After reviewing Mrs. Treasure’s article on BPD and Demonic Possession, I decided to read at least some of her other posts at AssociatedContent.com. I wanted to find out if she had posted more on Borderline Personality Disorder and why she decided to post on the disorder in the first place. I think she must believe that her new husband’s ex-wife has the disorder, because she wrote another article called “10 Ways to Handle a Difficult Ex? Focus on Borderline Personality Disorder” which refers to the person with BPD as “she” throughout. I’m not going to agree or disagree with the content of that article.
I also found an article called “Spiritual Glasses to Understand the Difficult Child” which was described with the question: When you get frustrated with your child, what is the most effective discipline? I was intrigued and decided to read the article.
I have to say, I was surprised by the wisdom in some of her comments. I find it interesting that what she says about children can be applied directly to people with BPD. Consider the following:
If your child is a chronic liar, parents worry and panic. The spiritual glasses allow you to see a very insecure child with poor self concept or image. Are your expectations of him too high? Why does he feel worthless? Is he bullied around by friends or older siblings?
I get more searches on this blog for “lying,” “liars,” “chronic liars,” etc. than about anything else. (Actually to be honest the most searches I get are about “celebrities with BPD” or some variant of that, but lying-related searches come in a close second.) I’d like to take her words and apply them to BPD and replace the words “spiritual glasses” with “emotional glasses.” I think if you look at a chronic liar, which many people with BPD are, you will find that one motivation for lying is a poor self image, feeling worthless or insecurity. These concepts are interrelated and spring from shame. People with BPD do have a poor self-image. Even though many nons report that their loved one with BPD is selfish or narcissistic, in reality people with BPD actually hate themselves. This feeling arises from shame as well, but the shame also arises from emotional invalidation. Mrs. Treasures doesn’t really provide a prescription for dealing with a liar, other than not to label (judge) the child as a “difficult child” right away and try to understand them and set proper expectations. The same can be said of a non’s relationship with a BP. Judging their behavior as “difficult” right away or setting expectations too high can invalidate the BP’s emotional responses. This sets up an “invalidating environment” for the child’s emotions and the effects of an invalidating environment are summarized by Dr. Marsha Linehan:
[The] effect of an invalidating environment, especially when basic emotions such as fear, anger, and sadness are invalidated, is that a person in such an environment does not learn when to trust her own emotional responses as valid reflections of individual and situational events. Thus, she is unable to validate and trust herself… If communication of negative emotions is punished, as it often is in invalidating environment, then a response of shame follows experiencing the intense emotion in the first place and expressing it publicly in the second.[i]
If a person is unable to trust herself, she can not validate herself and a “response of shame follows” emotional experiences. That is one pathway to BPD. If you punish a child for feeling inadequate, for example, if the child is lying to you because he wants to make himself feel better about himself, then you are invalidating his emotional responses.
Mrs. Treasures also say this about temper tantrums:
For your younger children showing tantrums and hitting other siblings, the spiritual glasses permit you to see a child struggling to deal with his immature emotions. The child’s frustration is his inability to communicate his feelings and needs to his siblings.
Again, if we substitute “emotional glasses” for “spiritual glasses” and “BP” for “child,” I believe she is accurately describing the state of someone with BPD. People with BPD are emotionally immature. It’s not their fault; it’s just that they were not raised in an emotionally supportive environment. They feel that by feeling emotions intensely, they are wrong and should be punished. Again, the shame comes into play. They do have an “inability to communicate [their] feelings.” Because of the invalidating environment, the BP becomes unable to trust her own emotions and becomes frustrated and angry. THAT is what fuels rage more than anything.
OK, now what do you do to counter-act an invalidating environment (with both children and BPs)? You learn to validate their emotional responses. I have quite a few examples of validation techniques on this site and if you follow this link, you can read about validation.
[i] Linehan, Marsha, Cognitive-Behavioral Treatment of Borderline Personality Disorder, pg 72