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THE PSYCHOLOGY OF PERSONALITY DISORDERS
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Author Topic: Is BPD behavior driven by low self-esteem?  (Read 21125 times)
NHBeachBum
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« Reply #10 on: December 22, 2007, 05:26:02 PM »

My exBPDgf had similar low self-esteem issues. I couldn't understand why cuz I had thought she was so perfect. It makes senses now. Yes - she too was/is in a lot of constant pain & torment. When I tried my best to help & be supportive, she tried her hardest to push me away & out of her life. I can't imagine carrying around so much baggage for so long. That's why I've really done my best to try to separate her actions vs. her. I do attribute her abusiveness to her illness (and constant pain) & not take it personally. I don't even hate her - like others I'm simply sad when I think about it. But life moves on. No one can fix her but her. I think that's what is so frustrating & maddening about BPD. The person who has it seems to be in much misery & pain...yet the can't seem to healthy enough to be able to make a good choice to start the process of healing in order to reduce the pain & help their self-esteem. I get it now...I understand how much time, effort & pain is involved to help heal...but staying with the status quo just doesn't seem to the best option.

-NHBB
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Happykat
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« Reply #11 on: December 22, 2007, 05:41:56 PM »

 

I have no doubt my BPD parent has pain - something terrible definitely happened somewhere.  I get so agravated that BPD parent will not do anything productive to try and help self - or anyone else - self-esteem is not something that comes from another person or out of the air - I say you need to do things you are proud of and feel good about yourself.  At least that is how it works for me.
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Bitzee
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« Reply #12 on: December 22, 2007, 05:58:29 PM »

It goes way back... if they do not identify with being 'Bad'... then their abuser was the 'bad' one... but their abuser was the Parent... that the child depended upon for Survival.  The child must see himself as bad in order to survive.  In their minds, their very life depends on their self-loathing.

They must hate themselves in order to survive.  This is one reason why it is so difficult for them to seek help.  They do not believe they deserve it.
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eggshell
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« Reply #13 on: December 22, 2007, 10:02:21 PM »

Oh yeah... mine told me before we were even together that even if someone told him he was good-looking, he got mad because he was sure they were lying.  :smiley I should have known... but I can't beat myself up.

And Bitzee is RIGHT ON.

I tried so hard to get my X to get help, but he always said that he will never change, and he didn't think that anyone could help a monster like him. He always called himself "crazy" and a "psycho." Imagine truly thinking of yourself that way? I mean, seriously... if I thought of myself that way... I would hate my life, you know? He really thinks of himself like that. He seriously cried most EVERY NIGHT. That was a huge red flag... he cried about himself mostly... and losing people he loved...and how he was such a monster but no one could help him... he always said that he didn't think that anyone would ever be able to help a monster like him.

Imagine calling yourself crazy, monster, and psycho on a regular basis?

It TRULY is sad.



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oceanheart
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« Reply #14 on: December 23, 2007, 02:01:31 PM »

What I hear in everybody's posts - and I'm not talking about just those posts in this thread, but in all of FtF - is a desire to help. People sometimes ask if it's hard for me as a person with BPD to hear the angry things said here. Yep, sometimes it is, especially when the concept of "evil" is mentioned. But mostly it's not, because under all of the hard emotions - the bitterness and resentment and anger and hate and the rare viciousness - is hurt, just like renaissance said. And that's the tie that binds us all - non, BP, co-dependent, abuser, innocent bystander: to be human is to hurt. But what's even more human is to want to help. That is the best in us and we can be at our best even when life around us is at its worst.

When we see suffering, we wish to ease it because we know what it feels like to hurt. As nons, that makes us vulnerable - both to predatory people and to those who are not strong enough to handle their own pain and who thus put it onto others. It's both noble and a folly to want to help.

I'm convinced there is one thing above all others that will "save" people with BPD, and that is to be helped. Although, for some reason, right now I'm getting a very clear mental picture of a bomb defusal expert... grin

The "abysmally" low self-esteem I mentioned previously is from the inability to form a coherent, positive sense of self. I'm interested in bonding/attachment failures as one of the causes for this, but don't have a lot of scientific evidence for my opinions. People like minion and other parents I've read on the board genuinely care about their children and have raised them lovingly, so it's not just through abuse that BPD can develop and I hope it's clear that I'm not of the "blame the mom" camp: the reasons are complex and may never fully be understood.

What happened to the child happened. It can't be undone. But - and I think I'm a purty good ole example of this - people can change, tho I don't know anyone who has ever done it on their own, no matter how strong that person.

I'm not sure I know where I'm going with all of this. I'm sorta just dumping everything out there that's been in my head, so it's a bit of a mess - kinda like what the living room floor looks like after Christmas morning...     !

How do we reach someone who is convinced they are worthless on a fundamental level? This plays into a recent thread/workshop about the twisted thinking of people with BPD. The main categories of beliefs are: 1) I am not good; and 2) other people will hurt me. This is what they believe, no matter the "evidence to the contrary": no matter how much we tell them they're lovable or beautiful or wonderful, no matter how much we take from them to show them they're worth it. Like so many of you said, they do not hear it, they do not see it, they do not believe it. Because they (we) can't.

I've struggled since I first came to this board between two impulses: one is to tell every non here to run away as fast as they can from the BP in their lives. That it isn't worth the destruction to themselves to stay. That the non can't help the person with BPD anyway, because it's up to them to change and they have to want to change, and they have to be willing to work hard, and most folk won't. The other impulse is to say: "if you are strong in yourself and are wearing an emotional flak-jacket, so to speak, then use your compassion to help this poor creature who is in so much pain." I still don't know which I believe. Both? Is that possible? I guess at least I'm not thinking in black & white anymore, lol. I can see the pain on both sides, I guess because I've been on both sides.

2 days ago was the 1 year anniversary of when I met R., who was the person I came to FtF about. Undiagnosed, not in recovery, a covert alcoholic, delusional, aggressive, sweet, smart, funny, hurting. A little boy in a big man's body. He was dangerous and our relationship was toxic for both of us, so I left. I'm over the emotional connection I had with him, but I ask now - looking back, as is not uncommon at this time of year - what did I learn with him and how can I use that knowledge? What have I learned in my 2 years of recovery? What have I learned in my 9 or so months here at FtF?

The urge to help others is what is so fine about us as humans (me included! Yay, me, I'm a good person, too! Sorry, just a little light-hearted self-cheerleading). The tendency to put ourselves in harm's way to do so can be courageous. It can be foolhardy, too. It might also be ineffectual: we can't, like happykat pointed out, give them a sense of self-worth. But somehow, there must be a way to harness our empathy to encourage them finding it themselves. Several people have mentioned mirrors. I use the analogy of holding up a mirror for the BP to see themselves. Mirroring back to the BP their inherent worth, the value they have just from being human beings. From that fundamental foundation, they can start to act in ways that will prove to themselves they are good.

Thanks, everyone, for exploring this with me... (and if you've gotten this far, for sticking it out with me... wink)

~amahoro~salaam~shalom~spokoj~pax~peace~

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Act as if the future of the universe depended on what you did, while laughing at yourself for thinking that whatever you do makes any difference. ~a wise buddhist
oceanheart
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« Reply #15 on: December 23, 2007, 02:08:15 PM »

I wanted to add - no, I'm not done talking yet,  :smiley grin - in furthering the thought "From that fundamental foundation, they can start to act in ways that will prove to themselves they are good", that it is through our actions that we define ourselves: we are what we do. So let's do some good, eh?
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Act as if the future of the universe depended on what you did, while laughing at yourself for thinking that whatever you do makes any difference. ~a wise buddhist
Bitzee
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« Reply #16 on: December 23, 2007, 08:26:33 PM »

Oceanheart,

Yes, I wanted to apologize by saying it is not always abuse which is the cause, not always parental abuse, and not always intentional abuse on anyone's part.  They say it is a Biological Predisposition plus an Invalidating Environment.  The invalidation may be purely due to unfortunate circumstances that happen to occur, or just a poor fit between the temperaments of the parent and child.  Say a child born with a very sensitive temperament to a parent who is not particularly emotional by nature.  I do believe the causes can be very subtle at times and Invalidation, for whatever reason, is the key.

I've often wondered if post-partum depression is present in the beginning of some cases.  And other disruptive circumstances in life that 'just happen' at key periods in the child's development may be responsible.

I had a relative dx'ed BPD and Bipolar.  There were problems with her birth, lack of oxygen.  The hospital records mysteriously 'disappeared'.  She was slow in her development from the beginning.  Her parents split up when she was 6 months old.  Her mother had a reactive depression and was occupied with restructuring her life during her daughter's infancy.  This child was always slow and Extremely emotionally sensitive.  She was signiificantly below average in intelligence.  I think only a very together parent could have overcome these obstacles and Learned How to be Validating to this child.

This child had a biological disadvantage and was born into an environment which was in a state of flux.  Her mother did try, but it was back in the day when even the medical community seemed somewhat clueless.  She did not receive proper information and support.  Her daughter was not accurately dx'ed until her thirties.

So, yes, there are many causes... many different factors which can lead to invalidation... and the parents are not always at fault.

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Happykat
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« Reply #17 on: December 23, 2007, 08:54:11 PM »

But somehow, there must be a way to harness our empathy to encourage them finding it themselves. Several people have mentioned mirrors. I use the analogy of holding up a mirror for the BP to see themselves. Mirroring back to the BP their inherent worth, the value they have just from being human beings. From that fundamental foundation, they can start to act in ways that will prove to themselves they are good

I have been trying this with BPD parent - but it is like anything I say he has an excuse as to why that won't work, too much work, etc. etc.  Bottom line - it is EASIER for him to be lazy and not try to change - he should not have self esteem for that.  It seems very difficult to find the line where it is the illness or maybe just meanness.
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ian
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« Reply #18 on: December 24, 2007, 11:10:44 PM »

Hey Oceanheart, what a beautiful post! I believe what you say is true because I could even feel those feelings seeping into my own brain from being around my ex. Though, I never thought to see how much she was abusing HERSELF, what SHE really thought of herself. Maybe if I had seen that I would have felt less of a target, I would have known it wasn't about me.

In this situation the non-existant self esteem was generally exhibited by extreme pride, a complete inability to compromise, a literal belief in never being wrong about anything, about being better than everyone, deserving everything. It was so completely bizarre I remember one day I said "Aren't you ever wrong about anything?" and she told me "No never." with a completely straight face. Of course I knew that someone who really felt good about themself would never have to resort to such dysfunctional egosim.

You know, it may be the biggest issue on this board, can we help them? The concensus is No, and from my own experience I know that I did everything I possibly could and it just destroyed me. Again and again it felt like a complete lost cause. How could I say anything when I was always devalued, painted black, or whatever i said or did was taken to be hostile, or just completely forgotton or erased? There was no way to get through. Absolutely none, because if I wasn't helping her dig her own hole (at my expense generally), playing along with all the lies and all the pretend, then my input was worth nothing.

I would like to think that most BPDs can be helped, and that at their core's they are real caring people waiting to be discovered. And yet, how can anyone help someone so committed to self-destruction? It seems that what most conclude the only helpful thing we can do is to leave them to the consequences of their actions and hope someday they really hit bottom. This is what I did, the only thing I could do besides handover my soul.

I've made it sort a motto of mine to only help people who are helping themselves. Recently one of my freinds who is an alcoholic started drinking again as if it was no big deal, and soon I felt like I was being used to make her feel better about what she was doing. I got pretty mad and I don't really talk to her anymore. With some either you help them destroy themselves, hell ensues, or you leave them. The only options are black or white. It's like the truth is on one side and they are on the other and you they won't move in the slightest. The only way to stay is tell them what they want to hear and live a total delusion.

I'd like to think there is another way, as do most of us here.
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oceanheart
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« Reply #19 on: December 30, 2007, 01:16:16 AM »

I sure wish that the BPD in my life would've given recovery a try, but he did/would not.  He chose to stay disordered over me (or anything remotely postive.)  I think that's the hardest part about all of this for me is that he is miserable, he knows he's miserable, he's grown comfortable being miserable, he hates himself and makes no bones about that, his life is a shambles, yet he will do NOTHING to help himself.

I'm thinking the last part (which I bolded) is because 1) it's hard for anybody to change deep-seated and long-standing behaviors and thoughts; 2) he literally may have no idea how to help himself because maybe he wasn't taught in childhood to be independent or competent; 3) he may believe he is not worth helping, that he is an utter piece of sht and thus is beyond help; and/or 4) his defense mechanisms - denial, projection, B&W thinking - all conspire to make it seem as tho everyone but himself is to blame.

What a twisted life. It's like setting fire to the house while you're still in it and then sitting in your bed waiting for the flames to consume you because you don't know how to get out even tho there's an open window right there, and then attacking the firefighters when they come to rescue you from a fiery death...
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Act as if the future of the universe depended on what you did, while laughing at yourself for thinking that whatever you do makes any difference. ~a wise buddhist
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