Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) Impairment 13 – Alternating between over involvement and withdrawal.

What We Know

           Alternating between over involvement and withdrawal are twin brothers and sisters to Devaluation and Idealization. Devaluation and Idealization are the defense mechanisms and Involvement and Withdrawal are the defensive actions. I could not find any research articles dealing directly with involvement and withdrawal so we will just have to go with my own observations, call it in Naturalistic Observation or Participant Observation if you like.

          Those of us with BPD need to escape the angst created by our own minds.  We have very fragile egos with insanely low levels of self-esteem and extremely high levels of feelings of unworthiness and shame. We desperately need to be needed and affirmed. We need to constantly be in a relationship so we go from one relationship to another searching for the perfect man or woman. We never really trust in ourselves or believe that the person we pursue could actually like us just for whom we are. When we find someone who seems to love and understand us, we fall head over heels in love. But once we are in relationship and the glow wears off, we begin to sabotage the relationship because we believe we will be eventually abandoned anyway. We withdraw emotionally at the first sign of doubt. We are constantly looking for evidence that our partner will soon be leaving so we can get out before they do.  

            We search for causes to believe in. We are natural targets for extreme groups, cults, and fanatical religions We can become human dynamos as long as there is a steady stream of praise and affirmation coming from our co-workers, co-cause-chasers,  or clients. When there is no praise, we begin to believe we are not ever going to make a difference and we begin to withdraw, first emotionally, and then physically. We quit. This is often followed by disillusionment and bitterness.

            Unfortunately, this also applies to life in general.  As long as we are in professional or personal situations where there is a constant stream of positive feedback, we can then focus on “doing” which takes our minds off of “being”. We just can’t afford to be alone with ourselves. When the situation or relationship falls apart, we have no internal soothing mechanisms, so we have extreme reactions. An argument with a partner or co-worker takes on extreme emotional explosions that can lead to alcohol or drug binges, risky behavior, and suicidal thoughts.

            This brings to an end our studies of the interpersonal and intrapersonal impairments of BPD on the DSM 5. If we just focus on the research data on the What We Know sections of these articles, it paints a bleak picture of what members of our BPD community are going through. But we must remember that these studies are just data. We do not have to be one of the victims of BPD mentioned in these studies. We are individuals, and as a result, we have tremendous personal, physical, and spiritual resources at our disposal. We do not have to be a victim; in fact, we can not only conquer this thing, but we can use our weaknesses as strengths through which we can build an amazing life, one that we will truly love to live.  

Next week we will begin Part 2 – Pathological Personality Traits.