28 December 2008

"B" is for ... Borderline Behavior?

A few posts back I mentioned in passing that the topic of Borderline Personality Disorder is one I haven't explored here, and that this is actually a significant omission.

A recent blog discussion provided a natural segue into the topic, but via the realm of fiction and art [popular music] rather than actual life experience.

This link, from a mainstream media outlet, will take you to a recent news story that has far more implications psychologically than politically [I confess: I think politics is primarily about psychology, and we as a nation would be wise to learn this].

The story describes a political hoax in which a young white woman (a McCain campaign volunteer) falsely represented to police that she was attacked, at an ATM, by a black man, who [she alleged] robbed her, then mutilated her face - by scratching a B onto her cheek - when he discovered that she was a McCain supporter.

B for Barack oBama? B for Black?

But the young lady admitted, shortly thereafter, that there was no robbery, and no assault, because there was actually no attacker. The report also mentioned that the 'B' scratched onto her face is backwards.

Which is what would happen if it were a self-inflicted injury, and the inflicting self forgot that images in mirrors are reversed.

Now, I'm not going to state definitively that this particular individual is, or is not, suffering from Borderline PD or any other specific condition.

She is troubled.

There is something wrong.

That is all I can really say - and it should be obvious to any caring human being who reads the news item linked above.

Whatever her condition, she has caused maximum suffering and loss primarily to herself and the members of her immediate family, at this point. Let her receive the help and support she needs to heal.

I will, however, admit that BPD crossed my mind when I read this story.

Because of the behaviors reported in the story. They include:

[Presumed] self-mutilation; cutting.

Attention-seeking through acting out.

Scapegoating. In this case, scapegoating an entire race [in the person of the invented robber and assailant] as well as a specific political figure.

Falsehoods; manipulation.

Monopolizing time and resources with a fabricated 'crisis'....

Then, after the facts are out, wondering why everyone isn't 'over it' already.

This is a news story, subject to the reporter's observational bias and the editors' and publisher's editorial bias. That must be included in any assessment of the reported incident, along with my own observational and experiential bias.

But the behaviors described above, in any context, enacted by any person, would still, to me, be highly suggestive of Borderline traits at the very least.


Over a long lifetime, I have observed a number of unquestionably borderline individuals, male and female. I have worked alongside them, studied alongside them, suffered alongside them.

There is one aspect of the 'borderline personality' that has struck me in every situation where I knew, without any doubt, that the person involved was suffering from Borderline PD:

Flamboyant destructiveness, whether directed towards self or others [often, both].

Common or garden variety abusers are destructive, but often quite 'subtil'. Not so borderlines. When a seriously ill person with full-blown borderline PD "goes on a rampage", it's all stops out; nothing short of burning down the house will do. Even, tragically, when the house is their own.

The condition is horrendously sad, and equally horrendously frustrating.

Now, a point of clarification.

Although I have spoken rather sternly about specific behaviors in this post, I do not consider people suffering from Borderline PD to be abusers in the same sense as the abusers I habitually discuss here.

I believe that these individuals have been subjected, themselves, to some form of pain so great that it could barely be survived - and was not survived without great trauma.

But there is no avoiding the fact that borderline behavior can be abusive in its impact, often extremely so.


Learn to recognize the behavior.

Learn not to fear recognizing the behavior and facing the implications.

Learn that you can care very much for the welfare of people who may, or who definitely do, suffer from this tragic and debilitating condition, but that does not mean that you are required to offer yourself up as a target, or a scapegoat.

Borderline PD is a condition that requires professional handling and care.

To be continued...


Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Flamboyant destructiveness, whether directed towards self or others [often, both]."

Flamboyant as in Dramatic, as in Drama.

"but that does not mean that you are required to offer yourself up as a target, or a scapegoat."

Amen, Sister. Took me a loooooong to reach that conclusion. We cannot fix the Borderline & unfortunately, they probably cannot fix themselves, so we must live with it, accept it & leave it all to God.

16 January, 2009 12:11  

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