Author, Life Coach, BPD and Mental Health Coach, A.J. Mahari talks about the central paradox at the heart of recovery from BPD. People with BPD have layered defenses against emotional pain that they do not know how to cope with. It is that very pain that must be felt, re-integrated and coped with that is at the heart of the process of recovery from BPD – that’s the paradox. For many with BPD it is a living-paradox experienced as hopelessness and helplessness. Yet, this living-paradox when it comes to BPD and specifically recovery from BPD is really a source of hope but one must first overcome his or her fear of the unknown and open up to learning to cope with their emotions.

People with Borderline Personality Disorder have learned, out of necessity, for psychological survival, to defend against anything and everything that is perceived as or feels, in any way, threatening to them. They are often not consciously aware that this is what they are doing. People with BPD defend against anything, person, situation, that they have concern about being triggered to emotional dysregulation by. When people with BPD are triggered and experience emotional dysregulation they are once again, as they are over and over again, in their lives, faced with this pain – pain that they have been defending against most of their lives – pain that needs addressing, but, pain that feels so overwhelming it feels as though it can and will kill them. Pain that they don’t have any healthy ways of soothing.

The real paradox in recovery from BPD is that it is this very defended against pain that is re-lived when those with BPD are triggered to emotional dysregulation and re-experience what has become repetition-compulsion schema whose purpose is to bring to conscious awareness the very pain being defended against.




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  • People with BPD, at some point in time, usually by late adolescence, early adulthood, have entered rigid patterns of thinking, feeling, and perceiving that reinforce this self-protection in what is the absence of a stable sense of self – in what is a lack of identity and in ways that only perpetuate the pain, traits, and dreaded symptoms of BPD. These pattered defense mechanisms become automatic to people with BPD. Many people with BPD are not consciously aware of the ways in which they defend against their own emotions, others, what others say, etc. This is an awareness that must be sought after and fought for in recovery. Once connected to great progress can be made.

    To recover from Borderline Personality Disorder, as I know from having lived through it, and recovered 15 years ago, one must open to the pain and peel back the layers of defense. This pain that is defended against is the pain of a very young child with a deep intrapsychic woundedness. It is a pain that was born inside at a time when a young infant/child cannot defend him or herself and has not yet learned the coping skills necessary to remain open to feeling and experiencing a discomfort, that for those who go on to develop BPD, feels way to intolerable and way too threatening.

    © A.J. Mahari – December 1, 2010 – All rights reserved.

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    Paradox and Recovery From Borderline Personality Disorder