Make up of Your Mind – Part 1

Alright, now that we’ve gotten the background out of the way let’s take a look at what each of the schemas actually is. We’ll do this in two parts because there are a lot.

Domain I – Disconnection and Rejection: The expectation that one’s needs for security, safety, stability, nurturance, empathy, sharing of feelings, acceptance, and respect will not be met in a predictable manner.
1.)    Abandonment/Instability Schema – This schema is the perceived instability or unreliability of one’s connection to significant others. Patients with this schema have the sense that important people in their life will not continue to be there because they are emotionally unpredictable, they are only present erratically, they will die, or they will leave the patient for someone better. It involves the sense that significant others will not be able to continue providing emotional support, connection, strength, or practical protection because they are emotionally unstable and unpredictable, unreliable, or present only erratically; because they will die imminently; or because they will abandon the individual in favor of someone better.
2.)    Mistrust/Abuse Schema – The expectation that others will hurt, abuse, humiliate, cheat, lie, manipulate, or take advantage. Usually involves the perception that the harm is intentional or the result of unjustified and extreme negligence. May include the sense that one always ends up being cheated relative to others or “getting the short end of the stick.”
3.)    Emotional Deprivation – The expectation that one’s desire for a normal degree of emotional support will not be adequately met by others. The three major forms of deprivation are:
1.      Deprivation of Nurturance: Absence of attention, affection, warmth, or companionship.
2.      Deprivation of Empathy: Absence of understanding, listening, self-disclosure or mutual sharing of feelings from others.
3.      Deprivation of Protection: Absence of strength, direction, or guidance from others.
4.)    Defectiveness/Shame – The feeling that one is defective, bad, unwanted, inferior, or invalid in important respects or that one would be unlovable to significant others if exposed. May involve hypersensitivity to criticism, rejection, and blame; self-consciousness, comparisons, and insecurity around others; or a sense of shame regarding one’s perceived flaws. These flaws may be private (selfishness, angry impulses, unacceptable sexual desires) or public (undesirable physical appearance, social awkwardness).
5.)    Social Isolation/Alienation – The feeling that one is isolated for the rest of the world, different from other people, and/or not part of or like they belong to any group or community.
I feel all of these in various degrees. The most prominent for me are definitely Abandonment/Instability, Defectiveness/Shame and Social Isolation/Alienation. Defectiveness/Shame has wrapped itself around me like a wet blanket, clinging to my skin my entire life. Abandonment/Instability and Social Isolation/Alienation I am so familiar with that I may have resigned myself to them. If Defectiveness/Shame is the wet blanket clinging to my skin, these are what actually compose my skin. These are the vital organs that my blood pumps through. Emotional Deprivation…. I don’t believe I have any right to deserve or expect any of these things. I can actually see where and how people do give these to me, but it’s as if I’m watching them give them to someone else. Thinking about being able to accept these things feels foreign to me like I wouldn’t know how to accept them even if I wasn’t deprived of them. The Mistrust/Abuse Schema is a lesser schema for me. Remember I mentioned that schemas can prevent to various degrees. The ones that ingrain themselves earliest in life tend to be the stronger, more pervasive schemas, while the ones that occur later in life or not so entrenched. This is one of those for me. I’ve dealt with more than my fair share of abuse, but this came later in my life. Some days I believe that because I’m so unavailable on most other levels that any abuse I’ve taken I can almost shrug off. I expect it to happen, but since I do expect it, I don’t allow myself to open fully to it and it therefore can’t affect me or I don’t hold on to it like I might have.  
Domain II –  Impaired Autonomy and Performance: Expectations about oneself and the environment that interfere with one’s perceived ability to separate, survive, function independently, or perform successfully.  
6.)    Dependence/Incompetence – Belief that one is unable to handle one’s everyday responsibilities in a competent manner, without considerable help from others (ex. Take care of oneself, solve daily problems, exercise good judgment, tackle new tasks, make good decisions). Often presents as helplessness.
7.)    Vulnerability to Harm or Illness – Exaggerated fear that imminent catastrophe will strike at any time and that one will be unable to prevent it. Fear focus on one or more of the follow:
a.       Medical Catastrophes like heart attacks or AIDS
b.      Emotional catastrophes like going crazy
c.       External catastrophes like elevators collapsing, victimization by criminals, airplane crashes, earthquakes.
8.)    Enmeshment/Undeveloped Self – Excessive emotional involvement and closeness with one or more significant others (often parents) at the expense of full individuation or normal social development. Often involves the belief that at least one of the enmeshed individuals cannot survive or be happy without the constant support of the other. May also include feelings of being smothered by or fused with others or insufficient individual identity. Often experienced as a feeling of emptiness and foundering, having no direction, or in extreme cases questioning one’s existence.
9.)    Failure – The belief that one has failed, will inevitably fail, or is fundamentally inadequate relative to one’s peers in areas of achievement (school, career, sports, etc.). Often involves beliefs that one is stupid, inept, untalented, lower in status, less successful than others, and so forth.
Failure. Despite all my achievements and actual, physical proof to the contrary I cannot shake this sense of failure. Nothing is ever good enough. I am never good enough. So I push myself continually onwards, being harder and harder on myself. Vulnerability to Harm is something I recognize more when I’m very stressed out. Airplanes, car crashes, driving myself insane create an almost paralyzing anxiety. Enmeshment is especially true when I’m in a volatile relationship. The world feels like it might end and all hope of happiness hinges on it. I’m actually what most people consider counter-dependent though. I couldn’t ask for help, I wouldn’t even know how to ask for help, if my life depended on it. I feel like even more of a failure if I seem to be in any way helpless.  So hey, where one schema takes over it prevents the creation of others.
Domain III – Impaired Limits: Deficiency in internal limits, responsibility to others, or long-term goal orientation. Leads to difficulty respecting the rights of others, cooperating with others, making commitments, or setting and meeting realistic personal goals.
10.)                        Entitlement/Grandiosity – The belief that one is superior to other people; entitled to special rights and privileges; or not bound by the rules of reciprocity that guide normal social interaction. Often involves insistence that one should be able to do or have whatever one wants, regardless of what is realistic, what others consider reasonable, or the cost to others; or an exaggerated focus on superiority in order to achieve power or control (not primarily for attention or approval). Sometimes includes excessive competitiveness toward or domination of others: asserting one’s power, forcing one’s point of view, or controlling the behavior of others in line with one’s own desires without empathy or concern for others’ needs or feelings.
11.)                        Insufficient Self-Control/Self-Discipline – Pervasive difficulty or refusal to exercise sufficient self-control and frustration tolerance to achieve one’s personal goals or to restrain the excessive expression of one’s emotions and impulses. In its milder form, the patient presents with an exaggerated emphasis on discomfort avoidance: avoiding pain, conflict, confrontation, responsibility, or over exertion at the expense of personal fulfillment, commitment, or integrity.
Of all the Domains this is where I am least affected. I’m probably the opposite of Entitled and Grandiose and I’ve had self-control and discipline beat into my brain since I was very young. Though I do recognize the milder form of discomfort avoidance in myself readily. I love nothing more than to lock myself in my little worlds of escapism to take my mind away from the realities that surround me. Nothing can touch me when I’m lost in the illusion of a good book or so preoccupied with creating an elaborate meal.
So involved. So complex. And this is just the tip of the proverbial iceberg.

Borderline Narcissism

Narcissism by definition is the personality trait of egotism, vanity, conceit, or simple selfishness. Applied to a social group, it is sometimes used to denote elitism or an indifference to the plight of others. The narcissist is described as being excessively preoccupied with issues of personal adequacy, power, prestige and vanity.
This, however, is not Borderline Narcissism. Narcissistic Personality Disorder and Borderline Personality Disorder are both Cluster B grouped Personality Disorders (as relevant as that is) but they’re far from being the same thing. As is common with most Personality Disorders there are some overlapping characteristics between the two. How these characteristics present vary in severity and manifestation.
Let’s refresh yesterday’s point: Entitlement or a ‘Sense of Entitlement’ is an unrealistic, unmerited or inappropriate expectation of favorable living conditions and favorable treatment at the hands of others.
   In clinical psychology and psychiatry, an unrealistic, exaggerated, or rigidly held sense of entitlement may be considered a symptom of narcissistic personality disorder, seen in those who ‘because of early frustrations…arrogate to themselves the right to demand lifelong reimbursement from fate’.
Narcissists hold unreasonable expectations of particularly favorable treatment and automatic compliance because they consider themselves special. Failure to comply is considered an attack on their superiority, and the perpetrator is considered an “awkward” or “difficult” person. Defiance of their will is a narcissistic injury that can trigger narcissistic rage.
Belief in the special, exceptional nature of ‘narcissistic entitlement dictates that the patient has a right to life on his own terms…Such narcissistic entitlement plays a central role in borderline pathology, since the borderline sees himself as a special person with special rights and entitlements, such that any frustration of these entitled desires tends to undermine and often shatter the patient’s self-esteem’.
In the wake of Kohut’s self-psychology, a valorisation of narcissistic entitlement might be said to have taken place, as ‘the age of “normal narcissism” and normal narcissistic entitlement had arrived…[a] child’s right and entitlement that its parents are obliged to proffer at the least the minimum requisite “self-object” soothing…to allow the infant/child to develop a sense of self-cohesion’.    
For someone with Borderline Personality Disorder narcissism does not manifest as a belief that we are actually better than anyone else. (At least I don’t generally feel superiority over anyone.) It’s more a sense that our emotions can be so overwhelming that it’s difficult to see past our own scope and sphere of influence long enough to take into consideration the needs of others.
We may not consider ourselves ‘special’ consciously, but we do have an emphasis on our emotional needs that does drives our lives in a way that is of priority or deserving specialized treatment.
Unlike for the narcissist, for the borderline, when this favorable treatment is not met it does not necessarily feel like an attack on our superiority. It feels like an attack on our self-esteem and sense of self-worth.   So while the trigger may be a little different, it’s still a trigger, and can often lead to frustration, depression, upset, and rage.
Hm. Back to yesterday’s post, “Because of the elevated highs and lows in mood that people with personality disorders often experience, it is not uncommon for them to attach elevated sense of importance to their own emotional needs. They may appear at times to care only about their own desires and needs at the expense of other people around them or they may habitually prioritize their own needs above those of others.”
To me, this is what Borderline Narcissism is.
Depending on the Borderline this may be severe and ever present or more situational, as is my case. There’s no denying that I fall to feelings of self-centeredness especially when I’m so emotionally wracked I can barely crawl out of my own head. What other people need simply have no room in my mind when it’s all I can do to claw my way out of my own destructive thoughts. It’s not that I don’t want to think about other people, the torrent of emotion, doubt, anger, frustration is an utterly overwhelming deluge.  I don’t live in a perpetual state of this though.
The sense of entitlement comes from this aspect of narcissism that since we have put such an importance on our own emotional needs, that we may expect that others also hold our needs with the same priority. Especially when we’ve invested so much of ourselves into someone else we would automatically assume that they would give the same exaggerated emotional investment back. Even demand it. And when that demand is not met, the frustration is exceptional.

Common Sense of Entitlement – Borderline Personality Disorder Entitlement

Well. Maybe not all of it. But something. I’m sure of it. Or not. But maybe you’ll offer it anyways because you think I deserve it. No? Well you should have. Shouldn’t you?  
Entitlement or a ‘Sense of Entitlement’ is an unrealistic, unmerited or inappropriate expectation of favorable living conditions and favorable treatment at the hands of others.
“Because of the elevated highs and lows in mood that people with personality disorders often experience, it is not uncommon for them to attach elevated sense of importance to their own emotional needs. They may appear at times to care only about their own desires and needs at the expense of other people around them or they may habitually prioritize their own needs above those of others. This trait is often referred to as a “sense of entitlement”.”
(This is tied in with what is often considered Borderline Narcissism.)
“Sometimes, people who suffer from personality disorders seem to have a no sense of shame nor scruples. They are not afraid to “make a fool out of themselves”, it’s always the other who is to blame when something goes wrong. That in-built “what would other people think of me if I did this or said that” can sometimes appear not to exist in them. This makes it more common for them to tread into territory most people would avoid.”
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve used the phrase “I don’t care if I make a fool of myself”, “I don’t embarrass”. I’ve never had any scruples about saying exactly what is on my mind unless I think it will turn out poorly for one of my own goals. It’s odd. I never wonder what people would think of me. I know they would think I’m a terrible person; I simply don’t care. I will often stay my tongue simply because I don’t want the attention or I don’t have the energy for an argument but I don’t avoid issues because I’m afraid broach touchy subjects. My personal boundaries are practically non-existent and I don’t see other peoples without being shown so I don’t think to tread lightly.
What it Feels Like:
The sense of entitlement is often interpreted as selfishness by those who are closest to them. However, the personality-disordered individual may forcefully and even convincingly defend their position. The disconnect often occurs when a person who suffers from the personality disorder feels the need more intensely than is normal for most people – even to a point where they attach a sense of desperation or adopt a crisis response, where immediate bystanders see no crisis and are willing to apply situational ethics, sacrificing long term goals for short term relief.
This is something I hate to admit to. In fact, it’s something that I’ve only very, very recently realized I’ve done.
I put so much of myself into other people, into relationships, into providing and doing things for others… somewhere along the lines I lose that I do these things because I enjoy them or because I care and it gets muddied with “well look at all these things I’ve done for you, doesn’t that mean I deserve something back?” “Sure you’re there, but I’ve done so much more, I should have this” “I’m so much better for you than them because of all of these things that I’ve done”…. And on and on it goes. Except it’s not really true I suppose. It’s hard to admit. It’s hard to face. When you care about someone so much, want so much to do for and be with someone, that they can’t always be for you the exact specific thing that you NEED in order to have everything perfect and whole, complete and right. When they can only be who they are; with a normal human beings ability to give of themselves, if they choose, it can feel like we’ve been mistreated, neglected, ignored, and unappreciated. It hurts and it’s confusing. I’ve done so much for you. You wanted this thing done, you may not have asked for it, but I did it, I didn’t ask for anything in return, I just did it because I knew you wanted it… over and over… until somewhere it compounds into something that may not have originally been there.  
In that, a realization that all ties back into our sense of self-worth. Despite all of these things you still don’t want to give the same in return? So we do more, hope more, want more, and yet you’re still only human capable of giving, and/or taking, the amount that you are willing to give, which is never enough to make us feel like our efforts are truly appreciated. Every time you can’t, or won’t, reciprocate, it becomes more and more frustrating. Or maybe it’s a failing on the borderlines part. Despite all her efforts, the lack of reciprocation {disproportionate} seems like a rejection. We did all this, we must deserve some more recognition and yet we’re not getting it so you must not think we’re good enough. Who do you think you are? Maybe it’s not that you don’t appreciate what we do. Maybe you appreciate it just fine. Maybe you’ve just been taking advantage of our generosity. Without giving back something we deserve. Anger. This can follow with lashing out, breaking down, dissolving, seething, any number of things, until we shame ourselves into remembering how good of a person, friend, loved one you are, and we start all over again trying to do things for you that will make you forgive us and appreciate us again.
Cycle after cycle. And with each iteration it gets a little stronger. I’ve never set off with a sense of entitlement. Somewhere along the way it develops. Gradually.
Thinking back on this I know I’ve done this so many times with so many different people. Probably everyone that truly gets close to me. And I’ve never thought I was wrong or that I wanted something unreasonable. I’ve always FELT like what I needed was totally justified and appropriate. Idealized, maybe, but not out of proportion to the effort and meaning that everything had to me. Except, I’m starting to think that it really was. It doesn’t change the fact that these situations still felt a certain way to me, but I’m beginning to see the signs and clues that maybe will prevent me from falling into this trap of entitlement in the future.
Really the only thing that I think has ever worked for me is for the other person{s} to take a solid stance. Don’t be wishy-washy.   Don’t leave room for interpretation in what you want or your intentions for the relationship are. Set boundaries and stick to them. This will help both the Borderline and the NT. If you don’t establish where your world starts and her world ends she won’t have any way to check the elevated need for inclusion in yours because what does take precedence to her is how she feels.
Tune in tomorrow for a first look at what I mean by Borderline Narcissism….