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Borderline Personality Disorder leaves those diagnosed with it and family members or loved ones alike often puzzled as to what to do and how to cope. It is important for both the borderline and the non borderline to continue to pursue a clearer understanding.

Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) is a complex, multifaceted, and formidable mental illness. It effects the lives of those who are diagnosed with it in many very painful ways. It also effects the lives of those who are close in any way to someone diagnosed with BPD – known or commonly referred to as Non Borderlines in very deep and painful ways.

The traits used as criteria to define and diagnose those with Borderline Personality Disorder in the DSM-IV are human traits that are found in each and every one of us. The key difference with these traits is that those who meet the criteria for a diagnosis of BPD (minimum of 5 traits out of 9 listed traits) display these traits in much more intense ways than the average person and also with much more frequency than the average person.

Individuals diagnosed with BPD are not able to relate to others in consistent or congruent ways. The relational styles of those with BPD are greatly influenced by what I call the the core wound of abandonment that is a central contributing factor to the cause of BPD.

Abandonment trauma causes those who go on to be diagnosed with BPD to suffer what is an existence without an known sense of authentic self. Those with BPD live in and through a false self that has as its mandate in life the protecting of the borderline from the very pain that, once faced and resolved, can set them free from the suffering of BPD.

In my process of recovery from Borderline Personality Disorder I had to become aware of and face what was the abandoned pain of my core wound of abandonment.

Self harm, acting out, parasuicide, suicidality, rage, manipulation, and the many other toxic ways that those with BPD relate to “self” or “other” are the emotionally immature attempts of the borderline false self to mitigate the abandoned pain of those with BPD. As all of this behavior indicates the borderline false self is a self-destructive aspect of the person with BPD who is dissociated from the remnants of the lost authentic self. A self that is lost to abandonment trauma that ruptures the first “love relationship” in life – the bonding and attachment that one needs with one’s mother or primary care-giver in order to develop an averagely healthy personality.

Lacking a known sense of self, actually lacking a self, each person with BPD is bound to the triggered re-playing out of their dissociated from, denied, and abandoned pain through what are known as repetition compulsions. These repetition compulsions are most often triggered when those with Borderline Personality Disorder try to cope with the everyday aspects of interpersonal relating or relationships. This is the main reason why the way that those with BPD are described and defined includes that they often have “stormy and intense interpersonal relationships” (DSM-IV Criteria for BPD)

While those who have BPD suffer in many ways internally, with what are known as dysregulated emotions the reality of BPD is that it manifests as a relational disorder. For those with BPD they lack a much-needed connection to “self” that the absence of said causes them great distress and they often are then quite needy and demanding with others because they do not know how to take care of themselves emotionally – they do not know how to soothe themselves. They do not know how to relate to themselves any better than they can relate to others.

The reality of BPD is most evident to others who are attempting to relate to those with BPD. For the family members or loved ones of those with BPD, the non borderlines, the need for understanding is great and the profound pain they experience on the other side of BPD often leads to intolerable stress and emotional strain in their lives leaves many feeling the need to break free from the BPD maze on the other side of BPD and essentially begin their own process of healing and recovery.

I am someone who has recovered from this personality disorder. I know how crucially important it is, regardless of your current life circumstances, if you have BPD, that you find reasons to hope. Hope is the foundation of finding your way onto the road that can lead you to recovery. For those who know, love, and/or care about someone with BPD, it is equally as crucial that you begin to take a good hard long look at the actual facts of BPD and what they mean for you in your own situation and life.

© A.J. Mahari – February 29, 2008

Toward Understanding Borderline Personality Disorder