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BOOK: Stop Caretaking the Borderline One of the main ways we keep ourselves involved in addictive, negative and hurtful relationships is to pretend that this negative present moment isn’t happening. In this book, Margalis Fjelstad, PhD., shows that the only way out of an addictive relationship is to change how we function, what we are willing to put up with, and to develop the courage to make changes.
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Author Topic: Borderline vs Psychopath  (Read 3867 times)
LA girl
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« on: September 14, 2009, 06:15:16 PM »


I am wondering if my DBPD spouse is in fact a psychopath. Given he leaves out the 'bad bits' with his psychiatrist, an accuarte diagnosis may not have been made. I am really concerned about the lack of empathy issue and still can't find anything in borderline literature that deals with this. It's actually a bit creepy - he just doesn't seem to "care" about anyone or anything...apart from himself, of course.

Can I get some reflections from other people about the lack of empathy stuff in what they have seen with Borderlines please?

I would be interpreting his rages and abuse very differently if I thought he was a psychopath rather than simply "splitting" on me...

Impossible to really get an accurate diagnosis because of his lies.


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« Reply #1 on: September 14, 2009, 07:14:03 PM »

You should research Antisocial Personality Disorder and see if it fits better than BPD.  I read some of your earlier posts and it sounded like your situation was pretty tough.  Regardless of his diagnosis, you need to make sure you are safe.  Good luck,


GENERAL ANNOUNCEMENT: Are you on the right board?
This board is for analyzing and making the decision to either continue working on your relationship or to leave it. If you have already please advance to "L3 Leaving" or the "L4 Staying" board.
All members living with a pwBPD should learn to use the Stop the Bleeding tools - boundaries, timeouts and other basic tools - to better manage the day to day interactions with your partner. If you have questions on any of the tools, feel free to go over to Staying: Improving a Relationship with a Borderline Partner and ask for help. :-)
dazed and confused
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« Reply #2 on: September 14, 2009, 07:17:15 PM »

My uBPDh has no empathy for me either.  He does have remorse, but when you get down to the nitty gritty, it's always tied into how this affects him.  It's an odd headspace that I can't really comprehend, but he has a strong sense of right and wrong.  He once asked if I thought he might be a sociopath because he lacked (can't even comprehend really) empathy.  It was scary because the thought had crossed my mind too.  I asked him how he would feel if he was walking down the street and saw someone repeatedly kicking a puppy, would he only feel angry at the person for committing the wrong, or would he feel sad and painful emotions for the puppy?  He looked stricken at the thought and said he would feel both.  In fact, he felt aweful for the puppy just thinking about it.  A sociopath would not feel for the puppy, I told him.  He does have some kind of empathy.  
On the other hand, when my brother died, he admitted that though he held me and said some nice things the night we heard the news, he really felt nothing for me and wished I'd get over it so he could go back to watching his movie (he barely knew my brother, so it didn't affect him personally.)  I think bp's can experience empathy.  But my theory is that the emotion is unmanagable so they choose not to.  They gaslight or split to avoid it.  But I'm sure there is someone here who knows the proper clinical answer.
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« Reply #3 on: September 14, 2009, 07:23:48 PM »

I am no expert and do not work in the field, but here goes:

I read a couple of good books on sociopaths (psychopaths) a couple of years ago.  The first is The Sociopath Next Door, which I think is very good, easy to read and not too technical.  I believe it was a best-seller a few years ago.  The second is In Sheep's Clothing.  A little more technical and breaks down the different types, statistics, etc.  Probably better to read the other one first.

The sociopath I was dealing with at the time lived a life of everyday deceit in almost everything he did.  He got pleasure from deceiving people for personal gain, bragged about it and considered his marks to be fools.  An awful human being.  He practiced lying every day and was good at it.  He was very brazen and seemed to be not at all emotionally affected by conflict and drama, unless there was some tangible and calculable loss for him, mostly dollars and cents.  He would lie in any setting, including courtrooms, and played the sympathetic victim like a champ, but he fully knew what he was doing and would tell you so if he thought you would admire it.

I see some overlap in the behavior of sociopaths (psychopaths, antisocials) and BPDs, but I think the difference I have seen is that the sociopath is fully aware of what he/she is doing and does it for personal gain.  There is no remorse and no desire to change because they like the way they are and gain benefit from it.  I don't know if there is really any pathology there; no "damage" from childhood that causes it, but I could be wrong about that, or it may vary.  No fear of abandonment that I know of.  They just need other people because they feed off them, not because they fear being alone.  All calculated for their advantage.

Some theorize, with some supposed experimental support, that some sociopaths actually do not have certain "wiring" in their brains that others have.  Because the part of the brain that houses the conscience and other social elements developed relatively late in the evolutionary time scale, some think they are strains in our species that are missing that development.  I am not an expert, but I don't rule out that possibility.  I think if you are dealing with a sociopath it is best to consider that they are different animals than "normal humans".  As in, you might like lions and admire them for what they are, but you don't get in a cage with one and think you will reason with it so it won't bite your head off.  By nature it will and will not feel any remorse about it.

I noticed that one of the popular pieces of literature on Borderline Waifs calls them "Wolves in Sheep's Clothing and Just as Diabolical".  Brought back memories of the sociopath.
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