It’s ALIVE!!!! – Borderline Personality Disorder in Movies and Cinema

Happy Halloween! This has been a very mellow season for me. Decided not to hit any major parties or do the costume thing. I’ve been too uncomfortable in my own skin to go out in crowds. I have, however, been watching Horror movies like they’re going out of style. Which as any die hard horror movie buff knows, will never actually happen. Horror movies are good year round. I’m pretty desensitized to the actually scary factor but that doesn’t stop me from loving them. I also have a bizarre fascination with campy bad B horror movies. Over the past few weeks I’ve watched Friday the 13th, Silence of the Lambs, Hannibal,
Red Dragon, Night of the Living Dead (the original), Poltergeist, documentaries on the making of American Horror films, had a Nightmare on Elm Street marathon, and approximately a million more. You name it, I probably own it. Friday Tech Boy and I went to see the remake of The Thing.
The Thing (remake): SPOILER: Do yourself a favor… rent the original. The original is truly terrifying. The remake was an abomination of CGI craptasticism. The only horror inducing aspects of this film was that it was remade in the first place. Shame on you Hollywood. Seriously. I’m offended. Fortunately Tech Boy was equally as uninterested in the film and we didn’t end up watching a whole lot of it ::wink::
Saturday Friend and I went and saw Paranormal Activity 3. (NO Spoilers). If you have any belief, even a mild suspicion or doubt about what else might be out there…. These will shock your socks off. I freaking love this series of movies. Rent them. Watch them. Be prepared to never sleep again. Throw Insidious into the mix while you’re at it.
That’s great Haven, but what does any of this have to do with Borderline Personality Disorder, other than you’re particular case of nuttery? The movies listed above = not much. However, it got me to thinking about movies depicting Borderline Personality Disorder and they have a tendency to be pretty scary in their own way.
A couple of them like Girl, Interrupted and the film Borderline (based on the book by Marie-Sissi Labreche) take more of a genuine look at what it is to have Borderline Personality Disorder. I have to say the film version of Girl, Interrupted didn’t portray the disorder quite as well as the book did – which was actually quite different. Still, they’re honest attempts at some understanding.
Here are some of the most notable movies with characters with Borderline Personality Disorder:
Fatal Attraction (1987) – In “Fatal Attraction,” the infamous femme fatale character played by Glenn Close displays the emotional instability and fear of abandonment that are symptomatic of someone with Borderline Personality Disorder. Her character also exhibits the BPD symptoms of self-harm, intense anger, and manipulation as she stalks her former lover and his family.
Single White Female (1992) – Jennifer Jason Leigh’s character in “Single White Female” exhibits the Borderline Personality Disorder symptoms of fear of abandonment, impulsivity, and mirroring as she attempts to take over the persona and life of her roommate (Bridget Fonda).
The Hours (2002) – The three main characters in “The Hours,” which include author Virginia Woolf, all struggle with Borderline Personality Disorder, depression, and suicide. The movie, which links women from different generations to Woolf’s book “Mrs. Dalloway,” stars Nicole Kidman, Meryl Streep, and Julianne Moore.
Monster (2003) – Charlize Theron transformed into the role of female serial killer Aileen Wuornos in “Monster.” Wuornos was diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder, which may have contributed to the unstable and angry behaviors that led to her killing at least six men.
My Super Ex-Girlfriend (2006) – One of the few comedy movies that features a character with Borderline Personality Disorder is “My Super Ex-Girlfriend.” In this movie, Uma Thurman portrays a woman with superpowers and a secret identity who also displays the BPD symptoms of impulsivity, unstable interpersonal relationships, and poor self-image.
Margot at the Wedding (2007)– Two alums of movies with Borderline Personality Disorder – Jennifer Jason Leigh and Nicole Kidman – pair up in “Margot at the Wedding.” Kidman’s character, who is the sister of Leigh’s, is said to be diagnosed with BPD and exhibits the BPD symptoms of impulsivity and lack of boundaries.
A Streetcar Named Desire – A Streetcar Named Desire is a is a 1947 play written by Tennessee Williams, later adapted for film, which tells the story of a woman who displays histrionic and borderline traits, who goes to live with her codependent sister and her narcissistic husband.
Mommie Dearest – Mommie Dearest is a 1981 biography of Hollywood Actress Joan Crawford, played by Faye Dunaway, who, according to the account in the movie, exhibited Obsessive Compulsive, Borderline and Narcissistic Traits.
Gia: Too Beautiful to Die, Too Wild to Live (1998) – Directed by Michael Christofer, starring Angelina Jolie as the tragic supermodel Gia Marie Carangi.
For my money, this biographical movie is the very best screen representation of a female Borderline, vastly more emotionally insightful than Fatal Attraction. Jolie is uncannily brilliant in this Golden-Globe-winning role (and has written about her own personal experience with self-injury).
And some more…..
The Fountainhead (1949)
Play Misty for Me (1971)
Poison Ivy (1992)
The Crush (1993)
Mad Love (1995)
The Cable Guy (1996)
Allein (Germany, 2004)
Swimming Pool (2003)
Chloe (2009)
Notes on a Scandal (2006)
Black Swan (2010)  <~~~~~ Here’s another must see movie if you haven’t already. I over-identified with this film. The emotion pressure felt by the main character is portrayed in a very intense and accurate manner.
I also found a note about one more movie displaying Borderline characteristics. The Wizard of Oz. Now, I’m not sure I agree with it. I think it’s more likely that some psychologist decided to overanalyze a work of fiction. But this is what it said.
The Wizard of Oz – The Wizard of Oz is a 1944 movie starring Judy Garland which is sometimes used as a metaphor to describe the disconnect between the dissociated reality of the personality-disordered individual (Oz) and the real world experienced by the Non-PD (Kansas). The metaphor is based on the iconic phrase: “Toto – I’ve a feeling we’re not in Kansas any more”.
Those are what I’ve found so far. Do you know any others that might involve BPD?
It all just got me thinking about how entrenched the stigma of Borderline Personality Disorder is. A few of these movies take an honest approach to the disorder or even a comedic one… but in general, the character with BPD is often the villain, and not one you’re able to sympathize with. These movies capitalize on the stigma and spotlight the worst characteristics. I guess that’s what makes money though. I suppose having emotionally conflicted villains is too grey area for the good guys wear white, bad guys wear black mentality that often splits the silver screen. I find that a bit ironic.

So what are you favorite scary movies?

Lucid Analysis – Trials in Therapy

The Relationship Issue.
Right away Therapist said I looked centered and happy. She asked how things are with Tech Boy and all that. Good. Cute. We’re texting and talking all the time. I feel silly and cute (read: euphoric and high).  She asked me if I think this is on track to being a healthy relationship.
How would I know?
I’ve never had a healthy relationship. Surprise! Don’t look at me like that. That’s not saying they’ve all been bad, just not healthy. I dated a couple guys in college that were really great guys, but I felt no emotional attachment to them. For all intents and purposes the relationships were ‘normal’ but emotionally void b/c I was cut off from feeling (Boring-Ex can basically fall into this category as well except of course, that ended with me in the Psych ER). Unhealthy. My relationships with women were often more affectionately intense, but shorter lived as I would freak out at the speed of closeness. And then, there were the notable abusive messes that have hallmarked my existence. I fail at relationships. I think people are crazy for wanting to be involved with me. I actually TELL PEOPLE that I’m a terrible girlfriend and that they shouldn’t want to date me. I come with a disclaimer ß——– This is a common phrase.
Or like this morning when Tech Boy and I were going out to my project site he was like… “You carry my equipment, drive me around, you’re just a generally good person ::insert cute smile::” To which my immediate response was to laugh that off and say “Clearly, you don’t know me that well”. I’ve tailored responses like that to sound joking, even though I mean it whole heartedly.
Therapist doesn’t see a bad person in me. She sees someone that has had a lot of bad things happen to them, but that doesn’t mean I am bad. I still feel bad. I feel like I’m going to destroy everything I touch. Which is awful because I want to touch things. I want to be touched.
Not literally. Don’t get too dirty on me there. Ok, maybe a little bit literal. Ok, a lot.
I mean I want to be with someone in a meaningful way. Therapist asked if I felt Tech Boy was someone that I felt I could share with? I want to be the kind of person that can be open and share myself with someone in a healthy way. But I have so much unhealthiness in my past. I told Therapist I’m not sure I can be open with Tech Boy (not just him, anyone). What right do I have to dump all that trauma on someone? How can I expect someone else to be ok with the things that have happened to me? That I’ve done to me? How can I expect someone to see all of this and not judge me and think I’m a terrible person? A damaged person?
I have to hide it all. It’s what I’ve always done. Eventually though, when people push to get closer and the walls begin to come down it all eventually comes out. Once my walls start to slip it’s hard for me to maintain that mask that I’ve kept in place for so long. It’s never quite the same.
The first thing people usually ask me is about my arms. For the first time I’m starting to dread this explanation. Therapist was like, well, maybe he won’t think they’re unusual. What? I don’t think she’s ever really taken a good look at my arms. I showed her and she had to admit it was pretty obvious. It’s not like Tech Boy hasn’t seen {some of} them. I don’t hide my scars, but it’s not the kind of thing people ask about in a professional setting so no one has ever brought it up. Then again, maybe I can assume that he’s noticed, and decided that it doesn’t matter, as he clearly has a thing for me.
Aside: When I say ‘clearly’, this didn’t stop me from freaking out about him not being able to see me last weekend because he broke his freaking ankle. I was actually paranoid that this was just an excuse to not see me at first. Yeah, I know. Don’t start.
Also, I don’t assume. And even if I did, I would ignore the assumption and think the worst anyways. I’m just going with it.
Coming back around to my point, I don’t need to unload all of my past at once. That should come slowly over time. I feel like I’m hiding who I am though and thereby not being honest. Bleh. I’ll figure it out.
So of course we ended up talking about Friend. I’m having a bizarre sort of mashup between Splitting and Abandonment here. I can’t let go of my friendship with Friend. I don’t want to. I can’t. I can’t even think about it. But he’s like a disembodied character to me. Every time I see him it’s like I’m seeing someone new that has all the characteristics of the last Friend I talked with. As soon as Tech Boy and I started getting close, my feelings snapped off for Friend (unless his wife is doing something to rub things in my face, then I just want nothing to do with them at all). I split from the love and hurt I felt to utterly neutral and not needing to be around him, or even talk to him anymore. I’m cancelling plans, changing dates, breaking my structures I built with him… in favor of something new. I still have a lot of anxiety about this, but it’s not for fear of his disapproval so much as for fear of breaking what’s familiar and fearing that I won’t be able to maintain that familiarity.
Therapist thinks I’ve done a remarkable job holding onto this friendship. What I went through with Friend and his wife was incredibly hurtful. She still thinks it was healing in many ways though. She asked me what kinds of things I want to remember from my relationship with Friend.
I couldn’t think of a single thing. I am completely blocked and dissociated from the feelings that I had. I only remember the bad, the hurt. I don’t even want to think about writing my letter to him. I don’t want to think about him like that. Split. I’m thinking about someone else now, I don’t want to think about what I felt before. What did I love about him? About us?
Homework: What positive things have I taken from my relationship with Friend?
She thinks this would be good for me to remember because I have such a hard time holding onto people. My lack of object permanency. I feel like I’m not a part of people’s lives if I am not in their immediate presence. If I can write down the things I valued about him, that I believe he valued about me, and relate that to how it is still displayed in our current friendship, maybe it will help me hold onto the idea of fluidity through time. It will also help me recognize the things that I want in a future relationship, that I should hold onto, and not allow myself to settle for things that don’t meet a healthier standard.
We’re really trying to work on forming new, healthy, relationships now. She’s very proud of me for taking all the safe risks I’ve been taking lately. She’s trying to caution me to think further into what it is that I want exactly, instead of just throwing myself into the moments.
Homework: What do I envision for a healthy relationship? (I remembered this week!)
I don’t even know. What do you think is part of a healthy relationship?

Where do Broken Toys Come From? – Defectiveness/Shame

Let’s explore a new Schema today. It’s rather fitting as I’ve been mired in this all morning. I hate it.
Typical Presentation of the Schema
People with this schema believe that they are defective, flawed, inferior, bad, worthless, or unlovable. Consequently, they often experience chronic feelings of shame about who they are.
Defective. Flawed. Bad. Unlovable. This is me. I am all of these things. Despite the fact that everyone around me says otherwise, I KNOW this. Everyone else hasn’t lived with me my entire life, they don’t know all the bad things I’ve done, all the failures, all the shameful things. I remember it all, and I can’t forgive myself for it.  
What aspects of themselves do they view as defective? It could be almost any personal characteristic – they believe that they are too angry, too needy, too evil, too ugly, too lazy, too dumb, too boring, too strange, too overbearing, too fate, too thin, too tall, too short, or too weak. They might have unacceptable sexual or aggressive desires. Something in their very being feels defective: It is not something they do, but something they feel they are. They fear relationships with others because they dread the inevitable moment when their defectiveness will be exposed. At any moment, other people might suddenly see through them to the defectiveness at their core, and they will be filled with shame. This fear can apply to the private or public worlds: People with this schema feel defective in their intimate relationships or in the wider social world (or both).
This may be the origin of all the secret keeping, the hiding. I don’t want people to see the demons in me.
Typical behaviors of patients with this schema include devaluing themselves and allowing others to devalue them. These patients may allow others to mistreat or even verbally abuse them. They are often hypersensitive to criticism or rejection, and react very strongly, either by becoming sad and downcast or angry, depending upon whether they are surrendering to the schema or overcompensating for it. They secretly feel that they are to blame for their problems with other people. Often self-conscious, they tend to make a lot of comparisons between themselves and others. They feel insecure around other people, particularly those perceived as “not defective,” or those who might see through to their defectiveness. They may be jealous and competitive, especially in the area of their felt defectiveness, and sometimes view interpersonal interactions as a game of “one up, one down”. They often choose critical and rejecting partners, and may be critical of the people who love them.
I think this is common of abuse victims to blame themselves for the atrocities that have been visited upon us, not just people with BPD. An inner monologue that says there must be something wrong with me to have made me receptive to this tragedy. If I had done this, or if I hadn’t allowed that, or if I hadn’t decided, or if I hadn’t made the choice to…. A, B, C, D, wouldn’t have happened. It must be my fault. It’s not. It feels like it, but it’s not.
Can I tell you how often I compare myself to people around me that I perceive as having a better attributed/less flaws than me? Wanna guess? Come one, it’s not that hard. Did you say ‘constantly’? Congratulations! You win a glorious look into the depths of my imperfections! Kind of a shitty prize, I know.  
“I wouldn’t want to belong to a club that would have me as a member” ~ Groucho Marx
These people may avoid intimate relationships or social situations, because people might see their defects.
You know what I find insanely irritating love? When I voice my displeasure about one of my flaws and the immediate response I get is: Oh no one notices that but you. That I notice it is the problem! Who do you think I’m really trying to impress here? Me! That’s who. Ok, Therapist might say that I’m trying to impress my father, if I can hide all my flaws I can be worthy of his love. She may have a point. But I have another one… from my perspective my flaws and defects are glaring. I can’t imagine that other people don’t see them. I realize that most people probably don’t spend every second dissecting and obsessing over each little problem I have. My entire childhood I was involved in very competitive sports and activities, especially, gymnastics, dance and martial arts. Every move was monitored. Every aspect was judged. Every curve was on display. Critical eyes are everywhere, all the time. Mine just happen to be the worst of the group. But if I can catch the flaws first, then I can potentially do things so that others don’t see them. Unfortunately coupled with my dysmorphia I can become completely incapable of going out in public if something is bad. It’s debilitating. I hate it.  I get worked up into a panic about how bad or wrong or failed something is, I can’t stop thinking about it, I can’t imagine other people aren’t judging it, and I can’t bring myself to be in a position where someone else is going to be able to see. So I hide. I make up excuses, I cancel plans, I refuse to join the real world. Not until I’m fixed. It’s taken me a looooooong time, to make even the smallest progress on this. Right now I’m doing ok. I’m forcing myself to go out despite my inner judgments. I have a really hard time having fun, but I’m facing my fears and my flaws, and in the end, I’ve had many enjoyable evenings and encounters that I wouldn’t have been able to have had I hide myself away.
Goals of Treatment
The basic goal of treatment is to increase the patient’s sense of self-esteem. Patients who have healed this schema believe that they are worthy of love and respect. Their feelings of defectiveness were either mistaken or greatly exaggerated: Either the trait is not really a defect, or it is a limitation that is far less important than it feels to them. Furthermore, the patient is often able to correct the “defect”. But, even if patients cannot correct it, it does not negate their value as human beings. It is the nature of human beings to be flawed and imperfect. We can love each other anyway.
Patients who have healed this schema are more at ease around other people. They feel much less vulnerable and exposed, and are more willing to enter relationships. They are no longer so prone to feelings of self-consciousness when other people pay attention to them. These patients regard other people as less judgmental and more accepting, and put human flaws into a realistic perspective. Becoming more open with people, they stop keeping so many secrets and trying to hide so many parts of themselves, and can maintain a sense of their own value, even when others criticize or reject them. They accept compliments more naturally and no longer allow other people to treat them badly. Less defensive, they are less perfectionistic about themselves and other people, and choose partners who love them and treat them well. In summary, they no longer exhibit behaviors that surrender to, avoid, or overcompensate for their Defectiveness/Shame schema.
Obviously I am not healed form this schema. Secrets. I keep a lot of secrets. I have a big one currently but no, I won’t share. The only way to keep a secret is to not let anyone know. Not even one person.
Accepting compliments is funny though. This is something I’ve worked into my outer mask pretty seamlessly. I learned a long time ago that people don’t want to hear you put yourself down. Refusing compliments comes across as ungrateful. The best thing to do is just say ‘thank you’, or ‘I’m flattered’ and move on. Often I think people are lying to me to get something from me. Or sometimes I can see that they actually believe the compliment they are giving me. Just because they believe it doesn’t make it true for me.
Strategies Emphasized in Treatment
Behavior strategies – particularly exposure – are important to treatment, especially for avoidant patients. As long as patients with Defectiveness schemas avoid intimate human contact, their feelings of defectiveness remain intact. Patients work on entering interpersonal situations that hold the potential to enhance their lives. Behavior strategies can also help patients correct some legitimate flaws (i.e. improve sense of dress style, learn social skills). In addition, patients work on choosing significant others who are supportive rather than critical. They try to select partners who love and accept them.
This is something I’m actively working on. Forcing myself to go out and interact with people even when I would prefer to hide. My flaws are glaring at the moment, but I still try to get out. And you know what? The world hasn’t ended yet! Crazy. I know. I may spend most of the evening fighting my self-consciousness but in between my criticisms and ruminations, shockingly, I also find a little laughter and good conversation.
Behaviorally patients also learn to stop overreacting to criticism. They learn that, when someone gives them a valid criticism, the appropriate response is to accept the criticism and try to change themselves; when someone gives them a criticism that is not valid, the appropriate response is simply to state their point of view to the other person and affirm internally that the criticism is false. It is not appropriate to attach the other person; it is not necessary to response in kind or to fight to prove the other person wrong. Patients learn to set limits with hypercritical people and stop tolerating maltreatment. Patients also work on self-disclosing more too significant others who they trust. The more they can share themselves and still be accepted, the more they will be able to overcome the schema. Finally patients work on decreasing compensatory behaviors. They stop trying to overcompensate for their inner sense of defectiveness by appearing perfect, achieving excessively, demeaning others, or competing for status.
I don’t overreact OUT so much anymore. I certainly used to. I’d rage and scream and lash out when I thought someone was criticizing me. I’m quieter now. I overreact IN. The thoughts that I need to punish myself for not being perfect are terribly hard to drown out. It’s that nagging voice in the back of my mind that says, how can someone love you if you’re not perfect? If they can see your flaws, they’ll know. They’ll leave.  
Special Problems with This Schema
Many patients who have this schema are unaware of it. A lot of patients are avoiding or overcompensating for the pain of this schema, rather than feeling that pain. Patients with narcissistic personality disorder are an example of a group with a high probability of having the Defectiveness schema and a low probability of being aware of it. Narcissistic patients often get caught up in competing with or denigrating the therapist rather than working on change.
Patients with a Defectiveness schema might hold back information about themselves because they are embarrassed. A long time may pass before these patients are willing to share fully their memories, desires, thoughts, and feelings.
This schema is difficult to change. The earlier and more sever the criticism and rejection from parents, the more difficult it is to heal.
I’ve lived most of my life being unaware of this. Of course now I am aware, but I still find myself avoiding or overcompensating for my problems. My Therapist is constantly reaffirming my positive attributes in hopes that I will eventually internalize that I do have good aspects of myself. I understand what she’s doing, but I’m not there yet. I’m still struggling with understanding that I can be flawed, and that’s ok.

Notable Milestones!

Hello Everyone! Today I’m extremely busy at work (read: no time to blog for real) but I’ve been meaning to mention a couple things for days now and keep getting busy and forgetful. I hit some blog milestones recently!
First: I passed my 300th post! I don’t know about you, but I’m pretty excited about that. I probably have a full length novel of blog posts collected here. Which, is pretty  much the point.
Last ( Or maybe Next): My followers have been growing steadily and I passed the 100 follower mark =) This makes me very happy. Most of you lurk out there instead of leaving a little comment love which is cool. ::smiles::
I feel like I should do something celebratory but I’m not sure what. I’m open to suggestions. Though I think for now I’ll just open the forum up to hear whatever questions, opinions, comments, random musing or drunken ramblings you may want to throw my way. Be it about BPD or yanno, anything, like what the name of my first dog was ( It was Raider btw).  Either in the comments or you can e-mail me ( ) whatever you like and I’ll share questions and answers at some point (keeping your ID anonymous if you so desire).  
Regardless, I love hearing from everyone that e-mails me and shares a few words or long stories. Sometimes it takes me a minute to write back but I always try.
So let’s hear what you have to say!

New day, new disorder: Emotional Deprivation Disorder

Fill her up!
I’ve discovered a new disorder! Is it just me or does everything have a disorder these days? Anyways, it’s called Emotional Deprivation Disorder.
Emotional Deprivation Disorder is a syndrome which results from a lack of authentic affirmation and emotional strengthening in one’s life. A person may have been criticized, ignored, neglected, abused, or emotionally rejected by primary caregivers early in life, resulting in that individual’s stunted emotional growth. ‘Unaffirmed’ persons are incapable of developing into emotionally mature adults until they receive authentic affirmation from another person. Maturity is reached when there is a harmonious relationship between a person’s body, mind, emotions and spiritual soul under the guidance of their reason and will.
Some signs and symptoms include:
Insufficiently Developed Emotional Life

Abnormal Rapport
o Incapable of establishing normal, mature contact with others
o Feels lonely and uncomfortable in social settings
o Capable of a willed rapport but not an emotional investment in relationships

o Childhood level of emotional development
o Feels like a child or and infant and others must focus their attention on the individual just as an adult would focus on a young child.
o Incapable of emotional surrender to a spouse

Reactions Around Others
o May be fearful in nature or courageous and energetic
o More fearful people tend to become discouraged or depressed
o More courageous and energetic persons can become more aggressive

Uncertainty & Insecurity

Fear or anxiety
o Can be in the form of a generalized anxiety
o Fear of hurting someone else’s feelings
o Fear of hurting others or contaminating them (e.g. with germs or a cold)
o Need for frequent reassurance

Feels incapable of coping with life
o Worry that they’ll be put in a situation they can’t handle
o Can be easily discouraged or depressed
o May pretend to be in control in order to mask inner feelings and fearfulness

Hesitation and Indecisiveness
o Difficulty in making decisions
o Easily changes mind

o Overly sensitive to the judgments of others, criticism or slights
o Easily hurt or embarrassed

Need to Please Others
o Pleases others in order to protect self from criticism or rejection and gain approval of others
o Easily taken advantage of or exploited
o Fear of asking for favors or services needed

o Worried about what other people think
o Self-doubt and need for reassurance

o Do not dare to say “no” for fear of rejection

Inferiority and Inadequacy

Feel Unloved
o Believe that no one could possibly love them
o Feel devoid of all feelings of love
o Believe they are incapable of loving others or God
o Suspicious of any token of affection – continually doubt sincerity of others

Physical Appearance
o May have feelings of inadequacy due to physical appearance

Feelings of Intellectual Incompetence
o May have difficult completing projects
o Repeated failure or fear of failure

Show Signs of Disintegration in New Circumstances
o Fear of new situations and challenges
o Difficulty coping with new job, landlord, moving, etc.

Sense Impairments
o Undeveloped or underdeveloped senses (touch, taste, sight, smell)
o Lack of order, disorganization
o Fatigue

Further symptoms found in some individuals with emotional deprivation disorder:

o Deep feelings of guilt
o Kleptomania
o Need to collect and hoard useless things
o Paranoid condition

Essentially, it’s BPD Light without the wild mood swings, anger, impulsivity and penchant for self-harm and suicidal tendencies.
The cure? Simple! All you need is affirmation. Just find one person who can be your personal source of unconditional love and will provide all your emotional strengthening!

I’m sure there’s more to it than that, like say, years of therapy. Affirmation Therapy in fact.
“Affirmation therapy involves the therapist’s affective, not effective, presence with a client—in other words, it is a way of “being” with a person as opposed to “doing” something for him or her. Affirmation therapy can be formally described as a way of being affectively present to another human person in a therapeutic relationship in which the therapist reveals to the client his or her intrinsic goodness and worth.”
Essentially the therapist will be your source of unconditional love in a therapeutic relationship.
I don’t know. My experience with people makes it very difficult to believe that there are people out there that can genuinely love you without really knowing you…. Especially when you’re paying them to love you. It’s like emotional prostitution. This has always been an issue of mine regarding therapy actually. The idea that a complete stranger can generally care about your issues and problems without having any emotional investment in you. You can pay someone to listen, but you can’t pay someone to care. Though to be true, it has been my experience that given time a therapist can and will develop a genuine investment in their patients. A genuine investment based on the very reason they went into the profession in the first place…. A desire to help people. I know my therapist cares about me. I know she thinks about me when I’m gone, though I can’t help but feel that her connection to me is stronger than my connection to her. This isn’t her fault though, it’s my own attachment issues at play. She hasn’t given up on me though and that is exactly the kind of support I need.
My question with this Affirmation Therapy is… How much emotional support can you really expect a therapist to give? To listen, to help you work through your issues, to guide and provide the tools you need in order to learn to deal with your own life… sure. But unconditional love? Maybe they’re like the Grand Master Zen Buddhists of the therapy world.
Personally I would have a really hard time accepting this as genuine. But to each their own I suppose. Hell, if you’re in a place where you can openly accept the unconditional love of a therapist you’re probably a leg up on my stubby little bipeds of emotional stuntedness.

Stop Starving Yourself – Emotional Deprivation

Well it’s Monday again. Seems pretty inevitable doesn’t it? I’m actually in a pretty good mood this morning… good, bordering on hypomanic good haha. Anyways. I hope you all enjoyed my Guest Post last week. This week I’ll be getting back into my more in depth look into the schemas.
Emotional Deprivation
Typical Presentation of the Schema
This is probably the most common schema treated even though patients frequently do not recognize that they have it. People with this schema often enter treatment feeling lonely, bitter, and depressed, but usually don’t know why; or they present with vague or unclear symptoms that later prove to be related to the Emotional Deprivation schema. These people do not expect others – including the therapist – to nurture, understand, or protect them. They feel emotionally deprived, and may feel that they do not get enough affection and warmth, attention, or deep emotions expressed. They may feel that no one is there who can give them strength and guidance. Such patients may feel misunderstood and alone in the world. They may feel cheated of love, invisible, or empty.
As mentioned before, there are three types of deprivation:
1.      Deprivation of Nurturance: in which patients feel that no one is there to hold them, pay attention to them, and give them physical affection, such as touch and holding.
2.      Deprivation of Empathy: in which they feel that no one is there who really listens or tries to understand who they are and how they feel.
3.      Deprivation of Protection: In which they feel that no one is there to protect and guide them (even though they are often giving others a lot of protection and guidance – This is often related to the Self-Sacrifice schema.)
I feel all three of these almost constantly. Even when I’m surrounded by people I know and that I (cognitively) ‘know’ care for me, I feel alone; emotionally separate. I believe I’m too different to relate to, too weird to be inoffensive, too new to have any real connection… and what’s more, I can’t actually allow people to see that I need these things because it will undermine my strength.
Typical behaviors exhibited by people with the schema include not asking significant others for what they need emotionally; not expressing a desire for love or comfort; focusing on asking the other person questions but saying little about oneself; acting stronger than one feels underneath; and in other ways reinforcing the deprivation by acting as though they do not have emotional needs. Because these patients do not expect emotional support, they do not ask for it; consequently, usually they do not get it.

Hugs do a body good

I think it’s important to add that, yes, this is typical, but it’s typical because we often don’t even know what it is we should be asking for. How do you ask someone to show that they love you when you’re not sure what it looks like when someone does offer you this? I always act stronger. I don’t think this is all an act though. I am strong. I’ve been through a lot. I’ve build up my base, my core, and my defenses. I’ve learned how to take care of myself. I do have a lot of strength. However, because I don’t want people to find the cracks in my armor, find the weak points that are more vulnerable (because in the back of my mind it’s only a matter of time before these points are attacked) I refuse to let people know that there’s something I’m missing emotionally. I definitely see this problem of needing something, but by not allowing others to see that I need it, kind of self-sabotaging my ability to be open and receptive to the thing that it is I need.
Another tendency is choosing significant others who cannot or do not want to give emotionally. They often choose people who are cold, aloof, self-centered, or needy, and therefore likely to deprive them emotionally. Other, more avoidant, people become loners. They avoid intimate relationships because they do not expect to get anything from them anyways. Either they stay in very distant relationships or avoid relationships entirely.
::laughs:: I’m the queen of choosing emotionally unavailable significant others. Abusive narcissists, married men, polyamorous women…. Bluntly… people that will always have someone else as a priority. I tend to alternate between wanting to try, and that expectation that I won’t get anything from people anyways and spend long periods being actually alone.
People who overcompensate for emotional deprivation tend to be overly demanding and become angry when their needs are not met. These patients are sometimes narcissistic: Because they were both indulged and deprived as children, they have developed strong feelings of entitlement to get their needs met. They believe they must be adamant in their demands to get anything at all. A minority of patients with the Emotional Deprivation schema were indulged in other ways as children: They were spoiled materially, not required to follow normal rules of behavior, or adored for some talent or give, but they were not given genuine love (this is often associated with people with Narcissistic Personality Disorder because often people with Borderline PD were not given enough attention when they were young).
Another tendency in a small percentage of people with this schema is to be overly needy. Some people express so many needs so intensely that they come across as clinging or helpless, even histrionic (Histrionic Personality Disorder). They may have many physical complaints – psychosomatic symptoms – with the secondary gain of getting people to pay attention o them and take care of them (although this f unction is almost always outside their awareness).
Goals in Treatment
One major goal of treatment is to help patients become aware of their emotional needs. It may feel so natural to them to have their emotional needs go unmet that they are not even aware that something is wrong. Another goal is to help patients accept that their emotional needs are natural and right. Every child needs nurturance, empathy, and protection, and, as adults, we still need these things.  If patients can learn how to choose appropriate people and then ask for what they need in appropriate ways, then other people will give to them emotionally. It is not that other people are inherently depriving; it’s that people with this schema have learned behaviors that either lead them to choose people who cannot give, or dis courage people who can give from meeting their needs.
This is definitely something I need to work on, am working on. It’s not easy. Often it feels like prying open steel reinforced vault doors with your bare hands. One inch at a time. But even slowly, things do eventually begin to budge.
Strategies Emphasized in Treatment
Many patients never realized they were missing something, even though they had s symptoms of missing something. Patients need to get in touch with their Lonely Child part and recognize that this is connected to the problem. It’s important to find a safe way to express their anger and pain to the depriving parent. Listing all their unmet emotional needs in childhood and what they wish the parent had done to meet each need is important to recognize.
Cognitively it is important to change the exaggerated sense that significant others are acting selfishly or depriving them on purpose (if this isn’t the case). To counter the “black or white” thinking that fuels overreactions, the patient learns to discriminate gradations of deprivation – to see a continuum rather than just two opposing poles – Even though other people set limits on what they give, they still care about the patient.
This is something I have a really hard time with. I usually either feel like someone cares about me completely in the moment, or doesn’t remember me at all… and therefore doesn’t care about me. If I’m not in their presence I can’t even really understand how they remember me, let alone continue to care for me. And if they aren’t able to give as much in return as I am willing to give to them, then to me it seems like they must not really care that much at all. I’m working on seeing those ‘grey’ areas; the in between shades where people can care, even if they have other things going on and cannot be focused on me exclusively.
I’ve found it to be a really helpful (though occasionally painful) exercise to think about my parents, or significant others, and write down the things that they didn’t do, or did wrong, and how I wish things had gone, or what I think I really needed.
Behaviorally, this helps people learn to choose nurturing partners (because it enables you to recognize the patterns you need to avoid in people) and friends. It becomes possible to ask partners to meet emotional needs in appropriate ways and accept nurturance from significant others. Patients learn to stop avoiding intimacy. They stop responding with excessive anger to mild levels of deprivation and withdrawing or isolating when they feel neglected by others. It’s important for the person to learn that people have limitations and to tolerate some (normal!) level of deprivation, while appreciating the nurturing that can be provided.
Special Problems with this Schema
The most common problem is that people with this schema are so frequently unaware of it. Even though Emotional Deprivation is one of the three most common schemas, people often do not know that they have it. Because they never got their emotional needs met, patients often do not even realize that they have unmet emotional needs. Thus, helping patients make a connection between their depression, loneliness, or physical symptoms on the one hand, and the absence of nurturing, empathy, and protection on the other is very important.
People with this schema often negate the validity of their emotional needs. They deny that their needs are important or worthwhile, or they believe that strong people do not have needs. They consider it bad or weak to ask others to meet their needs and have trouble accepting that there is a Lonely Child inside them who want love and connection, both from the therapist and from significant others in the outside world.
This is me.  Underlined for emphasis, maybe with a couple dozen exclamation marks at the end. It’s an interesting juxtaposition that I have going on. Here on my blog, I am very vocal of my feelings and problems, you see my inner turmoil pretty clearly. In the real world, you would never know. I hide all of this. Growing up I was told to stifle and get over any upsetting feelings and emotions. The time when I really could have used emotional comfort I was told to repress and not express these needs. I learned to bury them, hide them. These things made me weak, and bad. I still feel like this. I don’t know how to ask for emotional support. I believe that if I do others will judge me, and think I’m weak, undermine my ability to take care of myself and manage the important aspects that I value. I can’t figure out what is ok to ask of others, if in fact, it’s ok to ask others for anything. Coupled with the fact that I need it so badly, the frustration bubbling below my calm exterior is maddening. I’m always at odds with how I feel… and how I feel I need to present myself.
Similarly, people with this schema may believe that significant others should know what they need, and that they should not have to ask. All of these beliefs work against the patient’s ability to ask others to meet his or her needs. These patients need to learn that it is human to have needs, and healthy to ask others to meet them. It is human nature to be emotionally vulnerable. What we aim for in life is a balance between strength and vulnerability, so that sometimes we are strong and other times we are vulnerable. To only have one side – to only be strong – is to be not fully human and to deny a core part of ourselves.
This is so important to remember. I, we, want to be whole people. Whole, healthy, people. It’s ok to be vulnerable sometimes with people that it is safe to be vulnerable with. Being vulnerable doesn’t mean that you are not strong. It just means that you are human.

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Lucid Analysis – Trials in Therapy

This has been a week of health stuff.
Found a real doctor this week. No I haven’t been sick, but I haven’t had a primary care physician in a very long time so I figured it was about time to get one. He was very nice and seemed really on the ball. Something odd I’ve noticed about myself… the only time I am ever self-conscious about my scars is when I go to the doctors. Whenever the nurse reaches for my arms to take my blood pressure I can almost see her biting her tongue as her eyes run over the deeply pronounced white lines running up and down my arms. As I’ve mentioned before… I don’t hide my scars, they’re a symbol that I’m still alive, that I made it through a very rough time for me. I don’t purposely wear long sleeves or lots of bracelets so I often forget that medical professionals will actually take a look at me and pass some kind of judgment. At the same time when my new Doctor actually asked me, “Are those scars self-inflicted” I was a little impressed. Most people avoid it. Of course I answered truthfully, yes they are. All he said after that was, “Do you have someone you can talk to about anxiety and stress?” “Yes, I have a therapist.” He seemed satisfied with that.
Yesterday was Psychiatrist and Therapist day.
Psychiatrist extended my leash to two months! When I first started going it was every two weeks, then  fluxuating between every two weeks and every month. It’s been once a month now for a while. Yesterday she asked me if she thought I would be ok going two months and instead of coming into the office for my Rx, she’d give me a refill. Progress! Seriously, Pristiq has been nothing short of a miracle drug for me. Nothing, nothing, has helped me out the way this has. No side effects, and my baseline mood has been Okay! Not Depressed, not even mildly Depressed, but Okay, even Good some days. This, in and of itself, is extraordinary for me.  
This is especially great for my productivity at work. I’ve accomplished enormous amounts of work and the fast pace, high stress doesn’t seem to be getting to me at all.
Therapist has really noticed the improvement in my mood as well and she’s quite proud of me.
Though she is noticing that I am avoiding my feelings and avoiding thinking about the future. At this point I really feel like I’m just living day to day. I don’t see the future for myself. I don’t know where it’s going to go. I have no goals, no expectations, no path… except to keep on doing what I’m doing. One day at a time.  
She’s concerned that I’m not putting any thought into what I want out of my relationship with Tech Boy. I mean, first off, it’s a little early to call it a relationship. It’s definitely too early to think about whether I see a future with him. Putting that kind of pressure on it takes out the fire. I just want to feel. I like playing house but do I think he can really handle who I am? If I’m honest, we’re very different people. We’re both engineers, both very athletic, like the outdoors, scary movies, and cooking (and he’ll eat just about anything which is a total bonus in my book), but he doesn’t read, is more into parties and drinking, hunting/fishing, paintball, electronics… yanno, real guy stuff. He doesn’t satisfy that artistic creativity and mystical spirituality that I adore. The element of fantasy that I like to lose myself in. These are things that I really bonded with Friend over. However, where Friend was too soft and I wish he’d be more aggressive, Tech Boy seems to have a more natural aggression which I enjoy. Hell, Lady Friend had the art, the spirituality, the intelligence but a complete lack of aggression and I couldn’t keep hold my interest. Is it all a trade off? In the end do some things not mean as much as you think? This is why I can’t really think about a future… I come up with lists and ruminations of all the things I want and compare and contrast and is this right and will I miss that if he doesn’t have it or what if I decide that there is a thing, something I really do want, that he doesn’t encompass, but we’ve already gotten so involved that I can’t just end it and it’s too late. I’ll have hurt him and driven myself crazy in the process of obsessing about how things should be but in reality never actually are. Bloody hell, I’m going to do this anyways, but I’d like to at least enjoy the ride for a bit first. Is that too much to ask?  
Therapist kept talking about making sure to take it slow and really get to know each other. Asking if he’s respectful and this and that. Then she said, “You’ll set appropriate boundaries though right? You’re good at that, right?” I actually laughed, “No.” I may have a massive amount of internal conflict when it comes to being physically intimate with men, but it doesn’t stop me. I have an uncanny ability to ignore what is best for myself and do what feels good in the moment. Especially as I know I will use physical intimacy as a means to avoid emotional intimacy. If I can distract someone with my body they won’t think to get close enough to actually see me. Keep their eye focused on the superficial and they won’t see all the damage buried below the surface. They won’t see what’s bad in me. Sometimes it’s just easier to have sex than it is to talk about things I’m not sure I want to talk about.
I’ve been avoiding writing my letter to Friend too. Honestly I haven’t done this at all. I don’t want to. I don’t want to think about how I feel about him. I don’t want to feel anything about him. I don’t want to bring those feelings back to the surface because frankly, it still pisses me off. I’m still angry at him, I still have a lot of resentment towards him, a lot of disgust and hatred towards his wife. How they handled everything with me was incredibly selfish and insensitive. I was good enough to shoulder all their problems, be there to take care of them, be his sole support system, but when all was said and done, they completely tossed my feelings aside and changed things so abruptly it was like running into an emotional wrecking ball. And I was expected to just accept it and move on.  Because, yanno, that’s how I roll. Wrong. Grr. Ok, clearly I have a lot of feelings on the subject, but still. Therapist thinks I should tell him! She thinks I should write this letter and actually express these feelings to him! Is she kidding? No, I’m not going to do that. I’m not letting him that close to me again. He doesn’t get that kind of emotional ammunition anymore. He decided he didn’t care about me enough so he’s not privy to the more vulnerable places I have. Therapist thinks that if he was really as good of a friend as I think then he’d be able to handle it and acknowledge how I feel. Yeah? And what if he doesn’t. What if all he has to say is too bad, it was fun while it lasted but you were alone there? I can’t handle hearing that. Close, but not too close, and that would definitely be too close.
Still she thinks my ability to remain friends with him, has been good for me in many ways. While at the same time it has probably extended my grieving period because I see him so frequently and he talks to me every day. It’s important that it didn’t just end. So many of my relationships just stop (or explode) and I never speak to that person ever again. Sometimes by choice, sometimes not, but it’s pretty typical. That I am able to continue working through my feelings and issues with him and remain friends with him allows me to face my pain on some levels and forces me to deal.
She’s also still concerned about my throwing up. I was doing really well with no bulimic instances for a bit, but then I did on Sunday after Tech Boy left and again Wednesday night. I was really lonely and I just needed something to do to fill the space. She thinks I’m doing this as a way to avoid dealing with the emotional emptiness I’m feeling from the loss of prior relationships. It’s a theory. Instead of dealing directly I’m trying to fill the void in other ways. Maybe, maybe not. I just don’t want to get fat. I don’t want my flaws to be visible.
Therapist set some Homework assignments for me and for the life of me I can’t remember what they are. I need to start writing in my journal every day again. She definitely wants me to write this letter to Friend – which btw, I will NOT be reading to him. It was something about Friend, something… GAH I can’t remember. I hate that. I’ll have to call her. Ugh.
Ok, that’s it for now.

Guest Post: Every Step Home – Part 3

Today we come to the conclusion of my first guest post with Paul (Part 1, Part 2).

Starting the AA group                         
As the art group progressed some of the guys started to ask me how I had managed to stay sober for so long myself. I told them that I was a member of Alcoholics Anonymous and that this was the sole reason I was now sober. Probably like me they too had tried to stop drinking before and found that they couldn’t and just like them I too had tried many times to stop drinking but could not. I could not do this on my own; I tried to cut down, tried switching drinks etc. but to no avail. I tried medication and therapy none of these things worked.
Then one day when I was still a patient at the Medium Secure Unit, in a ward round my doctor said to me “look Paul we’ve tried everything with you and so far nothing has worked so how about trying AA”. Well I can tell you I was not at all happy with this. How dare he even suggest for one moment that I was an alcoholic the impertinence of the man! “No way am I going to AA”. I shouted across the table at him. “I know that I’ve got a drinking problem but I don’t want religion rammed down my throat” you see I was already prejudiced prior to investigation. So I had these preconceived ideas of what AA was all about. Eventually though I had to concede. After all they had been really fair with me and had reinstated my ground leave and I guess somewhere deep down I kind of knew that maybe this is what I should do.
 So as I told the guys all about my journey, going to my first meeting, getting my first sponsor, having my first slip and how I got to where I am today, some of them started to ask about getting an AA meeting set up there in Hopkinson House. I was more than happy to do this but first I would have to talk to some of the more senior members of AA to find out what I would have to do to go about this. As it turned out all I had to do was go ahead and set it up and if I needed any help with it just get in touch with the local G.S.R group (General Service representative group) it is like a business meeting for all of the AA meetings in a particular area; each AA meeting has someone as a G.S.R representative who represents their group at this business meeting. This is the place to go if someone wants to set up their own AA meeting and needs help with literature and other practical things. I then spoke to john about asking the management at Hopkinson House if we could go ahead with this and they agreed.
The first meeting went ahead without john being there as john couldn’t make it that day. It was a resounding success we had 5-6 people. I had asked my sponsor to do the first chair for me (A chair is where a person from AA comes and tells their story and shares experience, strength and hope with his/her fellow Alcoholic’s). We got a good response from the guys. Sadly, though not all the meetings went well. On one occasion we had to hold the meeting in what is known as the ‘wet lounge’ because the room we had used before was not available. This was not ideal as that then meant those who had come with bottles and cans of strong beer were able to drink them unchallenged and this made things a little difficult.
The person that I had invited to come and do the chair was constantly being interrupted and all praise to the man for being so patient with them, but it meant that those people who wanted to listen could not concentrate on what the man had to say and for those doing the interrupting they were not taking what the man had to say on board. I was unsure as to what I should do about this situation. Not having a lot of experience in running an AA meeting where people are openly drinking. The best thing to do I thought was to do what I have seen others do in an AA meeting when someone is being disruptive: just let them have their say but then try to gently coax them to be quite and try to listen to the chair. As it goes even though some of the guys were drinking and were interrupting the chair, they were none the less asking very good and relevant questions. All in all it turned out I think to be a very productive meeting despite it being held in not the most ideal of rooms!          

Co-working with John
They say hindsight is a wonderful thing, and I guess they must be right because it is only now 9 months later, that I can see how it was for John working with me. For John then, going to Hopkinson House was part of his work as a counsellor for Westminster council and therefor a very great serious responsibility. So when I started working with John it was for me, (to begin with at least) a very exciting adventure. And I suppose I didn’t feel that same sense of responsibility that John must have felt every time he went to Hopkinson House. I was very green I had no real experience of being in the world of work never mind working with someone else. I was also just finishing my time in long term therapy and had not gotten used to being with people on an equal footing so in some ways and on some level I think that I was seeing John as an extension of that therapy. As for the way John perceived me during that time I feel he was spot on because as a person with borderline personality disorder I can be very intense. For me as an ex-service user working with John, I guess I was still in client mode. One thing about being borderline is this very intense need to be liked especially when we meet someone for the first time and we really like that person, the trick then is not be rejected so in order to make sure this will not happen we tend to over compensate. Again as a borderline I find that I can be a very needy person. I feel that the whole experience of working with John was what it needed to be at that time. I hope to be working with John much more in the future and with my experience now of working with Mr M.B clinical psychologist I have found that I can work with a professional person on equal terms and it be an equal partnership. I hope that John and I can find that same working relationship.

There is one last thing I feel I must say throughout the time that I spent working John, I at all times felt very much supported and considered. 

In conclusion                                                        
Working with John has been both a privilege and a pleasure I find John a very genuine and caring person, someone who really wants and tries to make a difference. I have found him to be consensual in the things he says and does and has a genuine need to help others. I hope to work with him more in the future and hope that together we will be able to open doors for those of us who didn’t get the breaks in life that most of us take for granted. I feel that I have been very lucky in my life despite all the hardship that I have experienced. I sometimes forget how lucky I am and take for granted the things that I now have in my life. Working with John has helped me to appreciate what I have. I have loved working with the guys at Hopkinson house and despite the anxiety and fear of doing something that I have never done before I feel that it has helped me to become a better person.
Pauls struggles and ability to turn his life around is quite inspiring to me and gives me hope that no matter how big the obstacles are, there is the chance to overcome them. Not only overcome them, but to move past them and continue into a brighter future. I want to say thank you to Paul for sharing his story with me and allowing me to share it with you. A lot of you write to me sharing your experiences… either your personal struggles with BPD or your struggles involving someone with BPD. It’s enlightening for me to hear what others are dealing with. It helps me gain perspective and insight into my own life. I’d love to hear more of your stories, I’d love to share more of your stories… with your permission of course.