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Borderline



Borderline in essence: fear of abandonment—fear of abandonment leads to extreme and self-destructive behaviour to avoid the experience of the negative emotions connected with abandonment. We’ll ignore the biological component because it’s beyond our ken and concentrate on what might have caused a person with the latent potential to become Borderline to develop the personality disorder.


How could you come to fear abandonment? Inconsistent messages from parents. Example: I have a female relative who is definitely Borderline who was adopted—I know for a fact that her step-mother would say, “If you don’t behave, I’ll send you back to the orphanage”. So you have two levels of inconsistent messages: 1. rejection by birth mother; 2. hot-cold communication from adoptive mother.


Result: Borderline personality—fear of abandonment, inability to form stable relationships, overreacts to situations where a person may abandon them.


Supplemental: said relative moved back in with step-mother, as did her sister, also adopted, late in life—demonstrates neither overcame initial inconsistent messages (threatened abandonment) to lead independent adult lives; hence returned to “definitely be there” (read: you’ll definitely be there) until the step-mother died (which is conclusive, because death is not abandonment because “you definitely can’t help it”—unlike other actions).


Borderline personality is widely considered untreatable or “incurable”. However, a solution in the non-biological realm requires a person to come to see that there is a consistent structure to reality—Borderline people have also been shown to have difficulties with problem-solving (it’s related, as we shall see).


Hypothesis: inconsistent messaging in childhood leads the prospective Borderline to be unable to understand that there are constant laws of nature, or even man-made regularities like criminal laws—and, further, that adults can have consistent characters as well. This inhibits problem-solving abilities because if you don’t think things work as predictable regularities (mostly) you will be unable to formulate solutions to problems (because “anything could happen”, just like your step-mother might suddenly threaten to put you back in the orphanage).


Conclusion: therapy should concentrate on exposure of the Borderline to environments that are highly predictable and where cause-and-effect relations are immediately obvious (e.g. no delay in action and result, the person needs to understand that things in reality act in a consistent way, not all things, obviously, but most things). For example, they could work a factory-like machine for several hours a week where the same things happen all the time.


When this is internalised they will feel less need to act out to escape the distress caused by potential abandonment scenarios. Further, religion would help because religion is ritualistic and so establishes a consistent pattern in the mind—but it would have to be far more than church once a week to work; it would have to be morning, midday, and evening prayers—very much like the Muslims. This would help them to internalise that not only is the external world consistent but they themselves are consistent (and, also, God has ultimate “object permanence”—i.e. will not abandon you).


Supplemental hypothesis: Borderline has increased in the West due to feminisation—as women have become empowered, within the home as much as outside, inconsistent parenting styles have increased because women are more labile and inconsistent than men and so more people with the latent biological potential to develop Borderline have been exposed to stimuli that would cause them to do so (and not just in the home, also in media messages and in the education system).

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