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To live a life analogous to a soap opera is to live the life of a borderline

personality. Wrought with emotional ups and downs, these individuals are
known to be unstable and especially angry. What fuels the chaos are intense
interpersonal needs and sudden shifts of opinion about others, who may be
painted as loving, sensitive, and intelligent one minute and accused of neglect
and betrayal the next.

When left alone, even for short periods, borderline personalities( 'the
borderlines') feel INTOLERABLY LONELY & EMPTY. With romantic relations
typically stormy and intense, they spend most of their time either making up or
breaking up. They make frantic attempts to AVOID ABANDONMENT, including
suicidal gestures. In addition, they fail to realize that their clinginess via
dramatic and drastic measures drives others away. Plagued by feelings of
anxiety, depression, guilt, and inferiority, many engage in self-destructive
behaviors, indulging themselves impulsively in promiscuous sexual activity or
drugs and alcohol. Some even mutilate their own bodies by cutting or burning.

Lacking a mature sense of self-identity, they flip-flop on goals and values,

suddenly change jobs on impulse, and REVERSE PREVIOUS OPINIONS WITH
INDIFFERENCE. During stressful periods, this incohesiveness makes them
susceptible to temporary psychotic states and dissociative episodes. The
borderline personality is peppered with many aspects of other personality

Although its symptoms are obviously severe, the borderline personality can
less be viewed as existing on a continuum with normality. The mercurial style is
described as living a roller coaster life. Frequent ups and downs are the rule,
and attachment is the central theme in all relationships. Echoing the
borderline’s frantic attempts to avoid abandonment is a desire always to be
involved in a passionate romantic relationship. Such individuals process
experience emotionally rather than logically, showing their feelings with

Socially, they are lively and engaging, with an open mind toward experimenting
various roles and value systems. Exhibiting aspects of the dependent and
histrionic personalities, they urgently seek closeness with their partners, like a
merging of souls but even more intensely. They expect the same from others
and quickly become hurt whenever the same desire is not forthcoming. Anger
and resentment follow.

Consider the case of a fictitious 'Jenny'. What is immediately striking about

many borderlines, is a specific kind of instability in their relationships. Jenny
swings from loving people to hating them and back again, as if she knew only
two modes of appraisal: either complete idealization as the best person on earth
or devaluation as a demon from Hell. There is, always, a sudden and never-
ending shift of attitude.

What Jenny seems to need most is magical fusion with a loving caretaker.
feelings of abandonment seem to underlie the intense anger she feels toward
some people. Moreover, she seems devoid of life goals or consistent values.
Whereas normals develop a solid sense of identity that defines the person and
gives direction to life, Jenny lacks a stable identity that might anchor her
against the influence of intense, transient impulses that threaten to seriously
damage her life.
These include polysubstance abuse and the habit of leaping from moving
vehicles to get away from her “evil” boyfriend (replace with anything).

Jenny seems angry AT JUST ABOUT EVERYTHING ALL THE TIME. Sometimes,
her anger is so intense that she accuses OTHERS of planning to hurt her.
Perhaps she cannot imagine how life could become so dissatisfying, believing
that the course of events would need to be helped along by some evil agency to
be so effective in its misery. Obviously, she feels misunderstood, alienated, and
alone. Although everyone feels this way at some time, Jenny reports constantly
feeling “hollow inside,” apparent
evidence of feelings of emptiness but probably more closely related to
dissociation. Jenny notes, for example, that life sometimes seems to be “moving
in slow motion” and that she is “like an observer” watching things “from the
outside,” evidence of breakdown in the normally integrated functions of

Jenny’s feelings about others swing from loving to hating. Far from being simply
experimental and curious in a way that builds self-identity, Jenny seems too
Consumed with emotional upheavals to allow for life goals or real values to
develop. Finally, SHE is not simply sensation-seeking in ways that add to the
richness of life; instead, she is impulsive in harmful ways.

The borderline construct has proven remarkably controversial. Indeed, the very
label borderline presages problems of definition. Logically, anything known
primarily for bordering something else obviously cannot be its own entity.

IN summary, the Borderline Personality disorder is characterized by a pervasive

pattern of instability of interpersonal relationships, self-image, and affects, and
marked impulsivity beginning by early adulthood and present in a variety of
contexts, as indicated by five (or more) of the following:

(1) Frantic efforts to avoid real or imagined abandonment.

(2) A pattern of unstable and intense interpersonal relationships characterized

by alternations between extremes of idealization and devaluation.

(3) Identity disturbance: markedly and persistently unstable self image or sense
of self.

(4) Impulsivity in areas that are potentially self damaging (e.g., spending, sex,
substance abuse, reckless driving, binge eating).

(5) Recurrent suicidal behavior, gestures, or threats, or self mutilating


(6) Affective instability due to a marked reactivity of mood (e.g., intense episodic
dysphoria, irritability or anxiety usually lasting a few hours and only rarely
more than a few days)

(7) Chronic feelings of emptiness,

(8) Inappropriate, intense anger or difficulty controlling anger (e.g., frequent

displays of temper, constant anger, recurrent physical fights),
(9) Transient, stress-related paranoid ideation or severe dissociative symptoms