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THE PSYCHOLOGY OF PERSONALITY DISORDERS
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Author Topic: BPD BEHAVIORS: Waif, Hermit, Queen, and Witch  (Read 97538 times)
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« on: August 26, 2007, 11:20:42 PM »

Borderline Personality Disorder can manifest itself in mutliple ways. In her book, Understanding The Borderline Mother, Dr. Christine Lawson describes four role types which BPD is exemplified by:

~the Waif,

~the Hermit,

~the Queen, and

~the Witch.

The Queen is controlling, the Witch is sadistic, the Hermit is fearful, and the Waif is helpless.  Each requires a different approach. Don't let the Queen get the upper hand; be wary even of accepting gifts because it engenders expectations. Don't internalize the Hermit's fears or become limited by them. Don't allow yourself to be alone with the Witch; maintain distance for your own emotional and physical safety. And with the Waif, don't get pulled into her crises and sense of victimization; "pay attention to your own tendencies to want to rescue her, which just feeds the dynamic.

This workshop is about identifying the BPD types and ways to cope such as:

Being Firm But Sensitive - Personal validation, which is important in any situation, is essential with a borderline parent. Express your awareness of their emotions even as you set boundaries.

Trust Yourself - Many children of borderline parents say they felt crazy growing up. They experience a lot of inconsistencies—an action or statement that earned praise one day would touch off a three-day, stony silent treatment the next—as well as sudden outbursts and overreactions.  They never learn to trust their own judgment or feelings. An important element of recovery is to accept that you're not crazy"

Trust Others -  People who've survived a borderline parent most frequently suffer from feelings of worthlessness, fear of abandonment, and fear of people in general because these adult children received "such mixed messages—you're a great person one day and you're horrible the next" — there's a certain mistrust of people because you're always afraid they're going to hurt you.

Defend Your Boundaries  - Children of borderline parents are often forced to act as the parent themselves— it's often like a child raising a child.  The children grow up very quickly in many ways and can act as caretaker for everyone, often at the expense of taking care of themselves.  An important part of recovery is to set limits for the parent, set them for other people and learn to put yourself first.

Thanks in advance for your participation in this workshop.

Skippy

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The link to the discussion of Understanding the Borderline Mother:

https://bpdfamily.com/message_board/index.php?topic=53779.0
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Mollyd
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« Reply #1 on: August 27, 2007, 10:58:55 AM »

Unfortunately, I've loaned my UTBM book to someone, and can't remember who.  However, as a jumping off point, I'd like to add:

"Degradation by someone who claims to love you is qualitatively different than degradation by a stranger," (Christine Ann Lawson, Ph.D.).  

The types described by Lawson are not absolute categories.  For example, I can recall my stepmother vacillating between the waif/queen and waif/witch.  The importance of this is in coping strategies needed, if one determines they would like to maintain some sort of relationship with the person acting out in these ways.  Soping strategy ideas are identified in the titles of different chapters, such as:

Loving the Waif Without Rescuing Her (Implying a clear sense of self and ability to hold boundaries.  De-tangling co-dependent relationship tendencies would be part of healing)

Loving the Hermit Without Feeding Her Fear (I've seen this played out a great deal with folks who refuse to drive (their afraid), refuse to work (people bug them), refuse to leave the house (they'd rather stay at home).  So, not enabling these fears by "doing for them" what they need to is part of the boundary work with this type of acting out.)

Loving the Queen Without Becoming Her Subject (I view one of the needed skills to be able to do this as exemplified in the Four Agreements [Do my best, be impeccable, not take anything personally, and don't make assumptions].  Understanding that people acting out Queen behaviors are operating with faulty filters and in an unrecovered state may allow us to walk away when the "Queen" is being queenly, and rejoin when he/she has returned to a more civil state.  The demand of the Queen on her children or those around her to be a subject can be influential in one's ability to maintain some contact or not.)

Living with the Witch Without Becoming her Vicitm (Lawson, imo, implies, even in this title when one is in "witch" form, loving is not really part of the picture.  I read this as the name of the game is survival.  Boundaries about what we are willing to tolerate, and more, why we would tolerate abusive behavior is the work here).

I also found the following summation of Lawson's words of value:

The Waif  "learned that submissive behavior was the most adaptive response to an oppressive environment." She also "sees herself as an incompetent failure, and is overly dependent on the approval of others."

The Hermit is "a perfectionist, a worrier, and . . . an insomniac. . . Hermit mothers suffer from persistent fantasies of harm coming to themselves or others, and tend to attribute hostile intentions to others."

Queen mothers "compete with their children for time, attention, love, and money." And "The dramatic and sometimes hysterical behavior of the Queen mother can terrify her children."

And finally, Witch mothers can be "bitter, demanding, sarcastic, and cruel," and "Witch mothers know what to say to hurt or scare their children, and use humiliation and degradation to punish them."

Best,

Molly
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« Reply #2 on: August 27, 2007, 02:40:53 PM »

I think we also need to add in the fairy tale fathers. It is pretty common on the children of board to watch a person process their mother's illness and then have a lightbulb moment where the father is concerned.

page 179: Understanding the father's relationship with the Borderline Mother is essential in understanding the child's experience.

The Waif marries a Frog Prince, someone she can rescue and who she thinks will rescue her.The Waif identifies with the Frog's helplessness and fantasizes about providing for him what she needs for herself.

The Hermit seeks a Hunter, a partner who will pity and protect her. The Borderline Hermit envies the Huntsmen's courage desperately seeks his soothng presence.

The Queen seeks a King, somone who attracts attention through his prominence, wealth or power. The Queen therefore is more likely to marry a Narcissist-or King.

The Witch seeks a Fisherman, someone she can dominate and control (hey there dad). She chooses a subservient partner who admires her courage and who relinquishes his will at her command.


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« Reply #3 on: August 27, 2007, 08:08:57 PM »

I have a tendency to simplify things to the least common denominator.

There isn't one "category" that cannot be met effectively by pure detachment.  Once you truly realize that you're "in it," you discover that you cannot fix it.  You have to begin by putting your own life in order to prepare for the next appropriate step (be it divorce, break-up between unmarried partners, etc).   Becoming selfish with the important things in life... yourself and your children (if there are any)... and detaching yourself from becoming embroiled in the drama, no matter which category s/he is in - you will ultimately be better prepared for the end of the relationship, whether initiated by you or her/him.
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« Reply #4 on: August 27, 2007, 10:31:47 PM »

Once you truly realize that you're "in it," you discover that you cannot fix it.  You have to begin by putting your own life in order to prepare for the next appropriate step (be it divorce, break-up between unmarried partners, etc). 

I do see what you are saying, Mr. M. However, it is very hard and difficult to put your own life in order when you have never seen what a  real life looks life. To me, chaos was normal as it was and is for many children of BP parents, adult or otherwise.

The categories do help. The way a person detaches from a Waif mother is vastly different than how one would detach from a Witch.
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« Reply #5 on: August 28, 2007, 09:06:59 AM »

I do see what you are saying, Mr. M. However, it is very hard and difficult to put your own life in order when you have never seen what a  real life looks life.

I agree, which is why I wrote, Once you realize you're in it...

The suggestion I offered is rather simplistic as many of those dealing with a suspected BPD have issues of their own that prevent them from realizing that there is something very wrong with their partner.  The longer they're in it, the worse this can become and the vicious cycle only gets worse.

Personally, I never reached a point where I was ever convinced that I was who I was portrayed to be, but that very often is the exception, not the rule.  I didn't even "discover" BPD until after everything came apart.

That's a big issue... being able to discover what you're dealing with as early in the process as possible.  In the absence of that discovery but still realizing something is wrong, a person must find the inner strength to realize:

- I am not the demon my partner oftentimes makes me out to be.

- I am a very good and caring person.

- The stories/version of events given to me by my partner are not real.

- I will continue to be who I am and will simply not be convinced I am something else by this person.

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« Reply #6 on: August 28, 2007, 10:00:44 AM »

Perhaps the distinction lies not so much in the type or category of the BPD, but in the individual's relationship TO the BPD.  In other words, if the BPD is your parent, there are far more complex issues to consider when attempting to disengage oneself.

Quote
That's a big issue... being able to discover what you're dealing with as early in the process as possible.  In the absence of that discovery but still realizing something is wrong, a person must find the inner strength to realize:

- I am not the demon my partner oftentimes makes me out to be.

- I am a very good and caring person.

- The stories/version of events given to me by my partner are not real.

- I will continue to be who I am and will simply not be convinced I am something else by this person.

Considering these very valid points through the eyes of a child (even an adult child) would present a different perspective than it would from a partner of a BPD.  I think that may be your point, screamingfire?
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« Reply #7 on: August 29, 2007, 09:01:38 AM »

I'm also convinced, based on reading here over the months and years, that people can switch "types"...  either as the situation demands, or over years.  I think that many with BPD turn more "hermitish" over the years.
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« Reply #8 on: September 27, 2007, 08:21:49 AM »

I just reread the book recently, and I read it out of order some.  I read about all of the "Mom" traits, then went back and read about the Fairy Tale fathers part.  Until I got to the fathers part, I saw bits of her in all of them, but more of the witch than I originally thought. 

I analyzed myself as a Hunter / Fisherman.  And this explains my stress when I realized that I was letting her get away with her bad behavior, though not specifically helping with it too often.  I turned that around...  and here I am.  And the Hermit / Witch definitely fits the bill for her - I'd have thought more waif before, but not any longer.

I have to wonder if analyzing myself is actually a better way to gauge her?  I reread the book with the upcoming D in mind - I needed to get a feel for how she would likely react.  I now know that I haven't yet really abandoned her (I work from home, don't travel much, enabled, enabled, and enabled).  So it could be that "I ain't seen nothing yet".
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« Reply #9 on: October 26, 2007, 12:20:58 PM »

The Borderline mother, especially the Queen/Witch variety, will view the children as all good or all bad.  Either way, the children become her emotional victims.  This books shows that children treated as all good do not get a realistic view of life and are at higher risk of becoming Narcissistic.  Children treated as all bad become very insecure, have low self esteem and are at higher risk of becoming Borderline.

I've found that in my case, and apparently others, when the mother sees the marriage disintegrating and the father preparing to stand up for himself and the children, the children may at first be viewed as all good since the father is being blasted as Mr. Evil Incarnate.  In a way, this serves to protect the children from the worst of her animosity since she is so focused upon the now rejected spouse who is all bad.  But eventually as time goes on, her interactions with the children will allow her to resume splitting.
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« Reply #10 on: November 16, 2007, 02:53:00 PM »

OK, wow...

I just finished the book, and I loved and hated every minute of it.  Here's my questions:

1) The book seemed to imply that "The Witch" could emerge from any of the other 3 types at any time, if the right buttons were pushed, but I wasn't sure if I was reading that correctly.  Do you agree? 

2)  My uBPD mom seemed to have aspects of all of them at different times, but the Waif was her primary role as I went NC.  Multiple suicide attempts, threats of suicide, etc. Is it possible to move through these types in stages?  Or even several different types at once? 

3)  I'm now very concerned that my all-black sister could become a BPD, but since I went NC, momster now has unrestricted access to her.  .  At the very least, when we were growing up, I could help sis process things.  But more often than not, I didn't know what to do, and I didn't know how to help.  I'm afraid I hurt her.   cry    Maybe now she's "the good child," since I "turned against" momster.  Should I do ANYTHING to try and help sis?  I really don't think she believes me when I tell her that momster is the problem----she thinks it's all my fault, and if I would just "forgive and forget," then we'd be "a real family again."  It breaks my friggin' heart. 

4) the book says that, in order to fully recover, we need to understand where we've come from.  That seems true.  But what do you do NEXT once you've digested all this?  Therapy seems to be the book's only recommendation.  I guess I'm just like the "good child" who's afraid of trusting in the therapist...

Gosh, I really think I tried to take in too much at once.  I feel like I need to lay down, drink some water, watch some fall leaves blow around----SOMETHING. 
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This board is intended for general questions about BPD and other personality disorders, trait definitions, and related therapies and diagnostics. Topics should be formatted as a question.

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« Reply #11 on: December 05, 2007, 06:19:11 PM »

Joanna, I completely agreewith swiching roles - in my case anyway.

I believe they have complete control over this as well.

My BPDm is a witch - completely rageful, physcially and mentally abusive.  However, in front of my dad she is a waif - boohoo poor me.

This helps her survive.  I have, since a little girl, told my father about moms behavior because she is NEVER the witch in his presence.  In order for mom to remain in control she turns into the waif so dad will believe her and feel sorry for her - with him she appears helpless and abused.
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« Reply #12 on: December 11, 2007, 06:00:29 PM »

Trust Yourself - Many children of borderline parents say they felt crazy growing up. They experience a lot of inconsistencies—an action or statement that earned praise one day would touch off a three-day, stony silent treatment the next—as well as sudden outbursts and overreactions.  They never learn to trust their own judgment or feelings. An important element of recovery is to accept that you're not crazy"

wow- this is he most important piece of information that I got off this board so far. I didn't realize that the crazy feeling was so common.
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« Reply #13 on: December 17, 2007, 02:09:35 PM »

Though I have not been able to find a copy of the book that I can afford, I was reading sections of it last night in a book store.  There were many times where I was gasping outloud.  So many descriptions of behavior (especailly The Witch) and the effects they had on the child cut very close to my emotional bone.  I will be sure to buy the book when I find a copy that I can afford.  I know from reading the sections that I did, I know there will be items that will make for future threads on this board.
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« Reply #14 on: December 17, 2007, 02:27:54 PM »

Bart,

  You can request the book at your local library.  If they don't have it, they can get it from another library.  It will just take some time.  As a last resort, they can get it from the Library of Congress (thas is, if you are in the U.S.)

Abigail
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« Reply #15 on: August 01, 2011, 09:24:07 AM »

I also found the following summation of Lawson's words of value:

The Waif  "learned that submissive behavior was the most adaptive response to an oppressive environment." She also "sees herself as an incompetent failure, and is overly dependent on the approval of others."

The Hermit is "a perfectionist, a worrier, and . . . an insomniac. . . Hermit mothers suffer from persistent fantasies of harm coming to themselves or others, and tend to attribute hostile intentions to others."

Queen mothers "compete with their children for time, attention, love, and money." And "The dramatic and sometimes hysterical behavior of the Queen mother can terrify her children."

And finally, Witch mothers can be "bitter, demanding, sarcastic, and cruel," and "Witch mothers know what to say to hurt or scare their children, and use humiliation and degradation to punish them."

My mother fit the bill to all of these (practically a textbook case). 8 years have passed since she died and I actually feel guilty for making this post.
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« Reply #16 on: August 28, 2011, 10:50:28 AM »

I only recently learned about BPD and I read many books, including Understanding the Borderline Mother.  I have many questions.  My dad has NPD and my mother is the Hermit with Waif tendencies.  I am the all good child and my brother is the scapegoat (these roles were reversed when we were younger).  So, my questions are

1.) Do the behavoirs of NPD and BPD parents "feed" on one another

2.) when one is in crisis mode and the other stays calm sometimes and not others - why is that?  

3.)  My father used to frequently threaten suicide and still does, I believe, (I do not have a relationship with him). Is there anything to be done?  

4.) When parents split their children from earliest childhood into adulthood, is it possible to heal the parent-caused, old wounds between you and develop a relationship, and if so, can you recommend some resources?  

5.) Is there a book that deals with a NPD and BPD relationship and how that affects the children or are the affects the same as having just one parent with a disorder?  

6.) Can a person develop a sense of identity if they do not have one or will they always lack their own identity?  

7.) I have almost no memories from childhood (about 10 or 11).  Is the loss permanent?

8.)  I dissociate sometimes.  Are there techniques to teach myself not to do this behavior?  I apologize for the volume of questions and an answer to any or all of them is most appreciated.  

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« Reply #17 on: January 09, 2012, 11:57:38 AM »

I'm no expert but from what I've read here, and what my T says, yes it is very common for a pwBPD to switch between the types. Most, however, usually have 1 or 2 prominent. I was confused by that at first, too. I read the Borderline Mothers book thinking everyone with BPD would fit neatly into one category. That's not the case.

For example, my mom is mostly queen, with some witch as well as hermit thrown in. Every now and then the waif would show up.
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« Reply #18 on: September 15, 2013, 03:46:27 PM »

I agree with those that said this is the best book to learn about BPD. I LOVE this book and refer to it very often. I come from a family of three sisters. My mom was a borderline hermit. I am a waif, my sister's are also borderline. One is a queen the other queen/witch. The post that refers to who particular borderlines tends to marry (sorry, I can't recall who posted it) is so right on! Me and my sister's fit exactly into these categories. I knew I loved this book but putting that part together today cemented that fact. It's odd that many borderlines don't know about this book. I know it's expensive, but they don't know about it at all. I share the info with as many people as possible b/c it's that good. When I came across it at Barnes & Noble one day it literally jumped off the shelf. I kept walking away b/c of the cost (I think is was over $40). But I couldn't get away from it and gave in. I got, and continue to get, my money's worth and more. This is a great thread & a great board.

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« Reply #19 on: May 29, 2014, 03:20:14 PM »

My SO's uBPDex has bits of each too.  Mostly a queen...  my way or the highway and Waif...  I'm sick and in pain with every disease known to man!  But she can be a hermit too...  I can't go I don't drive and Emotionally a witch...  you're not doing what I (the queen) tells you to do so therefore you are painted black!
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« Reply #20 on: June 12, 2014, 11:06:26 AM »

I can say without a doubt my wife is a combination of Waif, Witch and Queen, it depends on which one she is that day or situation.

The Waif is the easiest to deal with as she is somewhat down and at least will listen and be comforted.

The Queen version is the uppity entitled version that looks down on everyone else. I cant stand this one either. She will discard my compliments but accept anything from any other male. This version also points out my lack of ability to make her happy.

The Witch is for those split black. Unforgiving, revenge and punishment. This tends to be the scariest and where my hopelessness comes from. This is the worst version by far.
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« Reply #21 on: February 17, 2015, 11:40:05 AM »

My mother fit the bill to all of these (practically a textbook case). 8 years have passed since she died and I actually feel guilty for making this post.

I just posted for the first time today and I felt guilty for making the post as well, because I know if she knew I posted about her, she would be incredibly hurt and make me feel incredibly guilty.  I also realize that my mom shifts between these personas depending on the situation. 
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« Reply #22 on: November 12, 2015, 01:37:13 AM »

Reading this post makes me want to throw up.

(trigger warning: physical abuse)




My mother was physically abusive to me, she would do things like pinch me under the arms to punish me. She said her mother did even worse things like prick her hand with a needle. She would also wash my mouth out with soap, spank me with a wooden spoon.

My dad on the other hand said his mother threatened to commit suicide in front of him when he was 7 or 8.

I'm struggling to deal with the fact that my dad could be diagnosed with NPD if he saw a therapist.

Reading this post makes me feel scared.

I do have PTSD, and have been struggling with anxiety for several weeks, so I am definitely taking this in at a slow pace.

Thank you for posting it. I am still trying to work my way through surviving the borderline parent, checked out from the library.
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« Reply #23 on: November 12, 2015, 01:47:43 AM »

Despite my mom swearing like a Marine, I got my mouth washed out with soap, too. A generational thing? Care to start a thread on C&H? I haven't seen this one mentioned, yet I suspect a lot of us had that happen.
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« Reply #24 on: November 12, 2015, 01:54:33 AM »

Sure, although I'm not familiar with the acronym C&H.

I also started to read the thread on problematic parenting and tried to post after the first page but my session timed out so I lost my post. Maybe its for the better as I felt more triggered.

I can briefly sum up what I posted here.

I also experienced my mom forcing her way into my room, reading my diary, checking my pockets at the door.

She wouldn't let me do chores as she thought I would break the laundry machine or I wouldn't clean things well enough. To this day she still criticizes my dad for how he does the chores.

She put a chain and lock around the freezer to keep me out.

Recently I asked my dad how I ate lunch in high school, was I given money or a lunch? He couldn't answer, he said he would ask my mom but she never got back to me.

Reading all this brings back so many memories, it make me want to throw up.

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« Reply #25 on: November 17, 2015, 02:55:07 PM »

The Waif marries a Frog Prince, someone she can rescue and who she thinks will rescue her.The Waif identifies with the Frog's helplessness and fantasizes about providing for him what she needs for herself.

The Hermit seeks a Hunter, a partner who will pity and protect her. The Borderline Hermit envies the Huntsmen's courage desperately seeks his soothng presence.

Never seen that relation before. Very accurate for my case. ExBPD was hermit/waif, and I'm sort of a hunter/frog prince. Sad.
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