I think there is a lot of confusion about boundaries, which they are and how they apply to BPD. I plan on featuring some discussion and information about boundaries here. Here is a snippet from the Anything to Stop the Pain email list about boundaries:
I don’t think most boundaries are consciously set. I feel most of them are designed into us as a survival mechanism. Many of these function at an emotional rather than rational level of the mind.” – an ATSTP member on boundaries
Emotions are built-in mechanisms to detect and avoid threats. They are part of the “animal brain” (the limbic system) and operate at a lower level than “rational” (cortex-based) thoughts. So, if you have an emotion (fear) you might create an unconscious boundary to protect your survival (I will not go down that block after midnight). The key with highly emotional people is that their emotions are so wildly swinging, the boundaries are moving rapidly as well. My wife will do something under the influence of intense emotions (and impulsively) that she would never do when “rational”. She will violate her own boundaries because of the threat to her survival “seems” there. It may not match the facts of the situation, but she feels that it does and in that way creates a new “boundary” (or reaction to emotions that is natural, even if the cause of the emotion is not valid). I think it is important to keep that in mind. I bring it up because people here are upset that the BP can’t observe boundaries or doesn’t have “personal values” (or whatever language we use), when in fact, the other person is subject to strong emotions that make the behavior seem perfectly “reasonable” (since they contribute to his/her survival) at the time.