PJ Media

Walking on Eggshells: Dealing with the Borderline in Your Life

Many times, patients or others ask me for a recommendation for a book or help for dealing with an angry, destructive person who is ruining their emotional health. My recomendation for a self-help book when coping with the aftermath of the borderline personality is a href=”http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/redirect?link_code=as2path=ASIN/157224108Xtag=wwwviolentkicomcamp=1789creative=9325″Stop Walking on Eggshells: Taking Your Life Back When Someone You Care about Has Borderline Personality Disorder./aimg src=”http://www.assoc-amazon.com/e/ir?t=wwwviolentkicoml=as2o=1a=157224108X” width=”1″ height=”1″ border=”0″ alt=”” style=”border:none !important; margin:0px !important;” / But first of all, what is a borderline and how do know if that is what you are dealing with? br /br /Certainly, one cannot diagnose someone without evaluating them, but many times, the descriptions people give me of their significant other, parent, child, or friend leads me to wonder if the advice seeker is dealing with a borderline. The DSM-IV describes the symptoms of a href=”http://www.answers.com/topic/borderline-personality-disorder”Borderline Personality Disorder /a as: br /br /1. frantic efforts to avoid real or imagined abandonment. (not including suicidal or self-mutilating behavior covered in Criterion 5) br /br /2. a pattern of unstable and intense interpersonal relationships characterized by alternating between extremes of idealization and devaluation. br /br /3. identity disturbance: markedly and persistently unstable self-image or sense of self. br /br /4. impulsivity in at least two areas that are potentially self-damaging (e.g., spending, sex, substance abuse, reckless driving, binge eating; [not including] suicidal or self-mutilating behavior covered in Criterion 5). br /br /5. recurrent suicidal behavior, gestures, or threats, or self-mutilating behavior br /br /6. affective instability due to a marked reactivity of mood (e.g., intense episodic dysphoria, irritability, or anxiety usually lasting a few hours and only rarely more than a few days) br /br /7. chronic feelings of emptiness. br /br /8.inappropriate, intense anger or difficulty controlling anger (e.g., frequent displays of temper, constant anger, recurrent physical fights). br /br /9. transient, stress-related paranoid ideation or severe dissociative symptoms. br /br /There are even a href=”http://www.bpdcentral.com/bks/spy.shtml”books on how to divorce a Borderline or Narcissistic Personality /athat give strategies to reduce the damage done to a person during the process. In a book entitled, “Splitting,” one section looks at how a borderline can convince emyour/em own lawyer that they are right and turn the lawyer against you–I believe it and have seen it happen. I have worked in places where people believe that a borderline must be right because they are “intelligent.” Intelligence and craziness are not separate traits–sometimes, someone who is intelligent can be even more emotionally damaging because they are smart enough to carry out manipulations that others can only dream about. So what do you do when encountering the borderline in your life?br /br /Here are some tips from “Stop Walking on Eggshells” (page 140) with some of my own advice thrown in–for brevity’s sake, I will list just a few, but if you want more detail– a href=”http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/redirect?link_code=as2path=ASIN/157224108Xtag=wwwviolentkicomcamp=1789creative=9325″get the book/aimg src=”http://www.assoc-amazon.com/e/ir?t=wwwviolentkicoml=as2o=1a=157224108X” width=”1″ height=”1″ border=”0″ alt=”” style=”border:none !important; margin:0px !important;” / or go to a href=”http://www.bpdcentral.com/index.shtml”BPD Central./abr /br /1) Stop “sponging” and start “mirroring”–that is, some of those involved with borderlines tend to soak up the borderline’s pain and rage and think this is helpful, but in reality, it is like filling up a black hole of emptiness and nothing is good enough. You can try to placate the borderline and work hard to give them love, care etc. but it is never enough. Instead–reflect the painful feelings of the borderline back where they belong–with the borderline. br /br /2) Stay focused and observe your limits. Show by your actions that you have the bottom line. Communicate the limits clearly and act on them consistently. Protect yourself and your children by removing them and yourself from the situation. For example, if a borderline flies into a rage and starts accusing you of things you did not do, tell him or her that you will be taking the kids out until they calm down and you can talk later.br /br /3) Ask the borderline for change. Figure out your personal limits (get help from a therapist if needed) and communicate these to the borderline in a clear manner. However, ask for changes in behavior, not necessarily for changes in feelings–that is, you can ask them to change the behavior of yelling at you, but don’t tell them not to be angry.br /br /Finally, the best advice for those who are not yet involved legally with a borderline is a statement I heard from a colleague recently, “Borderlines make great girlfriends (or boyfriends) but you wouldn’t want to marry one.”br /br /That, I think, sums it up in a nutshell–no offense, but the damage I have seen on victims of those who have borderline personality is not something to be taken lightly. People say that those with BPD can change but often times, they wreck havoc on their spouses, children and/or parents and the abuse lasts a lifetime. Children of those with BPD have trouble in future relationships by seeking out the love of the BPD that they could never get or by avoiding people in the future for fear of more emotional blackmail. Spouses of the BPD seem devastated and often end up with lives of quiet desperation or in the throes of accusations in court and parents end up believing that they are inadequate and incompetent. None of it sounds promising. br /br /Have any readers been involved with a borderline personality disorder–either married to one, or have a parent, child or friend with this disorder-and if so, how did you cope?br /br /Update: Some readers have emailed or asked for more information on a promising treatment for BPD called Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT). Take a look at a href=”http://www.behavioraltech.com/downloads/dbtFaq_Cons.pdf”Behavioraltech.com /a for answers about DBT.