You don’t treat borderlines, you ignore them
by Paul Elam
BPD is the indicated diagnosis when some or all of the following are present:
- A long-term pattern of unstable or turbulent emotions, including frequent displays of inappropriate anger.
- A pattern of impulsive actions and chaotic relationships, including, but not limited to impulsiveness with money, substance abuse, sexual relationships, binge eating, and shoplifting.
- Intolerant, often hostile reaction to being alone.
- Repeated crises and acts of self-injury, such as wrist cutting or overdosing.
- A remarkable facility for lying and manipulation, particularly for sympathy and adulation, but also to enlist action from others that will further their personal objectives for revenge or retaliation.
- A propensity to make false allegations of rape, sexual abuse and domestic violence.
- A near bottomless capacity for vengeance over the least, or even imagined, slights.
- A sadistic pleasure in causing unwarranted harm to others who are perceived to be enemies, or even those determined to not love them “enough.”
- The capacity to justify and rationalize any abusive behavior, no matter how extreme or how innocent the victim. No moral compass.
- The repetitive demand that others sympathize with them, even as they cause destruction in the lives of innocents.
- The distorted mindset that the abuse they inflict is not abuse, but that objecting to it or fighting back is abusive to them.
They frequently hold jobs and involve themselves in social situations where their destructive behaviors would quickly work against them. They often perform admirably and demonstrate a respectable capacity for self control and appropriate behavior. Any notion that they cannot help their actions, which you will most frequently hear from BPD’s or the unscrupulous clinicians who profit from their condition by helping them rationalize their behavior, is completely fraudulent.
They know what they are doing and often enjoy it.
Do they suffer tremendously from internal chaos and unstable emotions? Certainly. So do the depressed, and alcoholics and those with anxiety disorders and other maladies. We just don’t offer any of them as pass on hurting themselves and others. Nor should we.
Given the absolute potential for devastation that the BPD brings into the lives of anyone unfortunate enough to be in their path, it is pretty important to understand the prognosis for their condition.
There is no psychotropic medication that treats BPD and there is no known cognitive therapy that works with them. In short, they have an intractable condition that is impervious to treatment of any kind. They cannot be helped near as much as they can be avoided for the sake of helping others.
There is a running joke among psychiatric professionals about BPD’s. And yes, we told jokes about serious problems. It is one of the ways clinicians deal with the stress of working with them. Anyway, it’s a simple one-liner.
You don’t treat borderlines, you ignore them.
And that, in the broader sense, is also indirect professional advice when it comes to anyone with the misfortune to find themselves locked in the sights of a BPD.
Get away from them.
Go directly in the other direction. Do not pass GO. Do not collect $200.00. Just get thee…away; chalk whatever losses you suffer up to experience and be grateful about what you could have lost.
Families of alcoholics are told to cut them off (and the enabling) as long as they are drinking. It is good advice that helps the alcoholic face their problem and often saves the family a lot of misery. But dealing with a borderline is not near as simple or easy as going to an Alanon meeting and learning better boundaries. Their pathology is far too serious and dangerous for that.
Hear this, and hear it clearly. They are not going to get better. Ever. There is nothing you can do, no kindness you can extend, no sympathy you can embrace, no psychological slight-of-hand, nor the culmination of wisdom from your entire life’s experience that you can bring to bear to make a BPD anything other than a major, life draining pain in the ass and a potential nightmare waiting to destroy everything you have, inside and out.
In fact, should you find yourself engaging in endless internal debate about whether you should stay or leave a relationship with a BPD, I suggest you get help for yourself. Unlike them, there may be a chance to reach you and help you identify what causes you to stay attached to a lifestyle of abuse, chaos and danger.
Then again, there is always the red pill.