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THE PSYCHOLOGY OF PERSONALITY DISORDERS
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Author Topic: BPD BEHAVIORS: Extinction Bursts  (Read 60786 times)
GreenMango
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« Reply #10 on: December 04, 2012, 07:56:22 PM »

Do extinction bursts occur and then fade out, just within the specific situation? Or can they happen again later? I'm NC, and my ex's most recent burst, while very intense for a period of weeks, has seemed to stopped now. She hasn't contacted me for a while. Will something trigger her off again, memories perhaps? Or whichever triangulations she's in now, when they don't work out, will she perhaps focus the next round on me because I'm staying NC, and I was such a frequent target for her in the not so distant past? Is it 'out of sight, out of mind' when it comes to extinction bursts?

Myself they can occur again when stimulus triggers the conditioned coping mechanisms.  When you see it again after an extended period of time it's the "spontaneous recovery".  It's not uncommon to see this. It makes weathering difficult.

It's important during one of these to not give intermittent reinforcement.
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lostchild
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« Reply #11 on: December 04, 2012, 10:50:53 PM »

Skip,

Thank you for posting this!  I have experienced this with my adult son.  I found that when I don't accept his pleas or listen to him (not take his phone calls), he does better.  So I have learned that I need to let him figure it out.  He doesn't like it, but he does figure things out as well as he can.  Very hard to do when it is your child, but in their best interest.  I won't always be here anyway.

Thank you again,

lostchild
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Ruthy2
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« Reply #12 on: March 03, 2013, 08:31:00 AM »

How can you not reward silent treatment? how can you get that behaviour to stop? by going silent yourself?
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wanttoknowmore
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« Reply #13 on: March 03, 2013, 09:02:17 AM »

Ruthi2,

I also have the same question as you have. How not to reward silent treatment? Its confusing..

some say you should "leave the door little open" and say I will talk when you are ready...  

others say go silent  and wait for her to contact. Will some one clarify.
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alembic
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« Reply #14 on: April 28, 2013, 06:07:35 AM »

Extinction Bursts - Important to Understand when your Partner has BPD.

So what do we do?   When the person with Borderline Personality Disorder becomes dysregulated or depressed. bpdfamily.com recommends that you give them the space to self sooth - not try to do it for them.  Take a deep breath and politely and non-aggressively disengage. It’s not easy to block out the distraction and emotional pleas for our attention, yet it is only with a critical pause that we can really stay on a constructive and healthy pathway.

This act is called extinction. We essentially remove our reinforcement in an attempt to stop the  behavior. We simply stop rewarding the behavior.

OK, I understand this, and it is in fact  something that I discovered naturally on my own, without knowing the real name for it.

However...  

When I 'disengage', as you put it, my wife calls it 'becoming emotionally distant'.  And she interprets it as a 'provocative act' in our relationship.  Another form of conflict, if you like, just more like a 'cold war', perhaps, than a 'hot' one.

In other words, from her perspective, she sees this disengagement as a sign of me being uncaring, unfeeling and unresponsive to her needs.  And further she sees it as a sign that I am the dysfunctional one, because I am choosing to behave in this 'strange' way towards her, and am not responding correctly, as she sees it, to her emotional pleas.

We keep coming around all the time to the same fundamental question - which one of us is unwell, and which is merely struggling to respond appropriately to the dysfunction of the other?

Sadly, I don't believe my wife will ever accept that she is unwell.  She always believes she is the innocent victim, and any dysfunctional behaviour on her part is merely an understandable response to the pressure she believes she is under from me, and other members of her and our family, who are truly the dysfunctional ones.

If there was a 'litmus test' for BPD, things would be a lot easier. Because I think she really would accept the results of a blood test, or brain scan, or whatever.  But as long as it is possible to shift responsibility for her actions onto other people, she will do it, because ultimately that's far more palatable that owning your own behaviour.  'I had a rage - it wasn't my fault - the things my husband said were so upsetting, than anyone would do the same'.  She can always argue that it someone else's fault.   And to her, I'm sure I must seem like I'm doing the same thing - blaming someone else for our marital problems - her. 

Life would be a lot easier if there was some objective way to easily demonstrate who has the dysfunctional emotional response.  But of course, that also gets tricky, because by hanging around with people with BPD, one's own emotional response starts to get flakey too, something the BPD is usually quick to pick up on.

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DreamFlyer99
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« Reply #15 on: July 01, 2013, 02:29:11 AM »

Extinction Bursts - Important to Understand when your Partner has BPD.

So what do we do?   When the person with Borderline Personality Disorder becomes dysregulated or depressed. bpdfamily.com recommends that you give them the space to self sooth - not try to do it for them.  Take a deep breath and politely and non-aggressively disengage. It’s not easy to block out the distraction and emotional pleas for our attention, yet it is only with a critical pause that we can really stay on a constructive and healthy pathway.

This act is called extinction. We essentially remove our reinforcement in an attempt to stop the  behavior. We simply stop rewarding the behavior.

When I 'disengage', as you put it, my wife calls it 'becoming emotionally distant'.  And she interprets it as a 'provocative act' in our relationship.  Another form of conflict, if you like, just more like a 'cold war', perhaps, than a 'hot' one.

In other words, from her perspective, she sees this disengagement as a sign of me being uncaring, unfeeling and unresponsive to her needs.  And further she sees it as a sign that I am the dysfunctional one, because I am choosing to behave in this 'strange' way towards her, and am not responding correctly, as she sees it, to her emotional pleas.

Sadly, I don't believe my wife will ever accept that she is unwell.  She always believes she is the innocent victim, and any dysfunctional behaviour on her part is merely an understandable response to the pressure she believes she is under from me, and other members of her and our family, who are truly the dysfunctional ones.

'I had a rage - it wasn't my fault - the things my husband said were so upsetting, than anyone would do the same'.  She can always argue that it someone else's fault.   

Traddad--this sounds so exactly like my husband!

GreenMango or Skip or somebody: The thing I don't understand how to "give him space" on is that he TRIES to get me to leave him alone. I don't know how to give him space when space is what he wants, to not have me asking him any questions even if I try to say that I only want our relationship to be better/happier. He's pretty good at getting me to go away. he can talk a streak about his job or other people's situations etc, but bring up US and it goes to a new level!
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bb12
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« Reply #16 on: July 01, 2013, 07:30:07 AM »

I'm with you on this one DreamFlyer99

There are two main borderline types from what I understand: the acting out pwBPD and the quiet borderline. One rages and the other goes passive aggressive.

If trying to manage a quiet borderline who demands space...  Perhaps too much space...  much of this coping advice does not apply.

I contributed to this thread some time ago out if confusion. And as much as I am clearer on BPD, comprehending this issue remains elusive for me. If anything, when my quiet borderline wanted space, it was I who did the extinction burst. My respect for his space turned into days, weeks, months of silence and I reacted angrily to the deliberate and cruel ignoring of my request to communicate. 18 months later and not a word. And threads like this make me feel like the borderline!

Bb12
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DreamFlyer99
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« Reply #17 on: July 01, 2013, 11:40:32 AM »

I'm with you on this one DreamFlyer99

There are two main borderline types from what I understand: the acting out pwBPD and the quiet borderline. One rages and the other goes passive aggressive.

Bb12

WELLLLLL...  

I guess my H is both then, raging AND quiet! Cuz he pushes me away if I try to talk about us learning some communication skills, but if I keep trying to have the conversation he'll roar! It's confusing. Maybe i'll ask this question on a different board, and someone can help straighten this out. (I hope!)
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alembic
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« Reply #18 on: July 15, 2013, 05:58:40 AM »

Traddad--this sounds so exactly like my husband!

The thing I don't understand how to "give him space" on is that he TRIES to get me to leave him alone

In my view, the thing that makes it impossible is the inconsistency.

Sometimes my wife wants me to leave her alone.  So I get criticised for not leaving her alone.  She will claim I'm pressurising her, 'emotional abusing' her, often just because I tried to have a particular conversation that needed to happen, that for some reason she didn't want to happen.  She will sit on the sofa and literally ignore me - refuse to comment on anything I say, read the newspaper, surf the web, whatever.

On the other hand, if my wife wants my input, she will march over to wherever I am and whatever I am doing, she will interrupt and demand my attention.

Sometimes she will just spontaneously decide that she wants to play 'happy families' for no apparent reason.  And you can tell when she's in these moods, because she suddenly tries to be all considerate. For a while.   If you don't play along, often because she very recently did something quite horrible to you, then it's your fault, because you're refusing to be nice.  She doesn't understand that your feelings towards her have been coloured by all of the unpleasant and thoughtless things she's done lately. Instead, she thinks you're being unfair, by not putting all of that behind you, and restarting from scratch, when she wants to.

It's this push-pull, go-away-come-home experience that is so frustrating, and I believe is often called 'The Dance'.  It's always about their needs, and their mood at the time - never about yours. If you don't respond quickly enough when the dance tempo changes - it's your fault for being a bad dance partner - never theirs for putting a different record on.
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GreenMango
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« Reply #19 on: July 15, 2013, 01:16:49 PM »

Extinction bursts can include things like turning up the projection machine.

Part of getting out of these bursts is learning more sophisticated ways to handle these things.  It is hard to deal with this day in and day out out.

Some of the ways to handle these are validation, boundaries, and reflective listening.

It's good to question why we don't start to change our approach - sometimes its fear, sometimes its exhaustion, and learning new stuff is hard at first.

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