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Borderline Personality Disorder vs. Narcissism

The wisdom of the people who walk the path from abuse to recovery. This section is dedicated to our members present and past. This is the way it really is.

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Borderline Personality Disorder vs. Narcissism

Postby surviveducan2 » Tue Aug 21, 2007 8:38 pm

striking how similar Borderline Personality Disorder is with Narcissism.
Compare and contrast:

What is the Difference Between Narcissistic Personality Disorder and Borderline Personality Disorder?

Firstly, the two can go hand in hand. That is to say that Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) can be a differential diagnosis to Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) or visa versa. The key factors that distinguish NPD from BPD are: (a) most people with NPD have considerably less anxiety than those with BPD; (b) The lives of those with NPD are also less chaotic, overall than are the lives of those diagnosed with BPD; and (c) suicide attempts are also more likely to be associated with those with BPD. ("Synopsis of Psychiatry", page 531)

Secondly, it is entirely possible for many with BPD to have narcissistic tendencies and not also have NPD. This I know based upon my own past experience with BPD and the accompanying narcissistic defenses which I had to unlearn in order to recover from BPD. I was never diagnosed with NPD, yet I did have my share of narcissistic tendencies to work through.




What is the connection between Borderline Personality Disorder and Narcissism?



According Encarta, the definition of "personality disorder" includes, "overwhelming narcissism". Encarta, online learning zone, section: Mental Illness Therefore, among the other traits that are descriptors of what BPD is made up of the presentation of BPD also includes "overwhelming narcissism".

Borderlines exhibit narcissistic traits in an effort to protect themselves against further anxiety or pain. Both (actual) real pain that could be inflicted from the outside as well as past pain that can be re-inflicted on the borderline internally by events outside of him or her which trigger the things that the original and otherwise avoided pain or anxiety is associated with.

Borderline narcissism is an overcompensation for deep-seated feelings of perceived inadequacy and for feelings of being "less than" and "incompetent", as is grandiosity and arrogance which will be the subject of my next article here.

It is that overcompensation, along with denial of their actual feelings that leads borderlines to often be so narcissistically indifferent to those with whom they are otherwise closely in relationship to or with. That sudden pulling away, that sudden coldness and acting as if there is nothing between them and someone else is a function of borderline narcissism and is designed to further the mal-adaptive defensive coping skills of the borderline who is usually trying in any way possible to not be put in touch with his/her real feelings because the anxiety and fear of those feelings remain greater than the need for them. When you are as dissociated from your "real" self, as many borderlines are, there is no real need in the here and now of that chaotic dissociative existence to know how one really feels -- especially when the pain of ever- mounting unmet needs hurts enough all by itself, and must be avoided at all costs.

Borderlines, until they can mature beyond this personality disorder, emotionally, are left, essentially, with the narcissism of a young child. They are left with the misperceived-notion that they are the centre of the universe and that things and people that in their sight exist - while things and people that are beyond the scope of that sight do not exist. Emotionally, borderlines (until they do the work in therapy to correct the damage of their early lives and successfully re-parent themselves) for whatever reasons have not been able to develop beyond more primitive levels of functioning. (Again, I stress emotionally as most borderlines are extremely intelligent intellectually)

This inability to develop, emotionally, is the very essence of BPD and the behaviour of those who have BPD which is largely driven by the control and illusion of needing to protect oneself at all costs. It is this need to protect that can keep borderlines alienated from their need to learn. If you put the need to protect ahead of the need to learn, sadly, you will continue to feel an ever-increasing sense of needing to protect which will constantly deny you chances to learn what you need to learn in order to break free from the narcissistic protections attempts you make in the first place.

The borderline experience of narcissism is very much a knee-jerk and protective one. Borderline narcissism pays homage to the personification of a the deeply-seated false-self that the borderline frantically seeks to instantly satisfy and gratify, that is not only an inauthentic self but is more accurately the absence of a true-understanding of a real, authentic self in the here and now.

It is the void of self, unknown, that the borderline narcissistically projects out onto others. (Projection is one example of a narcissistic defense mechanism) Essentially then, the borderline's world is the absence of self projected onto others with the desperate hope that what "other" mirrors back or gives back will somehow eclipse that agonizingly-empty void of a lack of self on the part of the borderline. Thus, when the borderline acts as if they are the centre of the universe and absolutely everything is about them what they are really doing is giving that power to know themselves over to others, suffering the inherent consequences of unmet expectations in so doing and then frantically exploding in a last-ditch attempt to elicit from you what they so badly need to learn do give to themselves. Borderline narcissism is the cause of many unmet needs and many over-blown and unrealistic expectations of others. It is also born and re-played out of that central conflict of not having successfully bonded or attached to a parent of care-giver, which for many borderlines is the original abandonment wound. It is the wound that has driven your defenses. To recover you must undo those defenses one by one starting with breaking through the narcissistic belief or illusion (on an emotional level) that you are the centre of the universe or that you are somehow entitled because you need. We all have needs. Needs must be met from within first. To do anything else in the seeking of fulfilling one's own needs is to set oneself up for failure and a continued pattern of getting hurt and re-damaged over and over as unmet need after unmet needs piles on top of one another. Your "real" self is buried under all of those unmet needs. If you can't reverse the pile right now, how about working to not add to that stock-pile any more?

The borderline experience of narcissism is the modern-true-to-life version of Narcissus staring in the pool of water at his own beautiful reflection so lovingly to the exclusion of all the women who wanted to love him. Borderlines are staring into a pool of people who seem to know who they are and they are desperately trying to have that mirror of someone else's "self" reflect back a discernible and meaningful sense of (acceptable) self to them. Narcissus stared into a pool of water in Greek Mythology, borderlines, in absolute angst-filled reality are staring as much away from the void of the absence of self as they are staring at the proverbial mirror representative of that pool of water. The major difference is that borderlines long to feel anything but lost, despised and their own self-hatred. Borderlines are merely the lost images that are in transit from one reflection to another. They often feel as though they are in a world of ugliness and that the love that Narcissus spurned is not even something to which they can hope to aspire to truly understand. On another level though, the love that Narcissus spurned (others) is the love that borderlines spurn from themselves - the love of a known and understood, consistent sense of self.

Before a borderline can break through this narcissism he/she must be willing to face not only his/her fears and woundedness (pain) but also the very real fact that he/she cannot find and be his/her real/authentic self without learning to live with the vulnerability that it means to be who one actually is. Learning to be vulnerable and learning how to protect oneself through the mature defenses that include boundaries, limits, and self-assertion is the only way to undo the narcissistic tendencies that living outside of your authentic self creates.

The experience of borderline narcissism is one of defense mechanisms run amuck in an illogically-overwhelming yet unceasingly-painful illusion of what can feel like an unconquerable loss of self. Many borderlines do not ever realize the extent to which they present narcissistic traits. Of the many distancing behaviours of borderlines narcissism is perhaps the most distancing, right up there with grandiosity and arrogance.

Hand in hand with borderline narcissism often goes borderline grandiosity and an unrelenting arrogance.


http://www.borderlinepersonality.ca/bor ... ssism1.htm
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Postby Echo » Wed Aug 22, 2007 3:00 pm

Really interesting post Louxloux, plenty of food for thought there. Thank you.

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Re: Borderline Personality Disorder vs. Narcissism

Postby BloomingintheSON » Wed Aug 22, 2007 5:04 pm

louxloux wrote:
Borderlines exhibit narcissistic traits in an effort to protect themselves against further anxiety or pain. Both (actual) real pain that could be inflicted from the outside as well as past pain that can be re-inflicted on the borderline internally by events outside of him or her which trigger the things that the original and otherwise avoided pain or anxiety is associated with.

...re-damaged over and over as unmet need after unmet needs piles on top of one another. Your "real" self is buried under all of those unmet needs.

http://www.borderlinepersonality.ca/bor ... ssism1.htm



These two paragraphs stood out for me. Doesn't the first one explain the dynamics of PTSD symptoms that we experience as a result of the unmet needs piled on top of one another during the dysfunctional relationship?
Do we develop borderline characteristics -- even the disorder -- after we leave and attempt to find our "real" selves again?

Maybe it doesn't matter that we find a "label" to identify our own dysfunction? After all, our task after escape is to overcome the traumas to our psyches to rediscover who and what we once were. It's hard work considering the brainwashing and terrible "zings" that were inflicted upon us over and over.

I haven't had a PTSD symptom for some time and have found that my memories now are mostly good ones. A welcome relief -- except in examining my good memories (that had been previously buried) I realize that all of them are UNCONNECTED to the Ex!

So, does that mean that I may have already recovered from BPD if I ever had it? I hope so!!
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Postby surviveducan2 » Wed Aug 22, 2007 7:26 pm

Hey Blooming,

I understand where you are coming from... but did you have these same feelings and reactions with EVERYONE you are or have been close to? or just the N???

I too had certain reactions, that when I read about BPD, I could definitely related to. Not all of the symptoms, but the intense and overwhelming anxiety when faced with initial D&D from the ex N specifically - I tried everything possible to avoid that emotional pain and anxiety: manipulation, begging, pointing out my good characteristics, pointing out all the 'good times'... frantically. In short, trying to 'prove' my worth. I was grasping at straws trying to keep it together. I've never reacted that way to any other break up. Even when I was younger with N Mom, when she would pull away emotionally b/c I didn't do what she wanted, I never reacted in those ways specifically.... there was learned anxiety, but not to this degree - probably b/c I knew she would still actually be there - it was a pattern. I just started to 'walk on eggshells' with her, trying to keep status quo and not 'rock the boat'. My therapist and I do believe that it was PTSD that triggered my response to the ex N - but only when presented with those recognizable N traits (sudden D&D, gaslighting, etc...). She refered to it specifically as a 'trauma bond'.
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Postby livedthroughit » Thu Aug 23, 2007 12:20 pm

Yes, apparently a woman with BPD can have a relationship with a man who is NPD, but don't evaluate yourself or anyone else based on reactions to a disordered person!
Last edited by livedthroughit on Mon Nov 19, 2007 3:32 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby Cookie2 » Thu Aug 23, 2007 1:36 pm

One thing it seems p's LOVE to do is to give their disorder away to others.......Ever heard them say 'The whole world is crazy cept me'......or they will just pick one or 2 targets to give THEIR disorder to.......I would bet a million dollars that most of our xp's hav e others convinced WE are the disordered ones...the nuts.....the mental ones.........Rest assured we ARE NOT!
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Postby Echo » Thu Aug 23, 2007 3:17 pm

Blooming, I agree with Lived, please don't go labelling yourself, you just did what you had to do to survive the mental torture you went through, we all do - it's about surviving.

Your mind and body reacted to living with a person with a PD. That doesn't mean you have the PD, it means you had major stress.


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Postby ca_christine » Sun Aug 26, 2007 6:46 am

I became fascinated with the history of this stuff, after my own experience with multiple failed atempts at getting help with recovery from abuse, first in my family of origin and then later with the P, only to find the first truly helpful help I received came from a Domestic Violence Center. I started questioning my experience-wondering why that was the case...then I began studying the history of it...

Therapists who are experienced in dealing with abuse, trauma and domestic violence issues in particular, are trained to withhold making any diagnosis until which time the abuse victim is removed from the immediate situation and has had enough time out of the situation.

Old school misogynistic psychology and "family therapists" (particularly in domestic violence issues) had a tendancy to pathologize the often times female victims, in their 'search' to explain the phenomonen of the abusive relationship dynamic. Borderline Personality Disorder was frequently attributed to victims, sadly.

Traumatists such as Judith Herman and most of the feminist oriented psychologists/therapists started the trend away from the pathology of the victim and more toward exploring the emotional and mental condition of the victim as being first and foremost a result of the damage from the current abuse. Herman shed a light on the concept of Complex PTSD.

Additionally...it's scary how BPD, not unlike, ADHD, and "Co-dependance" to name a few, are so loosley and vaguely defined and over used-they have become a catch-all diagnosis, thus losing outright credibility and usefullness. Almost anyone on the planet, it seems, could successfully be labeled with any of those three by "meeting the DSM criteria."

DSM criteria and diagnoses are written up by committees...and most of these folks are men. There tends to be a gender bias here also.

While BPD as a diagnosis or 'condition' certainly holds merit...the way it gets haphazardly thrown around and applied without proper caution is disturbing.
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Postby ca_christine » Sun Aug 26, 2007 6:51 am

I became fascinated with the history of this stuff, after my own experience with multiple failed atempts at getting help with recovery from abuse, first in my family of origin and then later with the P, only to find the first truly helpful help I received came from a Domestic Violence Center. I started questioning my experience-wondering why that was the case...then I began studying the history of it...

Therapists who are experienced in dealing with abuse, trauma and domestic violence issues in particular, are trained to withhold making any diagnosis until which time the abuse victim is removed from the immediate situation and has had enough time out of the situation.

Old school misogynistic psychology and "family therapists" (particularly in domestic violence issues) had a tendancy to pathologize the often times female victims, in their 'search' to explain the phenomonen of the abusive relationship dynamic. Borderline Personality Disorder was frequently attributed to victims, sadly.

Traumatists such as Judith Herman and most of the feminist oriented psychologists/therapists started the trend away from the pathology of the victim and more toward exploring the emotional and mental condition of the victim as being first and foremost a result of the damage from the current abuse. Herman shed a light on the concept of Complex PTSD.

Additionally...it's scary how BPD, not unlike, ADHD, and "Co-dependance" to name a few, are so loosley and vaguely defined and over used-they have become a catch-all diagnosis, thus losing outright credibility and usefullness. Almost anyone on the planet, it seems, could successfully be labeled with any of those three by "meeting the DSM criteria."

DSM criteria and diagnoses are written up by committees...and most of these folks are men. There tends to be a gender bias here also.

While BPD as a diagnosis or 'condition' certainly holds merit...the way it gets haphazardly thrown around and applied without proper caution is disturbing.
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Postby Pilot » Sat Nov 17, 2007 7:44 pm

Thanks for posting this Loux. I just asked this same question and now just found this thread. It makes a lot of sense.
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