I continue to be astounded by the sense of entitlement shredders assume in carving us up. The Last Psychiatrist is riffing on “borderline” today, and invites us to draw inferences. Alrighty, let’s begin. This is not okay:
“If the borderline sounds like a 15 year old girl, that’s because that’s what she is. The difference, of course, is the actual 15 year old girl is supposed to be flaky, testing identities and philosophies and looks until she finally lands on the one that’s “her.” But if you’re 30 and doing that, well…”
Well hell you tell me. Laughingstock? So 30’s the arbitrary cut-off and so much for Karen Horney’s “tyranny of shoulds.” But she was a borderline too, which all of us are to some degree, and the worst thing a woman can be. Funny how that works out.
So you’re female, over 30 and still having a ball with your experimental, playful, artsy quirky public persona, princess gowns, lingerie, uh oh he’s talking about me. Yep, I have an old psych evaluation here, which has landed on many expert desks overs the years, and begins with a non sequitur: she arrived wearing a cocktail dress. In the middle of the day.
The reader is to draw his own expert conclusions, so long as they point to sleazy character and deviance.
Jesus Christ. Who died and made these guys Elvis?
But you see it’s about the private, godlike interpretation, if we were being reasonable the shrink would have asked me, what’s with the dress? And I’d have given a brief and cogent explanation of the macro realities (It all began with the Reagan years, now my whole subculture dresses in black) and that would have been that. Instead we’re left with his unctuous inferences, no more significant than the fevered imaginings of anyone else, except for the “expert” part accorded his professional station. And there was a statement across the top of the evaluation warning that the patient should not have access to it lest his opinion cause irreversible psychological damage. The hubris made me laugh out loud.
They own the bully pulpit. They gave us Glenn Close in Fatal Attraction, the character written specifically to epitomize the borderline woman, sans the supernatural powers to pop up and stab after being drowned to death in a bathtub but hey it’s not about the details so much as the truthiness.
Truth is psychiatrists refer to BPD colloquially as the “wastebasket” diagnosis. Well, see, we have this cohort of personalities that are centered around their terror of being discarded. What should we name them? I know, wastebaskets! Get it? Ha ha, no mockery intended, now fix me a sandwich, bitch. Vampire, zero, cipher, bunny-boiler, stalker, Sartre’s glistening black hole, space, nothing, emptiness, a vessel, she’s poison, right, a receptacle of mind-boggingly hateful projections, big fat wonder she’s poison, though innit?
Just to be clear, I almost consider BPD a “transference-based” construct. What psychiatrists label women they can’t get along with.
My disdain for BPD is prolly what cured me of it. If I ever had it, if it exists anywhere outside the rabbit hole. I don’t want to play this game. And lucky for me, my treaters were ass-kicking empaths, who skipped my 3 personality disorders and went straight for the PTSD.
The borderline label sucks, the nosology does too. The micro concentration blows chunks. It’s not all about the individual, this is a political issue effecting largely women and is never dealt with as such. Goddamn right I’m pissed, I’ve had it.
Women are the Other and borderlines are the most Otherly of women. The majority grew up with horrifying physical, sexual and mental abuse. They’re our willfully misunderstood and speculative victim class, spread open before us in errant lipstick, white high heels, haystack hair and outstretched hand, clutching a certificate of untreatability. Wastebaskets.
If the analogy for narcissism is “being the main character in their own movie,” then the analogy for borderline is being an actress.
We get that alot. Dr. Last’s post is valuable in being theoretically sound, reflecting standard uncritical dogma. Read the whole thing to get the full flavor of empathic failure (which he prescribes as therapeutic “neutrality”). Come away with a seething desire to wrest control of this discourse:
Ironically, the borderline is a borderline only in relationship to other people. The borderline has a problem with identity only because other people in the world have stronger identities. Your Dad wants you to be one way, so you do it. Your boyfriend wants a different woman; so you do it. Your husband wants something else; so you do it. Who the hell are you, really? You have no idea, because you are always molding yourself based on the dominant personality in your life.
…If a borderline is dating a guy who loves the Dallas Cowboys, then for sure, she will love the Dallas Cowboys. If, however, she breaks up with him, and then dates a guy who loves the Giants, then she’ll love the Giants. But here’s what makes her a borderline: she will actually believe the Giants are better. She’s not lying, and she’s not doing it for him; she actually thinks she thinks it’s true. Everyone else on the outside sees that it is obviously a function of whom she’s dating, but she is sure she came up with it on her own. And she’s not play acting: at that moment that she believes, with every fiber of her being, that the Giants are better.
She’s an actress except when she’s not. There are better ways to talk about this.
The term actress is reductive, pejorative, and connotes manipulative self-dramatization.
I get that the borderline morphs. She’s always hated Hank Williams, this year she declares she’s been a lifelong fan and plays his records endlessly because Hank is her boyfriend’s hero, and she’s channeling her boyfriend now, she forgot who she used to be and I grew up with this, it’s hell on her, and the people around her, but she’s lost and pathetic and can’t hang onto herself beyond this very minute.
Dr. Last reminds us that borderlines tend to hook up romantically with rotters, or, “narcissists”, because a narc needs someone to grovel and she needs someone to tell her who to be:
The narcissist thrives with the borderline because she provides for him the validation that he is, in fact, the lead; the borderline thrives with the narcissist because he defines her.
…it is vital to her own psychological survival that he actually be who he says he is, that he actually have a stable identity that things happen to, because her identity depends on his being a foundation.
A folie a deux. Intriguing. Where’s the compassion to make my tired heart sing?
I submit that a borderline personality is one that has been utterly fucked with. She is sort of deaf dumb and blind and does of course have an unstable sense of self. Duh. She’s been driven insane by whatever she perceives real people want her to be, gone mad from striving to fulfill unspoken, internalized, guessed at, approximated expectations that circulate non-stop in her stream-of-conscious, which is always “on”, evaluating, hectoring and measuring her performance in relation to external standards of what she needs to affect in order to feel secure. She fails to meet the criteria, security is impossible, she lashes out, but not at those impossible standards, her locus of control is shot and she accepts existential torment as the price for being worth your time, which should raise questions about prior suffering in relationship, her compulsion to repeat traumatizations and all that relevant but unsexy personal history that made her what she is, when it’s so much more compelling to imagine her a freak of nature.
All women are raised to be insane. Some resent being subordinated and defy the cultural imperatives and attempt to establish person-hood in spite of the odds against her. Full-on borderlines have swallowed patriarchy and its whole stinking female-psycho mythology hook line and sinker.
My psychologists gave me the following antidote: bibliotherapy to introduce me to the workings of my mind, tools to monitor and interrogate its contents, a feminist analysis to recognize when I perform my gender to the point of parody, permission to embrace and reject according to my own mercurial proclivities, and a pragmatic introduction to connected, empathic, mutually self-disclosing and egalitarian relationship.
My therapists explicitly rejected the borderline construct, and would not let me get away with denying I had a self. What I needed was access, a way to it. I guess they could have followed the party line and filled me to the brim with some dude:
That’s why the therapist has to maintain such neutrality, consistency in the sessions. It’s not just to avoid conflicts; by being the most dominant (read: consistent) personality, the borderline can begin to construct one for herself using the blueprints of yours as a guide.
If that’s not the most shameless description of colonization I’ve ever seen I don’t know what. I can’t stomach those words, not after having also read these:
The narcissist creates an identity, then tries to force everyone else to buy into it. The borderline waits to meet someone, and then constructs a personality suitable to that person.
Someone’s gonna make her mine, make her mine, make her, yeah, winner take all and beat their rivals but good.
I’d like to hear from women who identify as borderline now, I know I get riled up at length. You tell me what I misunderstand.