Borderline Personality Disorder: Is This What You Are Divorcing?

Narcissism has become a much talked about subject in divorce and custody. What one may think are Narcissistic Behaviors may actually be Borderline Personality characteristics. Here’s what you need to know about Borderline Personalities.

Borderline Personalities are prone to extreme mood swings because they experience all emotions on an extreme level. They experience intense abandonment fears and demonstrate explosive or inappropriate anger when faced with separation or when there are changes in plans. People with Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) may believe that the abandonment, real or perceived, implies that they are “bad.” They suffer from an intolerance of being alone and a need to have other people with them. If they feel that they are being abandoned, they will make frantic efforts to avoid it which may include impulsive actions such as self-mutilating or suicidal behaviors, uncontrolled rage, making false statements, spreading rumors, being vindictive and can become violent.

People with Borderline Personality Disorder may idealize potential caregivers or lovers at the first or second meeting, demand to spend a lot of time together, and share the most intimate details early in a relationship. However, they may switch quickly from idealizing other people to devaluing them, feeling that the other person does not care enough, does not give enough, is not “there” enough. These individuals can empathize with and nurture other people, but only with the expectation that the other person will “be there” in return to meet their own needs on demand.

People with BPD tend to have trouble seeing a clear picture of their identity and are unsure of what they value and enjoy which can cause people with BPD to experience feeling “empty” and “lost”.

There are sudden and dramatic shifts in self-image, characterized by shifting goals, values and vocational aspirations. There may be sudden changes in opinions and plans about career, sexual identity, values and types of friends. These individuals may suddenly change from the role of being needy or a “victim” to a righteous avenger of past mistreatment. Although they usually have a self-image that is based on being bad or evil, individuals with Borderline Personality Disorder may at times have feelings that they do not exist at all. Such experiences usually occur in situations in which the individual feels a lack of a meaningful relationship, nurturing and support.

A person with this disorder will also often exhibit impulsive behaviors and have a majority of the following symptoms:

Frantic efforts to avoid real or imagined abandonment

A pattern of unstable and intense interpersonal relationships characterized by alternating between extremes of idealization and devaluation

Identity disturbance, such as a significant and persistent unstable self-image or sense of self

Impulsivity in at least two areas that are potentially self-damaging (e.g., spending, sex, substance abuse, reckless driving, binge eating)

Recurrent suicidal behavior, gestures, or threats, or self-mutilating behavior

Emotional instability such as intense irritability or anxiety that usually lasts a few hours and only rarely more than a few days

Chronic feelings of emptiness

Inappropriate, intense anger or difficulty controlling anger (e.g., frequent displays of temper, constant anger, recurrent physical fights)

Transient, stress-related paranoid thoughts or severe disassociative symptoms

Knowing whether you are facing a person with Borderline Personality Disorder, Narcissistic Personality Disorder or traits of both is important when communicating your concerns to your attorney, judge or any other legal professional involved in your case. The better that you can accurately describe the characteristics of the person that you are dealing with, the easier it is for the professional involved to understand what you mean.

If you believe that you are divorcing a Narcissist or Borderline Personality, contact a professional in your area to help you.