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Borderline Personality & Narcissism

Updated on September 18, 2017

All cluster B personality disorders sit on the malignant narcissistic spectrum, therefore they are all narcissistic in nature. Borderline Personality Disorder is a cluster B personality disorder. That means that Borderline Personalities are narcissists. Some people don't like to talk about this and others want to deny it, but that doesn't make it untrue. This of course does not mean that Borderline Personality Disordered-people are the same as someone with Antisocial Personality Disorder, or that they are like a psychopath. Narcissism is a spectrum, so some will be more narcissistic than others. It just depends. Some Borderline Personalities are very narcissistic and others are less affected by it, but they are all affected by it on some level.

It's also true that other cluster b personality disorders often occur with BPD. It's not uncommon at all for someone to be diagnosed with BPD and NPD, or BPD and HPD. NPD is the most common co-morbid personality disorder with Borderline Personality Disorder. Some studies put it at 50%. These Borderline Personalities are so narcissistic that it warranted a separate diagnosis. And of course, others may have NPD or HPD in addition to BPD but be undiagnosed. Others may not have a lot of overt narcissistic qualities at all. Again, it's a spectrum.

As someone who addresses a difficult subject, the author has received many angry comments, emails and things like that from people with Borderline Personality Disorder. Many seem to think they're being painted as monsters and all of the typical things we might hear from someone with BPD who is upset. There is one thing that should be addressed, however. The author has been accused by many Borderline Personalities of "telling people to abandon them." Let's be very clear here: If someone is abusing their family, it doesn't matter what disorder they have or how much of a victim they claim to be. The recommendation will always be for the family to get out of that situation. If people don't want their family or loved ones to leave them, they should stop abusing their family.

That being said, is it the Borderline's fault that they are abusive? It depends on how we look at it. Their abusive, cruel behaviors are deliberate and very much in their control. However, the reason they are acting that way is not. Borderline Personalities are paranoid, they are hypersensitive, they are frightened and they are pathologically insecure. They believe they are striking out at others in self-defense. Here again, we see narcissistic pathology at work. They believe they are being attacked first. They read rejection and abandonment into everything that is said to them because that is what they are afraid of. They fear their loved ones don't really love them, and are going to leave them. As with other types of narcissists, the Borderline Personality believes they are garbage, that they are no good at all and no one will ever love them. Also as we see with other types of narcissists, the Borderline Personality abuses, manipulates and controls in order to prevent this from happening.

When reading books designed for or around Borderline Personalities, we will see things like, "The word 'manipulation' has negative connotations so we don't use it." The authors of these books then go one to describe manipulation, simply without using that particular word. There is no benefit in doing this. Sugar coating the situation does not help anyone, and most importantly, regarding every type of narcissist, there is no way not to upset a Borderline Personality because the Borderline Personality disordered person is already upset. Therefore, there is no point in pussy-footing around. It is manipulation, plain and simple. It is abuse, period. To call it anything else is to put the Borderline Personality's comfort over that of the victim's very real pain. This is not fair, nor is it right. If being called out for their behavior is so uncomfortable for Borderlines, perhaps they shouldn't behave that way.

It should be stated here that the author also gets many, many communications from people with BPD who are healing and growing, who do understand what the problem is and are trying to fix it. These people are amazing. They give us all hope, and we wish them all the health and luck and love that it's possible for them to receive. They're doing what so many others in their situation cannot: they've realized that they are not helpless, and that is just outstanding.

But for those who do not recognize the problem, is it fair to their loved ones to continually be abused and attacked because someone is in pain and does not know how to control themselves, or because someone reads into words or gestures something that isn't there? No, it is not. To suggest otherwise is unethical and unreasonable. A lot of Borderlines mistakenly believe that when people call them on their behavior, these people are trying to control them and force them to conform to everyone else's way of thinking. Again, there's that narcissistic pathology coming through, a disconnect and an inability to understand the gravity of the situation. The Borderline Personality Disordered person's way of relating and thinking hurts them and their loved ones. It causes problems where there don't need to be any. It destroys relationships and people's peace. It ruins lives. It sometimes results in suicide. Borderline Personality Disorder is a very serious problem, and refusing to call it what it is only hurts everyone involved.

This is not about controlling the Borderline or forcing them into conforming. It's about watching someone run around with an open wound they can't seem to understand how to treat and trying to help them stop the bleeding. Borderline Personalities often describe their lives as being miserable, where they are suffering in agony much of the time. This is obviously very true, therefore the goal is always to alleviate this agony, because that is what is causing the overreactions and unacceptable behaviors. Stopping the agony will stop the behaviors. One of the ways to do this is to try and show them that the many things they are getting upset about are harmless, misunderstood, wrongly perceived, etc. Unfortunately, they often don't believe it. They insist they're being lied to, or tricked, or somehow manipulated.

Just like with other types of narcissist, Borderlines often seem to believe that people are lining up to possess and control them. Also like other types of narcissist, Borderlines believe their pain and problems are caused by other people. The problem is not what they think it is, and many refuse to even entertain the idea that they could be wrong. This results in them insisting that the only thing that will alleviate their pain is if people stop doing things they are already not doing.

"Stop attacking me!"
...But I'm not...
"Stop insulting me!
...But I'm not...
Why don't you love me?! I need you to love me!"
...But I do...
"You don't mean any of that! Stop lying!"
...I'm not!

The Borderline's loved ones are at a loss, because you cannot stop doing something you're already not doing. This creates an untenable situation where the disordered person asks for something over and over again that they will not accept, then attempts to viciously punish the other person for not giving it to them. It's like someone insisting over and over that you give them your piece of pie after you've already given it to them. When you say "But I did! It's right there in your hand!" They say, "This is not pie!" Then they throw it in the trash and proceed to beat on you for being so selfish and hateful. You did nothing wrong. The problem is that they want something they cannot accept, understand or recognize. This does not stop them from wanting it, however. Sadly, it only stops them from getting it.

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