Borderline Personality Disorder Feed

How Could I Be So Stupid?

Have you been manipulated, lied to, controlled by a toxic person?  The person may be a psychopath (antisocial), a narcissist or a borderline.  They've betrayed, exploited and misled you.  They've seduced you with their charm and beguiled you with their lies.  They've stolen your money, your life, your heart.  And you're left wondering, "How could I have been so stupid?"

I am reminded of an old Spanish saying that I absolutely love,

"The lion believes that all are like him."

An honest person expects people to treat them honestly.   Someone who is not a thief may not lock up their belongings, because it does not occur to them that other people would steal from her.

Naturally, you need to check yourself for a susceptibility to flowery speech and manipulation.  If you have a low self esteem you may be especially susceptible to someone showering you with compliments while they simultaneously mistreat, dismiss or disregard you.

But aside from that, one of the struggles of people who are dealing with psychopaths, narcissists or other manipulative people is the nagging question, "How could I not have seen this?", "How could I have been so stupid as to pick out this person?", "Why am I so gullible?" If you are really kicking yourself thinking you were inordinately naive or dumb for having been duped so completely you might find the following explanation helpful.

I found this description of psychopathic manipulation in an article on manipulation and controlling behaviors:

Psychopaths know well and have nothing but disdain for the characteristics of good-natured people and use those very qualities — including most people’s willingness to trust and afford others the benefit of the doubt and the conscientiousness most people have and discomfort they typically have when they think they might be the cause of anyone else’s pain — against them. Possessing a narcissism so malignant (“Narcissism: Pathological Self-Love”) that they consider truly decent folks as inherently weak and inferior, they feel “entitled” to prey on such folks, and deliberately play on their sensitivities and sensibilities to con, exploit, and otherwise victimize them. Worst of all, they do these things for the pure pleasure of it. It’s not fear, insecurity or emotional pain that drives them, just an incapacity to care and a craving to dominate.

Your gullibility and naivete is normal - because you are an honest person.  One other thought you might want to consider.  The alternative to being gullible and naive may be worse - to become cynical, jaded and suspicious of everyone.



Drama Queens May Leave Their Partners Cold

I once asked one of my mentors if there were certain clients he would not work with.  This very empathic and compassionated counselor answered, "borderlines" (people with borderline personality disorder).  I asked why not and he answered, "because I don't like who I have to become in order to work with them".  

At the time I didn't fully understand what he meant, but I do now.  And I see how this might play out in relationships.

People with either borderline or histrionic personality disorder tend to be what most people call "drama queens".  Drama queens typically overdramatize situations or events in order to engage someone emotionally.  For instance, a stumped toe may become a "broken foot" in order to illicit more sympathy or a greater reaction from the listener.  I have a theory that drama queens learn to become drama queens as a result of interacting with parents who do not respond adequately and therefore learn to escalate what is happening to higher levels in order to get a response from the unresponsive parent.  This unresponsiveness can be due to something like the parent's own narcissism or parental drug abuse, anything which makes the parent so wrapped up in themselves that they are unresponsive to their child.  So the child escalates to drama to get their needs met. 

Now that child is an adult and interacting with the world in general.  And they run into someone who has had more than their share of drama queens in their life.   This overexposure can leave one desensitized to dramatic representations and hypersensitive to the use of them.  If a person has lived with a lot of drama queens, and they suspect that their partner is overdramatizing an event or experience, they may discount or minimize the severity of it to compensate for the overdramatization.  This has the reverse effect the dramatic person is seeking.  Their partner underresponds.  So the rama queen escalates further - to which their partner underresponds even more.  A vicious circle ensues.  The drama queen feels rejected or abandoned and escalates the drama trying to engage their partner.  Their partner feels manipulated and retreats more.

So what's the solution?  I think awareness is 99% of any recovery program.  Knowing what you are doing and understanding why you are doing it is paramount.  Then you can begin to be more mindful and make decisions with more awareness.  If you tend to be a drama queen, evaluate the accuracy of your presentations.  Be aware of your tendency to exaggerate, understand the origins of this behavior and focus on being more accurate in the present.  

If, on the other hand, you're the partner of a drama queen and you're feeling cold and unresponsive you might look at your past relationships.  Are you currently involved with a drama queen who has burnt out your empathetic response system?  Or do you have a history of involvement with drama queens that is causing you to discount honest emotional pleas from your current partner?


See also:  Drama Queens:  Children of Narcissistic Parents?

See also:  The Origins of Drama Queens?




Trauma and Mental Disorders

I am reading a lot of research on how the symptoms of trauma and those of many major mental illnesses seriously overlap and will posting about this for the next week.  Most clinicians realize that the symptoms of depression and anxiety are part of the trauma spectrum.  Clients are often diagnosed with Major Depression or some type of anxiety disorder when the real problem is trauma.  Medication only lessens the symptoms (if you are lucky) but fails to resolve the actual disorder.  Treatment for the trauma resolves the issue and medication is no longer needed.  Clinicians are also are of the relationship between some personality disorder (i.e. Borderline Personality Disorder) and trauma.  But what I am now finding is that the medical model for psychiatric disorders may not be as accurate as it claims to be, or even useful.  Research is showing that trauma may be the underlying cause of such major mental illnesses as; Schizophrenia, Bipolar Disorder and Schizotypal Personality Disorder.  And that symptoms such as hallucinations, mood swings and psychosis may be better explained as trauma symtoms rather than a biological disorder.  It seems that once the trauma is treated, the "disorder" resolves itself without medication.

Because this is such a revolutionary way of thinking I'll be posting the research findings for each symptom or disorder complete with references to journal articles. 

I hope you enjoy this series.  In the future, to return to this series, click the "Trauma" category in the right side bar.

Personality Disorders

A lot of clients I see are diagnosed with Axis I disorders like Schizophrenia, Major Depression and Bipolar Disorder when in actuality, they are suffering from a Personality Disorder.  Personality Disorders are rarely discussed because they ultimately cannot be medicated and require long term psychotherapy.  Insurance companies do not cover them and, at least where I live, the county mental health authority does not treat them.  So in order for people with Personality Disorders to get any help, they are mislabeled as one of the "Big Three" (Schizophrenia, Bipolar Disorder or Major Depression) - disorders which are covered by most systems.  I think this is a great disservice to patients and clients.  People have a right to know what is really going on with them and what the proper treatment provided.  What are Personality Disorders?

Continue reading "Personality Disorders" »

Bipolar vs. Borderline vs. Histrionic vs. PTSD

I continue to see numerous clients who have been diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder and placed on medication.  They often complain of "mood swings" and state this as the reason for being "Bipolar".  Yet when I talk to them I find that what they often are is "emotional".  This emotionality can be the result of circumstances in their lives (divorce, death of a loved one, job loss) or from a diagnosis other than Bipolar Disorder.  What are these diagnoses and why does this trend to overdiagnose and medicate for Bipolar Disorder concern me?

Continue reading "Bipolar vs. Borderline vs. Histrionic vs. PTSD" »