This article is about Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD). There is an old joke about this diagnosis that still circulates: “Refer all patients you suspect of being Borderline to your worse enemy.” Cranky Old Lady doesn’t find very funny. Said something about the Shrink who told it to me with glee on his face.
For those reading this in hopes of becoming an educated consumer of mental health services, this article is a good beginning.
MY THOUGHTS regarding the DX of Borderline Personality Disorder. Marsha Linehan, cited in the article as the newest expert on BPD. She thinks trauma is the main course of this disorder. Click here for my Columbia University School of Social Work Course notes on trauma. If you have not read my Normal or Not series from the beginning you might want to click here.
Linehan would prefer to call BPD Emotional Dys-regulation Disorder. I agree 199% with Linehan’s ideas. Surprised that Contrary Mary, Doubting Thomasina, Cranky Old Lady agrees? Good. Surprises make you think beyond simple labels.
Someone once accused me of stealing Linehan’s work for my Emotional Fitness Training approach. Sent me to Linehan’s first NYCity four day training. Taught me why I was so accused. In my defense I had not heard of Linehan or her work until that person called me a thief–nicely, but that was what he meant. The accusation sent me to the training. After the training, I added a chapter to my book Parents Are People Too called radical acceptance. That was a concept Linehan developed and extremely important in surviving much of what life deals out.
I now think of BPD as a learning disability of the emotions, mainly a memory problem. Two BPD main symptoms are intense lonliness and splittine. The object relations theorists and therapists talk about internalized objects and “splitting.” A toddler who struggles with separation anxiety has trouble remembering that a parent always comes back. In time the child knows and remembers parents come back, s/h e is not longer afraid when they leave. If you can’t remember people who care about you, you will be lonely.
Splitting is slightly different. Here is my simplified explanation. When a baby is first learning about things, he or she divides the world into good and bad depending entirely on what feels good or bad at the moment.
“You are a Bad Mommy” one of my darling sons yelled at me after he tripped and fell on a soccer ball.
When I asked why, he said, You gave me that mean soccor ball.”
Ten minutes later I became the good mother by giving him a cookie. So it goes.
Some people never learn to see the good and bad parent as one person.
Splitting explains for me the intense shifts in feelings about people who get the label of BPD plastered on their medical chart. Believe me you do not want that to happen. You will be seen as a mucho grandee problem. Some have criticized Linehan for not revealing that she was once diagnosed as borderline. Cannot agree and not just because I am cranky. Realistically, it would have kept her from doing all she has done. Smart on her part. I am also grateful she has come out of the closet. It will expand on the good she has done.
A side crank. Remember the name of the post. Part of a parent’s job is to give comfort by being available as the carrier of all that goes wrong. Accepting such blame from small children without getting angry or defensive is part of every parent’s job. Blaming comforts the young. keeps them from blaming themselves. But in this Cranky Old Lady’s point of view too many adults never stop blaming parents
Sad to say, the psycho-babble found in the mass media supports the child’s need to blame. Even How to Tame Your Dragon, a movie that didn’t make me cranky even the third time I saw it, casts adults as bumbling idiots. (One grand has probably seen it 100 tines.) The blaming of the media makes me want to load my pistol.
STAYING STRONG TIP Part of my reason for posting this article was because it points out that as with many things in life, there the mental health field doesn’t see eye to eye on many things. There are literally hundreds of people calling themselves therapists. How to sort the good guys and gals from the bad ones? No easy answer. Will delve into some ideas next Shrinks Think if something that interests me doesn’t grab me.
For now: My first shrink said we should know in three sessions if we could work together. I think the advice is good. Spend some time exploring if you think think the therapist can help you and does the therapist agree. Some of the people researching what makes for good therapy and relationship fit matters.
My firs He was very helpful in many ways–mostly as an affirming witness and the four years on the couch helped me better know myself. Had that with my first shrink, but… Did you think I’d be all dewy-eyed? Shame on you. Remember I am old and cranky.
The but? I went into to therapy to figure out why I wasn’t married. Thought I’d end therapy married. Didn’t. Hadn’t even met my Cranky Grow Old With Him Man. Pointed this out to the good doctor and he simply said, “My job was to help you develop insight. You have that. Now it is up to you to use it.” Grrrrrr.
Think that is why one of my coaching motto’s is “If the goal is not met, the wrong goal was set.” You should have a good idea of why you are going into therapy and what to expect. Not every form of therapy works for everyone.
More about sorting the good and bad shrinks next week. This post has taken entirely too long to write and rewrite and that isn’t just because the Grands were here. I missed the Tuesday deadline for some parts of the USA and will miss the remaining two if I don’t post now.
Remember it helps me and you stay strong if you like, comment and or share.