Borderline Personality Disorder,  Treatment

Reopened the diagnosis poll

I reopened the diagnosis poll now that I am getting more traffic. I have noticed in my email list and in general that BP’s go through at least 8 therapists before they start being real with someone. My wife has been through at least 10 therapists before she admitted to the suicidal ideation and the self-injury. She immediately dropped a therapist who diagnosed her with BPD. Is that you guy’s experience as well?


  • grasshopper

    I’ve read a lot about BPD in my own process of working through old issues. It happens that Marsha Linehan has a CBT clinic near where I live, and at one point I considered going there to find out more about it.

    So I called the place, asked about doing a preliminary interview, and the receptionist asked, “So, you want to see whether you should be diagnosed with BPD?”

    I’ll tell you, it was all I could do not to throw down the phone and run! After all the horrible things I’d read about BPD and how people given this label are treated, I thought, “Oh, yeah – sure, I’d just LOVE to be saddled with a ball and chain, have the letters BPD stamped in red on my forehead. What, do you think I’m frickin’ CRAZY???”

    So, no, I didn’t slam down the phone – I politely said I’d think about it and declined the offer of an appointment.

    Seriously, just try to imagine yourself in the position of a person who’s been slapped with this label that basically says, “You are defective, and there is no cure.”

    How does it feel? Hopeful? Uplifting? Encouraging?

    No. It feels like fricking sh*t. It feels like all the abusive crap you’ve ever endured in your life is being solidified into this millstone that’s going to be permanently hung around your neck and you have to carry it with you for the rest of your life.

    So, needless to say, I have no intention of ever going anywhere near any of these people.

    In my opinion, the best thing you can do for your wife is to just LISTEN. Not try to fix; not try to problem-solve; not try to ‘help’. Just let her talk, let her cry, let her rant, let her rave. And set a time limit, if you need to – but just let her do it.

    What happens for borderlines is that, when they were little kids, they weren’t allowed to ‘act out’ the way normal kids get to. They were somehow trapped – some combination of the person’s temperament and the kind of parents/family they grew up with made them feel like they couldn’t express any of the normal feelings all humans have. I’m guessing there was some kind of abuse in there for her – physical, mental, emotional, or some combination.

    If she’s sensitive, and smart, she most likely feels all these things very deeply. And if she’s a woman, she’s not allowed to get angry. That’s why it’s by and large a diagnosis given to women: Angry women break the social norm that women should be meek, mild and complacent. Guys get to act out – break things, cuss, fight, whatever. Women get to turn it inward, and we all know what happens then: Depression.

    The bouts of rage are an absolutely normal, human response to feeling completely trapped beyond bearing, painted into a corner, bound up in an emotional straight jacket.

    What she needs is what Alice Miller calls a ‘witness’, that is, someone who accepts her as she as, and accepts her feelings, thoughts and ideas. Who doesn’t try to change her.

    And yes, this may feel a bit like you’re being asked to ‘parent’ her. Is your marriage worth it to you? Because that’s what she needs. Not the controlling, disciplinarian kind of parenting that she probably already had too much of as a child; no, what she needs is the compassionate, kind, gentle, loving, yet firm parenting that she probably didn’t get.

    Suicidal ideation and self-injury are ways to try to get the pain to stop: The pain of old, unexpressed feelings from childhood that get triggered over and over again in adulthood.

    What she needs is someone who is patient with her the way her parents never were. No sighs, no eye-rolling. Lots of affection, gentle, non-sexual touch (especially if she was sexually abused). Body language, eye contact and facial expressions are HUGELY important to help her feel safe.

  • tracy

    i was very relieved when i finally found a Psychiatrist who would “admit” to me that i had “some Borderline Components”…in other words, i was Borderline. i had known it for years. i am not the type to jump around from therapist to therapist and was very fortunate to have found this Psychiatrist who did therapy. i saw him for almost 3 years and now, 5 years later, still miss him very much.
    i then had the very good fortune to see a Psychiatric resident for 10 months, he was very good also. We did alot of Schema based work, which helped me very much. Unfortunately, he finished his residency and moved on…sooooo sad. šŸ™ (Abandonment issues, anyone??).
    Currently i see a fairly young Psychiatrist who recently opened his own practice and also does therapy. Once again, i somehow ended up fortunate and lucky. He actually admitted to being somewhat hesitant to taking me on as a patient, but later apologized for that and i have been seeing him for several months.
    So, the question…? No, i want to be told something i already know…a diagnosis that sooo many therapists shy away from.

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