All the information on symptoms, behavior, destructive tendencies, random outbursts, insecurity, instability, etc are unquestioned and obvious – especially when you spend much time around these people. The descriptions cover all the amorphous manifestations of this problem. In my opinion however, the mental health community has apparently missed what is actually happening. What they are seeing aren’t any number of spurious abnormal behavior patterns, symptoms or defense mechanisms meant to protect the person from threat or depression. As a matter-of-fact, much of their behavior is quite normal and deliberate. At this point, I hope you are wondering how.
The reason their behavior is normal and deliberate is because what is being experienced by the BPD person and witnessed by those around them is predominantly: THE NORMAL BEHAVIOR OF A CHILD. Of course, the abnormality/problem comes in because these people aren’t children – they’re adults. Well, maybe they aren’t completely adults – not yet anyway. Their psychological/emotional maturation was “stuck” (arrested), or more accurately stated “trapped”, sometime in their youth due to some perceived loss, real loss, or abuse. From that point on, these people essentially have only had the identity components and relationship capacity of the child they were at the time of the loss (but definitely not more than a teenager). Their intellectual and physical maturity continued reasonably unabated, but what must be realized is that each area of personal growth can occur independently of the others. What you have in the BPD person is a physical/intellectual adult and a psychological/emotional child. They are only doing what they know how to do – what they were capable of at the time of their perceived or real loss!
There isn’t any question that the psychological/emotional child part of the BPD person is distressed. It is fearful, angry or depressed depending on what caused its original trauma. It is actually fear and their subconscious misconception, “I can’t do this alone!”, that is part of the trap that prevented the person from maturing. Nevertheless, it is very easy to create a psychological profile on these people using the normal psyche of a child as the basis and couple it with what might be considered a traumatizing component. If you study all the BPD articles and psychological descriptions currently available, it almost jumps out that you are looking at the psyche of a child, a disturbed child indeed, but still a child. It should also be obvious that anything as pervasive as the endless list of so-called BPD symptoms suggests that what you have is general behavior, not ten thousand individual defensive mechanisms or symptoms all acting at once. If you don’t see this, then you are undoubtedly as confused as the mental health community evidently is. While BPD behavior frequently seems chaotic and irrational, reconsider, isn’t that what you would expect from a distressed child? What you have then is: a once severely distressed child has become what the mental health community has labeled as a BPD adult; an adult which frequently has uncontrollable, erratic behavior. In reality, the BPD label is truly insignificant, what you actually have is an adult with the “stuck” psyche of a child.
I have read countless articles relating information on the self, self activating, and other self references. It is more a semantic rather than an actual discussion on the what you call the self, but for me, the self is your soul/personality; in other words, who you are. How your self (soul, personality or whatever you want to call it) interacts/relates in life is based on what level of emotional and intellectual maturity you have achieved (both conscious and subconscious). Therefore, the self is always there, active and is always a complete entity; maybe certain components aren’t in sync with each other, but they are there.
The articles I’ve read tie all the pieces together beautifully up to the point of breakdown/loss; including all the facts about the breakdown, that the person was a child, and all the ensuing symptoms manifested by the person as an adult. From this point on, each article takes a departure into mysterious psychic phenomena as the source of symptoms and behavior. The mental health professionals have evidently chosen to neglect the key ingredients in order to force BPD behavior into the existing paradigms of psychology. Nevertheless, the key ingredients are: 1) you started with a child which obviously had the psyche of a child; 2) something happened to stop the child’s psychological/emotional growth; 3) you now know that you have an adult with behavioral problems; but if you look closely, their behavior is suspiciously similar to that of a child. Simple logic and common sense will tell you to stick with a of line of reasoning that includes the key ingredients; don’t take a radical departure. If you start with a child and the child stops growing, one thing is for sure – you still have child! Any extraneous psychic involvement/elements are peripheral or supplementary.
You can even map every so-called symptom/behavior of a BPD to the behavior of a distressed child.
Just for curiosity, lets map a few symptoms/behavior and see what happens:
When a child is two years old, his first lessons are polarized – good or bad. His learning continues in this manner for quite some time. All his behavioral teaching has polarized overtones to coincide with the limited intellectual capacity of a child. He also learns to attach subconscious feelings to these conscious lessons/concepts, for instance – love or hate. From then on, (until he matures) he can feel or express total love towards someone because of something good/agreeable, and in the very next instant, feel or express hate towards them because of something bad/disagreeable. Because he is still a child, all these are extremely transient and lacking in depth. Polarized, short term behavioral elements are very normal in children and will continue well into their teens; or unfortunately longer, if there is a problem.
Children either can’t accept responsibility/accountability for certain aspects of themselves, certain overwhelming experiences, or don’t want to be punished for bad behavior (even internally by feeling guilty), so it’s a convenience to displace responsibility and put the blame on someone else. This is very obvious behavior in a child but takes on a little more sophistication in an adult because the mature intellect becomes a factor which has a greater capacity to manipulate/rationalize circumstantial factors.
A child will deny bad behavior or transfer it to someone else, even if a parent/adult is completely aware or witnessed what actually happened. Nevertheless, a parent/adult usually dismisses the incident anyway as childish nonsense. However, it boggles the mind to witness an adult do the same thing; it isn’t normal mature behavior. When an adult projects, what usually ensues is some kind of argument on what actually happened and who actually did what. The truly amazing part, though, is no matter how you confront the projecting adult, they will deny everything, the same as a child does. This truly is childish behavior – and it is one capacity of a child or a BPD adult.
If a BPD is emotionally stressed, they are automatically in the “trapped child” zone of their psyche. In this area, they can’t see themselves as anything but a victim. Their behavior is always in response to an encounter, not the provocation. The other person is always the bad guy and is always at fault.
A child is intuitively aware of his dependence on an external source for his emotional, circumstantial, and physical well-being. He perceives himself as limited in his capacity to deal with real-life obligations and responsibility and really doesn’t want it anyway. All he really wants is superficial responsibility, the kind that is fun and provides personal gratification but has no real consequences; leave the real stuff to the adults. He wants his life to be in the realm of fantasy and play.
If a child is thrust into what he perceives as real-life/adult responsibility and emotional/psychological independence to soon (the emotional abandonment or betrayal scenario), all his limited characteristics become evident and amplified. He feels weak, insecure, inferior, angry, unhappy, inadequate, distrustful, etc; all the real capacity of a emotionally hurt child. As this child matures, especially through adolescence, he probably wont develop healthy and mature replacements of confidence and growth beyond his childish limitations. Instead, as a substitute, he builds a fortress, an outward facade/image which gives the appearance of competence and security.
As he grows, he can sense his facade and that not much inside himself seems real; he therefore begins to feel very empty and hollow, even more so than a normal teenager does. This is an early and recurring sign that his intellect and his emotions are way out of sync. His conscious intellect is aware that something is wrong but he can’t control or identify exactly what it is; and, unfortunately for the BPD, wont get any better.
If the child/BPD has some external attribute, you will generally see an exaggerated importance placed on these as part of the cover, substitute, and security for his lacking internal psychological and emotional maturity. Anything about his person, 1) physical or intellectual; 2) anything material, anything new or lavish; 3) any social ties, especially a number of close friends/companions; 4) anything to cling to as foundation or fulfillment; all become part of the facade and crutches for security.
Since children/teenagers are in constant need of entertainment and fun and are exposed to too much of the wrong kind, the BPD person will most likely pick up destructive habits as sources of desperately needed fun and relief. Mind flight and escape become a very important – even necessary – part of their lives, and the various sources that produce it also become psychological/emotional crutches.
A child initially idolizes his parents; they are wonderful superhumans, omnipotent heroes; so the child worships and loves them deeply. The child tries to emulate every aspect of these people. However, if something happens to damage and breakdown the love bond and idealization of his parent, the child feels disillusioned, betrayed and lost. He perceives himself as still dependent but can no longer depend on his parents, so he tries to quickly replace the parent personage by someone else that (in his eyes) fulfills the superhuman – hero requirements. Until this child matures and truly becomes independent, any significant other for the rest of his life will have to initially either have the perceived superhuman quality or provide some degree of circumstantial security.
When a BPD person is an adult (in age anyway) and engages in a serious relationship with someone, a relationship that should be based on mutual adult love and sharing, it isn’t long before child-like relationship aspects arise and cause problems. The BPD person is only capable of limited love but needs endless love, the same as what a child expects with a parent. The significant other person in this relationship becomes the parent replacement; available on demand to meet all the personal, emotional, and circumstantial needs; but, gets very little deep mature love and consideration in return. What this person usually experiences in this relationship is what a parent does with a child/teenager; 1) sometimes genuine love; 2) sometimes casual indifference; 3) sometimes sarcasm, smart-ass attitude, picking, provoking, moodiness, and irritability; 4) sometimes withdrawal and depression. Part of this behavior comes from simple immaturity and part comes from the threat that the significant other person represents the capacity to hurt, betray, and leave. Any interpersonal stress/contention can amplify these mood tendencies. Down deep though, the BPD person knows he is still dependent, so no matter how badly he mistreats his significant other, he doesn’t want the other person to leave; the same as a child didn’t want his parent to leave, in spite of how badly the parent mistreated, neglected, or abused him.
These are enough examples; I think you get the idea. Debbie, you can map every BPD aspect in this manner, from the simple more obvious to the complex less obvious. I reiterate, they are only doing what they know how to do; their behavior is not a collage of random elements. Their behavior is primarily based on insecurity, fear, and the once severely hurt child-like psyche (which is still present now, “trapped”) is extremely limited and vulnerable to anything or anyone that is a potential threat. These limitations make them a stressful/defensive person with three reactionary dimensions. Being frequently stressed or on the defense, BPD’s 1) overreact to simple stressors; 2) get angry or become depressed on moderate stressors; and 3) go into panic, rage, or deep depression on what they perceive as overwhelming stressors.
Everyone, BPD or not, carries some degree of psychological/emotional immaturity into adulthood. The typical gap between the intellectual and emotional psyche is usually small enough that interpersonal conflicts are infrequent and minor; so, the average person can handle these with few serious life side consequences. The maturity gap between the psychological/emotional and the intellect of a BPD person is very wide and pronounced which causes frequent, major interpersonal conflicts. Since emotional responses are reactionary, all you need is an confrontation between a BPD and someone else or a circumstantial problem, add an extra emotional stressing stimulus, and then look out. Depending on the degree of the stressor, you will see the child-like response from the BPD corresponding to the kind and degree described above.
The mental health community speculates on chemical imbalance and genetics as the origin of BPD. Although these may be influential factors, more so in one individual than another, I still think it is more a developmental miscarriage than anything else. I seriously doubt that it is possible to do a chemical or neurological test on one of these people and find anything but an imbalance. BPD’S have experienced some kind of stress/anxiety every day for years. While it is beneficial to treat the imbalances and provide temporary relief, the cure remains to help these people with the insight and counseling that leads to a healthy restructuring/reprogramming of the emotional psyche. I am aware of several undiagnosed people who have over the years outgrown the symptoms and behavior. It stands to reason that life-side experience will eventually dispel childish concepts and close the gap. It also stands to reason that the greater the gap, or lack of its awareness, the longer it will take. The tragedy is that BPD people usually ruin their lives and many around them before they grow out of it. I can also say that I know a few that are quite old and still manifest BPD behavior; but, they are in absolute denial.
A BPD person essentially is the child they once were, including their age and complete psycho/emotional content resulting from a traumatic experience/loss; the most traumatic loss of all – the perceived loss of nurturing love. Love is a general, pervasive and necessary psychological requirement. If fear, repression or some other psychic mechanism interrupts the nurturing realized by love, the result is a general breakdown or failure, a cessation of emotional growth and maturation. When the subconscious psyche is accessed for behavioral reference and the feelings necessary for relationships, it brings up the latest version. Unfortunately for BPD’s, the latest version hasn’t been updated/modified for many years; it isn’t adult, mature or healthy. For a child/adult who suffers from this, their lives are subject to this condition and will be until they can understand and overcome it.
Permission granted by author who wishes to remain anonymous.
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Onward – Jim