Community Built Knowledge Base => Library: Psychology questions and answers => Topic started by: Fubar on December 02, 2010, 04:24:12 PM

Title: BEHAVIORS: Unstable self-image
Post by: Fubar on December 02, 2010, 04:24:12 PM
I'm looking at the diagnostic criteria and comparing to what I see in my uBPDw, and I have a question on this one.

What does unstable self-image or sense of self look like?

In my wife's case, I see things that I think are tied to this:

1.  Hoarding behavior.  Not quite as bad as on TV, but has enormous difficulty parting with things that most would consider trash. (Tying her sense of self to ownership of possessions--lots of sentimental value on the tiniest things.)

2.  Always talked a LOT about how wonderful I was.  I got the sense that she gained a sense of her identity and worth through her relationship with me.  If I was fantastic, then she must be pretty OK too.

3.  Always tries to wear matching clothes (not necessarily related to sense of self, but I really hate it).

4.  When traveling with her office group, she complains about their choice of evening entertainment, but seems unable to break from the group to do her own thing.

I have a SENSE that these things are somehow tied to a poorly-defined sense of self, but don't want to try to force anything to fit.

I'm seeing some traits so strongly, and others much less so, if at all.

But my counselor helped me understand one piece when I pointed out that my wife has never threatened or attempted suicide, and my counselor added " . . . yet."

Title: Re: What is "unstable self-image"?
Post by: dados76 on December 02, 2010, 05:12:29 PM
this is a quote from a breakdown on different traits

3. identity disturbance: markedly and persistently unstable self-image or sense of self

Some Borderlines have an almost eery chameleon-like quality to their social interactions: voice, gestures, clothing, opinions can change according to the person or group being idealized at the moment.

Lacking a stable relationship to self, it is common for folks with this disorder to exhaustively question every fundamental belief others may take for granted: their religious convictions, sexual orientation or preferences, moral precepts, goals and purpose in life. Unable to provide it for themselves, Borderlines consistently seek external validation of their self-value. Often, the assimilation into a group with strict guidelines and principles (military, religious or even cultist organizations) can substitute for this acceptance.

Another facet of this lack of identity is an observed tendency on the part of those with BPD to frequently quit jobs and/or change careers. In many ways, even an older person with BPD can be much like a teenager fresh out of high-school, unsure of their future goals and plans and reluctant to commit to one career path.

Many loved ones wonder whether the person with BPD in their life suffers from Multiple Personality Disorder (now known as Dissociative Identity Disorder), because their self-presentation can shift so radically from situation to situation. This has many causes, one of them being a tendency of those with BPD to dissociate under stress [see criterion 9, below].

Title: Re: What is "unstable self-image"?
Post by: Fubar on December 02, 2010, 05:21:46 PM
Thanks, Dados.

I've looked around and this criteria just seems, still, a little nebulous.

I'm not really seeing a match-up, even though my SO does strike me as having little sense of self.

She seems to derive her opinions from mine, her sense of identiy from me, and so on.

Maybe I'm trying to force a diagnosis.

Title: Re: What is "unstable self-image"?
Post by: dados76 on December 02, 2010, 06:04:29 PM
my partner... has a tendency to pick up other peoples speech patterns... he talks w/somebody from the south he gets kinda... twangy... talks w/somebody from back east... he picks that up... sometimes hand gestures... mannerisms...   not as much as he used to... but he can blend in REAL well... depending who he was around and how bad he wanted to fit in... i met him when he was younger... still using drugs... he could be mexican if he needed... could be black if he needed... could be white if he needed... blended in w/college kids and gangstas... chameleon is a good word for it... lot of different masks...

Title: Re: What is "unstable self-image"?
Post by: FacePalmYetAgain on May 21, 2013, 12:43:13 AM

I'm having some difficulty in understanding what is meant by "Loss of self". The context in which this statement was used was in describing a pwBPD's experience of having no sense of self?

Dumb question, but what exactly is meant by "self" here?  Is it that they have not defined their likes and dislikes, or is it more like a feeling of detachment like when you feel numb and dead inside and just don't care anymore? Or is it literally a lack of a sense of "I am" ?

Thanks in advance,


Title: Re: What is "unstable self-image"?
Post by: slimmiller on May 22, 2013, 05:56:09 AM
To me its more like 'lack of self' rather then 'loss of self'. I dont know that they ever have a real identity but rather they idealize someone else and in a sense become someone else. When they can really relate and attach to that person, it terrifies them (they learned as a youngster not to do this because when they did, they were betrayed because the person, parent, sibling etc, took it away from them, they were not allowed to have a sense of self because as in my exBPDs case it was hijacked by her mother). Once they really relate/resonate and identify they have to 'detach' for self preservation because in the past the other person forcibly did that so now they do it themselves because they have the choice to do it (detach) rather then allow the other person to do it.

In this context it kinda makes sense what they do. I am NOT trying to justify the pain they cause but rather its kind of a way that I can understand it somewhat

Title: Re: What is "unstable self-image"?
Post by: cal644 on May 22, 2013, 06:30:04 AM
I stuggle with this too - my stbexw has told me "I don't know who I am - I have always been the person I thought you wanted me to be" - the thing that floors me is that after 19 years together you would think even if they were mirroring you that they would start to develope a sence of self - that eventually those morals, values, ideals would some how become their own!  It floors me that what I thought she had for morals, values, etc were just a mirroring of mine and the person I thought she was - was actually just a mirror of me .  I find it funny that the person she used to dispise she has become was that because I despised that type of person?  My stbex has also begged me to just let her go and has even told me that she is just a shell of a person that doesn't know how to be a good mother or good wife becuase she never knew that growing up.  That's the part I still find so difficult to understand - they finally get to mirror someone who is a good husband and father, they finally get to experience a loving family from their spouse and in-laws and then in a blink of an eye the people who loved her and cared for her for years are all of a sudden evil, and have been plotting against her all of these years.  The sad part is myself, and my family still care for her and would still show her love.  I think it all comes down to another thing she told me - "how can I love you if I don't love myself" -if she hates herself so much and think she is dirty, evil, stupid, ugly, etc - all of the things instilled in her as a child she truly doesn't love herself. 

Title: Re: What is "unstable self-image"?
Post by: FacePalmYetAgain on May 22, 2013, 04:04:55 PM
For what its worth, I found this article on wikipedia. Its wikipedia, so take it with a grain of salt.


The article was sort of dense with psych jargon which I am not versed in, so I'll have to read it again when I have the time to look things up.

What I got from this and some some other topics is that the self is our perception or mental model of who and what we are, and those memories which pertain to this - including likes, dislikes, preferences, fears and so on. Its a simulacrum, its a representation at best but not the real thing.

I'm not sure which exact definition of self is being used when discussing the loss of self, fale self, and so on, but I get the impression that my understanding as stated above might be close enough. *shrugs*

As I read about this sensation of being a shell, or empty, I had to wonder if this is somehow related to dissociation? The pattern sounds similar.

Regarding self perception, if you were to ask me who I am, I might answer differently in different situations. If I felt like I was about to be criticized or attacked, I might be less capable of digging deep and recalling certain vulnerable aspects of myself image. If I was recently discussing horror movies with someone and then asked who I am, my answer might be skewed towards those more recent topics due to priming. I might tell you my occupation and marital status if I thought that that's what you were asking me for.

Title: Re: What is "unstable self-image"?
Post by: musicfan42 on May 22, 2013, 10:28:48 PM
I'm not sure if they have no sense of self but rather that they think people wouldn't like them if they were just being themselves-so they end up acting in a chameleon like manner in order to get approval and so people won't abandon them... . fear of abandonment is a big thing with borderlines. I feel like logically, they know that they could be themselves but that emotionally, it's a different story... . that they just feel so empty and full of self-loathing and assume that everyone else is superior to them... . that everyone else has got their lives in order aside from them... . They mimic people that they perceive to be better than them... . that have qualities that they don't have. I think they mirror other people to get their attention-to get their approval... . but then they get tired of being a people pleaser after a while so then they may seek a new partner or rebel basically in a number of ways like acting out etc... . they get resentful for always having to be what other people expect, even though it's a self-imposed expectation.

Many borderlines come from abusive homes so they're used to being put down... . that abuse is internalised and affects their sense of self. Basically, their parents paid them no attention so they feel unwanted... . and this can cause borderlines to attention-seek to get the attention from romantic partners that they never got from their parents... . almost like trying to re-create their childhood in various ways. It's like borderlines are children stuck in an adult's body-they know that they "should" act in an adult-like manner but they've never really matured past a child-like state emotionally... . they can act very adult like at the start of relationships and talk about any number of topics in a very serious manner but as soon as they start to devalue the other person, they just regress to this "angry child" state and it's like once the genie is out of the bottle, it's hard to get it back in again... . once that "angry child" mode is out, it's impossible to restrain it then and the borderline just grows more and more angry as time goes on basically.

I think that borderlines want unconditional love-but the thing is, only parents can give unconditional love, not romantic partners. Borderlines just want someone to accept them as they are-all their flaws etc but relationships are conditional... . people won't tolerate bad behaviour forever... . they'll get tired of it. Whereas a "good enough" parent will have enough patience to calm the child down if it's tired or discipline the child appropriately if it's acting out.

I mention a "good enough" parent-it's not that parents have to be perfect... . no one is perfect, everyone makes mistakes but parents should provide a certain standard of care. I read an example of two parents-how one parent heard the baby crying and felt impatient but calmed herself down and was able to care for the child down-that's a "good enough parent". Whereas for a poor parent-the parent heard the baby crying and felt impatient but did not calm herself down and took her impatience out on the child even though it's in a baby's nature to cry in the first place. There has been psychological research done on "secure attachment"-basically if the parent is "good enough", he/she is able to form a secure attachment with the child whereas if the parent provides intermittent care i.e. nice one minute, neglectful the next etc, then the child will not be able to trust the parent... . an insecure attachment is formed... . and that's why borderlines have a lack of object constancy too.

Borderlines generally regard themselves as being victims-they know that they grew up in abusive homes and they generally feel victimised by other people in their lives as adults, rightly or wrongly. Borderlines can act very passively/helplessly, anxiously trying to get everyone else to solve her problems instead of solving her problems herself-the borderline may not have the skill to solve her problems, she may feel she is unable to solve her problems even though she may have the capability, she may just be used to manipulating others and knows that it's a tactic that works... . that it's a tactic that ensures her survival... . that she uses situational ethics... . sort of "the end justifies the means" basically. (I'm just using female pronouns for the sake of simplicity here-I know that there's male borderlines too).

I also think that anything borderlines perceive as criticism triggers a lot of shame within her-that it basically serves as a reminder of what a horrible person she is... . almost like rubbing salt in the wound that's already insider her, even if it's hidden from plain sight. So I think that at least some of the borderline rage is defensive... . that the borderline is trying to protect themselves against some perceived slight/insult, only the borderline is hyper defensive... . doing it too much... . not being able to let anything go because that would mean that the other person would "win" and that they would "lose". I also think that some borderlines seem to be able to dissociate after they rage and just forget what they've said... . that if someone brings it up later, they go "oh I didn't do that" and they really believe that they didn't rage because what nons perceive as "rage", they just perceive as "normal" for them... . they don't have an awareness that it is indeed rage because they've been acting like that for years so it's just part of their personality... . they may have some idea that there's something wrong with them but may be unable to put their finger on what exactly it is. If you're telling a borderline what she wants to hear, then she idealises you whereas if you give her any type of constructive criticism at all, you're devalued instantly... . so I think that's what that phrase "walking on eggshells" means... . not really knowing when the borderline will rage next or what the borderline will react to.

I also think that borderlines have a huge sense of entitlement-that they think they're entitled to do whatever they want... . they're not great about following rules of any kind... . they're very oppositional to control, probably having experienced abuse of power as a child so they become very anti-authority after that and any time someone tries to tell them what to do, they just rebel against it.

I should add that not all borderlines have grown up in abusive families-they may just come from an invalidating environment... . i.e. verbally criticised as opposed to more serious abuse like physical/sexual, neglect etc.

It's hard to accept love if you don't like yourself-you're always doubting the love/affection, wondering whether the person has alternative motives (even if there is no evidence to prove this). And then even if you feel like the person loves you, you think "oh they just love who they think I am and not who I really am" (I'm just saying "you" for the sake of simplicity here). Borderlines are very prone to splitting... . black and white thinking... . that they see themselves in "good" and "bad" categories... . that they don't see "shades of grey" or anything in between.

I also notice that borderlines literally have to have a romantic partner-that's another thing... . they literally think they will die or something if they have to be on their own for any length of time... . they cannot be on their own... . they always have to have someone with them... . so much of their time is preoccupied talking about boyfriends or obsessing about relationships.

I also don't think borderlines have any sense of boundaries because they're so needy-they're always looking for substitute parents. Of course, it's a fruitless search but it doesn't stop them from pursuing it anyways... . and then when the person they're with fails to care for them in a way that a parent would care for a child, they get frustrated and resentful of their romantic partner and thinks that the person doesn't care for them enough. I also think that borderlines have this idea of "I'll leave you before you leave me" or "I'll dump you before you dump me"... . that they have to have the upper hand in relationships because they assume that the other person will get tired of them after a while. Part of this fear is actually realistic-other people have probably gotten tired of them in the past... . tired of their intensity, tired of their dramatics etc... . to a borderline, they just know that people leave them after a while and don't really understand why (borderlines have deficits in empathy) so they just think "I'm going to try really hard to not let that happen again... . to hang onto this person for as long as possible"... . even if they have to resort to desperate measures to do so, they figure that it's worth it as opposed to being on their own... . dignity gets thrown out of the window. I'm not sure they have any dignity when they're trying to avoid abandonment because the loss of any possible dignity is probably less than the abandonment itself.

Title: Re: What is "unstable self-image"?
Post by: SadWifeofBPD on May 24, 2013, 10:19:09 AM
I'm not sure if they have no sense of self but rather that they think people wouldn't like them if they were just being themselves-so they end up acting in a chameleon like manner in order to get approval and so people won't abandon them... . fear of abandonment is a big thing with borderlines.

I feel like logically, they know that they could be themselves but that emotionally, it's a different story... . that they just feel so empty and full of self-loathing and assume that everyone else is superior to them... . that everyone else has got their lives in order aside from them... .

For many years, I thought that my BPDH was often "playing a role", but I hadn't yet put it into words.  When we were around others, it was like he was "on stage" or "playing to a script".  If he heard a new "catchy phrase", he'd say it over and over again.    He is also very good at telling jokes, but he became so addicted to the laughter and attention that he'd often "go too far" or not realize when this wasn't an appropriate time or subject matter.  

They mimic people that they perceive to be better than them... . that have qualities that they don't have. I think they mirror other people to get their attention-to get their approval... . but then they get tired of being a people pleaser after a while so then they may seek a new partner or rebel basically in a number of ways like acting out etc... . they get resentful for always having to be what other people expect, even though it's a self-imposed expectation.

Now that I've learned aout Mirroring, I understand this more.  H didn't have a "real self" to fall back on, so he'd adopt whatever he saw on TV or wherever and copy it.   If the copied idea was good, then fine.  However, he watched a lot of "cowboy shows" as a kid and adopted this kind of tough "I dare you to knock this block off" attitude.  

Title: Re: What is "unstable self-image"?
Post by: musicfan42 on May 24, 2013, 01:00:29 PM
I think I can understand this particular aspect of BPD quite well because I used to act like a chameleon. I'm pretty sure that my father has BPD so I wonder whether aspects of it have slipped onto me-I'm not diagnosed with BPD however I learned DBT (Dialectical Behaviour Therapy) just to be on the safe side. I think it's hard for some nons to understand this aspect of it though-especially nons that have a clearly defined sense of self. I'm guessing that your husband was attracted to you because of your stability-he probably felt that some of your stability would somehow rub off onto him. (I obviously don't know you or your husband so I hope you don't mind me jumping to conclusions there!)
Did you ever catch glimpses of your husband's "real self"? Did you find that he performed more in front of others but that if you were one-to-one with him, he could let his guard down a bit more... . that he could be himself a bit more... . I say "a bit more" because he still probably thought that he was unlovable etc so he probably never felt fully able to be himself... . 
I found that when I was in a group setting, I felt like I had to act like a super confident person outwardly (even though inwardly, I wasn't at all) so I generally tried way too hard. Just when you mentioned that your husband was telling jokes too much... . I thought "ah, trying too hard there". I needed attention too-I felt like my sense of self was completely dependent on peoples' opinions of me... . that when people liked me, I liked myself whereas when people disliked me, I loathed myself. I felt like I wouldn't survive emotionally if people didn't like me... . if I felt someone didn't like me, it'd honestly ruin my day because I'd be filled with feelings of emptiness and worthlessness until I got attention off someone else and then I'd feel better momentarily.
Some people were impressed with my confident facade and I would invariably be told "oh you're so confident" but people who actually knew me well were not fooled by it at all. I feel like people who cared about me didn't like this facade at all-that they preferred when I was just being myself because at least then, I was being more real.
My "role" if you like, was that of a bubbly young girl-I felt like I had to be laughing and joking and having fun non-stop... . But that wasn't me at all. I was in therapy and dealt with this issue and now I'm actually really introverted-because I'm naturally an introvert... . my real personality is that of an introvert. I never actually was extroverted but felt that I had to be extroverted in order to fit in really. I also think I tried to act happy because I felt anything but happy deep down.
My guess is that your husband adopted the macho attitude shown in cowboy shows because he felt emotionally vulnerable deep down. I think a lot of it is overcompensation-trying to hide anything that you feel shame over and instead portray this image of what you think you "should" be. Maybe your husband was told directly as a child that he should be more like the cowboys on TV-strong and masculine as opposed to cowardly etc and maybe he took that comment to heart. I honestly don't know but that's just my guess there... . Maybe your husband grew up in a family where he couldn't express his emotions and felt that he had to act like that cowboy-that it was only way of coping only he just kept changing his identity as he got older and obviously then it became a hindrance to his life only he may not have realised it.
I felt ashamed of being unhappy so I felt like if I just acted like this happy-go-lucky girl outwardly, then I'd eventually become that girl... . I'd become the girl I always wanted to be. I felt like my identity was a fairly flimsy construct that I could just change at will-if I got bored/fed up with it, then I'd just change it and become someone else... . act another part out. I used to get irritated when people w

Title: Re: What is "unstable self-image"?
Post by: SadWifeofBPD on May 24, 2013, 03:44:09 PM
 They mimic people that they perceive to be better than them... . that have qualities that they don't have. I think they mirror other people to get their attention-to get their approval.

I agree that they mimic people that they perceive to be better (or more likeable) than they are.  I think they do this mirroring behavior because they think that the adopted persona is one that others will respect, like, and admire.

Title: Re: What is "unstable self-image"?
Post by: Maryiscontrary on May 24, 2013, 03:55:50 PM
Guys, the lack of self means lack of "conscious" self. This means the map of your personality is accessible by declarative memory, that is, encoded by the hippocampus.

I believe there may be a genetic vulnerability, but you can inhibit formation of this conscious map by good old Fashion gaslit programming  by the caretakers. So you don't KNOW what your proclivities are.

Lots of nons have this problem too.

Title: Re: What is "unstable self-image"?
Post by: Clearmind on May 27, 2013, 07:25:26 PM
Great book: The Search for the Real Self - James F. Masterson. Be mindful of junk psychology on the net.

Title: Re: What is "unstable self-image"?
Post by: qcarolr on May 27, 2013, 11:02:06 PM
There is a researcher in Australia, Russell Meares, that has defined his theory of BPD by the development of definitions of ‘self’ from both of these sciences - psychology and neurology – over a very long period of time. He calls his theory the "Neural Network for Matrix of Self" and it has two tiers.

Subjective consciousness and objective consciousness. Another way of saying this is ‘self’ as internal experience, and ‘identity’ as external experience. This can be described as having mental states that are constantly shifting based on our external experiences (objective), and having a consistent sense of the person we are (subjective) that endures day to day.

In BPD there is a fragmentation that creates disturbances in subjective consciousness. The seamless connections others have in their sense of "me" and "I" are missing or misfiring.  For me, this makes some sense out of how a pwBPD can change so much based on who they are with – they rely on the external, ‘identity’ experience since they do not have a strong sense of the internal ‘self’ experience.

The hippocampus plays a vital role in these states and the development of the links between the amygdala (emotion mind) and the prefrontal cortex (thinking mind). These operations in the central nervous system need a separate topic and are very technical and complex for me. He also relates brain research that includes impacts of attentional problems and seperates PTSD issues that was very interesting to me.

Russell Meares has an interesting idea about how we express our self and identity through language.  In his writings based on his research he includes a lot of info on development and use of language. Here is my understanding. This seems really important to me, IMHO, that language really distinguishes humans from other mammals. This takes us beyond reacting to our experience solely from the safety level of our brain (fight/flight or freeze).  

His theory is there are two modes of thought and language.

1.   Language of intention – social speech

a.   Purposeful

b.   Intelligible

c.   Linear and clear

d.   Logical

e.   Left hemisphere in brain

2.   Inner speech – analogy and symbolic

a.   Disconnected and incomplete

b.   Connected to musical qualities of language – use of tones (baby talk is good example)

c.   Right hemisphere in brain

The analogical and logical modes of thought operate relatively independently early in life, then become coordinated about the time experience of self is discovered (3 to 5 years of age). Self (experience of mind) arise from both these representations by the brain operating as a whole.

We experience another person’s logical mode, so treatments of BPD have focused on the behavioral aspects of these individuals. Dr. Meares studies lead him to believe that to have endurance in recovery the focus needs to be on the under-developed sense of self. He suggests that the basis of BPD symptoms is in the development of the analogical mode of thinking (subjective) as the primary disturbance. The emotional dysregulation behaviors we see are the secondary effect of disruption in the proper development of the logical mode (object consciousness).

For me this means that just learning to manage the emotional side does not lead to true recovery and healing. We have to engage in maturing the sense of self – in the balance of the brain – for healing to endure. There is good evidence this idea in use of treatments that are combining the behavior therapies, like DBT or CBT and talk or ‘thinking’ therapies, like Schema and Mentalization.

I am a word based person – 10,000 words a minute sometimes. I tried to condense my thoughts here.  Thanks for taking the time to read this and allowing me to share with you.


Title: Re: What is "unstable self-image"?
Post by: Darko on June 09, 2014, 08:42:59 AM
Unstable self image means we don't know who we are.

Most people have a relatively solid and steady set of personality traits, likes and dislikes, opinions, etc. We do not.

What gives you this character stability is nothing more than emotional stability. Let's say for example that you're shopping for wall paint colours with two friends. You find a colour that pleases you and one of your friends; the third doesn't like it. You might enter a little debate with your friend, and the friend might give reasons why they don't like the colour: It's too bright, not suitable for the lighting in the room, etc. Suddenly, the friend who agreed with you at the beginning says that your other friend might be right, and they don't think the colour you chose is suitable any more.

Now you give your own reasons why you think the paint colour is suitable, and the friend who liked the colour at first goes right back to agreeing with you.

This is a very basic explanation of how unstable self-images work. We dance to other people's tunes because our emotions mimic theirs,and when your emotions are rarely steady you can't really decide what you want, what you don't, what you like and what you hate; because something you abhor today might look appealing tomorrow.

Title: Re: What is "unstable self-image"?
Post by: Red Sky on June 09, 2014, 10:16:29 AM
So. Unstable self image hinges on having someone else to externally impose some kind of identity on you. What happens if there isn't someone there to do that? Is that part of why people with BPD are so... . In need of constant human contact? So there is someone to impose that image?

I wonder because my dBPDexgf used to like to 'pose' me in order to fulfil the role she wanted. She wanted to be the kind and caring partner. So she would by me a gift, and every conversation we had for the next week she would bring in the gift and ask me if I liked it again. She pushed me to participate in sporting events and I said 'let's enter together.' But she refused because she wanted to be the partner cheering on the sidelines. It was like she KNEW the identity she wanted but it was still an identity which was only relative to other people.

Title: Re: What is "unstable self-image"?
Post by: Darko on June 09, 2014, 10:30:02 AM
If there isn't anyone, you'll empathise with book/movie characters, or pick and mix ideas and personality traits from things you see and learn every day.

Should be noted we don't actively strive to find people/things to copy, it just happens naturally.

I can't say for sure this is why so many BPDs are in constant need of human contact; I don't experience that myself. In fact, human contact and socialisation are two things I absolutely abhor.

Title: Re: What is "unstable self-image"?
Post by: Red Sky on June 09, 2014, 11:08:46 AM
If there isn't anyone, you'll empathise with book/movie characters, or pick and mix ideas and personality traits from things you see and learn every day.

Should be noted we don't actively strive to find people/things to copy, it just happens

This insight interests me because everyone does this to some extent. I always wonder how much of our personality is innate and how much is formed from this kind of thing. Personally, I can see how much of my character was actually, actively created by my early interactions.

I suppose to say unstable self image could just mean that things are picked up and dropped easier than otherwise.

Title: Re: What is "unstable self-image"?
Post by: Darko on June 09, 2014, 11:17:17 AM
That's exactly it. It's completely normal for people to see traits in their peers and their environment, empathise with them and adopt them as their own. BPD folk however can't make them stick because our emotions are not stable (nobody's are, but ours are 10 times more chaotic) therefore how we feel about a person, topic, etc changes from day to day or even within the same day.

Title: What Is "Dysfunctional Self-Image" In Relation To BPD?
Post by: BowlOfPetunias on July 12, 2016, 10:47:34 AM
Many lists of BPD symptoms inlcude "unstable or dysfunctional self-image."

I understand what an unstable self-image is--changing oneself to fit in, lacking goals, moving from one thing to the next.

What is a "dysfunctional self-image"?

"Having an unstable or dysfunctional self-image or a distorted sense of self (how one feels about one’s self)" www.psycom.net/depression.central.borderline.html  

Title: Re: What is "unstable self-image"?
Post by: CitizenBell on September 03, 2016, 05:53:37 PM
My ex seemed to want to meld herself with me. We were 'one person', 'two halves of the same heart', like she wanted to be enmeshed. She would wear yellow just to please me because I had told her once I liked the way she looked in yellow. She would say I was her entire world but at the time she never seemed to have much in it.

She had never had an interest in travel before she met me. Then all she talked about was wanting to travel with me forever and never come back, that travelling with me was going to be the most amazing part of her life.

I would talk about loads of things like when I was growing up I used to read a load of wrestling books and she was surprised I used to watch wrestling. She said we could watch it together, even though I don't watch it anymore... .she had no interest in it. I'm really into music and she would say how she has so much to learn about music and classic films and that I should teach her about them, that whatever I was interested in, she was interested in too. I talked about my Media project I did on Westerns at one point and she was like "only you could make Westerns sound interesting baby, you're so smart".

Now we're not together I suspect she has little interest in those things anymore.

I would notice she would pick up phrases from other people. Like she would say "sorry, not sorry", a lot which I realised her friend from university would say a lot. She would make jokes about things people say being 'racist' (I guess, because she's half-Cypriot) and after I was moved teams and got sat next to someone who used to sit next to her who would make the EXACT same jokes, I realised that was something else she'd picked up.

When I mentioned I loved Wes Anderson films she got me a book on him for my birthday saying "Let's always live in Wes Anderson land" but I think it turned out she'd only seen 3 of his films despite seemingly being a massive fan.

She was interested in classics and history growing up, her Mum used to be interested in them so I guess she got it from her. When she went to university she met this girl (who seems to be a total drama queen) and just became this girl who didn't do anything except go shopping and go on night's out. She said she wanted to do things at uni but her friends weren't interested.

A few people have talked about her being a chameleon. It comes from a place of insecurity I think. They want to be liked desperately so they will mould themselves to be what they think people want them to be.

Title: Re: BEHAVIORS: Unstable self-image
Post by: tvda on February 11, 2021, 01:46:37 PM
In the case of my BDPex, this could be taken quite literally.

Our conversations were littered with literal statements like:
- I don't know who I am
- I have completely lost myself
- There are two side two me, a dark and a light one, and they keep on oscillating

During moments of severe stress, this would get to:
- I don't even recognise that woman in the mirror
- I don't even recognise my own kids anymore. Who are these little persons in my house?

Needless to say, this made conversations during difficult times very frustrating - because every remark was answered with "I don't know why I do or did those things. That's not me."

She is also highly influencable. Unfortunately, she's "under the spell" of a NPD partner now, who is more than willing to tell her what she is, and who she is, and what the truth about things is.

I remember in the end, trying to get her to open her eyes to no avail about her relationship dynamics. I told her "can't you see how HE is telling you what you think and feel, and that you just go along with it?"

Her response was "Well, he says that's not true." Impossible to try to save/fix that line of reasoning...