Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Myth of Borderline

Very controversial.

Unplugging Borderline Personality Disorder

I find mythologising pretty rampant on the internet. And Real Life is no exception.

When I was in graduate school, the prof I esteemed most, happened to be a Professor of Psychiatry. He taught the class in Abnormal Psych. This is what he had to say about Borderline Personality Disorder: that it was a "garbage can" label for a cluster of behaviours that did not seem to fit the established categories. In his estimation, Borderline Personality Disorder described adolescent behaviour at most. And I think it takes a lifetime to grow up anyway.

Here is a link that addresses this very issue and why BPD has mushroomed into a thriving business trafficking in women's psyches once again. And I've observed that guru wannabes on the net in their "support" groups are milking it for all it's worth along with 'co-dependency', in effect pathologizing normal people. Read it and weep. Your very justified and valid tears and emotions may be used against you. ~Invicta 01/03


For another view from those labelled BPD, & from self-harmers: LABELED

Addendum, 02.02.09: I see that the term "hoovering" has crept into internet support communities. As I recall, it was begun by the same opportunist/guru wannabe who saturates the web with support groups, femfree. There is no such term in the psychological lexicon. You will not find it in any legitimate studies. Your therapist would be bewildered by its use. It's a term to describe getting sucked back in, the latter being an adequate term without the pretentious psychobabble, and without the fabricated explanation. It makes the vulnerable targets of these net predators look like fools. It is better to read an authoritative book or seek counselling than to be sucked into looking totally ridiculous. Makes people look like cult members, with their own cultspeak, IMO.

More here: The Myth of "Hoovering"


Bon Dobbs said...

Hi. I actually wrote the "Myth of Hoovering" that you mention here. I don't fully agree with you that Borderline is a "myth" although I do agree that it is a misnomer for the disorder. From what I have seen in interacting with hundreds of borderline patients and their families is that it is chiefly an emotional and impulsivity disorder, which I guess one could label "adolescent behavior." Yet, I think there is a real disorder behind that behavior. I have twin girls (fraternal). One of them exhibits the trademarks of the disorder (with which my wife was diagnosed) and the other does not. I believe there is a mood-based (or emotions-based) biological component to BPD and that you can exhibit that from a young age. Certainly, the diagnostic criteria for BPD are weak and IMO lacking the clarity of Axis I disorders. I would hope that the APA would fix that and rename the basic disorder to Emotional Regulation Disorder.



Melissa said...

It's strange that there are so many books on this disorder yet we know so little about it.

Bon Dobbs said...

I do know believe that is strange. I mean, most people have never heard about, but those that have, they are greatly affected. If you haven't heard about it - then you don't read the books, if you have you are riveted. One recent study showed 5.9% of the U.S. population showed signs of the disorder. Some say it's the "disorder of the day" but it is probably under reported compared to bipolar (which is less than 1/6th of the occurrence).


Paul Shirley said...

We know a lot more about that condition we call "borderline" than we did 30 years ago. We've learned more about the biology of it, the neurology, the learning, what can be unlearned, or re-trained, and the list goes on.

There is a big "HOWEVER" here. HOWEVER, we could still take what we know, put it in a thimble, and use it for a rattle. Any professional who does not know that (or who won't admit it) will never get referrals from me. Don't put a therapist on a pedestals. If a therapist puts himself on a pedestal, I hope you try to set a new world record in the 100-meter dash to get away from him/her. A good therapist may be the best friend you ever have in the time of need. The few bad ones out there can truly be spawn of Satan, getting inside your head & putting their own programming in there just so they can power-trip on you. Unfortunately, it's up to you to recognize the distinction, and you have few tools to work with except your own honest inner feelings. I think I've seen and heard of more stories of therapist dysfunction around BPD than any other one thing - because, as you may know, one of the symptoms of BPD is an initial stage of hero-worship. Unfortunately, some therapists fall for being worshiped as heroes, and like to keep it going for the "high" they get. Is BPD real? Well, *something* is real and makes a whole lot of people act in the same problematic ways. Some people say BPD does not exist. I say our basic concepts about it are probably wrong. We may find the ultimate answer in the hard-wiring of the brain, or some mystic may find the ultimate answer in the soul.

I'm starting to bet on the mystics. :)

This is just my viewpoint, and of course, your mileage may vary.

Anonymous said...

Come on,all of this talk about whether or not something exist or not. You know when something does not feel right,or if someones behavior is not "normal". You don't need the "expertise" of these so called professionals to validate what you know you have experienced. This abnormal social behavior would exsist without the professional diagnosis. Think about some of the acute or severe dysfuction within families.Behaviors are absorbed by children in their developing years and carried into adulthood.Alot of people spend their time only thinking about themselves,whether it is self loving,or self loathing,tossing away people after they have used,or been used.

Anonymous said...

Having been with someone who is BPD, who fitted all the symptoms and underlying causes with amazing accuracy, I don't agree that it's a myth - but I think Bon's comment on renaming is appropriate.

Both of the links in this article are broken BTW - try's wayback machine to see if there's archived copies.

Anonymous said...

Here are several articles that address the controversy, which I posted the last time, but they didn't show up. It must have some kind of glitch.

Anonymous said...

I don't think there is much controversy among the people who have had to deal with a personality disordered person their whole life. After going no contact with my mother, I find it can be engaging to read the powers that be, pontificating about what is and isn't a personality disorder. To them I would suggest living with one of these people. The diagnosis of what they are doesn't really matter. All you know is that they are crazy and hell bent on making you crazy too.

Anonymous said...

On one hand, I was labled "borderline" as a teenager because I wouldn't shut up and admit that my father's sexual abuse and my mother's acceptance of it (and blaming me for it) wasn't just a delusion on my part brought on because I was jealous of my mother's relationship with my father.

On the other hand, I married someone who was diagnosed with borderline, in part because I still believed that it was a "wastebasket" diagnosis, primarily used to shut girls and women up and deny their real suffering. Itt was the day that I realized that each of those real symptoms that I spent years looking at myself and saying "do I really have this?" existed, for real, and to a very significant degree, in my then-husband that I understood that borderline was real, and terrible, and that it explained every bit of my mother's abusive behavior with no exceptions.

Having a borderline ex-husband and mother, as well as another family member, and a narcissistic father, I have to say that borderline is real and different (though similiar in some ways) to Narcissism. But the borderlines in my have been more unhappy, more angry, more reactive and less able to perceive consensus reality. These make the borderlines more caustic, day to day, but the narcissist is better at manipulating people outside of the family and better at long term manipulations. The borderlines' realities are so mangled that they tend to look "crazy" to outsiders. The outsiders often mistakenly see the borderlines as victims but at least they see that there is something wrong. The narcissist is highly respected and believed (not just as a victim) because he is very aware of consensus reality and able to control himself. The borderlines lose control and rage when overwhelmed by frustration or anger whether or not it will win them what they want in that situation. The Narcissist rages, but only when it will get him what he wants. If being quiet, asking nicely, etc will get him that, he can do that and pretend he's calm even if he is quite upset.

I don't think borderlines act like adolescents. More like infants-to-toddlers. Adolescents are generally happy to hang out in their room and be left alone by the adults. Borderlines are not. Growing up may take a lifetime (certainly, coming from the childhood abuse and parentification that I came from, I'm 34 and feeling rather adolescent myself, as I'm still learning to care for myself and reclaiming my identity from the one my parents created for me) but most of us can be left alone for a few hours without it being a crisis, even 13 year olds. The borderlines in my life have made it clear that they want the possibility of my attention at all times. They have said that they need me on call to immediately care for them like a small child and claimed I was abusive when I didn't. My ex-husband would even say to me "If you can't care for me, how could you ever care for a child" and my mother used to excuse her waking me up in the night to talk or whatever by pointing out that she had done it for me when I was an infant and I could expect to do it for my children, so I might as well get used to it with her. I've dropped out of school and left jobs and career to care for them (adult borderlines, not children) full time, at various points of my life.

Comparatively my father and the other Narcissists I've known are generally quite happy working by themselves or with others on projects. When they want my attention they want all of it and they want it now, but there's hours every day when they haven't wanted it. My N father actually seems to feel some pride (in himself I'm sure, not me except as a reflection of him) in my accomplishments in school and my accomplishments in the work place. the borderlines like the money I brought home, but not enough to justify the time spent away from meeting their needs.

So while I do agree that borderline has been used in inappropriate ways, I think it still exists.

Anonymous said...

Sandra Brown MA (Safe Relationships Institute) diagnoses anyone who disagrees with her or finds out she has no licenses and is a scammer as BPD.

Most of her clients she privately refers to as BPD.

Considering she has no license, now its obvious why she uses this diagnosis.