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Author Topic: BEHAVIORS: Dysregulating  (Read 7798 times)
Liss

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« on: May 10, 2010, 06:01:15 AM »

Can anyone explain to me what is meant by the term dysregulating' ?  My exBPDbf seems to cycle through periods of 'normal' and then every 2-3 mos or so, distorted, odd ( in my opinion) thinking.  He's very high functioning.
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« Reply #1 on: May 10, 2010, 01:42:16 PM »

Dysregulation refers to the phenomenon where a person's emotions are not regulated properly.  It happens to pwBPD, and can also to those of us who are trying to deal with them when we get pushed and respond badly. 

From Wikipedia (www.en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Emotional_dysregulation):

Emotional dysregulation (ED) is a term used in the mental health community to refer to an emotional response that is poorly modulated, and does not fall within the conventionally accepted range of emotive response. ED may be referred to as labile mood[1] or mood swings.

Possible manifestations of emotional dysregulation include angry outbursts or behavior outbursts such as destroying or throwing objects, aggression towards self or others, and threats to kill oneself. These variations usually occur in seconds to minutes or hours. Emotional dysregulation can lead to behavioral problems and can interfere with a person's social interactions and relationships at home, in school, or at place of employment.

Emotional dysregulation can be associated with an experience of early psychological trauma, brain injury, or chronic maltreatment (such as child abuse, child neglect, or institutional neglect/abuse), and associated disorders such as reactive attachment disorder.[2] Emotional dysregulation may present in people with psychiatric disorders such as bipolar disorder, borderline personality disorder, and Complex post-traumatic stress disorder.[3][4] ED is also found among those with autism spectrum disorders, including Asperger syndrome.[3]
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« Reply #2 on: May 11, 2010, 03:52:47 PM »

Hi Liss and  Welcome

Can anyone explain to me what is meant by the term ':)ysregulating' ?  My exBPDbf seems to cycle through periods of 'normal' and then every 2-3 mos or so, distorted, odd ( in my opinion) thinking.  He's very high functioning.

I have read that some people describe Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) as Emotional Dysregulation Disorder.  One of the qualities associated with BPD is an inability to "regulate" or temper one's own emotions.  This is not to say that they are always emotional.  Rather, when they do experience emotions, it can easily overwhelm them; and they often use disordered means to cope with these emotions.

An obvious example of "emotional dysregulation" is when someone with BPD experiences episodes of rage.   A less obvious example of emotional dysregulation, which may be what you observe when you notice "distorted, odd thinking": the means by which they "cope" with their overwhelming emotion is by "severe dissociative symptoms."

And this can include a whole swath of behaviors.  Sometimes they might "dissociate" or "disconnect."  Like for example, one instance they seem to be getting upset, and then they appear disconnected as if they might be in a day-dreaming state.  Sometimes they might use external means to enhance this dissociation such as through drugs and alcohol.  The disconnection can apply to their memory or recollection of events: for example, if something happened which upset them, they might "remember" it differently later, and remember it in a way that does not upset them.

In my experience, a typical example of this kind of behavior was when my BPDgf was realizing something upsetting about herself (ie, some flaw, or error in judgment); she might begin to berate herself and feel as a complete failure even though it might be over something I thought was not terribly important, such as something that made her feel unworthy of being in our relationship.  But later, it would seem to me as if I was suddenly the person who could not "get it right."  And she could NEVER articulate exactly what it was about me that was making her feel as if the relationship was no longer working (for her), but she was convinced that it was no longer working.  --- in this case the "dissociation" was coupled with "projection." 

She "disconnected" her feelings of inadequacy in our relationship and "projected" those feelings onto me; suddenly I was no longer worthy of being in a relationship with her.  And granted she often said it in the nicest way possible ("it's me, not you", it always seemed insincere and confusing to me.  I just didn't realize then, that she was distorting her thinking in order to cope with her emotional dysregulation.  One way of looking at it, is they use "delusion" as a means of coping.

Best wishes, Schwing
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« Reply #3 on: May 12, 2010, 05:00:54 AM »

Thanks Schwing, the technical term can be somewhat bland to relate to .  When I first started dating X he would call me before work because he just HAD to see me.  He HAD to... .he really couldn't wait and insisted that he needed just one quick hug and woldn't settle for anything less,at 6:30 a.m.  He would be so excited to see me and would just breathe this tremendous sigh of relief after he'd gotten his hug & kiss.  While I found his behavior odd, it was flattering and seemed harmless.  During the early stage of our relationship he would seem so elated to be around me.  A co worker at one point expressed concern for him because he just seemed "too" happy.  He would literally dance around the shop and such.  Then on a different occasion, X, I and another co worker were working on a project and the other co worker solved a technical problem that we'd been having with some of the equip.  For some reason unknown to anybody, this sent X off into a verbal rage against co worker with X calling him one disgusting profanity after another until co worker finally had enough and warned him to back off in a not so nice way. Nobody could ever figure that one off although I'm guessing X was upset that he hadn't been the one to solve the problem first.  I personally have never been on the receiving end of any of his rages thank goodness but I'm aware of several that he expressed against his xwife and 12yr old daughter.  So I'm guessing that these examples may have been displays of him at times when he was dysregulating(?) and I was unaware at the time that there was an illness called BPD, so therefore had no idea what I was actually witnessing?We are still working together and it appears to me that he is trying at work to be even tempered and amicable toward me.It's difficult, I tend to try to observe his behaviors.
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« Reply #4 on: May 12, 2010, 02:32:07 PM »

... .When I first started dating X he would call me before work because he just HAD to see me.  He HAD to... .he really couldn't wait and insisted that he needed just one quick hug and woldn't settle for anything less,at 6:30 a.m.  He would be so excited to see me and would just breathe this tremendous sigh of relief after he'd gotten his hug & kiss.  While I found his behavior odd, it was flattering and seemed harmless. 

This behavior may related to a couple of qualities associated with BPD.  People with BPD (pwBPD) lack object constancy; which is to say, when you are out of sight, they have great difficulty perceiving in their mind your emotional attachment to them.  They cannot sustain in their mind ("keep constant" your love ("the object".  For non-disordered people, this "emotional memory" is more substantial.  For example, you don't expect someone you have been married to for several years to suddenly run off with someone new; the duration of your attachment (assuming it has been healthy) carries with it a sense of security.  Nor can you see yourself forming a completely new attachment while you are seriously involved with someone else in a committed relationship; again the attachment is proportionate to the history.  But for pwBPD, it would not make any difference if you have been together for 7 days or 7 years, when you are out of sight, their "emotional memory" of your attachment is replaced by the fear of abandonment.  Their attachment is either "all on" or "all off."  And when you are not around, they fear that it has become "all off."

So in your example, your X may have been overwhelmed by his insecurity that you have "abandoned" him.  And this is why it was so imperative that he see you immediately.  In his mind, he NEEDED to be reminded of your attachment to him, because he himself could not sustain it in his mind.  And on those occasions when he did not get the emotional "reminder" which he sought, he would have been overwhelmed and dysregulated by his own fear of abandonment.

During the early stage of our relationship he would seem so elated to be around me.  A co worker at one point expressed concern for him because he just seemed "too" happy.  He would literally dance around the shop and such. 

The emotional dysregulation works both ways.  They are dysregulated by powerfully "negative" emotions such as anger, insecurity/fear, grief/loss, or else by powerfully "positive" emotions such as bliss or elation.  In either case, they do not have the emotional skills to TEMPER or regulate their emotions, skills which non-disordered people take for granted, skills which we all assume has been developed through emotional maturation.

Then on a different occasion, X, I and another co worker were working on a project and the other co worker solved a technical problem that we'd been having with some of the equip.  For some reason unknown to anybody, this sent X off into a verbal rage against co worker with X calling him one disgusting profanity after another until co worker finally had enough and warned him to back off in a not so nice way. Nobody could ever figure that one off although I'm guessing X was upset that he hadn't been the one to solve the problem first. 

I think you assessment of what may have happened was accurate.  Maybe in his mind, he believed himself the smartest person in the room (perhaps in order to impress you).  But when reality did not support his delusion, he became dysregulated by his anger than someone contradicted his delusion.

I personally have never been on the receiving end of any of his rages thank goodness but I'm aware of several that he expressed against his xwife and 12yr old daughter.  So I'm guessing that these examples may have been displays of him at times when he was dysregulating(?) and I was unaware at the time that there was an illness called BPD, so therefore had no idea what I was actually witnessing?We are still working together and it appears to me that he is trying at work to be even tempered and amicable toward me.It's difficult, I tend to try to observe his behaviors.

It may be only a matter of time before you are on the "receiving end."  Considering that this fellow has been willing to rage against his own 12 year old daughter and xwife (and presuming even before she was an ex).  I think this will happen once he is no longer trying to impress (or seduce) you.
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« Reply #5 on: May 14, 2010, 10:49:15 AM »

Excerpt
One of the criteria for diagnosing BPD is "extreme and inappropriate" anger, but I'm willing to bet that any extreme and inappropriate, weird, off-the-wall emotional reaction (particularly if the individual displays extreme and inappropriate responses frequently) would be a Big Red Flag for emotional dysregulation, or some kind of mental illness, seems to me.

what i see... w/R... he doesnt always get... violent angry... but his emotional responses are still... weird... he does kind of click off. and get real quiet... or all emotion shuts down... and everything shifts to logic... or to a specific way of talking that is calm but real detached... or... he can talk about really violent abuse... that he lived w/as a kid... and be smiling... or laugh... which is real weird to see... bc it like... doesnt fit what hes talking about...

when hes dysregulated... i think it also changes how his brain is thinking... like w/the person and the soda machine... he doesnt change gears real well... and some stuff he just doesnt process... or it takes a lot of careful explaining for it to click... like trying to talk to somebody at a rock concert... a lot of yelling... and the other person saying 'what?'
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« Reply #6 on: May 14, 2010, 11:12:08 AM »

Schwing mentioned Emotional Dysregulation, and the inappropriate emotional response often seen in mental illnesses. Also, that alcohol and drugs are used to cope with the emotions. How common is it that people with BPD use alcohol?

I lived with a bf with symptoms of BPD (rage, self-mutilation, blaming, isolation, mistrust) who was earlier diagnosed with anxiety and panic attacks. He had sudden mood swings, one word could trigger anger. He became worse when he used alcohol which was almost daily. He never used drugs. Not even prescription anti-anxiety meds.

I talked to a counselor who said that he may have suffered from more than one illness which requires years of therapy. Sounds like a lifelong project.
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« Reply #7 on: May 14, 2010, 12:31:07 PM »

Regular alcohol or drug use will lead to emotional problems and deteriorating health. They just don't see it coming. Alcoholics who try to quit or cut down on drinking become very irritated and agitated, doesnt take much to make them angry.

My ex bf was constantly irritated, he was a working professional during the day, but he skipped his meds, was verbally and physically abusive at home. I had to watch every step at home to avoid confrontations. Now I wonder whether it was the disease or the daily wine and beer drinking. Or do they most often go together, they can't stand their own emotions without drugs&alcohol. He still drinks like his dad who died in his early 60s and spent all nights at the bar whenever he got his paycheck.

Sometimes when I write my story I feel like a fool, how did I not see the red flags? Alcohol abuse, verbal abuse, physical threats, bruises on my body from a dysfunctional relationship, all that crap and now I am trying to find a new life.   
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« Reply #8 on: June 09, 2010, 02:38:05 PM »

My own experience with emotional dysregulation (kind of a view from the inside):

My mom is most likely uBPD and a lot of other pwBPD are clustered in our family. So although I sincerely do not believe I qualify as BPD, I also don't think I was adequately nurtured in the area of responding in an emotionally appropriate manner ... .I have both OVER reacted and UNDER reacted in various situations. Examples:

Letting one of my children's behavior get so under my skin that I got ANGRY at something that in retrospect was a minor irritant. Sometimes a repeated irritant acts like saNPDaper on my nerves ... .it's really not a big deal but if it's repeated often enough, I can react WAY out of proportion to it.

Depression ... .I think a state of depression probably results from chronic under-responding to stressors, for WHATEVER reason. You get to the point that you have no motivation (which is kind of an emotional kick in the pants for whatever you need to do in the moment), and you are numb (an INABILITY to respond emotionally, definitely a component of dysregulation), and your emotions are so used up/squished down/burned out that you can't feel positive emotions or pleasure.

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« Reply #9 on: June 09, 2010, 02:42:06 PM »

Continuing in another post because the "reply" window was weirding out on me ... .

WHen my father died, I became so focused on peripheral issues (like a meeting I was scheduled to go to) that I FELT crazy. It's like my mind stuck like glue to stupid stuff and wouldn't let go. It took me two years to truly weep over his death.

When my daughter had a head injury and was having an MRI, I had the same reaction ... .I was so worried that she had just had her ears pierced and was going to be SO MAD if they took them out and she had to have them re-pierced. I knew that issue was unimportant but it's like I couldn't let the real issue inside my bubble.

These things aren't something you decide to do ... .even when I was inside the situations mentioned above, I was thinking, "I am having a weird reaction."
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« Reply #10 on: July 06, 2010, 11:33:26 AM »

Famed BPD researcher Marsha Linehan is a very big fan of the term "emotional dysregulation." Google the term along with her name for lots of info.
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« Reply #11 on: November 10, 2010, 10:08:33 PM »

Im new and learning. just wanted to know if dysregulation and rage are the same thing or two different things?   are there words or phrases that would send a BPD into an immediate dystregulation and/or rage ?  also are they already dysregulated when they rage and are they aware that they are raging?  My T says they can target the rage on purpose and are completely in control and aware of raging. I disagree with her, my ex BPD looked psychotic when he raged , he was saying things that werent happening. it looked like he was going in and out of reality. he would scream and then get soft spoken , going back and forth . scream call me names then calmly say i love you.
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« Reply #12 on: November 11, 2010, 06:58:24 AM »

Good question.

Emotional dysregulation (ED) is a term used in the mental health community to refer to an emotional response that is poorly modulated, and does not fall within the conventionally accepted range of emotive response. ED is also referred to as labile mood or mood swings.

Rage is one type of dysregulation and is sometimes referred to as Temper Dysregulation.

Marjorie Garvey, MB, BCh., Program Chief at the National Institution of Health, studies dysregulated mood, anxiety, emotional processing, and biobehavioral processes such as sleep and appetite. Examples of areas of interest include positive mood and negative mood, suicidality, anxiety, fear, mood cycling, sleep/circadian rhythm disturbance, appetite dyscontrol, and motivation.
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« Reply #13 on: November 11, 2010, 07:07:58 AM »

Dysregulation and rage, to echo Skip, aren't one and the same. Rage is acting-out, dysregulation for someone who's acting-in would be different (IE rage directed internally). It's strange what your T has said; the whole point of dysregulation is that its ... .well, dysregulated, there's a lack of control.
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« Reply #14 on: November 11, 2010, 11:04:58 AM »

thank you all for the answers. As I said I really didnt feel the rage was done on purpose . My T felt the rage was pre planned and executed on purpose. Like I said I didnt see that at all. everything was quiet and looked fine, my ex stated a change of plans to what we would do, he didnt do that in an angry tone at all. when he stated what the change in plans was, I quietly said one word " what". thats when he began screaming and seemed to lose control. then he started stuttering , looked like he was struggling trying to find insulting things to say to me , which he was having a hard time doing.  He kept saying " stop screaming at me , which I wasnt. That was very wierd. Most of the insults were lame and childish, they didnt make any sense. he was screaming the insults at the top of his lungs. he would stop get really soft spoken and say I love you intermittently. then he started giving me an evil stare saying " stop calling me retarded" , which I never did . i was quiet through this whole episode.
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« Reply #15 on: November 12, 2010, 11:31:40 AM »

sure... theres some phrases i know that are guaranteed to set R off... pretty much... any invalidation does it...

i think if he does rage... which aint often... hes usually already dysregulated... and something pushes him over to act out instead of coming around or acting in... if i get any sense hes dysregulated... i usually give him lots of space

rage/dysregulation usually burns out a lot faster than if hes just in a bad mood and somebody gets on his nerves...
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« Reply #16 on: November 13, 2010, 06:14:56 PM »

Emotional dysregulation means all emotions go up and down and can't easily be controlled by the person. This could be any kind of emotion and all kinds of emotion. Anger is one emotion in one direction. So ED is an umbrella term and rage would be beneath it. Your therapist may think that men can't have BPD (not true) so he must be a pre-planned abuser. You are in the best position to know if the rage was impulsive or planned. I'm glad you were thinking for yourself. Randi KregerThe Essential Family Guide to Borderline Personality Disorder
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« Reply #17 on: November 14, 2010, 07:30:25 AM »

I think "raging" is a blamey way of saying "angrily dysregulated."

Many people at this board think their partners do things on purpose that most of them don't do on purpose.

Though sometimes any of us can get angry on purpose to scare others away from our pain.
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« Reply #18 on: November 15, 2010, 05:14:53 PM »

i think... thats a good point too... honestly... there are real few times R is ever nasty on purpose... if he gets nasty... hes already over the edge and dysregulated and its better to let him cool off... even when he is dysregulated... most of the time he kind of goes into his shell... doesnt act out to other people as much...
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« Reply #19 on: November 15, 2010, 06:22:09 PM »

I ended things with my ex upon that first rage I spoke of above. I said " thats it" and walked away with no discussion. havent talked to him since. Its been 7 weeks now no contact or attempts on either side.  Now that ive thought about things and really feel it wasnt on purpose based on my own feeling about what I saw, im feeling guilty a bit . maybe if I had been more educated I wouldnt have been so quick to walk away. I wonder how he felt after I said " thats it", especially if its something he had no control over. Sad just sad.
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« Reply #20 on: November 16, 2010, 10:47:30 AM »

I think "raging" is a blamey way of saying "angrily dysregulated."Many people at this board think their partners do things on purpose that most of them don't do on purpose. Though sometimes any of us can get angry on purpose to scare others away from our pain.

People are not responsible for having a mental illness. But people with PDs have a choice, just like we all have choices. The diabetic or person with heart disease can live a healthy lifestyle or not.
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« Reply #21 on: November 16, 2010, 01:19:45 PM »

I think "raging" is a blamey way of saying "angrily dysregulated."

Many people at this board think their partners do things on purpose that most of them don't do on purpose.

Though sometimes any of us can get angry on purpose to scare others away from our pain.

People are not responsible for having a mental illness. But people with PDs have a choice, just like we all have choices. The diabetic or person with heart disease can live a healthy lifestyle or not.

sometimes... ive seen R totally snap too... his brain disconnects... he deals w/pretty severe dissociating... w/no memory of what happened... he usually comes out of it a bit later... far as i know those blanks dont get filled in unless somebody says explains what happened... even then... not sure he gets it any more than he would a description of something happening to somebody else...

somebody w/heart disease... can live a healthy lifestyle... and still have a heart attack...

still... BB... its kind of something to decide for yourself... odds are... if your ex lost it once... itd happen again... have to think if thats the kind of relationship you want for yourself... if not... no need to feel guilty...
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« Reply #22 on: December 06, 2010, 10:17:28 PM »

I sometimes wondered why my ex could not remember some of the things he said while raging. Or he remembered and claimed he didnt mean it. Often he pictured his ex's as something good and me as the worst thing that ever happened to him. If I tried to leave he got furious saying that I didnt love him.   

It was not possible to talk to him or make him calm down once he got upset... .he continued for hours or days even when I was quiet... .this is probably an example of emotional dysregulation? Once he was put on medication and it helped, maybe he was bipolar.

This disease is quite complex.

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« Reply #23 on: December 12, 2010, 08:14:52 PM »

Excerpt
People are not responsible for having a mental illness. But people with PDs have a choice, just like we all have choices. The diabetic or person with heart disease can live a healthy lifestyle or not.

Thank you. That is very true.
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« Reply #24 on: December 18, 2010, 10:32:39 PM »

They are different. As someone who is dx BPD myself, I am totally different from my BPD mother. I honestly don't have rages. My mother, however does. My emotions are 'dysregulated' meaning that at times, I can't control how much something affects me. For example, sometimes the smallest of things leaves me feeling suicidal, though to the average person, it would be a bug on a windshield. Raging comes under dysregulation, but they do not mean the same thing.
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