Borderline Personality Disorder

Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) — A usually incurable mental illness where a person is unable to regulate their own emotions due to a fundamental deficit of core self-esteem.

BPD could be the world's most destructive, pervasive and misunderstood mental disorder. It is probably responsible for more cases in Family Court than any other. In fact, the underlying mechanisms may help explain nearly every every case in Family Court, since most juvenile crimes, abuse/neglect cases and contested divorces boil down to a lack of emotional control in at least one of the parties.

The term "borderline" is meaningless, and you may prefer to call it "Blame-shifting Personality Disorder." Because their ego is so fragile, Borderlines accept little or no responsiblity for their own feelings and actions; instead, they blame outside forces for everything bad that happens to them and every shameful thing that they themselves do.

Without any intellectual "circuit breakers" to curb their emotions, their lives become emotional chaos in the presence of any stress. They complain a lot, get in a lot of fights, fall for any slick salesman who claims to serve their needs, and consistantly sabotage themselves by misjudging the reactions of others. They are frequent victims of paranoia and all of its destructive effects, while they often lack the "common sense" that the rest of us take for granted.

By the official diagnostic criteria, Borderlines compose about 2% of the general population and a much higher percentage of prison inmates and spousal abusers. If you loosen the criteria a bit, then Borderlines are everywhere, in every large workplace, school and government bureaucracy. They may be pleasant to meet at first, but eventually they become hell to get along with, especially if you attempt intimacy or become dependent on them.

BPD is hard to describe if you haven't witnessed it close-up—which you probably have. No doubt you have had the displeasure of dealing with a Borderline at some point in your career, education or romantic history. You probably found it profoundly unsettling because they blamed you for problems and tensions that they themselves created. Give a Borderline some power over you and submit him to some moderate stress, and he will probably become an asshole (a scientific term that will be defined later).

Once a person starts blaming the outside world for everything that goes on inside them, a whole range of destructive effects may follow, from dramatic mood swings and overreaction to stress to suicide threats and open violence. The borderline is engaged in a desperate struggle to demand from the world that which the world cannot give him: inner self-worth.

Because they accept little responsibility for their own actions, Borderlines cannot independently resolve their interpersonal problems, so a court often has to do it for them. Contested divorces usually involve at least one Borderline party, and when there are two, you can have a truly epic legal battle limited only by the available funding. Borderlines often become domestic abusers and are easily drawn into drug abuse, providing ample cliental for the TPO and abuse/neglect systems. As parents, they can inflict enormous damage on their children by devaluing and demeaning them, often in subtle and pernicious ways that do not violate any law. Thereby, they turn out a steady stream of clients for the Juvenile Justice and adult court systems.

    It's a fun disorder, and I hope you will come to appreciate it as much as I do. Embracing it, understanding it and even finding sympathy for the victim are more effective than pretending it doesn't exist, which is the usual attitude of society and most of Family Services.


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