Borderline Personality Disorder

By Kenda-Ruth Stumpf

The characteristics of Borderline Personality are indicative of the Borderline's terror of abandonment which is the superficial axis around which the symptoms rotate. This terror manifests in a pattern of unstable personal relationships and self-image, an inability to regulate emotions and reckless impulsivity, as indicated by five or more of the following from DSM IV:

  1. Frantic efforts to avoid real or imagined abandonment. [Not including suicidal or self-injuring behavior covered in Criterion 5]
  2. A pattern of unstable and intense interpersonal relationships characterized by alternating between extremes of idealization and devaluation.
  3. Identity disturbance: markedly and persistently unstable self-image or sense of self.
  4. Impulsivity in at least two areas that are potentially self-damaging (e.g., promiscuous sex, eating disorders, binge eating, substance abuse, reckless driving). [Again, not including suicidal or self-injuring behavior covered in Criterion 5]
  5. Recurrent suicidal behavior, gestures, threats or self-injuring behavior such as cutting, interfering with the healing of scars (excoriation) or picking at oneself.
  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).
  7. Chronic feelings of emptiness, worthlessness.
  8. Inappropriate anger or difficulty controlling anger (e.g., frequent displays of temper, constant anger, recurrent physical fights).
  9. Transient, stress-related paranoid ideation, delusions or severe dissociative symptoms.

Borderlines require narcissistic supply; they are emotionally dependent on an external person for regulation of self-worth. In order to receive this from another person, a Borderline draws a person in with charm and charisma where sex is a common tool used as bait and is sadly how many Borderlines' feel love. They view sex as a means to earning value in a relationship and to preventing abandonment.

This fear of abandonment within a Borderline creates within them a desperation. She is willing to do whatever it takes to prevent abandonment and yet her overwhelming fear controls her emotions and she cycles from seeming idolization to demonization of her partner. Fear is not an emotional regulator and instead creates volatile moods; relationships with a Borderline are love-hate. A Borderline's world is starkly black and white--a person is all good or all bad with no shadings in between or colour variations. Their desperation leads them to form immediate attachment; they feel immediate intense emotional bonds and quickly demand time and become possessive.

Why is this type appealing to an MLCer? The simple answer is that MLCers are drama queens and many crave the excitement that is a byproduct of a volatile relationship. This excitement keeps the relationship going--in an on-again-off-again pattern, but it is the initial adoration and idolization that draws the self-hating MLCer into the web of seduction. Once the in-fatuation hormones release there is no stopping the relationship; it must and will continue until it destroys itself. Interference and attempts by the spouse to kill the relationship will only give it more power.

The Borderline's dependency appeals to the Knight in Shining Armour Syndrome so common to MLCers. She is intoxicatingly exciting and at the same time vulnerable and broken. He sees a woman who can not only bring excitement to his life, but whom he can fix while she does it. There may be a recognition of his own broken state and some MLCers will feel that since they are unable to fix themselves they should try to fix someone else instead--perhaps in this manner they think will fix themselves as a byproduct. Being a rescuer enables an MLCer to feel a greater sense of self-worth and value.

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