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Rigid thought patterns in Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) are one of the central manifestations of all that Borderline Personality is and means in the lives of those who have been diagnosed with it. Loved ones and family members are often hurt and confused by these rigid thought patterns also. BPD Coach A.J. Mahari identifies three main reasons why people with BPD have such rigid thought patterns. These rigid thought patterns actually trap people in the active throes of BPD until and unless they get professional help to begin to learn how to think beyond the constricted magical thinking of a primitive concept of cause and effect. Primitive concepts of cause and effect that along with rigid thought patterns are at the center of The Legacy of Abandonment in BPD A legacy of abandonment that is the central cause of Rage in BPD.

 Audio Programs © A.J. Mahari

Rigid thinking, in people who go on to be diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder, are created by the following key experiences and or perceptions. Experiences and perceptions that form the foundation of core beliefs – the negative core beliefs of borderline cognitivitely distorted thinking that is firmly fixed or set often by 3-7 years of age.

1) Insecure attachment or failure to bond: For many varied reasons, people who are diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder as they get older, have not experienced a secure attachment or bond with a parent or care-taker. This is also experienced and/or perceived as an abandonment. It leaves the young infant, toddler, or child, feeling unsafe. When one feels unsafe it is a natural reflex to try in whatever way one can to protect oneself from these very overwhelming feelings that one has no tools or skills to cope with at such a young age. When protection – one’s survival mechanism kicks in and one begins to fight feeling abandoned and unsafe development gets severely compromised. We cannot learn and protect at the same time. If one is protecting from a very early age, one cannot be learning all that is necessary to mature in healthy emotional/psychological ways.

Audio Programs For Non Borderlines © A.J. Mahari

2) Abandonment – actual or perceived – Many people think abandonment means only physical abandonment, when a parent or care-taker is no longer there. While that can be experienced as abandonment if a parent or care-taker leaves or dies, abandonment is a much more encompassing experience than that. Abandonment can be experienced or perceived when attachment or bonding is not unfolding in firm and secure ways. Abandonment is a reaction to feeling unsafe. It is a terrifying feeling for a young infant, toddler, or child, whose survival depends upon the care of others. In those who go on to be diagnosed with BPD, the most significant abandonment trauma is caused by actual physical abandonment, abuse – which is abandonment, or this lack of bonding because secure attachment and bonding are necessary in order for healthy emotional and psychological development to progress as the child matures through the stages of development. When attachment is not secure and bonding fails or is absent the abandonment felt is so disrupting to child development that what is experienced and set in motion is arrested emotional development. This is why so much of “borderline” behaviour is comparable to the thought patterns (or lack thereof) and the reactions of a very young child. People with BPD have not been able to mature beyond emotional arrests in their development from very early stages of human development. Abandonment is also experienced and/or perceived when a young child’s emotional/psychological and/or physical needs are not met.

3) Unmet Needs: Unmet emotional, psychological, and developmental needs, for whatever constellation of reasons creates the experience or perception of abandonment. Feeling that a parent or care-giver is not emotionally available creates an invalidating relational experience for the young child whose needs are not being met. The seeds are being planted for negative core beliefs that will form long before one can be consciously aware of them. Defense mechanisms emerge and are employed much more often than are healthy for a young child. Conflicts arise around attachment and relating. When one develops a distrust for the very person that his or her survival depends upon this is an impossible conflict. It is one that sets the stage for “borderline” splitting. The child needs mommy – needs “good mommy” so when mother responds with food or basic needs, mommy is seen as “all-good”. When mommy doesn’t respond to a need of a young child, and it causes pain, fear, and insecurity, the child feels abandonment, needy, scared, helpless, and unsafe creating the perception that mommy is “all-bad”


Rigid thought patterns, based upon beliefs created around experience – negative “feeling” experience – emerge from these formative years and the profound experience and/or perception of abandonment that is so central to the development of Borderline Personality Disorder. Thought patterns that support protection versus learning. Thought patterns that are often over-compensating for feeling so vulnerable, in so much pain, so unsafe, as to feel that one is going to die because everything comes to feel threatening. Thought patterns that are black and white because a young child cannot integrate the inherent conflict of needing someone for survival who is in one way or another (actual or perception-based) hurting him or her and causing him or her to feel first unsafe, and subsequently as he/she gets a bit older – invalidated.

Rigid thought patterns are actually developed from a very young age. They continue to find validation in the child’s experience and are validated by that experience or perception and are strengthened by it in subconscious ways. There is a tremendous amount of intra-psychic pain associated with insecure or lack of attachment and bonding, abandonment, and unmet needs. The experience of these 3 foundational building blocks of rigid thought patterns is very painful. It is all much more pain than a young child has any way of processing or coping with.

© A.J. Mahari, February 9, 2010 – All rights reserved.

Rigid Thought Patterns in Borderline Personality Disorder