The Email:

I have been diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder. My question is has to do with this thing I'm struggling with. It has to do with people seeming phoney to me often. This feels so strong. I feel this way forever when I feel this way about someone. Why do I feel this way? Are people as phoney as I think they are?

AJ's Response:

Firstly, let me say that sounds like a very difficult and stressful perception to deal with. I think it can be a very isolating perception.

I am sure that as you describe this as the way that you feel, that is quite real for you. The thing that I've learned, that is so important when it comes to a perception such as this one, is to check out what I can and to re-think what I otherwise can't check out with others.

In my experience there are two sides to the issue with regard to a perception like this one. One side is the reality of what the world we live in is. It is a collective reality that stresses a lot of everyday surface interaction. This common-everyday kind of interaction can certainly seem phoney and in fact likely has some not so terribly authentic aspects to it.

The other side of this issue of people seeming phoney, I think, in my experience with BPD has more to do with where the perceiver is at any given moment. We can perceive someone in the here and now as phoney based upon our experiences of someone in our past that this person (or these people) may be mirroring. It is important to ask yourself if this is a trigger or if this is from your past. Often we will have perceptions, such as this one about others but they are usually fleeting, time-limited and not points at which we feel the need to "stay stuck". They are not perceptions that we feel in any way threatened by.

If however the reason you are experiencing people as phoney "now" comes from your past then you will likely end up stuck with these perceptions and their accompanying feelings for some time. The reason has all to do with what it is that you need to work through.

I think another big component of feeling that others are phoney or experiencing someone as phoney has all to do with the perceiver. Why do I say this? Well, it is no secret that those diagnosed with BPD struggle to establish, know, understand and then hold consistently their own "authentic self". To the degree that one remains dissociated from one's "true self" may be the degree to which you doubt your own true being and sense of authenticity. This then, is likely what you are projecting out to others and then clouds your experience of them to the degree that they seem phoney to you.

I don't think the vast majority of people are as phoney as you describe feeling/believing they are. I think that what you feel is being clouded by past experience and unresolved emotional conflicts/needs. If you can get more in touch with yourself, your "authentic self" you will likely begin to experience others as more "real". In order for others to be "real" you have to be "real" with, to and inside yourself.

This response is © A.J. Mahari

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This page/section was moved from Soul's Self-Help Central October 13, 2002 and is © Ms. A.J. Mahari (& (.org) 2000-2007 was last up-dated July 29, 2007