BPD and Lying

Recently, I have had about 20% of the searches on this site involve someone trying to find out about lying. These searches included: “pathological liar”, “BPD and Lying”, “why does bpd lie?”, etc. It seems one on the most difficult things for the non to accept is BPs lying. Here is a note I posted on WTO some time ago about lying – I think it still applies.

As for lying, I believe that all people lie (or are willing to lie) when the truth is too painful to be told – even if that feeling of pain is not based in reality. Do BPs lie more than other people? My short answer is “Yes”.

I think the main reason is because of the intense sense of shame that they feel. I have come to realize that shame is the core emotional component of BPD. I have also come to realize that many people mistake PTSD for BPD (although BOTH can be part of the mix,my wife has both components). In PTSD FEAR is the key emotional component. In depression, it is sadness. In Intermittent Explosive Disorder it is anger.


BPD is a “personality” disorder because shame is not a “primal”emotion – like fear, anger, joy, sadness, disgust and contempt. No,shame is an emotion evoked in relationship to other people’s senseof judgment. You can’t feel shameful without a sense that what you’re doing (or, in the case of BPD, what you ARE) is “wrong”.

All people have different capabilities for handling emotions. BPs seem to have a diminished capacity for handling theirs – and, since shame is key, they are more likely to “hide” the truth (even from themselves). In the case of lies, if they feel that the truth would reveal something shameful, they lie IMO. In the case of my wife, she lies if she feels that she will be judged for telling the truth.That is where the shame component arises. If she feels that I (or anyone) will judge her behavior (really, her feelings) as “wrong”or “bad”, she will likely lie, either by admission (actually sayingsomething that is not true) or omission (leaving out the truth). The deal seems to be that she feels the shame in telling the truth, that shame is painful (as it is for everyone) and to avoid that pain, she lies. In other words, her lies are all about protecting herself frompain and judgment (even self-judgment) and have nothing to do with me. It is not personal.

If avoidance of pain is considered “disassociation” (which in some cases avoidance of intense pain DOES cause real disassociation),then I think you could say that she “disassociates” from the painful truth.

On a final note, I also believe that this shame-sense is misplaced.They have nothing to FEEL ashamed of – sure, they do all kinds of “shameful” things, but only in relation to other people. If my wife cuts herself, she does so without shame and not to get other people’s attention. Still, at the core of her being is a sense ofshame – like she has a deep, dark secret she must protect – even though there’s no real secret there. I suspect this comes from the BP’s shaky sense of self. She will do anything (including lie) to protect what’s not even there.