Sanctuary for the Abused

Friday, January 04, 2013

Common "games" between those with Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) & 'Normals'


Common "games" between those with Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) and those who do not have BPD

(note: BPD is similar in it's expression to Narcissism; but not the same disorder)

Feelings Create Facts

In general, emotionally healthy people base their feelings on facts. If your dad came home drunk every night (fact) you might feel worried or concerned (feeling). If your boss complimented you on a big project (fact) you would feel proud and happy (feeling).

People with BPD, however, may do the opposite. When their feelings don't fit the facts, they may unconsciously revise the facts to fit their feelings. This may be one reason why their perception of events is so different from yours.

Splitting: (I Hate You—Don't Leave Me)

People with BPD may have a hard time seeing gray areas. To them, people and situations are all black or white, wonderful or evil. This process of splitting serves as another defense mechanism. Peter, who has BPD, explains: "Dividing the world into good or evil makes it easier to understand. When I feel evil, that explains why I am the way I am. When you are evil, that explains why I think bad things about you."

Tag, You're It : A Game of Projection

Some people with BPD who act out may use a more complicated type of defense mechanism — we've named it "Tag, You're It"- to relieve their anxiety, pain, and feelings of shame. It's more complex because it combines shame, splitting, denial, and projection.

People with BPD usually lack a clear sense of who they are, and feel empty and inherently defective. Others seem to run away from them, which is lonely and excruciatingly painful. So borderlines cope by trying to "tag" or "put" these feelings onto someone else. This is called projection.

Projection is denying one's own unpleasant traits, behaviors, or feelings by attributing them (often in an accusing way) to someone else. In our interview with Elyce M. Benham, M.S., she explained that projection is like gazing at yourself in a hand-held mirror. When you think you look ugly, you turn the mirror around. Voila! Now the homely face in the mirror belongs to somebody else.

Sometimes the projection is an exaggeration of something that has a basis in reality. For example, the borderline may accuse you of "hating" them when you just feel irritated. Sometimes the projection may come entirely from their imagination: for example, they accuse you of flirting with a salesclerk when you were just asking for directions to the shoe department.

The BP's unconscious hope is that by projecting this unpleasant stuff onto another person-by tagging someone else and making them "it" like a game of Tag — the person with BPD will feel better about themselves. And they do feel better, for a little while. But the pain comes back. So the game is played again and again.

Projection also has another purpose: your loved one unconsciously fears that if you find out they're not perfect, you will abandon them. Like in the Wizard of Oz, they live in constant terror that you'll discover the person behind the curtain. Projecting the negative traits and feelings onto you is a way to keep the curtain closed and redirect your attention on the perfect image they've tried to create for themselves.

How can people with BPD deny that they are projecting when it is so obvious to everyone else? The answer is that shame and splitting may combine with projection and denial to make the "Tag, You're It" defense mechanism a more powerful way of denying ownership of unpleasant thoughts and feelings.

Some adults who enter into relationships with borderlines feel brainwashed by the BP's accusations and criticisms. Says Benham: "The techniques of brainwashing are simple: isolate the victim, expose them to inconsistent messages, mix with sleep deprivation, add some form of abuse, get the person to doubt what they know and feel, keep them on their toes, wear them down, and stir well."

Everything Is Your Fault

Continual blame and criticism is another defense mechanism that some people with BPD who act out use as a survival tool. The criticism may be based on a real issue that the person with BPD has exaggerated, or it may be a pure fantasy on the borderline's part.

Family members we interviewed have been raged at and castigated for such things as carrying a grocery bag the wrong way, having bed sheets that weighed too heavily on the BP's toes, and reading a book the BP demanded they read.

One exasperated non-BP said that if by some chance he didn't make an unforgivable error one day, his wife would probably rage at him for being too perfect.

If you object to the criticism or try to defend yourself, your loved one may accuse you of being defensive, too sensitive, or unable to accept constructive criticism. Since their very survival seems to be at stake, they may defend themselves with the ferociousness of a mother bear protecting her cubs. When the crisis has passed and the person with BPD seems to have won, they may act surprised that you're still upset.

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Wednesday, January 02, 2013

Battered Woman Syndrome

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by Jeanette Norman

(battering can include - verbal abuse, mental abuse, emotional abuse as well as physical abuse)

Battered Women Syndrome (or BWS) was first presented in the 1970's as a way to justify when a woman killed her husband because he abused her in some way. One reason why many judges are against pleading guilty by reason of BWS is because BWS hasn't been scientifically proven as a real syndrome. But if so many women kill after their husbands beat THEM half to death, why hasn't it been validated as a reasonable plea?

Some psychologists believe a more appropriate diagnosis for a woman who has been labeled as having BWS is Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder(PTSD)
(*see http://www.psychologyandlaw.com/battered.htm ).


Therefore, BWS should be a subcategory of PTSD.

A battered woman is labeled a "battered woman" when she experiences 3 cycles of being battered. The cycle is:


. Tension Building Phase - Arguments, bickering, sometimes the silent treatment before more arguing.

. Explosion/Battery - Abuse of some kind happens; physical, sexual, emotional, verbal

. Honeymoon Phase - The abusers kiss and make up part, everything is wonderful, he will never do it again...but 8 times out of 10, he does do it again.


According to http://www.divorcenet.com/, there are 4 characteristics of this syndrome:

1. The woman believes that the violence was her fault.

2. The woman has an inability to place the responsibility for the violence elsewhere.

3. The woman fears for her life and/or her children's lives.

4. The woman has an irrational belief that the abuser is omnipresent (Present everywhere simultaneously) and omniscient (Having total knowledge; knowing everything).


In research for this article, I read that many judges will question why a woman stays in a relationship where there is abuse to the point of her wanting to kill her spouse/boyfriend. This is one of the most frustrating questions someone in s domestic violence relationship gets all the time. Sure someone who hasn't ever been in the situation can say "I will never let a man abuse me". It is easier said than done. Every person who has gone through spousal abuse has a different reason(s) for staying as long as they do and often times we are looked down upon for staying!

Most women who have killed their abusers felt like they had no other way out but to commit murder. They have been driven to the breaking point usually after years of abuse. Now I am not saying what they did was right by any means. There are other ways to deal with abuse and to get out, but these women feel like there is absolutely no way out. A lot of courts that hear cases of murder committed by a woman who claims abuse usually end up with lawyers and judges who want proof of the abuse. Many times abuse can't be proven because a woman takes it and doesn't report it to the police or the hospital staff if they ever have to go there.

In conclusion, I believe psychologist and doctors need to do more research into this syndrome. I personally do believe that someone can commit murder after years of abuse, but there will always be people who use this as an excuse.

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