While narcissist personality disorder (NPD) is difficult to diagnose and cure, people with borderline personality disorder or BPD are easier to diagnose due to the outwardly symptoms and the fact that borderlines do accept that they have a problem. Treatment like Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) can help BPDs to live a better and harmonious life.
10 ways to identify a person with Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD)-
1. An Idealization- Discard and Push-Pull Cycle- A borderline can idealize you and make you feel like a god and then in a matter of few minutes declare you the reincarnation of Satan. It is very different from bipolar disorder. The core of the idealization and devaluation cycle is the push and pulls between feeling of abandonment and feeling of being engulfed by the emotional proximity. The abandonment might even not be actual but just a perceived one. A slightest feeling of abandonment can make them absolutely hate you. For example- You forgot to call them back or god forbid if you forget their birthday! They will hate you and want to never see you again but then after a few minutes they will cry and immediately want you to come back. It is a difficult conundrum to live with.
Push>>Feeling of Engulfment- You are emotionally too close to BPD which will suffocate them, and they would want to keep a distance for self preservation against the possible future feeling of abandonment. They will push you away.
Pull >> Feeling of Abandonment- BPD would want to pull you back towards them to avoid being feeling abandoned.
Push>> You came back >> BPD feel emotionally suffocated > Push you back
Pull>> When pushed you leave> BPD feels abandoned > Pull you back
The cycle of Idealization and Devaluation continues. They can’t help but run this cycle in every relationship. They fear the abandonment the most, but can’t help but push people away and face the inevitable abandonment. The worst part is BPD will frequently and deliberately push their loved ones away just to test the limit of love and see if the people will abandon them.
2. Risky Behavior- During emotional turmoil BPDs tend to indulge in risky behavior like rash driving, unprotected sex, sexual promiscuity, getting involved in street fights, public indecency, trespassing, stalking or threatening and harassing people they believe have hurt them. The BPDs often run into law enforcement agencies during this time. It is impossible for them to control their emotions and behavior when severely hurt. They don’t know how to make the emotional pain go away and would indulge in risky behavior to somehow divert the pain and gain attention or get back at the person who has hurt or abandoned them.
3. Addictions- BPDs tend to abuse substances such as drugs, alcohol or tobacco to numb the emotional pain and get rid of the feeling of emptiness. The use of addictive substance however aggravates some of the most dangerous symptoms of BPD like self harm, rage and depression.
4. Difficulty keeping Job- BPDs find it hard to stick to one job for long. They also change careers, college majors and field of interests frequently. This has partly to do with their fluctuating self image and inability to control their volatile emotions at work place. They can easily annoy the co-workers and supervisors with the ever changing mood and bouts of rage and depression. BPDs also tend to disappear from work, take long breaks or go on extended leaves to cope with their personal emotional crisis which happens quite often and inevitably makes the BPD lose the job or move to different career path.
5. Apparent Selfishness- BPDs can be the most empathetic among all cluster-b disorders namely narcissist (NPD), antisocial (ASPD) and histrionics (HPD). They can actually empathize with others, but the problem is they are so deep in their own pain that they can’t realize the pain of others. When they have the inner turmoil equivalent to category-5 hurricane winds swirling inside them, they simply cannot empathize with the hurt feelings of others or be compassionate with them. This makes BPDs look very selfish. When you are upset at the loss of your pet, they might shed a tear. But, make no mistake that is not the sorrow or empathy for you, it’s just that the incident has reminded them of the loss of their own pet years ago. Their empathy is often misplaced.
6. Abusive Relationships- BPDs relationships are filled with extreme highs and lows. They are quick to jump into the relationship, idealize the partner and subsequently devalue them. Borderlines (BPDs) tend to gravitate towards (NPDs) and vice versa due to the unique characteristics of their personality. NPD and BPD relationships are like yin and yang. BPDs act as the ever overflowing well of emotions and NPDs act as the bottomless pit of the emotional well. BPD provides NPD all the attention and admiration they need and in return NPD take on all the emotional discharge of BPD nonchalantly. Imagine the NPDs like black holes for emotions and BPDs like white holes continuously emitting emotions. At the beginning they find each other perfect for each other but at the end the inevitable cycle of idealization, devaluation and discard follows. BPDs generally make poor choices in terms of life partners and get stuck in abusive relationships. They know the harm they can cause to themselves and to the others.
7. Emotional Disorientation– BPDs suffer from mood swings and emotional disorientation. Imagine a scale from 1 to 10. Normal people usually have the emotional stability at 5 and seldom touch 1 or 10. BPDs on the other hand keep fluctuating from 1 to 10 throughout the day multiple times. They can go from being happy to sad and then from excited to angry in a matter of minutes. One moment you are the love of their life and next moment you are a curse. For this reason it is like walking on egg shells around them, you never know which action or words can trigger them.
8. Rage- You never want to go close to a raging BPD. It is like a volcanic eruption of emotions and abuse. When a BPD rages they become completely unreasonable and are incapable of thinking or making a rational decision. They can get violent and cause physical harm to themselves and the others with the probability of self harm being higher. The best thing to do is withdraw yourself and let the BPD cool down a bit, making sure that they don’t self harm.
9. Self Harm- The amount of emotional pain and depression the BPD suffers sometimes becomes unbearable. To alleviate the emotional pain they take extreme steps and one of them is self harm. In their head the physical pain will get them the relief from the emotional pain they are feeling. You might notice the scars on their hands or other body parts as the sign of self harm and mutilation. Quite often BPDs also use self harm to draw attention towards them or as a manipulation tool to force you to comply with their demands. They can behave like a rebel as in give me what I want or I will shoot myself.
10. Non Existent Self Image- At the core of the BPD is the absent self image. They don’t know who they are. Unlike NPD who mask a false image, BPD tries to get their self image from others. This is the reason they hate abandonment and act clingy. Your abandonment is literally equivalent to losing self image for them. They rely on others to tell them who they are. Their hobbies, interests, speech patterns, dressing style everything changes according to the person they are with. It is not uncommon for BPDs to have multiple names, identities and personas. Some BPDs do not connect or associate their identity with their name at all. BPDs also suffer from chronic feeling of emptiness regularly. They feel themselves out of touch with reality and completely dissociate. The symptoms of dissociation become severe during depression. They completely depersonalize and zone out. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) can help them build self esteem.