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THE PSYCHOLOGY OF PERSONALITY DISORDERS
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Author Topic: BPD BEHAVIORS: Lack of object consistency  (Read 63953 times)
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« Reply #50 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) smiley
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« Reply #51 on: November 07, 2012, 08:46:34 PM »

Reading this is my “ah ha!" moment. Now I understand why it was so easy for her to leave emotionally.  We only saw each other on weekends so I was easily forgotten. This hurts, but I understand why a little more now.  I've been so focused at looking at the other standard DSM criteria for my uexBPDgf and I largely ignored object constancy. She was very forgetful, and seemed to forget the good times we had so easily. It's almost like she couldn't even process them or remember her good feelings about me when we were arguing.

Truthfully, this is an awful, awful disorder. I can't imagine what it would be like to live a life with BPD. It's very, very sad.

Everything is starting to make sense now.  I'm very sad because I guess this means that I have been pretty much forgotten by her already...and that's especially hard considering that she meant the world to me.   

Very informative post.

So object constancy is a big  big factor if you really want to know why BPDs are BPDs- the fact is they dont grow up on an emotional level and this would explain  their impatience ,frustration ,  their impulsivity and their belief in safety'- sucha contradiction  , their need etc, the way they can jump very quickly to a new partner, their rages , their attacks , their prolonged silences , their sulks , their high maintenance lifestyles - always wantinga new toy   - just like a three year old acts . Think abouyt how a three year old is in a queue or sitiing at restaurant able and now think about your BPD - hopefully by now youre beginning to get the picture .

It might also be the reason why BPd is so hard to fix, why BPDs are always in denial and why they will refuse to admit they are wrong - think of that screaming three year old again who no matter what you say to them they believe the mother has left them  .


I think once you get to grips with Object constancy you will really get  get to understand whay a BPD acts the way they do .

Kresisman deals with this matter indetail in " I hate you - dont leave me" - if theres any scholars out there and Schnitzel on other posts has discussed this in great detail as have other people on a post entitled emotional immaturity .

I hope this helps - I feel its fundamental to understanding BPD.        

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« Reply #52 on: December 29, 2012, 07:28:04 AM »

The more I read and learn, the more I start to see and understand.   I now look back on some past conversations when his guard was low and realise that he "has" indeed told me alot about why he is.

My partner is a photographer.  Hundreds of thousands of photographs.  Camera always in his hand everywhere we go.  He is very good at it and sells quite alot of it.  Very artistic and creative.

One night, my two older girls and I were sitting going through a large box of old photographs that I had found.   We were laughing and talking about the events the photographic images reminded us of.  Our conversation was full of memories of people, feelings, and happy times gone by.   If we came across a funny picture then the three of us were immediately able to remember why it was funny then and we could laugh about it NOW the same as we laughed when the photograph was originally taken.   Our minds could link us to a prior emotion through the visual image.  Our sense of inter-relatedness was being strengthened by shared memories and feelings across large spans of time.   However,  as we handed the photos round the group, he would just glance at them and wasn't saying much of anything.   

After the kids left, I casually asked about how/what age his love for photography had started (we were talking about film vs digital images).    He then told me (and I will try to get this bit very right) that he took photographs to have memories.   That he didn't remember 'events' once they had passed.   He looked sad as he looked at a picture of he and I on a beach, arms around each other and smiling/happy.    Then he said that "it" didn't work.   He said that if he looked at the photgraph that he might be able to recall the event but that he never recalled the emotions related to the event.   He couldn't remember feeling happy, sad, or in love when looking at the image.   To him it was just a picture of two people on a beach - he knew who the people were - he knew where the beach was - he recognised that the two people 'looked' in love but that he felt no emotion what so ever.   He then said (and this was like a kick in the gut at the time) that he took photographs because they were pictures of real events...if he looked like he loved me in the photo then he could accept the reality of the image that he had indeed loved me at that point in time even if he couldn't feel that emotion in a current time.

This was an incomprehensible concept.  How can you 'forget' love.   It is integral to the concept of love.   Take the love of a parent to a child - even when upset with each other, apart, distanced - the knowledge still unequivocably exsists between my girls and I that we love each other.   Regardless of any other factor, if in need or distressed, their first phone call will be to me because of that fundamental understanding that I always love them no matter what.   Period.

It is not so for the man I love.   My balance of take the good with the bad and remember the good times can't be for him.   When we are in a bad place, he can't latch onto love as an anchor through time.   He can only look at a photograph to be told that at one time it was there and he should trust in the hard image before him.

It helps to read these posts and be able to link these things in my mind.   Finally, I might be getting at least one foot onto solid ground.
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« Reply #53 on: June 10, 2015, 12:10:55 PM »

I have found over the past few years that this very issue of Object Constancy, or better put; LACK of Object Constancy a real contingent issue on understanding some enigmas we misinterpret or are confused and dazed by in our spouses behaviors.

For someone of ‘normal’ development and processing it really is such a far stretch to comprehend and understand. It’s far more difficult to realize in our spouses how it affects their daily thinking and emotions as well.

Exposed to a lot of BPD sufferers  has helped me better understand this and it’s certainly a real issue with my own spouse that I’ve been able to manage and for the most part over come to a state of harmony that works well to meet the real fears this lack of ability develops on a daily basis for her and affects me.

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.

We so think and experience in our reality it should be a consistent progression of emotions and experiences that build together to form a deep bond. That all of the moments spent together that were close, happy, fun, loving and sharing we store and we see them in the progressions and times they took place on in the timeline of being together with our partners. We consider them all and from that we hold the emotional realization of the events and build a sense of collected and connected reminiscence of both circumstance and emotions we felt to make a state of nostalgia.  Of course we’re just talking about all the good times and situations in our lives together.

There are so many of our spouse that do not process this ability or function and my wife is one of them. Having studied enough and knowing my wife’s inner feelings she’s hid for so long, If she were to verbalize this feeling it would sound a lot like this:

“ I have a hard time holding onto the strong emotions I feel for those I care about, and when I do manage to I also manage to convince myself that I am the only one that feels this way and no one else could possibly share my depth of emotion though I desperately hope they do. This creates a feeling of panic and loss for something that may actually be there and I need to find a way to reaffirm these feelings in myself and others every time I am back in contact with them. It’s a maddening cycle of doubt, loss, connection and disconnection.”

Keep reading it until you feel that from her reality – that’s really desperate and frightening.

If she were to verbalize how things affect her in time it would become a little more defining and even more confusing if not impossible to deal in a way that we do process relationships. If she were to verbalize her understanding of time it would sound like this:

“I have a hard time holding together one event after the other. I remember events just fine, but holding onto the sentiment of events in series that something is bound. It doesn’t always feel to me that everything is connected. One thing may happen after another, but it does not seem like things hold together in essence after the former has passed. Like if I’m gone too long, that I was there before will cease to be relevant. There is no continuum of events. Everything is like a single instance in time and I have to completely reestablish how I am connected to the event, the environment, and the people every time.” 

It takes a lot to wrap your head around that reality they experience as their constants in dealing with events from day to day.

Even if we have the wherewithal to really understand our own loved ones sources of insecurities and fears in their relationships with us they are so intertwined in thinking the following:

“I have terrible anxiety when people leave me or I have to be apart from them. The horror of abandonment even for just hours or a day are equal in their intensities and obsessive overwhelming fear it creates in me.  There’s a desperate need to understand how others feel about me constantly in their absence, hold me to them, our connection, because I can’t hold onto this concept myself. “

Even though for the past three years I have really focused on building trust and closeness and a set of stability in my wife’s thinking to counter this constant state she exists in there is no overriding the internal and really strong overpowering fear and paranoia she’s perceives, not only about abandonment, but also about connectivity and being able to remain constant in a recognition that she is loved, supported, protected and safe. More often than not, a result she lives in a constant state of horror that I am mad at her, not happy with her, she’s done something wrong or just that she struggles so difficulty with the concept of “why would he stay or even want someone like me – I’m worthless and he deserves so much better – he can’t want me – he must hate me – he must be mad.”

When you really read this enough and relate to her feelings they are so desperate and that’s on a continuous basis of everyday living and interactions that runs totally in her mind and reasoning.

It is so like saying that every day is an entirely new day and is in no way connected with the situations of the day before. Each day she wakes she wakes in the immediate and overwhelming fear of “Are you mad?”, “What’s wrong you seem angry?”, “is everything OK?” Each and everyday I have to reassure her that she doesn’t need to worry – everything’s OK – I’m not mad – everything’s good babe.

I’ve learned instead of her having to jump to consciousness in this panic each day to be proactive. I reach across the bed, put my hand on her shoulder as she wakes, kiss on her on the cheek – Say “I love you babe, I’ve ‘gotta go now. I love you and can’t wait to get home tonight. You have a great day and call me if you want to – see you tonight.”

The proactive reassurance and validation exempts the need to jump to a state of fear, paranoia and ‘need to know’ and validate where she stands and we stand the moment her day dawns to awareness that it’s here..

What so confuses me in the recognition and need of doing this is just how singular and focused each new day is for her. We’d get up and think, hey things have been going really good for the past couple of weeks – great and move on.” We have continuity and reasoning on our sides.

The oxymoron is what baffles me about really being able wrap my head around these concepts. I know they work, but I don’t understand the difference in connectivity’s. She is so unable to manage a congruent source of good memories and hold on to them - but she is so quick to intensely pull up every negative aspect that affected her life in a timeline with absolute clarity and recognition of what they were to her as a physical and more importantly emotion experience. Baffling and scary to me that you CAN’T hold on to the good but at the same time you can’t LET GO of the negative.

I wonder how many others can see these effects of lack of object constancy in their partners and how that affects their lives. I only ask because I think a majority of us deal with this function or lack of it whether we see and understand it or not. It is one of the criteria that is prevalent in almost all BPD thinking.

There is a real commonality to this feature as part of their mis-development. Have any managed to master this situation to a good harmonic lifestyle that works for both of you?



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« Reply #54 on: June 10, 2015, 12:28:48 PM »

Hi stalwart

A very interesting read.

Trying to simplify it in my head it seams like a box of photos with no time or date or context on them. They can be looked at individually but there is no context to them. They dont show a story or feelings.

I wonder if the emotions arent attached to the memory as theyre never sure what emotion they are actually feeling at the time. My exgf remembers really happy times when she had fun and really sad times but other emotions never where brought up. No love or hate memories seemed to survive. I will ponder this for a while as its opened up a new yhought process for me.
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« Reply #55 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.
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« Reply #56 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.
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« Reply #57 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.

« Last Edit: June 10, 2015, 01:16:32 PM by Notwendy » Logged
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« Reply #58 on: June 10, 2015, 01:28:12 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?
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« Reply #59 on: June 10, 2015, 02:14:51 PM »

Hi stalwart,

Where did this thread come from I didn't see it before? cheesy

It took me quite a few years to realise that every day my husband wakes up, he wakes up with the fear that things might not be okay. I too learnt to reach over and kiss him tell him I love him, even if the day before was awful, because I came to realise that yesterday had ceased to exist in his immediate consciousness.

When he used to go 'no contact' in the middle of the night, or missing for a number of days, I used to text him what I was doing. I would text him 'good morning' and 'goodnight' from me and our son so he knew we were still here every day, just the same. Even when there was no response from him, I kept doing the same thing each day. He always came home eventually.
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