She reccomended that we separate. When I asked what I should do about the idea of leaving our daughter in the custody of someone like her mom, the counselor was dumbfounded. She really had no more advice and withing two more sessions told me there was nothing more she could do.

But borderlines seem to live in a different world.

Last week my wife snooped around on my laptop while I was at work and read through my journal -- part of which keeps track of her outrageous behavior, mostly so I can have a handle on it and it doesn't just disappear into a fog.

She was pretty angry, but seemed only to care about how it might affect her. Last night she asked me how our marriage could survive if I continued to write such nasty things about her.

The funny thing is that if the behavior stopped, I wouldn't have anything to keep track of. That idea is lost on a borderline.

11:18 AM, June 20, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I know my dad has NPD if not BPD, and I increasingly think my mom has BPD. Fortunately, I'm 23 and generally out of the house, but my sister still suffers.

My dad always had a nasty temper and a narcissitic personality, and my mom says she even saw signs of it when they were dating. As of ten years ago, he'd lost multiple jobs because of his temper, and it was always someone else's fault. After his father died, he lost most of the self-control he had and they got divorced shortly thereafter, with one incident of serious physical abuse before then. We found out afterwards that he had been meeting men off the internet for sex during the marriage. He's off in another state now, and we have no contact.

My mom, meanwhile, has gotten so deep in her depression (result of financial problems, lack of friends, her problem parents) that she's completely focused on her own suffering. The BPD traits are there and ongoing--suicide threats (which we've never thought are serious), tremendous mood swings, random outbursts of temper, and an almost sick clinginess. I'm living at home this summer to save money (currently in professional school), and she tends to alternate between treating me like a husband (not in a perverted way, but in terms of responsibilities) and treating me like a 13 year old. She was very critical of the one serious romantic relationship I've ever had, and I don't know how much her opinion affected it and ultimately led to its demise.

Dr. Helen, you posted earlier about how big a problem borderline mothers are--it's even worse with a borderline mother and no real father. My 15 year old sister's picked up some of the behaviors, and I often have to take on a sort of "father" role to show her how normal people behave in society. Thanks to good friends in college, I've come out OK when it comes to dealing with everyday life, but I don't know how capable I am of maintaining any sort of romantic relationship, as I've gotten so deeply cynical and distrustful of people.

At least you can break up with a BPD girlfriend or spouse.

11:37 AM, June 20, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"She became, in many ways, a soulsucker, "

These people are vampires, and they gave rise to the vampire archetype in folklore. "Unholy Hungers" is a good exploration. The folklore says that these souls are mortally dangerous, very hard to elude and nearly impossible to kill.

They do attract vulnerable souls, so there is something to that observation above thatvictims of these people come pre-loaded witht heir own deficits. Vampires groom and feed their prey souls, and this is part of their irrestible attractiveness.

12:50 PM, June 20, 2006  
Blogger aidy_uk said...

Reading the first section on the following page :

really has made me think that my soon-to-be ex wife has BPD. It was first suggest to be about 6 or 7 years ago that she had it (a "confidente" who lived in another country). Now after a 13 year relationship and 11 year marriage the time is up...

I have to say, though, that reading the books and the web posts I feel almost a "faker" as her behaviour was not as outragious as many. It is a sorry story too, though, as after 11 years of verbal and psychological abuse and manipulation, I sought solace elsewhere. Self-esteem at an all-time low, and all that... The perfect situation for a BPD - she really could blame me for everything after that... and as I had "protected" her and not discussed her behaviour with anyone (except the overseas internet "confidente"), it was so easy to cast me as the villain of the marriage.

Anyway, the question that occurs to me is it possible for BPD's to recover? It appears to me that some of her behaviours are still there. However, she has gained a great deal of independance, and, ironically, is the one who is keener on ending the marriage... I have had enough of the weekly mental torture and emotional roller-coaster that it is to be married to a BPD; but I don't really want to let go of her... Is this normal for a "non"?

Anyway, we are getting on with it and I am starting to look forward to a new, less turbulent, kind of normality to the one that I have got accustomed to over the years...

1:47 PM, June 20, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dr. Helen,

Frankly I think it is extremely sad that a mental health professional would use a book like "stop walking on eggshells" or "splitting" when talking about people with BPD. If you read up on the literatuire, you will see that people with BPD are in extreme emotional pain. The disorder CAN be treated, but not through "boundaries" as Eggshells suggests and as you cite here. DBT is a therapy that can help people with BPD, but it uses validation, not boundaries.

My wife has BPD and one of my daughters has emotional dysregulation. Pointing individuals to resources that don't work and when there is a therapy for it doesn't seem right to me. I noticed that you mentioned DBT in your repsonses to comments, but the article is a review of Eggshells, which BTW, doesn't stress the skills that need to be learned by nons. DBT family skills training, which is offered by two groups that I am aware of, is the way to deal with a BPD in your life, not boundaries as Eggshells suggests. If you search on the internet for DBT-FST you will find what real help is for "nons".

2:36 PM, June 20, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

That is why physicians are highly discouraged from treating those with which they have either a conflict of interest, or a lack of objectivity. It's sound advice, and the rule goes for all specialities. I make it a point not to treat my own family.

It goes beyond simple conflicts of interest. There are some that are criminal. There are some that are so arrogant they believe they should control everyone, even those that are normal. There are those that think male sexuality and male traits in general are wrong or bad. There are those that try to impose their religious, political, economic, etc. views on others. Etc, etc, etc... the list goes on and on. There are many problems with the field, which can often seem like it borders on a professional rent-seeking and junk science vehicle.

And unfortunately there are trends in our society that are heading away from personal freedom, individual rights, choice, and free will and towards coercion, control, medical and legal fraud, and totalitarianism.

2:51 PM, June 20, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

charlie, i said a lot, i am not denying there is an amount of true sufferers, but can you categorically deny the possibility that some of the unscrupulous people could be using these problems as excuses, or the psychologists as a an excuse to make more money via therpy over years and months..

thats the whole point, where does self interest on behalf of the psychology system begin and where does it end.

As i was saying is there a point in a persons life when this kind of behaviour can be diverted whether its at 6 or 8 or 18, or is it inevitable. or will they need therapy for decades to fix it. i remember being told when i was 2, i was just having my first tantrum, when my gran who had a pan of cold water on the cooker, threw it over me, and said she had enough of my brothers tantrums, she wasnt having one from me.. and guess what i never had one ever after. but is there a point when appropriate punishment/reward could cause the problem to cease to exist..

3:53 PM, June 20, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Frankly I think it is extremely sad that a mental health professional would use a book like "stop walking on eggshells" or "splitting" when talking about people with BPD."

Anonymous, I don't think it's sad at all in many cases. In many cases, such as during and engagement, it's very good advice indeed. It's one thing when you is dealing with a child's illness; then there is no questioning of just cutting the person out of your life. But when you're talking about a boyfriend/girlfriend or a fiance, it's perfectly good advice to tell the healthy person in the situation just to DTMFA. In fact it's good advice if it's a BPD spouse we are talking about, really - good for the healthy spouse and probably best for any children in the family.

4:41 PM, June 20, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm very interested in whether someone who has exhibited BPD behaviors since childhood does 'outgrow' it. One of my daughters was both more rebellious and more needy even as a young child. I had a lot of children and never felt I was able to give her the amount of attention she needed. After she started school I resented teachers' complaints about her classroom behavior, setting children against each other, etc. I never saw any such things at home! She was for a time in Special Education for this, and to this day is excessively proud of winning medals in Special Olympics against children with huge mental and physical disabilities! She has an IQ of 142 and always was perfectly healthy!

Friends tried to tell me that she instigated problems within my family. I just never saw it until she reached adolescence. At that point she blatantly played it all out in front of me. She began displaying for me the physical and emotional bullying she'd inflicted on the other children for years. She tormented them by locking them in darkened rooms, stole from everyone in the house, tried to forge checks, got the mail when she came home from school, tore it all open, then tossed it all in the garbage. She had her teachers and friends (and mine) convinced she was neglected and hatefully abused. As a divorced mom, sole support of the family and struggling with a physical disability, I had little time or strength to deal with the chaos. She simply denied, denied, denied...and smiled. The worst by far was that she somehow convinced other of the children that I did not love them, wanted to get rid of them, etc. How could all this happen right under my nose? She lured other of the children into a truly awful 'church', and they all ended up going to live with these 'friends' who I later discovered (it was my great fear at the time) exploited and abused them. I had one much younger child during all this that once the older ones left, I forbid any contact without my presence, even telephone contact. Those several older children have led lives of unhappiness and unproductivity, still blaming me for every problem. The daughter who caused all these problems has told every imaginable and unimaginable lie about me. It's really impossible to defend myself, I'm not inclined to go around explaining to people that I never starved my kids, never beat them black and blue, never denied them medical care, wasn't a lesbian, never practiced satanic worship in our home, etc, etc. I could go on and on the hateful things she's done that brought her no payoff other than causing chaos and pain. When one of her sisters was married, she threw a screaming fit in the middle of the ceremony because I wasn't there (hadn't been invited). She spreads grief with a scatter-gun. I've wondered for years if she would have been okay if she'd been an only child. I knew early on she wanted to be the 'favorite', and later stated flatly she deserved to have been an only child. Only recently have I wondered if she suffers a mental disorder. Everything I read in this posting and the comments makes me think she does. I'm not stupid, am actually pretty intelligent and intuitive, and I've adored all my children since they were conceived. A few years ago, I finally dug out from an overwhelming sense of utter failure as a mother (and there was nothing in life more important to me than being a good mother). I suspect I will struggle with this the rest of my life. That youngest child I protected from contact with her, and two much older children who were out of the home before she 'blossomed' are wonderful, caring people, with extremely successful careers and loving families of their own. And I have a close relationship with each of them and they with each other. They still are mystified by the chaos in the middle, and I'm sure they wonder, as I still do, why I couldn't prevent it happening. Thanks for letting me vent. Very painful.

6:59 PM, June 20, 2006  
Blogger Helen said...

Anonymous 6:59:

Just wanted to say how sorry I am for all that you have gone through. The pain that families suffer at the hand of those with this disorder and other mental illness is often overlooked or misunderstood by others. Thanks for sharing your story.

7:39 PM, June 20, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Except for one poster who reported a BPD significant other trying to make the poster feel evil, nobody else has used the E word.

When I think of borderlines, I think of Darth Vader prancing around singing "These are a few of my favorite things."

Borderlines, for the most part are only little e-evil, not big-E. They don’t have the capacity to plan an invasion of Poland or to even run a clever insurance scam. They're just stronger, better, faster, smarter at getting sympathy and resources, and they refuse to grow up. They're Baby Einstein on PCP. A little alien looking for a chest to sink into.

I spent 5 years in BPD Gulag. Here's where I ended up:

First, all men should learn about BPD before they stop being virgins. 90% of people with BPD are women. Unless women are fundamentally evil, this means that there is something going on with women that encourages/enables/enhances/pick-your-own-en-words them to act like this. And it's getting worse.

Second, helping BPDs is a sacrifice. By sacrifice, I mean like Jesus on the cross or like throwing a virgin into a volcano. Not a sacrifice like not buying a new big screen TV so you can send the kids to private school. Unless you want to be nailed to a cross or thrown in a volcano, do not try to help borderlines. Run.

Third, I don't know why borderlines act the way they do. This I do know: leaving a borderline is like shooting a cougar in mid-air: you may feel bad about it, but you get to survive, and you're really pretty glad and proud you did it, even if you pretend to still feel bad about it when you tell the story. Borderlines aren't an endangered species, and it's legal to shoot them, and you should.

11:32 PM, June 20, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

the fat man cometh said...
"...but can you categorically deny the possibility that some of the unscrupulous people could be using these problems as excuses,... "

Well, of course not. Certainly there will always be frauds and hucksters trying to get their way. But the issue in general is a bit like the debate in "Planet of the Apes" where the researchers are watching Zera, Cornelius, and the other ape (sorry, don't remember name) eat and orange with knife and fork. Were the apes really using utensils, or just pretending to use them?

I see your point more about pre-emptive action in youth to avoid behaviors as adults. Indeed, where were all the ADD/ADHD children in 1910 school rooms? But not seeing something in the past is cause to deny it's existance now. Nor also, is it cause to overstate the current existance by claiming is was mis-diagnosed in the past.

The point of attempting to define BPD, NPD, and all the rest is an attempt to get a handle on something amorphous - personality - by way of behavior, in the hope you can do something about destructive behaviors. Can this be abused? Of course. Can this be used constructively? I hope.

12:38 AM, June 21, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

yes i agree charlie, but if there is pre-emptive action in the past that stopped a minority from suffering from those problems, why not now, has things changed so radically in the past years i think so. i know its hard to show a negative, but the point is, it must be life that changed, that allows more diagnosis right or wrong diagnosis. what has changed

all i was saying was there must be something cultural/social that is making these problems grow, and something has changed because there wasnt as many in the past. this is just my thoughts.

4:50 AM, June 21, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

btw i dont deny there are people with these problems, but are there as many as we suspect, unless psycholgists test everyone, we wont know if people are just selfish or a sufferer. and even then there is a grey area.

4:52 AM, June 21, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

the fat man cometh....

The definitions for diagnosis have changed.

I mean listen to some of the accounts above. Some of the posters above seem to blame the person they are posting about for so many things that they might qualify for a BDP diagnosis. Maybe they are correct, maybe they are BDPs. Without an in-depth investigation gathering ALL of the facts you won't know.

And the talk about "testing everyone" is scary. Billions of dollars in pharmaceutical sales and government money - and of course countless human misery and waste - could depend on a couple people just tweaking a couple variables. Do you think bureaucrats and pharma executives could resist that temptation?

6:43 AM, June 21, 2006  
Blogger M. Simon said...

If we suppose BPD is a form of PTSD then estimates can be made.

About 20% of the population is genetically susceptable to PTSD. About 1/2 of those have trauma severe enough to activate PTSD.

So we can estimate that about 10% of the population will have problems of varying severity.

Fortunately a blood test for PTSD is in the offing (about a year or three away). Once that is out there, better studies and estimates will be available.

A Test For PTSD


6:45 PM, June 21, 2006  
Blogger M. Simon said...

Anon 6:59PM,

I think you point out why BPD may be so prevalent. It provides an intellegence advantage. BPD are very often described as witty.

So if the PTSD is not activated you have an intellegence advantage. That may be enough to overcome the disadvantages in the genetics game.

7:00 PM, June 21, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

anonymous 6.43, yes it is scary, but i can see how its starting already in small ways, if not big ones, add to that the BMI thats being pushed for in report cards in schools. very scary world and only going to get worse

A presidential initiative called The “New Freedom Commission on Mental Health” has issued a report recommending forced mental health screening for every child in America, including preschool children. The goal is to promote the patently false idea that we have a nation of children with undiagnosed mental disorders crying out for treatment,

She also is concerned that mental health screening could be used to label children whose attitudes, religious beliefs, and political views conflict with the secular orthodoxy that dominates our schools.

7:15 AM, June 24, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The problem with school aged mental health screening is that it is all reported data. It is just the opinions of the parents and teachers. Sometimes their opinions are NOT helpful or accurate.


12:34 PM, June 24, 2006  
Blogger voiceboy said...

I wish I would have seen this two months ago, I got married to a charming woman who turned into a nightmare ,the black hole of emotional needs, in like a week.I am in the process of divorcing ( no "oops" clause,darnit) and this article and postings assure me that I am making the right move.

1:43 PM, June 24, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I only read about 10 comments, but I picked this out:
"i think a lot of these psychological problems are being over diagnosed, if in the past before psychology became popular, and they seemed to have survived it, then whats the problem with people now. the problem i see now is using psychological problems (i hesitate to use the word problem) to excuse bad behaviour"

Couldnt agree more. How did we ever exist, as a society, until the shrinks arrived about 50 years ago and told us that we were all crazy? Just look at the huge percentage of elementary school kids on drugs. . . and probably will be for the rest of their lives. No one any more expects anyone to have to do anything other than just what they want to do. Hogwash.

Yes, certainly, some people are mentally ill, just like they were a hundred or five hundred years ago.

But, a lot of this madness if manufactured by an emotional care industry that seems to be best at justifying its existence, and worst at curing people.

9:36 PM, June 25, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"I see your point more about pre-emptive action in youth to avoid behaviors as adults. Indeed, where were all the ADD/ADHD children in 1910 school rooms?"

They weren't in 1910 school rooms, having dropped out or never gone near them. Today, we make much more of an effort to get everyone educated, and we're seeing a lot of people in schools that don't really do well in that environment and wouldn't have been in that environment in earlier ages.

"Yes, certainly, some people are mentally ill, just like they were a hundred or five hundred years ago.

But, a lot of this madness if manufactured by an emotional care industry that seems to be best at justifying its existence, and worst at curing people."

I'd say it's manufactured more by the fact that there's a lot more surviving mentally ill people around. In the past, more mentally ill people died, and many of them died before their condition was obvious to anyone else. Throw in the fact that their record-keeping was haphazard compared to ours, and it becomes nearly impossible to gauge the prevalence of these mental disorders.

Of course they could be more common as well, owing to the fact that intelligence, mental stability, the ability to postpone gratification and plan intelligently are associated with successful use of birth control and having fewer children, combined with the fact that death during childhood, even among the offspring of the most hopelessly messed-up people, is nearly unheard of.

11:16 AM, June 26, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

actually, I think psychiatrists came up with BPD because they didn't want to write "what an asshole" in the medical charts.

9:33 PM, June 27, 2006  
Blogger Miss Defective said...

I know this post was written in June, but I just came across it. As someone with BPD I find it interesting to read the comments of those who haven't a clue what it's like to be borderline, to live it year after year. If dealing with it from the outside is so difficult and exhausting, imagine that multiplied a thousand times over and you get a small sense of the chaos that reigns within, what it's like to actually have BPD.

Once the diagnosis enters the picture you are no longer seen as a human, you become your diagnosis, you are borderline. You're viewed by many as subhuman. You're no longer allowed to have a bad day, to get upset, to get angry, to have one too many drinks, etc. things that everyone does from time to time. It was ok if you did those things prior to being diagnosed. But then again, you were still considered human back then.

I know dealing with someone that has BPD can be difficult. I don't dispute that at all. But we're not all monsters. I meet all 9 criteria for this disorder yet I had a stable, healthy marriage for 13 years. We had our ups and downs, our squabbles, but every relationship has those. We're now separated, but we're still very close friends. There are no ugly legal battles looming between us, no horrific custody fights.

As for being a parent with BPD, I am not emotionally detached from my daughter nor have I ever been abusive to her. If there's one thing I've done right in my "borderline" life, it's raising a child that is one of the most well adjusted kids amongst her peers. I frequently have people tell me what an amazing job I've done raising her and that's not just some delusion I've made up to pacify myself. My daughter doesn't doubt for a second that I love her with all my heart, and I tell her AND show her daily that I do.

We're often portrayed as master manipulators. But as any well trained mental health professional that's studied borderline behavior will tell you, it is a coping mechanism to deal with real or perceived adandonment. It is not a deliberate nor cognitive attack to hurt or use someone. Just as the automatic response when touching something hot is to pull your hand away, this is an automatic response for borderlines.

We aren't hopelessly dysfunctional either, there is help out there for BPD. DBT (Dialectical Behavioral Therapy) is helpful in teaching borderlines to control their impulsive behaviors. To manage their emotions and to improve their relatinships with others.

Just my 2 cents. Ok, maybe that was more like 50 cents, but I just want to let people know being borderline doesn't have to be a curse that so many people make it out to be.


1:49 AM, July 07, 2006  
Blogger Helen said...


Thanks for your input.

1:14 PM, July 07, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

From: Old Too Soon

I was pursued by an attractive body builder of a woman 10 months after my wife committed suicide. At our first lunch, she showed zero personality. At our second, when we discussed the death of my wife and of her borderline sister, we forged a bond.
After four months of progressively suggestive e-mails, unsolicited photographs of herself and "chance" meetings at soccer tournaments and the like, I tossed away the gifted, Phi Beta Kappa girlfriend I'd been dating for the borderline. Ten months later she wanted to get engaged. A year later she canceled the wedding. I stayed three more years, suffered unimaginable verbal abuse, reacted in kind, lost my respect for her and myself. The hook: Her having taken her clothes off on her first visit to my house to display her "pecs." Ultimately my hours with her were reduced to Friday night sex bouts, tightly orchestrated by her and followed by little or no emotional intimacy.
Roger Miller wrote a song: "Leavin's Not the Only Way to Go."
My girlfriend took up with her girlfriends from the gym -- drinkers and smokers married to younger, ill-educated men whom they abused. I couldn't associate with them, personally or professionally. Ultimately an outburst just before we were to make love -- about my son's career plans prior to his final semester in college -- led to our breakup.
Six weeks went by, and then came the hateful e-mails. A month went by with hateful phone calls. A letter arrived, warning me not to contact her in any way -- which I hadn't done. Then she called friends asking if she could come to my daughter's hs graduation. Then she called me asking if she could come to my son's college graduation.
The night he graduated, she was sick. I sent her an e-mail saying (falsely) that I was sorry she couldn't make it and thanking her for helping get my family organized after my wife's death.
She replied with an e-mail saying she couldn't believe I hadn't called her (my therapist said if I remained in relationship with her I would die) and adding, "You never tire of finding new ways to hurt me."
We met by chance a few weeks ago. I'd seen her page on an Internet dating site. She lied about her education (she doesn't have a master's degree), posted a slutty picture of herself and listed her best feature as "butt."
I told her the character clause in her teaching contract could cause a few problems if the superintendent saw that stuff. She changed the "butt" and masters degree but left up the photo. My therapist said I should have let her keep it up and suffer any consequences if they came.
At this point, I still, amazingly, miss her at times, because I know she has s decent core, or seems to. But then I remember the eight-hour silent treatments, the exclusions from parties after which she would describe her conversations with other men, the dishonesty (she smoked the entire five years we were together and never told me). I spent $40,000 remodeling my house for her and her son who never moved in, added more than $200 to my monthly house payment and never received a dime, or an apology, for that outcome.
She can go to hell, but I'll be satisfied if I never see her again. Unfortunately, this is a small place, and she still messes with my head. Yesterday she sent a letter to my daughter in response to an e-mail she'd sent in January. My BP ex said she'd been deleting e-mails from her classroom computer and realized she'd overlooked that one.
My therapist said it sounded innocuous. A woman I know said, "Bull -- she was jerking you around."
Women have consistently told me to run and they've consistently been right about the challenges I faced. Women know women. I finally ran, but the damage to my health, wealth and reputation will be lifelong.
Evil is the word that works for me. But I still feel for her, so I'm sick too.

Signed, Old Too Soon

12:44 AM, July 08, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

While I feel fortunate only have to have my (possible, but probably) BPD contact as only a coworker and not a spouse or relative, I wish I had found this site sooner. I am currently changing jobs mainly in response to this person, and I can't help but feel like a failure for this. "Walking on eggshells" is such an appropriat title for a book on the matter, because I know I certainly feel a fear or dread in dealing with this person. I am unsure if in the end changing jobs will, in the end, be healthiest in my career, I think it will be best for my mental well being. I can't help but feel sad that I couldn't have handled this situation in a way that "out-manipulated" my manipulator, but I didn't see the problem until it was too late anyway. I wish I could say that I learned from this experience, but I could easily be just as blindsided again.


2:24 AM, July 08, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ouch ouch. Sounds like a lot of you here have been deeply hurt by BP. Please remember though that those of us who suffer from this are ALL individuals with our own choices and ways the disorder manifests. I have this diagnosis - but I do not show the symptoms of anger and rage. I do not yell, I try very hard not to manipulate. I have spent over 10 years in therapy and though am often lost inside myself try very hard not to make anyone else suffer because I do. Please remember that no matter what, people with BP are people in pain

6:36 PM, July 31, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Unlike many of those who have written I feel like I am in a unique situation. I am the captain of a college cheerleading squad and have been dealing with an undiagnosed BPD coach for the past year. Because this is a such a close workng relationship, establishing distance is not an option. At one point I tried to restrict our interaction to a purely professional level but because of her Narc. personality tendencies, it almost affected my status as captain of the squad. I am also unable to appeal to a higher authority because SHE created the squad and it is not represented by the NCAA. She is causing the squad to self destruct and makes dealing with her almost impossible. If anyone has any advice on how to neutralize her negative presence on the squad please respond. THank you.

3:24 AM, August 03, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I lived with a borderline/bipolar dual diagnosis for 6 years. (She was diagnosed about 3 years ago...after she destroyed all the Christmas decorations and attacked me. She still doesn't know why.)

I left her a year ago. She beat the crap out of me with a metal stepstool and then broke every window in our house, which is why I left.

The reason she went off, is that I "embarrased her in front of her friends" because I asked her to come finish a job she said she'd do, so we could go to the movies.

She claims she remembers nothing of the entire event. My neighbors called 911, after she not only beat the crap out of me and broke the windows, but threatened several of the nieghbors who'd come to my aid, and destroyed the phone on which I'd attempted to dial 911.

She charmed the police out of arresting her, although they did take her down to the station, by appearing terribly sorry and contrite and promising she'd never behave that way again. Meanwhile she called me from the jail and made threats. Repeatedly.

The point to all this? She had sat around and smoked pot all day with her buddies, and was probably on a medication break. (Her pill bottle never seemed to change in amount for 2 weeks prior.)

She suffered a psychotic break from reality while smoking the pot.

Look. I have many friends that smoke pot with no ill effects whatsoever. I used to support the legalization of pot.

PLEASE STOP SUGGESTING people with BPD or bipolar disorder smoke pot to manage symptoms. You may be the cause of someone else's death.

1:47 AM, September 22, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have been dealing with a BPD for several years. I made the mistake of getting married to her and the result was a long hard custody battle and me eventually getting sole custody but not until my children were abducted which resulted in my x-wifes incarceration. Even after the abduction I am still battling her in court to this very day. My children and I are now in therapy and recovering but the madness has not stopped.

3:51 PM, November 25, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I read so many comments about how much better my life is now that I am not with this person or that person who had/has BPD. I was diagnosed last year when I went to get help for MYSELF. Some of us are aware there isnt something "right" about us and want to be a better person for the ones we love. We are so scared of being abandoned and that is exactly what happens to us. Running isnt always and easy solution. I was in a 7 year relationship 3 of which we were married. I knew back then in my teens that I had emoional problems and tried to keep them under control. Our marriage was a wreck, but it didnt help that I was physically abused by this man and told that NOBODY would ever love me because I was crazy and that I deserved to be hit. Was told that I was ugly, fat and useless. To this day I cant get those thoughts out of my head. I am 25 and have been in the Army as a Military Police officer and perform my duties and job, exceeding the standards. But behind closed doors I am an emotional basket-case. I have a 13month old and while I was pregnant I knew I had to get help because I was still cutting myself. I knew I couldnt be a provider for my son in this condition. A guy met my parents, swept me off my feet and all the hoopla and the first time we were together I got pregnant... and he ditched me. He has nothing to do with his son and nor his other 3 children... This "man" I think has more problems than I do with being 22 and 3 ex-wives, all of which he cheated on with the next. He walked out on his 1day old daughter and wife of 3months to be with someone in another state he met off the computer... I know I am better off. Anyways, I knew I had to be the strong one. I know my actions of an unhealthy sex life, cutting, and other bad choices isnt excusable. I am now married to someone who knows my past and present condition. He knows it ALL and is still here for me. I push him to his limits and sometimes wander how long he will be able to put up with me. I love him dearly and honestly TRY to get and be better. Do some of yall fail to realize that some of us with this disorder dont ejoy it either!!!

4:37 AM, December 29, 2006  
Blogger Helen said...

To everyone:

I have not checked these comments in some time but I see people are still writing in on this post on BPD. I just want to say that your comments have been read, for those dealing with someone with BPD, I very much feel your pain and hope that your situations improve. Take care of yourself and get professional treatment if you feel you need to talk with someone. For those who have written in who have BPD, there is treatment available--with Dialectical Behavioral therapy. There is a link at the end of this post that takes you to more information.

6:52 PM, January 23, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Go to and the seperation and divorce board and read up on guys like jackson,airbornedoc, cycleguy, daddy,and haggis and it will open your eyes to the madness of the BPD.

12:54 PM, February 08, 2007  
Blogger Farside23 said...

It has taken years of therapy for me to get to this point; I will be bold and state that most people that exhibit this behavior (much like myself) don't realize the benefit from medication, much less therapy, because it is a painful process. I avoided various clinical therapeutic professional's attempts for years to help me; once I realized that an integral part of my process was to experience 'pain', by truly understading my behavior and the impact my selfish, controlling, and childish behavior had on others, did I begin a process of both understanding and changing my behavior. Mind you, I still have a ways to go; however, at the very least, I don't want nor need someone in my life like I did in my past. Sadly, I'm 'stuck' in a state of mind that is awash in shame and embarassment for my previous behavior. I believe there is a saying that a true test of one's character is if a former girlfriend (or boyfriend for you women) still talks to you and can speak positively of you. Let me just state that 95% of the women I've been involved with, don't want have anything to do with me. I know, from attending AA meetings (my ex-wife was an alcoholic) that one of the 12 steps is to make ammends to those whom you (I) hurt. Not possible in my case; mainly because my behavior TOTALLY left a perception that I was nuts, and the fact (my opinion) that most people don't believe one can actually change. More to follow, and I appreciate your comments.

8:25 PM, February 14, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hello everyone,
This is an interesting, informative group.
I have been married to an undiagnosed BPD woman for a long time (she meets all the diagnostic criteria). We started to have arguments when she moved from being a waif to being a witch after I over-committed to the relationship. To protect my sanity, I detached emotionally and shrugged the withholding, the psychological abuse and all that. She was mad and filed for divorce. I didn't expect this from someone who has abandonment issues even if she is professionally successful. She was mad, I guess and this is the only remaining way to punish me, all other methods failed.
My question is how do BP behave in divorce and custody battles. The lies have already started. I have been the stay at home parent for quite a while--lucky for the kid. The kid is well adjusted and doing exceedingly well in all aspects of life because I have been an enlightened caregiver. Leaving a preteen with this woman will be a disaster. Even 50/50 custody will be bad for the kid. What can I do to make sure that I get primary custody? The BP is intent on using her professional status to impress the courts.
I will come back later to narrate my experience and observations about living with a BP, but for now I would like to say to those trapped with their kids with a BP spouse, the best strategy is to have a separate, loving, nurturing, empowering relationship with the kids. It is also important to explain to the kids, at a suitable age, that the other parent is troubled, has his/her own issues and that his/her behavior is not the kids' fault because there is nothing wrong with the kids. Always make the kids feel loved and lovable without being too permissive out of guilt or pity.

10:05 PM, February 28, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have a mother with many of the traits of BPD. Ever since high school she has controlled my life and ever since I came to college, her fears of abandomment have compelled her to do some very innapropriate things. For example, she has represented herself as me over the phone to officals at my university and at my future Grad School, UNT which I am attending this Fall after I graduate. She even went so far as to hang up on the Chair of Graduate Studies. I have spoken to everyone she has talked with, explained the situation and they are sending her letters explaining that her actions are illegal and innapropriate, and even after talking about it with her she adamantly denies it. She has refused to come to my wedding because it is not being done her way and my dad is too afraid of her to attend separately. Talking to my brtoher, I now realze this is not the first time. Whenever he got married she didn't come either. Right now I am attending therapy with a counselor at my school and am happy to know that I am not alone and it is not my fault that she's like this. I love her, I will always love her. But I can't let my desire to make her happy destroy my life. Reading everyone's posts has given me some idea of what to do, and for now I will be doing things like changing my personal info so she can't have access to my dealings in the future. Like some of the BPDs mentioned here, they can only change when they want to change and I pray that time is not a long time off for my mother.

2:01 PM, March 02, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have been dealing, or trying to deal, with a woman who obviously has BPD at work. I just realized today how furious I am with her and disgusted. It is so hard to deal with when you don't know how to name the craziness. Reading comments has helped a lot and helped me not to feel so frightened. I have just recently become one of the "bad guys" in her life-one of many. Nobody really "understands" her. Well, now I feel like I do understand her better and can keep some perspective in my dealings with her.

1:59 PM, March 10, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It is so cathartic to read the postings from other adult childern of BPD parent(s).

My mother has every single one of the DSM criteria, yet is high functioning still. I believe she has managed this well so far primarily because of family enabling and money to sweep any public displays of her behavior under the rug.

For some reason, she believes she is particularly "close" to me but is also unusually critical of me. My half-siblings are young but already wrangle with major behavioral health problems, including serious substance abuse problems and likely BPD in one of them.

Through the years, my extended family kept me grounded, supported and loved at all times. They filled the gap and allowed me to see how to live outside of the BPD world. And they taught me the healing that comes through humor. I don't think even the best stand-up comic could have imagined some of the hillarious stories of life growing up with my mother or the unbelieveable sound bites that came out of my mother.

For me, dealing with a BPD parent has been confusing, distracting, vascillating, angering, sadening, distrusting and exhausting.

Through the help of a very wise therapist, I'm establishing boundaries--very firm ones with her, mind you. I'm improving and solidfying my sense of self. And learning to trust new relationships. Because of her extreme case, I'm finding this a long process of detachment from her. But a process that is worth every bit of time and effort. At this point we talk only about once a month for a short period of time, despite living near. Seems odd to have so little contact with a mother but I've never felt so content and settled.

One of the greatest joys lately has been finding a loving relationship. Before I never thought I could trust someone to get that close to me and I never thought someone would really love me given my "challenging" mother. But, as it turns out, I can trust the right person and he does love and accept me...challenging mother and all.

Amid all this joy is a little lurking dread that around the corner my mother is waiting to drop her next emotional bomb. We, my boyfriend and I, will be planning a wedding soon. I'd love to elope but that's just not a possibility for us. The thought of my mother even knowing about wedding makes my stomach churn, much less her attending it.

To be honest, I'm really not sure how to handle this event in light of her illness. I'm most focused on my extended family, friends, and future-in-laws having a wonderful time celebrating with us. Any involvement with my mother around this event is meerely damage control...though in reality I know have zero ability to control her less desireable behavior. I guess let's just hope for the best!

When I step back and take stock of it all, I'm just happy to be at this point in life and moving past my mother's historic presence in my life.

7:55 PM, May 15, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Borderline makes great girlfriend cuz they are crazy and sexually compulsive. I have dedicated my last 2-3 years of dating a couple of borderline at the same time, and considered myself lucky. (Btw: I am a "predator" type, and less of narcissistic, LOL ).

Statistically speaking, having 2 BPDs serving my needs while I pretend throwing fake mass into the blackhole to keep to stove up for another week/month/year etc is actually hard to do.

Say borderline is a spectrum, and say 5% "worst" of female have this. If I want above average, that leaves 2 out of 100.

If I filter for someone who I likely meet in a party, job-related functions, etc, that weeds out 50% of the 2 (some BPDs are so kookoo they can't hold a job for shit): So 1 out of 100.

During the period 2004-2006 when I did my borderline "dance" (to keep the boat floating one more day, basically), I learned tremendous insight towards their weaknesses and how to profit from them.

The key is as I said,

* some statistical underpinning (do not overshoot the pot, so to speak),
* willingness to invest some time and money - (don't get sucked in though, they tend to be more $$$ than sane women),
* and a LOT OF SEX DRIVE will help.

Go get 'em tiger.

12:23 PM, May 27, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I might also add my frustration ( I am the "predator" post earlier) about the difficulty of finding above average look BPDs to add to my portfolio.

The problem is that unlike other wackos, crazies, bikers, or criminals, BPDs don't befriend other BPDs. Have ya'll noticed that?

Finding one means that if your stiffness wins you get to cough up the dough, if you know what I mean. It's hard to replace 'em with equivalent quality cuz their circles usually contains none of their kinds. That leads you to roam other social circles to find these and I say that requires more investment.

12:28 PM, May 27, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I might also add my frustration ( I am the "predator" post earlier) about the difficulty of finding above average look BPDs to add to my portfolio.

The problem is that unlike other wackos, crazies, bikers, or criminals, BPDs don't befriend other BPDs. Have ya'll noticed that?

Finding one means that if your stiffness wins you get to cough up the dough, if you know what I mean. It's hard to replace 'em with equivalent quality cuz their circles usually contains none of their kinds. That leads you to roam other social circles to find these and I say that requires more investment.

12:28 PM, May 27, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What u said reminded me of Fawzan, a really clever guy i knew back in the dorm. I was always curious why a really cool and smart dude like him seem to be ok being yelled at, thrown at, by his (american) girlfriend.

He was just smiling and as if it were nothing he said "she is borderline". When I found out what that means, I asked him why he stayed with her. He said for what he needs it's got the right tradeoff. He stressed that it's great for short term relationship and you don't have to worry about feelings, dances, etc. He actually offered her to me to date!!!! But he was worried if I may fell for her and got to long term cuz he thinks I was not experienced enough. Reading your post above seems to convince me either you are Fawzan or someone who has uncovered such to exploit in this niche psych type.

10:03 AM, June 06, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You know what I think. I think you're all a bunch of selfish greedy heartless idiots. Yes, BPD can be a hassle to live with at times... but it's not like they can control it! Good freaking god. To all those who suggested dating people with BPD but not marrying them... the only people with the problems here is you. You're willing to use a person with personality disorders for your own personal gain? I've never been so disgusted in my whole life. I also think therapists should be trying to help people... not treat people with BPD like trash :).

Go get a freaking life...

9:27 PM, July 19, 2007  
Blogger Helen said...

anonymous 9:27:

What personal gain is being sought other than perhaps avoiding living a lifetime of pain by marrying someone with borderline personality disorder who leaves it untreated? Not sure what your point is, but if you are angry with people for not marrying someone who does not have their emotional life under control, than it is you who need to examine your own motives.

11:39 AM, August 05, 2007  
Blogger em111 said...

I am glad that I've found this site. All the comments are so helpful in understanding BPD. I am still healing after a relationship with a narcissistic man. I spent 2 years working for him and being 'part of the family' while his wife was dying of cancer. Shorlty after her death he became very dependent on me for emotional strength and support. Which I thought was understandable at the time. There had never been any question of any attraction there - he is 20 years older than me - but I wanted to help him and offer the support he needed. We became close and enjoyed spending time together - but he seemed so manic and seemed to become completely infatuated with me... wanting to spend all his time with me, telling people I'd achieved things that I hadn't, making me laugh like I never thought possible. I became swept away in the whole euphoria (which was terrible as his wife had only died a few months before .. and the guilt I felt was awful) But it was as though I had no choice - he completely charmed and 'took me over'. I fell completely in love with him.. which I know was wrong - but he had this way of making me feel so good and told me I was his 'soul mate' and I was stupid enough to believe him. After a few months he started to devalue me ... critising, one day being lovely, the next day cold as ice. This went on for weeks. He was insanely jealous of my other work commitments and if I ever went out. He constantly made himslef a 'victim' - not able to deal with his childrens grief and saying ' why are they doing this to me? '. I became very close to the children and gave as much support to them as he would let me. But everything was always on his terms. I kept wandering when the person I'd known was going to come back. He would cry for his wife one minute - then start throwing sexual inuendos at me the next. Luckily we never had a physical relationship - but he constantly talked about it and how good he was and what a good sex life he'd had with his wife. He finally sucked me dry after Christmas and I felt I'd lost myself completely ... I'd given so much to him and his family and I felt like I was a toy that could be picked up and dropped whenever he wanted to... with no regard to my feelings and no explanation. I finally left which devasted me. I had to leave his 8 year old daughter, who had become very attached to me, my job and the life that I'd led for two years. I couldn't believe all the time we'd spent together meant nothing. When I left all he said was "I'm in charge of the horses now - I'll contact you when I'm ready - see you mate" As I gave him a hug and cried a few tears (which I'd never done infront of him in two years) he said "Don't do this to me - my chest hurts" and that was it. It's been 6 months since I left and he has completely cut me off from the children and carried on with life as if I never existed - even though I explained I had to leave to give him time to grieve and because I had fallen in love with him. He just couldn't care a less. Infact it is almost as if he hates me with avengence. It has destroyed me and yet I still seem to care about him. I know I must have some personality disorder to still be feeling this but I can't seem to get it out of my head. Questions like "what did I do wrong" - "how could he have said those lovely things to me and not meant it" - "how could he treat me like this after 2 years of complete loyalty". I don't want anything from him except closure and some kind words of respect. After reading about Narcissism I completely understand now. He is very wealthy, powerful, comtrolling, he makes himself a victim (he has told people that I f***** off and left him), he charms everyone completely, he expects people to run around after him, he needs to possess people and has this way of making you feel like the most special person who existed.. and because of the kind of person I am I fell for it completely. I trusted him and threw my kindness back in my face. It feels good to get all this out - noone seems to understand how I feel. I am sorry for his children because they are getting it all now. But I don't hate him I just feel really sad about it all. Thank you for listening.

9:10 AM, August 19, 2007  
Blogger Unknown said...

I'm married to a person I believe is borderline (she refuses to to to anything beyond a marriage counselor, and makes clear she will walk out if I discuss anything that might be considered negative about her).

Most of the time life is neither happy nor unhappy. About a quarter of it is pure hell. Horrible jealous rages whenever I go out of town on business (or in her views, expressed before the kids, to be with my "whores"). Half hour lectures on how I've screwed up everything, ending with claims that I'm always complaining and whining. Occasional complete insanity, physical assaults, broken objects, screaming and howling, followed by insistence that she had been perfectly calm until nasty I incited her (or by claims she did nothing wrong -- it was all me oppressing her).

Constantly drained of money (she's had no work in months, and no salaried job in a decade), to support her and her grown kids by a prior marriage, plus our own kids.

Right now we're in a month long "bad mood," punctuated by very nasty moments, and I'm coming close to throwing in the towel. Once before like this she dared me to file for divorce. I did, and she assaulted me, then settled down to figuring out how to sell the house and split the profit. I pointed out the house was my individual, pre-marriage property, and she was most disappointed.

As far as being abandoned if anything goes wrong: I was recently diagnosed with a heart problem (which turned out to be minor, but initially seemed quite worrisome). I was struck by her reaction. "You're going to leave me, how will I possibly care for the house and family by myself?" That is, even the death of a "loved one" was seen only by reference to difficulties it would create for her.

She flies into foul-mouthed screaming rages (and this is a woman with an MA) for little reason or sometimes none at all. In front of the children (and neighbors) has screamed pretty vile stuff at me. The ultimate came one night when she began assaulting me, I pushed her away, she screamed that was domestic violence and called 911. Got us both arrested, of course. But it illustrated her view: I exist to be assaulted. But if I push her away, that is a terrible criminal act.

I'm sure they have a place in life. So do ticks and other parasites. Those of us on the receiving end just need some big flea collars.

11:07 AM, August 20, 2007  
Blogger Unknown said...

As far as complaints about DSM-IV, as I see it:

With physical diseases, you have a fairly clear diagnosis. The patient either has typhoid germs in him or he doesn't.

I see DSM-IV as an attempt to create a set of definitions for emotional ailments that would parallel those for physical ones. To ensure that everyone is talking the same language as it were. Necessarily there is some imprecision. Requiring that a person exhibit five symptoms will leave out some people who exhibit four but are as messed up as someone with five. But it's an attempt to make diagnosis and language a little more uniform. We have a universe of human beings here and are forced to describe them in human-made categories (Aristotle vs. Plato and all that) if we are to have any useful discourse.

11:13 AM, August 20, 2007  
Blogger Unknown said...

I have a BPD mother and living with her is like living in hell. She doesn't get along with anyone, however, its everyone else's fault. She's critical and maninulative and alot of the time just plain rude. Over the years I've been the one that has sought therapy (she never would because there's nothing wrong with her according to her). I'm happy to say that with therapy I'm much better able to deal with her - how? I just don't care anymore, I've removed any and all emotional investment. I can imagine that it would be hard to deal with a BPD spouse, but at least in that case you can break-up and not have to deal with them anymore. When you have a BPD mother its a little harder to do. I no longer buy into her manipulation and I will call her on her bad behaviour. I've now become the black-sheep amongst a lot of my family members because I just won't put up with her BS and emotional blackmail and hurt anymore. The last time she said she was going to kill herself - I said go ahead and handed her the bottle of pills - of course she didn't do it, once again it was manipulation. My only advice to anyone dealing with a BPD parent is to get yourself into therapy so you can lead a healthy happy life and forget about ever trying to have a loving, nurturing relationship with them. It sucks and it hurts but its life with a BPD

3:56 PM, September 19, 2007  
Blogger Tina said...

I am a mother of an almost 20 year old borderline. I have felt that she was borderline since she was 15 but her therapist kept telling me they don't diagnos BPD until they are adults. The amount of pain I have had to endure at the hands of this child is immeasurable. Finally she has pushed me over the edge to where I really want nothing more to do with her. I can't fix her. Her 3 siblings have suffered tremendously because of all the attention she has required as a result of the entire family "walking on eggshells". I am at a loss. Called her therapist last week to request a meeting with her and us, the parents to set up guidelines for any future relationship to continue with the family. She continues to push my buttons while I continue to try to put some distance between us for my own mental health.

11:05 AM, December 04, 2007  
Blogger Unknown said...

I am in the middle of a scenario with someone that I believe has BPD and I am out of my depth in being able to cope with her behaviors. I was hired as a personal assistant by a woman that by her own admission suffers from bulimia and has now replaced it with compulsive shopping. At first I believed everything she told me then started to feel that some of her stories were too incredulous to be true. She was kicked in the heart by her horse, was pronounced dead, then miraculously survived the ordeal. She was struck by lightening and miraculously survived with enhanced intuitive abilities. She claims to channel other world entities, have telepathic communication with her cats (both dead and living!), has psychic powers and has assisted the Dept. of Defense with her psychic gifts. The only social connection she has with those outside her family are the people like myself that she pays. In my first couple months of employment with her I was showered with praise and expensive gifts. Then she became erratic, angry and was frantically changing her schedule around and blaming me for her confusion. I left her employment and if the story ended here I would not be writing this. A couple days after I no longer worked for her she became enraged when I did not immediately answer her emails and then accused me of embezzling a large sum of money. The story was a complete fabrication but none the less quite damaging in a small town. She contacted my previous employers and informed them I was a thief, emailed friends of mine telling them I was mentally instable, had a 'dangerous' addiction to caffeine and sugar (I have a cup of chai in the morning and a piece of chocolate once a week)and that I was sobbing uncontrollably at work. She even enlisted one of her massage therapists to come to my home and attempt to push my partner out of the way to enter the house and search for stolen money! What is to be done with someone like this? Is this BPD? Why is she so enraged? She was just a lonely rich woman that I worked for, not someone that I had a close connection with. Is there anything that I can do to minimize the damage she causing to my reputation? A few other things that struck me as odd about her is that she needed my assistance to put together outfits to wear even for mundane activities like staying at home or grocery shopping. Also I had to help her come up with a theme for each day of the week so she could have a purpose for the day. Most of her time was spent shopping, getting bodywork, and rearranging her possessions...So far I have ignored her calls and emails as they are disturbing. I wrote one of her ex-husbands who is financially supporting her asking him to exert his influence on her and get her to stop harassing me. If anyone has any advice on what I can do and what makes the woman bent on smearing me, please advise.

2:06 PM, February 18, 2008  
Blogger Mister-M said...

I recently started dropping by your blog and happened upon this post by accident.

I "married one" and to call it a mistake would be the understatement of the millenium.

Lots of good stuff in your post and the feedback is extraordinary. It's the basis for my own blog.

The Psycho Ex-Wife

5:09 PM, February 21, 2008  
Blogger B. Doe said...

After the umpteenth blowup from a VERY difficult coworker, I just had to find out what I could do to make this woman easier to deal with. It just so happened that I'd heard a fairly concise explanation of borderline disorder on the radio this past week, which led me to this site. THanks for the quick tips on dealing with someone with BPD. I wish there was a way to force her to get treatment...

2:20 PM, March 05, 2008  
Blogger bodhissatva6 said...

One of my "best friends" has BP. We're now in 12th grade and met eachother in 6th. For all these years she has been in my life and it wasn't until a week ago that we did some research after one of her anger episodes and found out about BP. I never thought to blame a disorder because my friend always makes it seem like it is my fault. I would cringe every time she walked into the room and always hesitate to answer when she talked to me. Knowing about BP I feel like a huge weight is lifted off my shoulders because I know it isn't my fault. It is of course still difficult seeing my friend but I will eventually find a way to reason with her.

7:22 PM, April 16, 2008  
Blogger Michele Rozga said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

3:44 PM, September 10, 2008  
Blogger Rehab Counselor said...

I have to admit - I was both appalled and angered to come across this blog site when I was seeking further information to aid me in the psychiatric rehabilitation work I do with clients with borderline personality disorder. To refer to someone as "the borderline" demonstrates a formidable lack of value and empathy. Knowledge only goes so far - the most vivid work is in the connection. It saddens me to see this discourse continue. Respect!

12:55 PM, January 09, 2009  
Blogger Unknown said...

While not professionally diagnosed, my wife fits all described traits with chilling accuracy. Indeed, she was a "great girl friend," but hell to live with. She has a PhD in computer science and is exceptionally charming when properly motivated. On advice from this column I have quit sponging and try to mirror feelings back. She now accuses me of having no empathy, being emotionally sterile. I see small improvements. She no longer destroys my most prized personal items (my paintings, wedding rings, journal etc) or threatens to kill herself and our child. It is progress, but I am exhausted. i don't believe my health can take it much longer - physical and emotional. I am emotionally and religiously devoted to marriage, but I know worry about our child, age 3.5. I would leave the marriage for my daughter's sake, but I don't know if it is the best. My wife can be a very good mother at times, then flip on a dime and abuse her. I am sure I would be happier divorced, but what about the child? That is the paramount issue with me now. What should I do? How do I negotiate the treacherous shoals of divorce with a very talented BPD and minimize damage to the daughter I love?

1:41 PM, January 25, 2009  
Blogger rose said...

My sister has been diagnosed with BPD. Growing up I always expected her to act like a big sister (she is 10 years older). No one in my family told me my sister was not "normal" at 21 my sister had a child, due to her disease as well as using speed, my family often took care of the child. My sister had custody of her until she was 12, at which point she came to live with my mother.
My niece is now 15 and I am 25.
It still angers me that my sister has been such an awful person to all of us. Oftentimes while visiting our house she would go into a rage over small things. She would throw stuff and tell her children (4 children) that I was trying to take them away from her.Then 10 minutes later she would act as if nothing was wrong. She treated my niece terribly, constantly threatening to send her to a boot camp ( this is why we finally got custody of her) My niece, the oldest, acts out a lot, and it is understandable due to how she was raised. I want to go into the field of psychology but constantly find myself furious at everything my sister has done. I am working very hard to overcome my anger because I don't want to bring it with me when I start working with patients. I hope that one day I can love my sister for who she is, instead of what I want her to be

9:34 PM, February 23, 2009  
Blogger scarlett and legend said...

I have diligently been working through this blog and thank you all so much for the valuable comments. Most of you speak such truth. It’s truly been so interesting to read what others are experiencing, and for the first time I feel less lonely in this continuous situation of unreasonable outbursts, blaming, radical mood shifts, misplaced aggression, loathing, hate, deliberate self manipulation, reckless behaviour, anger, emptiness and my favourite still; emotional manipulation.

My wife was diagnosed as a BPD several years ago, yet it’s taken some time to get to actually face the real nature of the problem. We have been together for about 16 years, and in all that time, there has simply been no change in her behaviour. Actually, when people talk about the disorder improving over time, i.e. the patient getting better, it’s not the patient improving, it is we, those of us who have to live with the person suffering from BPD, who actually changes, or learns deal with it differently. I feel myself becoming distant. But the feelings of internal conflict and pain that is diligently pursued by the BPD always remain behind inside of me.

When we met, she was 20 and at first it was very difficult to deal with. Yet, it was even harder to break up. The type of tremulous background that she suffered as a child, always governed a type of hold, especially to a knight trying to save his damsel in distress. Then, not having much experience in the relationship thing, I always was the party that was in the wrong, no difference in or insignificant of the offence. It was always my doing that made her mad, angry, depressed, etc. And some how, I always succumbed to believing her. It’s this manipulation that empowered her over the years and bound me to her fringes of rationality.

Yet, I been no fool decided after a few hell years to bail out of the relationship, and that, suddenly is when our relationship took on a whole new dimension. She was pregnant. Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love my daughter, who is now turning 11. The relationship is still hell, she moves from been intelligent, witty, kind and charming to one of absolute and (if you live with a partner who is BPD, you will understand the true meaning of this term) ‘Hell’.

For 8 years now she has been a stay at home mom, studied several degrees. She passed most of her courses in psychology (ironic) and social work Cum Laude, and if she wanted to continue her masters, the university have offered to grant her a full scholarship based purely on performance. She is currently in the process of developing a business, income pending, naturally. There is nothing wrong with her intelligence. Yet for all these years, in supporting her, I have been batted and bruised so much, that the wounds just won’t heal any more.

No, I am not perfect, far from it, but in all honesty, through all of my imperfections, I am a “make love, not war” kind of guy. I would love another child, but go through this hell again, hell no. Could I have a sound relationship with someone else? I really don’t know if I want to ever be subjected to this again. Why do I support her? Because I really love my daughter! Besides, my daughter seems to be able to work around her mom’s disorder.

My wife suffers from all those points listed by Helen at the beginning of this Blog, except attempted suicide. She he has been instituted when she was in her teens under ‘Depression’. She has undergone hours of psycho therapy and counselling. She is aware that she is BPD, but does not believe that she is BPD. Remember, everyone else is at fault, ill, screwed up, etc. Remember, true for most BPD’s she can be so charming, sweet, kind, and suddenly in a blink of an eye, absolutely insane.

I truly care for this woman, but cannot live with this turmoil for much longer. When I am home, I am the devil’s worst nightmare. She has no problem telling me she hates me, hates my life, hates my career, and hates my existence. She hates my family, she hates the home I pay for, hates the food I provide. I don’t make enough money; don’t work hard enough, apathetic, bad friends, limited understanding, and unkind, ungenerous, narcissist. Once she just happened to say a few weeks after my father had died, “you are glad your father is dead, so now you can fuck your mother”. (Maybe every man gets told this, how should I know). She can go for hours highlighting my weaknesses, making my insignificance a cause for global forum. The saddest part of all, when I am sick or down, she kicks me the hardest. If I have a cold, I have to hide it. When down, I have to be weary. She wants freedom, but tightens the leash. Then, like a switch has been hit, while still licking my wounds, drowning in self pity, she reminds me to pack my toothbrush for my next trip. When I am away, or when she needs me, I am a saint. Some say all relationships are like this, but if this was the case, why do we have a growing population?

I don’t believe there is a cure for this disorder. She has a way of making people believe in her, see things from her point of view. When she needs to, she will convince anybody of anything, if that is what she needs you to believe. Advice for someone dating a BPD, and for this I quote from an earlier article posted on this blog, “Run”.

A question, how do we heal ourselves? Living with someone like this for so long must be damaging.

5:07 PM, March 15, 2009  
Blogger So, what IS in a heart? said...

I'm just glad that I have dodged some serious bullets in my life. These people are one of them. I guess it helps not being the easiest targets, so to speak.

3:13 PM, June 12, 2009  
Blogger Cyger said...

I have spent the previous two years with my fiancee who shows every possible symptom given for BPD. It has been difficult, especially since she has ruined many aspects of my life and added some to it through manipulation of friends, family, and my own family. It has not helped that I suspect my mother also has BPD or BP and so interpersonal relationships with them has been chaotic.

However, although I will often become extremely hurt or agitated, I have learned a simple trick to calm her rages. The only problem is that it will often take sheer will. Don't say anything. Nothing. When the shift occurs, just walk up to him or her, hug her, and hold her. There may be pushing and biting and punching and screaming, but eventually sanity returns in a much better fashion.

Every advice I see says to run. People claim they love the person with BPD but must leave for their own sake. If you run out on that person, you don't love her. In fact, you're fulfilling her fears - reinforcing her worthlessness. BPD may be extremely difficult to live with, but if you care, learn when to engage the problem, and when to let it burn itself out. You'd be surprised what sort of reactions you'll get if you learn to maintain your own sanity while maintaining your affection.

1:40 PM, November 06, 2009  
Blogger Unknown said...

Nice article. I'll add my two cents worth. I've been married to a borderline for 18 years. we have two wonderful kids (11 and 14) that I would NEVER leave. borderlines will often use such dedication as a weapon. If you come across this, let me give you this. BORDERLINES NEVER LEAVE!! You can't get rid of them if you wanted to. So when they threaten to leave or kick you out, say "go ahead". They never will.

The one thing that is positive about being married to a borderline is going down the long painful road of finding out why I was attracted to this and how I got here. To live with a borderline, without living in anger, one must focus on one's self, improving one's self, but most importantly NOT being afraid to feel the pain. I have found by shutting down from feeling pain, or protecting mysel from pain creates unhealthy habits and reactions. There is nothing I can do to protect my wife, help my wife, or change my wife. She chooses her own path everyday. . . a destructive path, hand in hand with her mother, sisters, and brothers. Borderlines are totally accountable for their actions, but they are victims too. I can assure you everyone of these borderline women (can't speak about the men) had awful, awful fathers. . . and most of these women, had borderline moms. It's a generational condition that is a tough cycle to break.

When I came to the point, I could set healthy boundaries for me and my two kids, and be attacked viciously and hold my ground without reacting in a negative way, I felt I had healed a great deal of myself.

and if I can do it, anyone can.

11:21 AM, November 20, 2009  
Blogger Unknown said...

I divorced a man last year and just found out he was diagnosed BPD among many other things back in 2007. I made my decision to exit hell when one night in a psychotic rage he threatened to harm our 8 month old son. The judge happily gave me full custody with only supervised visitation by me! However, his psychosis has gotten so bad that 3 weeks ago he threatened both my life and our now 16 month old's life. Now one restraining order later and a prayer that the judge will make it permanent so me and my son will never have to be exposed to this monster again!

4:22 PM, December 01, 2009  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've done a lot of reading about BPD, and I believe that I suffer from this condition. Indeed, I experience all the symptoms you list in your original article.

What hurts most is that the vast majority of people can't accept that I have a mental illness, and instead see me simply as a 'nasty person'. I see and understand that I hurt people unintentionally with my outbursts, so why can so few people see and understand the deeply heartbreaking effect that it has on the BPD sufferer themselves?

8:37 PM, March 28, 2010  
Blogger Unknown said...

if you're with a BPD sufferer, do get out now and get some counseling. An ex-girlfriend has BPD, and she alternated between the extremes of attachment and care on one pole and sadistic sociopathy on the other. It was brutal, especially because I loved her deeply and made all efforts to empathize with her suffering (which naturally only gave her more fuel for torment in the moments when she perceived kindness as weakness.) Fortunately, she married a highly functioning autistic guy whom she described as living 'on only one level.' He is mostly oblivious about, confused or annoyed with her lies, infidelities, and cruelties.
There is hope if you can get away from them. In time the pain subsides a good bit.
One hope you do have to give up is the hope that anyone will understand what happened. BPD-ers are excellent liars and actors and no one will believe that their warm and bright public persona could be so far from their private personality. My ex teaches courses on ethics at a university and she projects the very kindly, composed persona of a comfortably tenured academic. ...So oddly inconsistent with the person I eventually came to know.
Just remember it's not your fault that you got into the situation with the BPD-er. You got close to her/him when they were showing you their public persona, and by the time you discovered the other twisted elements of their at-times cold-hearted and mean-spirited personality, you were in too deep for an easy escape. BPD-ers prey upon the kind-hearted. They can break you for a spell, but if you survive the breaking, you can heal in time. And thrive. Good luck. Persevere. And if you can find it in your heart to do so, forgive them. No one chooses to be so messed up. No one. And they do suffer in the absolute solitude and emptiness they ultimately feel. No one wants to suffer like that. Forgiveness can liberate you emotionally, and mercy is generally yht eright thing to express. Just don't go so far as to let them back in you r life. Ever. Be well...Persevere in Kindness.

10:15 PM, April 22, 2010  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have been with my wife on for 8 years now. At least two counselors stated that from what they had diagnosed she is the extreme case of a BPD. I have dealt with violence,suicide attempts(well mock suicide attempts)pet with other men, all of it. It's crazy cause I read in one of the comments about how they make good girl/boy friends but do not marry them. We have 4 children combined but none together. Due to all the insanity in my life I hardly see my daughter and my teenage son who is very close to me despises her. We have been separated 4 times including now.....Some are probably saying that is good now run, but I find it so hard to get away from her. Sometimes I feel that the only solution would be to leave the state but I know I cannot do that because of my children... I am so lost and confused. I know that its a doomed situation but with all the years of abuse I find myself questioning myself. I stay away adn dont communicate with her for a week or two and then she creates some sort of threat and I end up breaking down. I have never felt so helpless and weak. The crazy thing is that I do love this women but I know it is completely unhealthy. Makes me think I am the one with the problem.

6:13 PM, September 22, 2010  
Blogger Marissa Coronado said...

Dr. Helen -

I am wondering if you have any advice for children of a BPD parent on how to build relationships without fear.

My mother is a BPD - as such, my youth was filled with severe verbal and emotional abuse. I grew up thinking I was the problem and I have suffered with a severe lack of self esteem, continuous guilt, and over-sensitivity ever since. It has been difficult, but I am learning how to become healthy -- I live on the other side of the country from my mom -- and I am becoming myself. I'm beginning to see myself for myself instead of through the lenses of my mother's negative perception of me.

However, the effects of her abuse still linger and I find myself struggling with one task: I have a difficult time with intimacy...I'm extremely shy and I avoid contact with others, for fear of them. Even when I know someone "likes" me, I live in constant fear of them coming to hate me and reject me (like my mother), and so I avoid forming an intimate relationship with them entirely. I think this behavior often leaves people that I value very confused because they feel shunned by me for no reason. Sometimes, I'm ashamed to admit, it is so bad that I cannot bring myself to even say "hi" to someone because I fear their potential rejection of me.

Even though I am aware of this problem, I can't seem to break free of it -- it is like an addiction. I always anticipate relationships will go sour because I feel like a failure in many ways, and so I avoid forming them. I know these feelings are irrational: I'm a college graduate, a super nice girl everyone seems to like, I live on my own in manhattan as a very successful person, and I graduated top of my philosophy department. Yet, I still feel awful about myself.I hate living like this. I have "missed out" on so many valuable relationships.

Do you have any advice? How can someone like me begin to allow themselves to feel validated and loved by people who like them, instead, of always fearing their disapproval and hatred?

I desperately want to stop avoiding and fearing people.

Thank you very much!


Daughter of a BPD mother.

12:15 PM, November 11, 2010  
Blogger robbiebow said...

I myself exhibited most of the signs of BPD, and it took getting involved with someone else who also exhibited similar signs to confront it. Our combined low self-esteem and low expectations worked in our favour in that neither of us would have dated someone so messed up if we weren't so messed up ourselves.

A diagnosis can help you see the behaviour and feelings of someone (including yourself) from a different perspective, and is the start of a different journey on a different path. Finding out what are aggravating factors, tackling mental, emotional, social, physical and financial stress factors in more constructive ways builds self-esteem through the sense of achievement and reduces the likelihood of doing harmful things as we become less pre-occupied with those underlying stress factors.

I'm not out of the woods yet, but I can see the light at the end of the path, and I'm doing less harm as each day goes by. One major problem I have had to deal with is not knowing what the problems were, not honouring my feelings, not standing up for myself, and consequently doing things that made life harder not better. I do know, however, that everything I have done in my life has been in my best interest. Just as it has in yours. I'm just learning new, better ways to behave and see the world that are more successful at serving my best interests.

It's terribly hard when you're in the midst of a difficult relationship to see the positive, but you can find it there once the dust settles. Sometimes you win, sometimes you learn.

9:08 PM, November 29, 2010  
Blogger said...

A lot has been transpired since 1996 when the book was conceived, many books have been published, and more is now known about the disorder and about ways to constructively interface with our loved ones. Randi Kreger documents many of these finding in her 2008 publication, The Essential Family Guide to Borderline Personality Disorder. Many therapists are not aware of Ms. Kreger's newer book. BPDFamily recommends the 2008 publication - it is a significant advancement over her first work.

The Essential Family Guide to Borderline Personality Disorder: New Tools and Techniques to Stop Walking on Eggshells

Like the first book, this text is geared to family members. In The Essential Family Guide to Borderline Personality Disorder, Ms Kreger focuses on 5 tools to make home life more manageable for family members and more constructive to the person affected with BPD. This book outlines how families can set boundaries and communicate more effectively. This book also answers common questions that family members often have in clear simple language such as the symptoms and treatment of BPD, why BPD is so often misdiagnosed; how symptoms can differ by age and gender; and how addiction and other disorders complicate BPD.

Randi Kreger is a professional writer and blogger. She coauthored Stop Walking on Eggshells, on of the first self-help books in this field in 1998 with Paul T. Mason is a program manager of Child/Adolescent Services and a psychotherapist with Psychiatric Services for St. Luke's Hospital in Racine, Wisconsin.

2:44 PM, January 11, 2011  
Blogger hopeforsanity said...

I am an only child of a mother who has BPD. I am 40 now with 3 children of my own and having a difficult time dealing with her. She is in and out of hospital with other medical problems and right now is at her home with limited mobility. She is happy with me when she is getting what she wants and furious with me when I am unable to go see her when she requests. It's very difficult.

4:13 PM, July 16, 2011  
Blogger ks said...

My wife has been detected for Borderline Personality Disorder 8 months back after 22 years of marriage> the psychatrist didnt say anything how to handle it but told me that she is BPD. As it is my life was quite a hell living with her and i could not take any more from her. I have two kids aged 22 and 17 and they had no clue about her illness because she was not bad to them, I realized that she prepared my kids against me all thes years and there was no transparency in any thing about her and she always used to put lot of guilts and threats in me. She was so intelligent that she manipulated me for most of the things in my life but her behaviour was always so rude and shocking to me all through my marriage. She had extra marital affair with my friends and colleagues and did it in such a manner that no one could pin point> she made relationship like brother and son with people so that her image is not dented. My kids were also ignorant about her activities and moods swings. It was always me who was getting the brunt of her mood swings. I lost all my patience and left home when she linked me with another women in the locality and i was totally disguted with her behaviour this time. I was not aware that my life is going to change forever this time. The moment i left home my kids also joined me because she was not able to convince them for the reasons. Now i realize the family culture because we three people are staying like a fmily for the first time. She made that family a hell for all of us. There is no way these people change with the age. She is 47 now but still the same and trying to disturb us by filing cases against me in various police stations> India has no awareness of such diseases and people feel that being a women she is being harassed by 3 men. She is so manipulative and lies are a life for her and she can cry and laugh in one go. When a women cry people have a sympthetic view towards her. Any way have filed for divorce and hope to get it in due course of time..

2:08 AM, August 19, 2011  
Blogger Unique Tech Services said...

I am in the process of terminating a 4 (Actually 5) year relationship with a Very Nice Lady that has just been diagnosed with BPD... For three years it was a good relationship except for slowly losing its luster... Never argued but, the now that her attempt at a fake suicide went too far, she has exploded into denial and evil outbursts have opened up to the lies of the past...

I could go on and on but, it comes down to the fact that I have been nothing but, supportive and extremely kind to this lady that I fell in Love with and now has made me doubt that am even a decent human being... They can use their intelligence for good and for evil in the same breath...

I read a post that said it best... RUN, do not look back... I cannot even describe the hell that I am living with after this period in my life... If you have no mental problems before getting close to this type of disorder, you will be convinced that you do... I am saddened at the way that I was allowed to get close to family (Daughter, Grandchildren) and have to leave them behind to deal with such a horrible situation that as of this time looks to never end as she refuses to admit that she has a problem and manipulates EVERYONE, even the counselors...

I have purchased the book (I hate you, Don't leave me and also Walking on Eggshells)not only for myself but, also the Daughter that I have grown to love as my own...

If only I had known before so many lives have been ruined...

7:51 AM, August 28, 2011  
Blogger JJJCCC said...

I think my girlfriend may have symptoms of borderline. She always thinks I may be cheating on her and constantly checks my phone history, emails, and internet history. She questions my fidelity to her on a weekly basis, meanwhile I have not given her reason to believe Im a cheater, I have been 100% dedicated to her.

A few weeks ago we got into a huge fight because she found a woman's tank top in my house that wasn't hers. She demanded I tell her who the shirt belonged to. We had 40 people over for a bbq the week before, and the tank top ended up belonging to my 14yr niece. When I asked for an apology, we got into another fight.

We fight often and it is obvious this relationship is not good for either of us. But whenever I approach the topic of ending the relationship she freaks out. She calls me 1,000 times in a row and if I dont answer she shows up at my house. She begs and convinces me that we can still make the relationship work. I feel soo guilty that I am putting someone I love through so much pain that I end up taking her back. Then she blames our fighting on me being depressed. But I feel that me being depressed is an effect of what we are going thru, it is not the cause of anything.

Once we get back together she seeks out apologies for me leaving her in the first place and if Im reluctant it sends her into another emotional breakdown. We then go thru the same cycle again.

I feel soo trapped. I know this relationship is not want I wanted for my future but I dont know how to get out. How do I end it and minimize her devastation?

10:17 AM, October 06, 2011  
Blogger Helen Smith said...


I just saw your comment and wanted to respond.

First, your job is not to minimize her devastation. Once you think this way, it will be hard to break off the relationship. Your job is to be in a relationship with someone who is more emotionally stable than this. Calling you a "1000 times in a row" is a tip-off that something is not right with your girlfriend. You must set some boundaries with her and let her know that you do not want to continue on in the realtionship. Prepare yourself. The crying and the blaming will increase. She may become angry and call you even more frequently. Do not give in or go back to her. If you know in advance what to expect, it will be easier for you to break it off. Also, try reading the "Walking on eggshells book" to get more insight and support for your situation.

Helen Smith

6:58 AM, October 24, 2011  
Blogger Valberry said...

In 2007 I was diagnosed as Borderline with concurrent PTSD. Ignorance is not bliss, because the live I was living before that diagnosis was anything but bliss.

The thing about us BPDs, is that as much as we can appear cunning, munipulative and downright filled with rage, usually during our rage there is this little voice going of in our heads begging us to stop and try to repair the damage we are doing. I am sure you see this with BPDs in your life, who quickly try to act as though everything is just perfect right after a rage.

My diagnosis was light a lightbulb going off, and filled me with immense relief. Armed with this, I went seeking answers. I didn't know how to help myself, I just knew that I had the willingness to try.

Five years later, I no longer classify as a BPD (I am in my mid-thirties so this does have bearing as well), and only fit 1 to 2 of the characteristics outlined in the DSM 1V (I fit all nine previously).

There is help, and I find it frustrating that most of the literature and blogs I read essentially label BPDs as incurrable. It isn't true.

For me, help started with an onslaught of vitamin therapy, anti-psychotics, anti-convulsants and a strick regime of exercise. I made a conscious choose not to drink, smoke or do any drugs (not that this was a problem for me before). The drugs, lifted my symptoms and enabled me to feel what 'normal' must be like, and also to recongnize the irrantionality of my symptoms.

I sought therapy from a psychologist specializing in BPD, I sought out CBT groups, I read until I couldn't read any longer, and engaged in relationship rebuilding courses, and Core Belief Engineering (a not so recognized method, based on Quantam Physics,, I watched the secret and started to change my language to positive statements and statements that force me to accept responsiblity for myself. I am hurting, not you hurt me, I feel sad, not you made me sad.

I will always be a work in progress, but help is out there.

And one other thing I did, I was honest, honest and open with my friends, family, co-workers, therapists, anyone who would and will listen. I am determined to lift the vail of shame off of this diagnosis, and I do so everyday by 'coming out' as BPD. Which, surprisingly, was harder than coming out as a lesbian.

If you find yourself in a interpersonal relationship with someone presenting as BPD, set boundaries, and stick to them, and do not enable the behaviours by thinking that you can mitiage their hurt, you can't. Be honest, send them in the direction of help. Maybe you will lose a friend, maybe you will lose a lover, but in the off chance you plant the seed, you may save a life.

11:31 AM, September 20, 2012  
Blogger Ditto said...

It seems that you are an expert on bpd. But your diagnosis is so grim. Is there any way of recovering and moving on with your life like a 'normal' person, or does one carry this inside you until you die? I have been in therapy for three years now and every day I work hard at healing. It is the hardest think I have ever done. (And my life is full of other accomplishments before my breakdown)

The statement that really hit hard was that nobody should legalise their relationship with a bpd sufferer. Is that it, no hope of marriage or kids or growing old with the man I love because of this illness I fight every day? What do I do to change this?

8:25 PM, March 10, 2013  
Blogger Ditto said...

I have been reading your blog and I am feeling quite discouraged by it. I have bpd and working at getting better is the hardest thing I have ever done (and I have quite a few accomplishments to my name from before my last and very severe breakdown.)

Every day I get up, even if I don't want to and I take my pills and I see my doctors and I work at making a nice home for my partner. Yet, reading comments like 'run away' and 'don't legalise your relationship with someone with bpd' is so discouraging. Do you honestly believe it will never end, this pain? The guilt when I hurt my partner during a hard low? Is there truly any hope at all of one day, finally having my marriage proposal, kids, my business I want to open, growing old with my very wonderful and patient man that I love? Or is it all in vain, all this exhausting hard work every day, to get better, to hurt others less? Will it ever end?

8:35 PM, March 10, 2013  
Blogger Unknown said...

My ex husband was a Narcissist and we were together for 22 years. There was so much emotional and financial abuse during those years and walking on eggshells doesnt even come close to how i felt. It was traumatic but nothing like the wrath which i experienced when i finally left him after 6 years of therapy. I left with my daughter and the clothes which he helped me pack. He then forced her back with him and the fury began at the point that he realised that the suicidal threats didnt work any longer. I lost my daughter to his hatred which runs deep, he told stories of my infidelity supposedly with all our friends and family, to anyone that would listen including our daughter who is now 18 and dispises me. I cannot fight this, there is no stopping a Narcissist and i realise this, i have no Daughter and NO remaining friends after 22 years.Im happy to say i have a wonderful partner, much to my ex husbands disgust,however interestingly he appears more miserable and angry than he did when we were together. I have a whole group of new friends now, the scars run deep and the manipulation continues, i see my daughter occasionally if only for what she can get off me as per her fathers advice. I believed that i could make him happy but nothing worked and i tried all possible options, it appeared that the more i tried and the happier i became the worse his mood swings, his control was unbearable and his anger was terrifying. His wrath and fury continue after nearly 4 years of separation, i get scared occasionally but i never retaliate as this is futile, he will not stop. But i can move on and above and beyond this sad man, which i unfortunately not something that he is capable of doing.

10:20 PM, March 25, 2013  

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