Home page of BPDFamily.com, online relationship supportMember registration here
October 15, 2019, 09:42:57 PM *
Welcome, Guest. Please login or register.

Login with username, password and session length
Board Admins: Harri, Once Removed, Scarlet Phoenix
Senior Ambassadors: Cat Familiar, FaithHopeLove, I Am Redeemed, Mutt, Only Human, Turkish
Ambassadors: Enabler, formflier, GaGrl, Longterm, Ozzie101, Swimmy55, zachira
  Help!   Groups   Please Donate Login to Post New?--Click here to register  
PSYCHOLOGY: Help us build this database.
Pages: 1 [2]  All   Go Down
Author Topic: BEHAVIORS: Lack of object consistency  (Read 9009 times)
Offline Offline

Gender: Female
Posts: 2808

« Reply #30 on: July 14, 2012, 02:48:30 PM »

That is an excellent description of the object constancy issue. Part of the problem of early childhood (infancy) for a BPD is a failure to be able to develop emotional memory, which is necessary in order to form secure attachments. Repeated consistent parenting usually does this for us--enables us to know that there will be a reliable source of need fulfillment. For whatever reason, and some of this could be because a BPD is predisposed to have difficulties forming attachments, this doesn't happen. Hence it dogs relationships throughout life unless dealt with.



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.

Please do not host topics related to the specific pwBPD in your life - those discussions should be hosted on an appropraite [L1] - [L4] board.

You will find indepth information provided by our senior members in our workshop board discussions (click here).

Offline Offline

Gender: Female
Posts: 2808

« Reply #31 on: September 15, 2012, 03:27:36 PM »

Small children use transitional objects to literally make a transition as they develop a sense of self and other. It is part of the individuation phase. Transitional objects help the child learn to soothe himself and gradually become less reliant on the parent figure for this. BPDs do not know how to self-soothe because they did not negotiate this developmental stage, so they are stuck using other people as transitional objects, but they never internalize a coherent self-identity. They are always looking for it to come from the outside. Quite a few psychoanalysts have written about this. Good one to look at is Donald Winnicott--he coined the term.

Offline Offline

Posts: 164

« Reply #32 on: September 17, 2012, 10:26:53 PM »

From what I am reading on object constanct and seperation individuism it seems to be soley between the child and the mother. Is BPD developing at this stage... .and does the father play any role in its development?


Retired Staff
Offline Offline

Gender: Male
Posts: 8104

« Reply #33 on: October 05, 2012, 01:40:14 PM »

Not sure if it was mentioned earlier, but "object" here is more in the sense of grammar (like a sentence has a "subject" and an "object" than in the sense of a "thing".

It doesn't mean that the person with BPD sees you as an inanimate object (however tempting it might be to think that they do) Smiling (click to insert in post)

Have you read the Lessons?
Offline Offline

Gender: Male
Person in your life: Romantic partner
Posts: 486

« Reply #34 on: June 10, 2015, 12:32:05 PM »

I have read a lot and the idea of object constancy never really sank in until now. Thank you for this post it definitely help me to understand the meaning of this. Learning to overcome my own inability to to be that constant without getting hurt from her negativity is a big task. I hopefully with get there and hopefully before its to late for my sanity.
Offline Offline

Gender: Female
Person in your life: Romantic partner
Posts: 938

« Reply #35 on: June 10, 2015, 12:44:05 PM »

Very interesting, Stalwart. Thank you for this. I never fully understood the concept of object constancy. I never felt the "out of sight, out of mind" thing happening but more like what you describe - the lack of consistency in memories, particularly feelings associated with those memories. They cannot string events together in a cohesive fashion because of the black and white thinking.

But I'm not sure all pwBPD experience this everyday. My bf is only "forgetful" of the good times we shared when he is in a state of confusion or dysregulation. But when his emotions are more stable and he's feeling validated, he remembers our past with a fondness. He sees me as consistently supportive, even though I wasn't always (before learning about BPD). He lives in the recent moments as if this is the way it's always been. For that, I'm actually grateful because I made a lot of mistakes invalidating him in the past. Unfortunately, the same is true for when things are going bad. 1 bad argument = the ENTIRE r/s is bad. With the tools here, I'm usually able to gently bring him back to seeing the r/s in a positive light. Takes a lot of patience and validation.

I haven't tried the proactive approach of easing his fears ahead of time. I take them as they come.

One of the best things I've learned from this lesson in object constancy is staying in the moment  - because for a pwBPD the moment is all that matters. Resolving past issues is futile. I had to forgive him in a way that helped me let go of resentments. My own fears and anxieties still creep in, but that's when I catch myself re-living the past or fretting over a future event that may not even happen.

Offline Offline

Person in your life: Parent
Posts: 6210

« Reply #36 on: June 10, 2015, 01:08:34 PM »

Borderlines have problems with object constancy in people — they read each action of people in their lives as if there were no prior context; they don’t have a sense of continuity and consistency about people and things in their lives.

This thread is brilliant. It should be pinned.

I had no idea about this at the time, but it explains the onset of our issues with sex. It was fine at the beginning. Eventually, kids came along. Still, most of the time things were great- at least I thought so. However, I had nausea for the first months of pregnancy. After the first kid, then I was pregnant, nauseated and with a toddler. H didn't help much for various reasons. So as expected, there were times I was up all night with a baby, nauseated, or tired. Still,  there was sex, as much as I could be part of it, and things we good, really good, at least I thought they were and he didn't indicate otherwise, and I was happy. I didn't say "no" much at all, if ever, because I was willing.

But, with fatigue and toddlers an nausea I eventually said "no", fell asleep or something. I assumed he had object constancy- see the whole pattern that we had in general a good physical life but tonight she is tired and then things will still be good.

What I had no idea of was that this "NO" meant never to him. Never as in always never. Even if we had sex a short time ago- Right now we have no sex and this means we never have sex. And out of the blue I was painted black and raged at and I had no idea why.

The raging and criticism over this issues pretty much ruined it for me. Talk about sabotage-  Two days after having sex, he doesn't seem to remember it and can revert into "never".

If I had understood this then, I would have dealt with it differently and it would not have been as emotionally difficult for me as I would not have taken it personally.

This is a great thread, I really appreciate your insight.

Offline Offline

Gender: Male
Person in your life: Romantic partner
Posts: 333

« Reply #37 on: June 10, 2015, 04:42:44 PM »

Notwendy - I wonder if this is why my bf will promise me sex the next day if he doesn't want it right then? Like assuring me it's not "never" because that's how he would think if the roles were reversed?

Do they assume we also have black and white thinking? If he doesn't want it, I'm thinking ok, no big deal. I don't take it personally if he's sick, tired, distracted, not in the mood, or whatever. But I guess they do?

This is an enigma to me as well Jessica. The plans to have sex and then to keep postponing it for one more night, or maybe also the next night etc... .No apparent reasons for health.

She's set the mandate of having sex once a week like it's a rule. So we have sex and a week goes by, she knows but then she will night after night ask to postpone so the better part of three weeks will pass. It's no biggy to me but it seems to be to here.

Enigma being when she talks about it and figures out when we had sex last she'll say "Oh we just had sex last week"  

They all have their little oddities and so do we. I think I finally cracked it though. She said for her to have sex and be able to focus on it (resulting in her pleasure) she has to have a clear mind going into it. So that would tell me that the other nights she's asking to pass on she must be in a turmoil in her mind that's consuming it.

Funny I like sex with music but you don't go for that stereo button for fear of losing your fingers if we're going to have sex - too distracting.

The good thing is that knowing all that and figuring it out is really good because hey, it's important that she gets what she appreciates out of sex and she makes sure she does. All good. I've read way too many guys here say their wife's say they are selfish about sex, reason being they don't know how to actually please their wives that way and think that just having sex the same old way must be good for her because she never complained. The entire time their wives were actually getting more and more angry about their husbands not meeting their needs and only meeting their own. It escalates into a real problem with the wife blows with the selfish thing because it catches the guys off guard and being called self-fulfilling and selfish really hits hard. All women should make a point of teaching men what's good for them because every one is different in their needs.

The reason I'm so familiar is I got hit with the same thing. When she explained to me and showed me what she needed done and how to do it - it was great. Point being for 9 years of sex she never said anything. Ask her how it was and she'd say great. It's a pretty extraneous routine to follow for my wife's pleasure and very specific and the time it takes varies by how much her pills have desensitized her. Question being: I asked her how the heck she would have thought I'd know that if she'd never told me. Her answer: All guys should know that!   

It's a really, really tangled web of a world we all live in but the good thing is by talking about some of these self experiences maybe it will help some other guy venture into the questions so he doesn't end up being 'selfish' as well.

":)o they think we think in black and white". That's loaded and a darn good question. I've never considered how they think we think compared to them. Oh NO, another mission... .Smiling (click to insert in post)
enlighten me
Offline Offline

Gender: Male
Person in your life: Ex-romantic partner
Posts: 3259

« Reply #38 on: June 10, 2015, 04:52:37 PM »

I have also pondered what they think we think. My thoughts are if they think that theres nothing wrong with them then they must think that everyone thinks the way they do.

Offline Offline

Person in your life: Parent
Posts: 6210

« Reply #39 on: June 10, 2015, 05:10:24 PM »

 I can't explain the "sex tomorrow" thing. It may be that saying "no" makes them feel like the bad guy, and they don't want to be the bad guy, so saying "tomorrow" sounds nicer?

Stalwart brings up an important point about asking what someone needs instead of assuming. However, when I do this I run the risk of - in his world "ordering him around" or if I say "I like this" him thinking "She doesn't like the way I do it" and feeling rejected.

These happened during the painted black years- raging over "never" having sex and if I dare asked him to kiss me, or to come to bed, he assumed I was ordering him around and refused.

Sad thing was, I was quite happy with our physical life - and maybe like Stalwart said about women- he was seething and saying nothing, until it all came out in a rage. I was completely taken off guard that he was feeling how he was.

Our T has been helping both of us with this issues, particularly with letting him know that if I don't feel I can say "no" and I accommodate him so he doesn't get mad, then he won't get the passionate spouse he wants when I say "yes" and mean it. With me she is going to help me with some of the emotional trauma from that experience.
Offline Offline

Gender: Female
Posts: 301

« Reply #40 on: June 17, 2015, 05:31:37 PM »

In my other post today I spoke about mystification and catastrophizing and my uBPD mother.  The "mystification" of making things out to be too complicated for me to do competently or take on, to foster a dependency.  In "Games people play" book and theory I think it was called "Let me take care of your little brain."  Women often have it about car mechanics or even sports in our culture, as examples. Women do it to men at times maybe about housework or cooking or shopping or clothes. Complain about inadequacies but feel superior and needed.

Catastrophizing is super-overreacting to anything that goes wrong and is inconvenient.  My mother was frightened of authority and also big on impression management with people so if something was unexpected from either, the school calling her about something or someone dropping by when the house was not presentable enough her anxiety was off the charts.  Also if we did anything forgetful, like an overdue library book, no matter a day or five months, the reaction from both my parents was over the top rage and or sometimes with my mother it would be this profound "disappointment" inducing guilt. Fear and/or guilt they generated.

The compulsive need for "object constancy" with me was one more uBPD trait it would have been helpful for me to be more mindful about growing up and was a source of so many ambushes of fury from her!  The need for regular accessibility from one designated person to the uBPD. Like that period toddlers go through when they get hysterical when their mother is out of sight.  A strong panic. That is why I call it object constancy. Maybe I read that reference in a book about BPD as well.  Now I can't remember.

The times before my NC and later LC, when I finally managed to move out of my parents' home but was still expected to visit on most weekends brought up a lot of high drama or icy anger punishments at times, when I wasn't present often enough or when I postponed a visit due to being sick or something unexpected happening or resistance and depression to my dad's chronic alcoholic homecomings and tirades or my mother's loneliness and neediness on me. 

If I were depressed that was something I could never communicate and would not have been a tolerable excuse to my mother. When I lived with my parents and went through a period of frequent and sustained uncontrollable crying jags they evoked such incredible shaming and rage from my mother.  She would be solicitous of physical ill health, but emotional ill health turned her into instant and sustained witch mode, which provoked even more depression and crying with me.

If I were away for too many weekends -- more than one, actually -- I would be punished with the silent treatment or hot anger.  If I canceled at the last minute, I felt guilt for disappointing my parents, especially since I knew Saturday night my father would get drunk and there would be a ferocious fight between them when he got home, with my mother insanely hysterical before then that he would not make it home due to his intoxication.  She validated me for weathering those nights with her and that made me feel more useful and loved by her and needed but those nights were certainly a source of my depression and contributing to my complex-PTSD. Plus, I needed and deserved to cultivate a separate social life away from them. I was so enmeshed in their marriage.

At college my mother made peace with me being away 5 weekdays and I was pretty reliable at fulfilling the going home most weekends contract deal even though I was missing out on the social element of being away at school, of dating, of having personal time without the studying as intensely. 

When I moved in for six months with the two old college friends while they were in grad school, we were so far away and the transportation was difficult and expensive to get to my parents' home. One roommate was steady at traveling on weekends to see her parents at the beginning, had a car and dropped me off at my parents' home and picked me up at the end of a weekend, until she started dating a guy at the grad school.  Then my visits to my parents' home became fewer and more unpredictable since I was dependent on her trips and pragmatic about the time and money to travel to see my parents.

The unpredictability of my visiting made my mother I discovered after a while insanely upset with me.  I was betraying her big time.  I would call her at home to check in, and again, I was not "regular" with my phoning but from my end I felt it was appropriate, and she would be withholding and confusingly cold or nasty. I wish I had tried to set up some schedule looking back or recognized this was such a trigger of abandonment and rejection by her.  But then, I was young and I felt like I had a leash around my neck and it was choking me but asserting my independence was such a WAR with her and brought on the annihilating anger or rejection of the witch mode.  I was so beaten down but I was probably getting more and more passive aggressive in dealing with my stress and from my lack of self-respect and dignity and sense of mastery and resentment for that.

The triggering event that led to NC was about my postponing a visit that was blown up out of all proportion.

My three siblings had moved 3000 miles away, but my mother would convince them i was being selfish by missing a weekend and they would pressure me to accommodate her which made me angry at them.  I am the bad guy for missing a weekend when they visited once or twice a year? 

I once asked my mother why she didn't get angry at my brothers being away so long but if I missed a weekend she was so betrayed.  She said that when they were away they worried and thought about her all the time but when i went out the door I blanked on her existence.  I just stood there with my mouth hanging open.  No effort would ever be good enough it was clear.  A case of no good deed never going unpunished.  When she stunned me with such blunt and angry pronouncements I didn't argue with her or reassure her. I just felt betrayed so myself, like she had just punched me in the gut as hard as she could.

The NC triggering event had me away visiting my brothers those 3000 miles away for a couple weeks and when I got home my parents' were expecting me to rush to see them.  I was exhausted physically and emotionally at that time, and decided to assert to her, having just witnessed my three brothers living out more or less independent adult lives away from my parents, and when I postponed my visit to the next weekend, without twisting myself into guilty knots, my mother went so over the top enraged and inconsolable to everyone else in our mutual orbit, telling them I had declared I would never see her again in this lifetime, I realized I had to break through that level of emotional blackmail and hysteria and fight her.

I had no idea what a ferocious and seemingly futile attempt at conflict resolution that would be for us and NC lasted a decade.  My mother was in a fury because she recognized this time i wasn't fearful and apologetic for postponing a visit.  I acted like it was my adult right to.  FREAK OUT.  MUTINY UNBEARABLE.  I knew my sanity and future as an independent adult was dependent on weathering this altercation with her. I had no idea the cost would be no contact not only with her but with secondary family as well, there was so much furor she caused over it.  And how the reality of the situation was lost for the family matrix by her posturing hysteria and heartbreak to them and FURY to me privately. She convinced people I had suddenly gone crazy and super mean.  The group think I was too weak to fight or turn around.

I wanted to eliminate the recurring and predictable specter of the punishing witch ambushing me about the visiting scheduling (also, as a codependent daughter I from time to time promised a visit I couldn't deliver it turned out, just to satisfy her pressure in the short-run but that made the punishment if I failed to show up all the stronger).

My life with my uBPD mother would have been smoother and less volatile if I had known her paranoia about needing so much regularity in contact when I was away.  Calling reliably on a certain day.  Visiting reliably on a certain day.  I tried to be frequent but that made cancellations and postponements happen more often, and that created the freakouts.  I did my best to accommodate the neediness of her disorder but I ended up with complex-PTSD from both her disorder and my dad's NP and alcoholism.

I hope this is helpful and relate-able for others here. 

I know it helps me just writing about it. Thanks for reading and listening.


Pages: 1 [2]  All   Go Up
Jump to:  

Links and Information
The Big Picture
5 Dimensions of Personality
BPD? How can I know?
Get Someone into Therapy
Treatment of BPD
Full Clinical Definition
Top 50 Questions

My Child has BPD
My Parent/Sibling has BPD
My Significant Other has BPD
Recovering a Breakup
My Failing Romance
Endorsed Books
Archived Articles

How to Stop Reacting
Ending Cycle of Conflict
Listen with Empathy
Don't Be Invalidating
Values and Boundaries
On-Line CBT Program
>> More Tools

Membership Eligibility
Messageboard Guidelines
Suicidal Ideation
Domestic Violence
Policy and Disclaimers
Professional Endorsements


Your Account

Moderation Appeal
Become a Sponsor
Sponsorship Account

Powered by MySQL Powered by PHP Powered by SMF 1.1.21 | SMF © 2006-2019, Simple Machines Valid XHTML 1.0! Valid CSS!