Splitting, Splicing and Projection in BPD Personalities
By Shari Schreiber,
Borderline has a dire need to be seen as 'perfect' physically, cerebrally
and spiritually which drives a lot of issues within this personality
type. At the very heart of the borderline's acting-out behaviors
is core shame, a leftover if you will, from a childhood fraught
with confusing messages, neglect and abuse, which left them doubting
their lovability and worth from infancy onward. Any self-acknowledged
error makes a Borderline think they're a "bad person,"
which is why their denial defenses are so thick and they're unable
to accept or own their shortcomings and failings.
traits are most often observed in the Borderline Queen. If you even
hint that she's made a mistake, she becomes highly offended and
indignant. The BPD Queen has harshly judged and dissociated from
all darker or "negative" emotions, because she believes
them to be unacceptable and wrong, so she sure as hell
won't make any room for yours! If a Queen feels reprimanded or criticized,
her anger may get submerged, but it'll likely be replaced with an
imperious, judgmental and shaming tone and comments that'll make
you feel utterly decimated. The Queenly Borderline may not rage
at you like the BPD Witch~ but you will not escape her piercing
disdain for you.
Queen must always occupy the one-up position in all her relationships,
which means she's looking down on you from high atop her throned
pedestal. This is very common with borderline disordered psychotherapists.
If you're ever unfortunate enough to get involved with one, you
won't be permitted to have your own feelings and needs, unless they're
simultaneously shared by and identical with your Borderline's. Due
to innate narcissism in all Borderlines, there's only enough space
in this relationship for one personality to exist~
every Borderline who phones me for help, states: "I've done
a lot of work on myself!" I always smile to
myself, because it's a dead giveaway that I'm hearing from someone
who at the very least, has BPD traits and has searched lifelong
for answers and explanations pertaining to their inner torment,
and failed relationship attempts.
many Borderlines are tireless seekers of insight and truth. There's
often a tenacious will to heal themselves and grow, but no matter
how much therapy they've tried or how many self-help books they
read or support groups they joined, self-loathing remains entrenched
and implacable. Being hard on themselves is a self-defeating, typical
trait in all borderline personalities. As children they were routinely
programmed to feel unlovable and undeserving of affection or care,
so this is how they've learned to regard and treat themselves.
all Borderlines mutilate their skin, but most have become emotional
cutters~ in short, they heap criticism, shame and guilt on themselves
until they're dug so deeply into a dark, cavernous hole of despair,
it could take days or even weeks before they can emotionally reconstitute
themselves, start to climb out of it and rebalance.
shortcomings or deficits can make somebody with BPD believe they
have no right to live, or take up space on the planet. So destructive
is the Borderline's self-reproach for even minor mistakes,
their shaming inner narratives or mental sense they make of their
dreadful feelings, can make them want to die. This fact is key
to why suicidal ideation or attempts often coexist with borderline
involved with a Borderline lover means you're trapped in confusion,
chaos and titillation. At the onset, he/she is perfectly delightful,
charming and adoring, but you soon come to find that you can't relate
to some of his/her odd or bizarre behaviors.
keep efforting to understand what makes them tick, but you cannot.
In reality, their psychosis isn't something you should
be able to relate to, yet you keep trying. This natural reflex to
'get it right' was implanted in you as a very small child, when
you experienced difficult and confusing relational dynamics with
your parent(s). You might also have observed troubling interactions
between your folks, who struggled together a lot like you
have with your BPD lover~ so you've assumed this chaos is a natural
part of an ongoing relationship.
may have grown up promising yourself that your own love relationship
or marriage wouldn't be anything like the dynamic you observed between
your parents, but as this was the only blueprint you had
to draw from, you accepted it as "normal."
you had seen playful, loving interplay between two adults who admired
and respected each other, you would surely be seeking that
relationship dynamic for yourself, never settle for less, and you
wouldn't be reading this right now.
emulate their parents. They want to dress like them, act like them,
and mimic everything they do. Think of little girls who get into
Mommy's makeup and jewelry, and you have a stellar example of emulation.
Kids are like little sponges. Nothing gets past 'em--and even when
you think they're not paying attention, they absorb and integrate
all of your words and behaviors~ it's a big part of why Borderlines
spawn children with BPD traits.
a small child perceives frightening traits in his/her parent,
like ragefulness, harshness, cruelty, histrionics, emotional instability
or anxiety/worry, he/she determines never to grow up to be like
Mother or Father, for fear of becoming that terrifying monster or
fragile/pathetic creature they saw and accepted as their example
mere threat of this, has partners of Borderlines amputating
important feeling states (like anger) out of their personality,
yet allowing and accepting them in their lovers, just as they did
with their parents while growing up. There is always a
childhood template for attraction to a borderline disordered individual,
and in twenty four years of practice, I've seen no exceptions.
crucial to understand that the partner or friend of a BPD individual
is typically core-damaged in precisely the same ways a Borderline
is. They share the same vibrational frequency since childhood, because
they're core traumatized in the same ways by the person they spent
nine months bonding with in-utero~ Mother. This is what initially
magnitizes them to each other, and keeps them tenaciously trying
to 'get it right' with one another, against all odds.
and white thinking, love you/hate you, come here/go away, and push-pull
emotional gymnastics, are hallmarks of intensely unstable relationship
dynamics with individuals who have and exhibit borderline pathology.
all acquainted with this splitting reflex in Borderlines, but we
usually fail to recognize this tendency within ourselves. The Caregiver,
fixer/rescuer type who frequently attaches to personality disordered
lovers, has virtually split-off all darker feelings, thoughts and
personality facets from their own emotional repertoire. They've
discarded dimensions that even hint at what they had observed,
growing up with a weak, impaired or punitive parent. So reviled
or pitied was their mother or father for these facets, the developing
child feels the need to totally rid him/herself of those "negative"
traits--which doesn't leave much room for a balanced, multi-dimensional
and healthy persona to unfold.
inclination to 'throw the baby out with the bathwater' in relation
to our "bad" emotions and sensations in childhood, is
what promotes pathological perfectionism, which can result in suicides,
rageful outbursts, passive-aggression,
and a litany of other health concerns. In short, suppression of
feelings can be deadly to our Self and others.
Borderline splits-off from the less favorable features within him/herself,
and won't tolerate them in you. The People Pleaser has similarly
split-off from his/her own 'imperfect' or flawed aspects, but somehow
accepts them in their Borderline, way beyond when it makes practical
or logical sense to stick around.
in essence, we're talking about two wounded individuals who can't
accept themselves fully, or be emotionally whole and well. This
deficit triggers a lot of self-protection and posturing to avoid
abandonment; "if I'm not at ease with
all my parts, how could You be?"
and frantic efforts to avoid rejection are engaged in by
is a term I have developed to describe a specific behavioral
pattern which is typical in your dynamic with a Borderline. As is
the case with film production (pre-digital editing), an editor's
job was to splice out unnecessary scenes from a movie reel, then
re-attach the ends of his celluloid to create seamless continuity.
phenomenon of splicing allows a BPD partner to return after
highly volatile or disturbing/disruptive ruptures in your dynamic,
and act as if nothing troubling has previously occurred! In short,
they pick up where they left-off prior to this recent catastrophe,
and you wrestle with whether to confront their
bad behavior, or avoid rocking the boat 'cause everything's nice
and sunny again (until the next monsoon hits)!
explain this further, the Borderline averts abandonment with his/her
perfectly orchestrated re-seductions in the hope they can make you
forget how horribly they treated you during their last distancing
episode. You on the other hand, are hyper-fixated on pleasing, loving
and forgiving, to avoid being dropped on your head quite as often.
It never works by the way, but you'll keep wanting it to, despite
consistently poor outcomes--which is like continuing to believe
in the Tooth Fairy, when no money ever materializes under your pillow
for that incisor you lost as a kid.
problem with this mutually agreed on relational pattern is, the
Borderline is never held accountable for their destructive, harmful
behavior. Without very firm boundary and limit setting, a child's
unsavory behavior continues to repeat indefinitely, and so does
a Borderline's, because there can be no tangible change or growth~
passivity promotes more of this crap.
Borderlines and non-Borderlines are proficient at 'splicing,' to
edit-out any negative episodes that have occurred with
their lover, so connection can be retained. For the Borderline,
this is automatic, given they're incapable of sustaining all emotions,
for any reasonable duration. You do it, to remain
close to someone you've sensed is destroying you, and Denial is
the bus you throw yourself under, every time you betray your feelings!
Forgiving is one thing~ forgetting is quite another.
your partner cheats on you, you'll somehow accommodate and overlook
it, no matter how wounding their behavior is to your self-esteem.
You accept their betrayal as being your fault,
based solely on the bullshit they've thrown at you, and pledge to
"love them better" going forward. Fucking someone else
is never "an accident or mistake." It's
a deliberate action consciously engaged in to undermine
your relationship bond with him or her.
with even a modicum of self-worth will not tolerate such abuses,
nor remain involved with anyone who treats them badly. Your desire
to "forgive and forget" is this 'splicing' reflex you
learned in childhood, when you tried to accept a harsh parent's
criticism or callous disregard for your feelings and needs, so that
you could stay attached to them until you were old enough to leave
one's head in the sand only works for ostriches. For us humans,
it's called Denial, which can ultimately prove deadly.
Borderline projects their disowned, unsavory features onto you.
You are basically the mirror or movie screen, upon which they can
view their own denied/discarded traits. They could even accuse you
of being a Borderline, which can be as outrageous as it sounds.
are too broken/fractured to claim any less than perfect
characteristics, as the shame that's catalyzed within drives feelings
of unlovability--and consequently, deep despair. These feelings
are childhood remnants from parental neglect and/or abuse that are
imprinted on their soul, and You can't repair this
is not exclusive to Borderline Personality Disorder. Nons have this
trait too, when they feel a need to assign their own normal/positive
facets to a domineering, cruel BPD partner whom they swear is
a "good person" that really loves them!
to acknowledge and accommodate one's own darkness, derails
his/her capacity to recognize it in others! Like Pollyanna, these
folks see their world through rose-colored glasses, and presume
that all humans are trustworthy, integrous and as "basically
good" as they~ but human beings are not all
made with the same cookie-cutter. To presume they are,
means one is ignorant~ or at best, dangerously naive.
read a magazine interview (in Vanity Fair, September/2011) with
Jennifer Lopez, who routinely demands that her hotel suites be draped
with white sheets, and only allows white flowers and furniture to
occupy all her environments. Aside from any implications of sterility
and lack of color/passion (particularly for a Latin
girl), I view these rigid requirements as fetishistic. This odd
proclivity might also be indicative of someone who fears that she'll
become invisible, if she's not the only blotch of pigment
on an otherwise, blank canvas.
soon to be divorced husband, Marc Anthony is quoted to have said;
"She beats the shit out of me all the time," in response
to being queried about what J-Lo's brought to his life, but instantly
tried to qualify that statement of course, with how she's "driven
him" to succeed professionally. There's no excuse for
abuse, no matter how well-intentioned--but that is not
what we learned about "Love" during childhood, from our
'well-meaning' parental units, is it?
of my former clients brought this issue to my awareness, as OCPD
perfectly describes his experiences while married to a Borderline.
Like many other diagnoses which in my view, rest under the BPD umbrella,
this subtype is well worth mentioning.
Personality Disorder is characterized by the following traits: indecisiveness,
emotional rigidity, strict moral standards, depressed mood, need
for extreme order, perfectionism, truth hoarding; "my own truth
is the only truth," isolation, and highly
conflictual relationships. If you wish to peruse a good article
on this topic by Dr. Steven Phillipson, click here.
have worked with Borderlines who've adopted a ridiculously pristine
self-view, to compensate for inner loathing. The more religious
or "spiritual" ones often regurgitate mantras that entail
being "a child of God (who loves them)," yet they can
never manage to accept and believe they're lovable! Given that the
Borderline won't accommodate any darker or imperfect parts of their
own nature, how can You catch a break, if you disappoint
them just one little bit?
matters not, how brilliant, talented or beautiful your BPD lover
might be. No amount of reinforcement or affirmation from you or
anyone else for that matter, will alter how they regard themselves.
All their insecurities and self-loathing are projected onto their
veneer when they look in a mirror, and a tiny blemish may become
a catastrophic event! They might tenaciously attack that "imperfection"
until they cause major damage to adjacent tissues and create a much
more unsightly flaw--but at least they were in-control
of that destructive outcome.
the Borderline wants to pick fights with you, especially
after an intensely loving, close and harmonious episode. When attachment
fears flare up, abandonment terror is right around the corner--so
they have to destroy any closeness with you, before you have a even
a remote opportunity to do it to them! This has nothing whatsoever
to do with You. They'll act-out their anxiety surrounding attachment,
with all their suitors, partners and close friends.
the Non-Borderline, projection
becomes an especially sticky wicket, when he or she assigns their
own discarded facets to the ex-BPD partner or lover. The People
Pleaser, rescuer-type has detached/dissociated from vulnerable/fragile
facets and feelings, which are routinely displaced onto
the Borderline. I can't count how many men and women I've worked
with, who can feel sorry for their Borderline ex no matter
how mean, pernicious or crazy-making they've been, but flatly refuse
to offer any sympathy or compassion to themselves!
dark emotions are not allowed to exist within the Non's personality,
they're foisted onto the BPD lover. If we won't
allow ourselves to feel and express anger, we'll readily react to,
but accommodate it in our lover.
we refuse to feel sympathy for ourselves, we'll project
our disowned sympathetic feelings onto others. Thus, debilitating
guilt prevents us from responding to our own intrinsic
needs, if we believe our Borderline might have strong emotional
reactions to them~ and time and time again, we're walking on eggshells,
and betraying ourselves for the sake of another.
do not relate to pain in the same way non's do.
If they did, they couldn't persistently
treat their lovers with such careless, cruel abandon. The Borderline's
lack of empathy
(due to developmental arrest) is central to this issue.
fact that Borderlines tend to remain far longer with abusive, emotionally
unavailable or pre-attached or married lovers is a paradoxical mystery
to many~ but why the heck are You still in this
undersatisfying, tormenting, painful relationship??
old sayings, that water seeks its own level, and birds of a feather
flock together are really true. We are in fact, magnitized to individuals
who precisely match our own level of emotional
who is truly emotionally available, doesn't remain involved with
somebody who is not. Wishful thinking can't make another love you
or treat you better. That 'perfect love' you experienced at the
start of a relationship with a Borderline will never be restored,
for once you've been seduced, the challenge of The Chase
is over and they lose interest in you. As a Non, you must ask yourself
if this has also been true in your own dating experiences. The person
you choose to love is a mirror for you. He/she simply echoes
how you feel about you, and what you've grown up believing you deserve.
you have an iPhone, iPad or iPod this app will let you hear
COULD MY BPD LOVER BE RIGHT ABOUT ME??
HAPPINESS~ THE PATH TO FULL RECOVERY AND JOY
may phone with questions, but I
do not offer online/written therapy. Only emails under
150 words are read, due to time constraints. Please
be clear/concise, and expect a straight answer within four to six