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Think About It... What is the biology of the break-up. Attachment styles that emerge early in life influence how people handle breakups later on—and how they react to them.. Those with a secure attachment style—whose caregivers, by being generally responsive, instilled a sense of trust that they would always be around when needed—are most likely to approach breakups with psychological integrity. ~ Skip
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Author Topic: The Blank Stare  (Read 4453 times)
CVA
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« on: June 08, 2010, 11:11:29 PM »

At times things still come to surface with my experience with my soon to be ex,BPD wife.

I have been reminding myself why this marriage ended so suddenly and in such a short time.

A trait i have experienced was this "Blank Stare"  like she would just check out. I mean when confronted about her behavior or her actions, she would just have this look in her eyes, like she was in another planet, or just looking through me, It was really weird, and of course just added to all the other strange behavior i have never been exposed too,

is this common?    My mom noticed it, her T that i got for her saw it. and well i saw it alot,..

any others have any ideas? or notice this strange stare in their relations with a SO?
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It_seemed_fine
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« Reply #1 on: June 08, 2010, 11:16:21 PM »

Yes, I have seen the "blank stare" -- I never really categorized it as part of her BPD style, but I think you are right.  Also, during sex, the "rag doll" -- during an argument, if she realized she really was losing her "spin" -- the "collapse on the floor" or the "I wish I was dead" -- and my personal favorite -- "the eye roll."

During the blank stare, it seemed to me what you had indicated -- that they had "checked out" -- I mentioned this feeling several times to the Therapist (s) [we had gone through several] and I was told that it may be due to a "self-protection" mechanism or tool they use to virtually "check out" or "leave the body" so that they really don't hear anything (to protect themselves?).
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painter
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« Reply #2 on: June 08, 2010, 11:46:40 PM »

I'm familiar with this too. My UxBPDgf would get this look in her eyes during her episodes, like she had checked out and just wasn't there. All the light went out of her eyes (which sparkled beautifully the rest of the time). It was really eerie, as if she were taken over by aliens or something. I do think she was taking refuge somewhere away from her body.
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Dorian
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« Reply #3 on: June 09, 2010, 01:39:26 AM »

Yes, I noticed this with my exBPD wife during the couple of weeks we were in contact after she broke it off with me. Then I noticed that she was doing it in a few photographs taken at different times throughout our relationship. It's quite a distinct look.  Probably not coincidentally, she had that look in the picture I found that proved she was cheating (she'd snapped a cellphone pic of herself standing in front of a mirror with her lover's arms around her). It's a very far-away, almost hypnotized look. Her face is pale and expressionless and her eyes seem empty.

I believe that this is the look of a person who is in the midst of a dissociative episode. After my ex left I became very curious about the psychology of BPD, both the causes and the range of symptoms.  Dissociation takes different forms but it can manifest as a day-dream like state in which the subject is "spaced out".  I became particularly interested in dissociation because I recognized that it's something I did quite a bit as a child. I had always thought of it as innocent "day-dreaming" but I've come to see it as a coping mechanism for dealing with abuse or other traumatic stresses in childhood.

My understanding of BPD is that causes are not fully understood, but it is believed to commonly result from early childhood trauma or abandonment. It's quite common for dissociation to exist along side BPD and this is no surprise to me considering that they may both stem from early childhood trauma.

Another manifestation of dissociation is personality splitting.  This can range from maintaining different personas for different environments (nice wife at home, cheating slut when out clubbing [my ex wife]) to full-blown multiple personality disorder in which the subject's different personalities are completely unware of each other.  

Dissociation seems to explain why pwBPD are often such prolific and accomplished liars. They may be aware that they are lying, but on some level they are thinking "it wasn't me, it was the other bad me".  This allows them to maintain their self conception as a "good person" despite their knowledge that they've done things that are "bad" (cheat, snort drugs [my ex wife]).

Fascinating, isn't it?




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This board is for members with failed or failing relationships that want to detach from their relationship and relationship wounds. If you are still analyzing the decision to stay, please post on Undecided: Staying or Leaving
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. :-)
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« Reply #4 on: June 09, 2010, 04:13:36 AM »

Yes.
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confused!!!
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« Reply #5 on: June 09, 2010, 07:35:41 AM »

Yes, the blank stare accompanied by the blank tone of voice which I'm sure are mirrors for the void, the black hole inside.
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hiddenlizard
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« Reply #6 on: June 09, 2010, 07:38:57 AM »

the blank stare - I know it well
It always appeared if I mentioned the episode of running out into the desert with a broken bottle, it appeared at other times as well followed by a total change of subject if not absolute silence
I often would have preferred the stare to the rage
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NHBeachBum
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« Reply #7 on: June 09, 2010, 07:50:24 AM »

Her face is pale and expressionless and her eyes seem empty.

I believe that this is the look of a person who is in the midst of a dissociative episode.

Another manifestation of dissociation is personality splitting.  This can range from maintaining different personas for different environments (nice wife at home, cheating slut when out clubbing [my ex wife]) to full-blown multiple personality disorder in which the subject's different personalities are completely unware of each other.  

Dissociation seems to explain why pwBPD are often such prolific and accomplished liars. They may be aware that they are lying, but on some level they are thinking "it wasn't me, it was the other bad me".  This allows them to maintain their self conception as a "good person" despite their knowledge that they've done things that are "bad" (cheat, snort drugs [my ex wife]).


My exBPDgf had the "classic" blank stare usually when I was trying to get her to see my point about something and I was making a really good case for one of her inappropriate behaviors. I don't know - maybe it was disassociation. Maybe I broke things down so much & gave her no wiggle room to refute, she really couldn't bear to hear the ugly stunt that she just pulled so she "checked out". I would literally repeat myself, then I'd kind of mimic her. She once said that my "tell" was "clearing my throat". So I said to her "your tell is your stupid blank stare - exactly what you're doing right now...see what I mean. Yup - there it is". As you can imagine that charming little sarcastic dig provoked her typical response to quickly change the subject, yell at me, rage, etc. etc.

I think it's really a learned coping mechanism for a person with BPD to either disassociate with the confrontation of the reality of what they did or it could be a way to simply ride out the storm of the confrontation by simply ignoring it or it could be both - depending upon how intense they are getting confronted and how intense their inappropriateness is. For instance, if it was an issue with them yelling, they may not need to disassociate. If the issue is they hooked up with multiple partners at a party the night before & drank an entire bottle of vodka, the stupid blank stare could be a method of ending the confrontation by forcing the other person (i.e. us non's) to give up the argument. I usually ended up like I was talking to a brick wall. But let me tell you, when I tried that little trick on her? Rage baby rage! How dare I tune her out! lol. I forgot the double standard. Keep in mind it's usually not the first time they've acting extremely inappropriate so it's usually not the first time that a non has confronted them about it. I'm sure it probably escalates something like:

step 1 - deny, doesn't work,
step 2 - project, still not working,
step 3 - try to change the subject, bring up the past, STILL not working,
step 4 - screw it - ignore, check out, disassociate. Eventually the non will stop & go away.
Step 5 - if it's really bad enough, cut the non out of my life, move on quickly & find a new victim/soul mate.

And yes - no one could do the eye roll as good as my exBPDgf. I suppose practice makes perfect! wink

Lastly, speaking of blank stares...I noticed at times that her eyes seemed lifeless. Others mentioned that "she looked dead" when you looked in her eyes. It was so creepy - almost like she was a walking zombie! My martial arts instructor said she looked like she was dead when you looked in her eyes. A couple of year ago when she was following me around my other gym, I walked around a corner & she was like 5 feet in front of me. I saw that same "dead man walking" look in her eyes. It was strange because that was the day she followed me out of the gym and watched me drive off. I don't know what was going on in her life then, but my theory was she wanted to talk to me but chickened out once she got outside the gym & just kind of gave up. Anyway - I've never met another human being that had that same look in his/her eyes. Creepy!

-NHBB
 

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jpounce
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« Reply #8 on: June 09, 2010, 07:56:12 AM »

Yes absolutely,

     My uBPDxgf had without a doubt the most beautiful, big, brown, "bambi of the forest" eyes I have ever seen in my entire life! They sparkled when she smiled at me, and I would just melt

   But... When she got into a BPD crazy period, they became just dark, almost blank and hollow, kind of lifeless eyes. It was  actually kinda scary thinkin back on it now. And the flat,low tone of voice, like thinly veiled deep anger, that that would sometimes accompany it.

    Despite her hurtful actions, I still feel for her. It must suck living that way.
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JustWondering
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« Reply #9 on: June 09, 2010, 11:33:33 AM »

Yes absolutely,

     My uBPDxgf had without a doubt the most beautiful, big, brown, "bambi of the forest" eyes I have ever seen in my entire life! They sparkled when she smiled at me, and I would just melt

   But... When she got into a BPD crazy period, they became just dark, almost blank and hollow, kind of lifeless eyes. It was  actually kinda scary thinkin back on it now. And the flat,low tone of voice, like thinly veiled deep anger, that that would sometimes accompany it.

    Despite her hurtful actions, I still feel for her. It must suck living that way.

Wow... I was going to type something new, but you pretty much said exactly what I was thinking. The "thinly veiled deep anger" was definitely there.
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