Some more from “Beyond Boundaries”:
Each person has a unique emotional profile. This profile is based on five independent factors. When I say “independent” here, I am saying factors that can each be unique in each individual. The emotional profile factors are:
- Tolerance. This is the sensitivity a person has to triggering events. Those with a high sense of threat awareness (like people with BPD) are likely to have this factor set at “hair trigger.”
- Onset. This is how quickly the emotion gets to full intensity.
- Intensity. This is how intense the emotion affects a particular person.
- Duration. How long the emotion lasts and continues to affect the person’s thinking.
- Return to baseline. How long it takes a person to “get over” the emotional reaction.
A person with BPD will likely have an emotional profile in which all five aspects are poorly regulated. That is, the tolerance will be low and they will react at the slightest provocation. The onset will be fast and they will react quickly to the trigger. The intensity will be high, and their experience and expression of the emotion is likely to be strong. The duration will be long and it will last a longer time at top intensity. Their “return to baseline” will take longer and they will be emotionally upset longer than others might. In other words, people with BPD are likely to be an emotional volcano, ready to erupt at any minute.
For this reason, a person will BPD can be difficult to deal with and to understand how they get upset at the most “trivial” of things. However, the experience of the emotions is valid and real. Just because something seems trival to you (i.e. below your tolerance) doesn’t mean it’s not perfectly real to the other person.