Although Borderline Personality Disorder is by no means an easy thing to define, it has been my "borderline"experience that the way in which Janice M. Cauwels has defined what I have quoted from her book below; states so much of what I know I have experienced a large portion of my life.

In her book:

  • Imbroglio: Rising to the Challenges of Borderline Personality Disorder
  • Janice M. Cauwels writes:

    "...grounded in separation-individuation, although they locate the origin of BPD earlier than the rapprochement subphase. They consider the illness to be caused by the child's belief that she has been, or will be, abandoned, and the sense of aloneness that results.

    This fear results from parental, especially maternal,failure to provide sufficient holding and soothing, enough attention to and validation of the child's feelings and experience. The mother misunderstands and thus responds inappropriately to what the child needs, so the child develops an incomplete sense of being cared for. She has few good experiences to balance her feelings of neglect. Her primary feeling is a terror of utter aloneness, emptiness, hunger, coldness, and annihiliation. The fear or actuality of such abandonment also produces rage.

    The child thus neglected develops no coherent, enduring sense of a lovable self. Instead she feels an inner void that must constantly be filled with external sources of support. But the relationships she so desperately needs don't satisfy her. She develops no capacity for evocative memory to stabilize and sustain her through periods of solitude, fluctuation, and other stress.

    The borderline therefore uses other people to help evoke soothing images or to perform other functions she does not have built in. Unable to recall sustained love, she becomes a reassurance addict seeking a fix of affection to help maintain her self-esteem. The loss or threatened loss of a relationship leaves the borderline feeling hollow and abandoned, bereft of self-esteem, [and I would add, self-love], and anxious to end these feelings through self-mutilation...

    This panicky sense of emptiness and abandonment is different from loneliness. To be lonely, one must have clear memories of those who are absent. The borderline instead loses all memories of others at the time she needs them most. To most people, who invoke such soothing memories...concept is hard to understand.

    The borderline's predicament results in both her enormous need for relationships and her great fear of intimacy. The tension between this need and fear can cause rage, guilt expressed in self-punishment, [self-mutiliation],...and anxiety that is relieved by acting out...many borderlines experience aloneness as neglect or abuse..."

  • BPD Defined
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