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A key word that you will see:

Fragmentation: a mental process where a person becomes intensely emotionally focused on one aspect of themselves, such as “I am angry” or “no one loves me,” to the point where all thoughts, feelings and behavior demonstrate this emotional state, in which, the person does not or is unable to take into account the reality of their environment, others or themselves and their resources. This is a term that my therapist and I use and is on the continuum of dissociation.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Borderline Personality Disorder: 2 Keys

I am learning that there are two factors that must be present for a person to develop a borderline personality disorder.  Do not take any of this as criticism or a judgement as most who have a borderline personality disorder, including myself, might do.  The two factors are a highly sensitive person (HSP) and an invalidating environment.  Dr. Elaine N Aron wrote the book and coined the term Highly Sensitive Person.

From the Highly Sensitive Person:

A highly sensitive child is one of the fifteen to twenty percent of children born with a nervous system that is highly aware and quick to react to everything. This makes them quick to grasp subtle changes, prefer to reflect deeply before acting, and generally behave conscientiously. They are also easily overwhelmed by high levels of stimulation, sudden changes, and the emotional distress of others. Because children are a blend of a number of temperament traits, some HSCs are fairly difficult--active, emotionally intense, demanding, and persistent--while others are calm, turned inward, and almost too easy to raise except when they are expected to join a group of children they do not know. But outspoken and fussy or reserved and obedient, all HSCs are sensitive to their emotional and physical environment.
Emotionally, Highly Sensitive People (HSP) are mainly seen as shy, introverted and socially inhibited (or can be socially extroverted). They are often acutely aware of other's emotions. Sensitive people learn early in life to mask their wonderful attributes of sensitivity, intuition and creativity.

Physically, HSPs may have low tolerance to noise, glaring lights, strong odors, clutter and/or chaos. They tend to have more body awareness of themselves and know instinctually when the environment they are in is not working for them.

Socially, introverted HSP may feel like misfits. They actually enjoy their own company and are totally comfortable being alone. Both introverted and socially extroverted HSP often find they need time alone to recover after social interactions.

Psychologically, HSPs compensate for their sensitivity by either protecting themselves by being alone too much, or, by trying to be 'normal' or sociable which then over-stimulates them into stress.

Work and career is particularly challenging for HSPs. They are often overlooked for promotions even though they are usually the most conscientious employees. They are excellent project oriented employees because they are responsible and thorough in their work.

Relationships can be difficult. In relationships they may be confronted with their unresolved personal issues. They can however, offer their partner the gifts of their intuitive insights.

Culturally, HSPs do not fit the tough, stoic and outgoing ideals of modern society and what is portrayed in the entertainment media.

Childhood wounds have a more devastating effect on HSPs. It is important for them to heal their past hurts because they cannot just forget them and go on in denial.

Spiritually, sensitive people have a greater capacity for inner searching. This is one of their greatest blessings.

Nutritionally, HSPs may need more simplicity in their diet. They may be vitally aware of the effects of food on the health of their body and their emotional stability. 

HSP students work differently from others. They pick up on the subtle things, learning better this way than when overaroused. If an HSP student is not contributing much to a discussion, it does not necessarily mean they do not understand or are too shy. HSPs often process things better in their heads, or they may be over-aroused. This can be the reason for their not contributing. HSPs are usually very conscientious but underperform when being watched. This also applies to work situations; HSPs can be great employees—good with details, thoughtful and loyal, but they do tend to work best when conditions are quiet and calm. Because HSPs perform less well when being watched, they may be overlooked for a promotion. HSPs tend to socialize less with others, often preferring to process experiences quietly by themselves

Linehan theorizes that borderlines are born with an innate biological tendency to react more intensely to lower levels of stress than others and to take longer to recover. They peak "higher" emotionally on less provocation and take longer coming down.

At first, when my therapist said that I was a highly sensitive person, I immediately thought of it as a "bad" thing, but it is just a way to describe a type of personality that is neither "good," nor "bad."  But, in reading about HSPs, I recognized and felt validated instead of just different than others...I'm not the only one.  Most are drawn to helping professions which can fit their personality well.  My therapist is an HSP as well.  Did you recognize yourself in any of the above? :-)

The second key is growing up in an invalidating environment where a child does not get their emotions acknowledged in a positive way (judged) or is ignored or attacked .  An abusive especially sexual abuse are invalidating environments.  Other characteristics include ridiculing (teasing).  Bottom line is that the child learns that their feelings are "bad."  This can also result in numbing, confusion or distrust of a one's own emotions.  Familiar theme to those with borderline personality disorder, huh.

An invalidating environment usually has a high significance on self-control and self-reliance. Possible difficulties in these areas are not acknowledged and it is implied that problem solving should be easy given proper motivation. Any failure on the part of the child to perform to the expected standard is therefore ascribed to lack of motivation or some other negative characteristic of her character.

Again, in order for a borderline personality to develop, an invalidating environment with and a highly sensitive person must be present.  I fit this.  My therapist says that my environment wasn't just invalidating, but annihilating. 
I hope this helps those with a borderline personality disorder or those with loved ones.


Wanda's Wings said...

Very informative.

Psych Client said...

I am definitely a HSP...everything effects me and I tend to isolate or run out looking for people to hang around and often get into trouble

Clueless said...

Thank you Wanda.

Psych Client, Sounds like me. It sure is a painful way to live. I hope that you are learning how to manage this...it sure is tough. Take care.

Rufty said...

Woah. I'd been badying around the idea that I could have BPD for a while now. All that I've read on the subject encouraged me..but there was never any lightbulb moment when I could say "aha - yes this fits". Certain aspects would scream "You have bpd" and others just..well, nah, they didn't seem to fit. But your post was a "screamer". I can relate to all of it. I wonder more so now if my bulimia and anorexia have me all wrapped up in an attempt to block out these high emotions - a kind of tool of the trade in that bpd's the trade and the ED the tool (albeit a particularly bad tool). I've never been good with emotions and have crafted the ED to avoid them as far as possible, which has also meant, in essence, avoiding life and living. This is most definitely food for thought..nomnom ;)
Thanks Clueless for another great post.
Take care m'dear x

Clueless said...

Thanks Rufty, I'm glad that you are learning more about yourself and not judging. I like to think of my eating disorder as a defense as it connotates that I developed it for a reason. I have written quite a bit about BPD which you can see if you click on the picture abour BPD on the right side of my blog. Also, the link is http://clinicallyclueless.blogspot.com/search/label/Borderline%20Personality%20Disorder%20Series

Take care,

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