Do As I Say: Be Oppositional!

Oppositional behavior by children would seem to run counter to arguments in my previous posts that family members often do what they think their families want them to, even at great personal sacrifice. But oppositionality can be more apparent than real. People often act that way to accomodate what they perceive their parents to want and need from them.

Empathy for a Child Abuser?

Empathy for a child abuser? For a child molester? How can anyone be empathic with someone who has done something so terrible? Why would they want to? Do the perpetrators possibly deserve such a thing? For a judge or prosecutor, of course not. For stopping repetitive dysfunctional family interactions that trigger someone's self-destructive behavior? Necessary.

Mixed Messages in Your Family? A Quiz You Can Take

A highly prevalent feature in families that produce an offspring with a significant personality disorder is parents who give their children mixed, contradictory messages about how to behave in certain social circumstances. To see how your family stacks up against other families and to find out what issues your family has, I herein provide a self-administered quiz for you.

Others All Good or All Bad: A Splitting Headache

Ever since they were first described by psychoanalysts, people with borderline personality disorder were presumed to be incapable of seeing both the good and bad in other people simultaneously. While they can indeed act that way, they are actually superb judges of character. They are also thought of as being manipulative, which requires that very ability.

The Power of Ambiguity in Family Communication

All languages have a high degree of ambiguity built into them. Any sentence has at least two possible meanings, particularly within the context of a particular relationship. In sensitive family discussions, hiding one's true motives through the use of ambiguous communication is a frequent occurence. Understanding this ambiguity can help uncover crucial family secrets.

Fear of Success Masquerading as Fear of Failure

People often justify their lack of effort at achieving a desired goal to a fear of failure - as if failure by never making an effort is somehow less of a failure than trying and failing. Why would anyone assume failure before even making an effort? Often, the "fear of failure" is really a fear of success. Their successes may often provoke severe family dysfunction.

Parents Cut Off by Adult Children: Clueless?

A recent spate of letters to advice columnists were written by parents who have been cut off by their adult children, and who complain that they have done little or nothing to deserve having been treated in such a manner. Once the full story about the estrangement starts to come out, however, it usually becomes apparent that they really do know better.

Responding to "Borderline" Provocations: Last Part

Being in a relationship with someone with traits of borderline personality disorder is incredibly challenging. In the last part (X) of this series, I discuss: First, when the recommended strategies are not working, what do you do then? Second, if you react badly only rarely, and you will, the person with BPD will escalate. How do you stop that process?

Treatment Resistant Depression and Borderline Personality

A debate between two academics about whether personality disorders or hidden "bipolarity" is the major cause of depression that responds poorly to antidepressants is dissected in this post. Many doctors seem to accept the absurd assumption that everyone who is moody must have an underlying manic depressive illness. They also seem to think that all depression is the same.

Borderline Provocations IX: Hostile Sounding Comments

Being in a relationship, by blood or romance, with someone with traits of borderline personality disorder is incredibly challenging. In Part IX of this series, I recommend listening to the actual words when someone makes a statement which sounds like a criticism, rather than the tone of voice, because the statement may actually be ambiguous.

The 12 Steps of AA: A Translation

12 Step programs, designed to get people with addictive behaviors to stop, are not based on science. They are rather based on Protestant evangelical techniques. As such, they subtly denigrate individuality in favor of a more collectivist perspective, while still allowing for some individual expression. All credit goes to the higher power, but never any blame.

"Borderline" Provocations VIII: Lets You and Him Fight

Being in a relationship, by blood or romance, with someone with traits of borderline personality disorder is incredibly challenging. While they may seem at times to be irrational, there is in fact a method to their madness. In part VIII of this series, I discuss situations in which other parties fight with one another over how a person with the disorder is being treated.

Scientific Fraud About Brain Scan Findings

Brain scans using fMRI are used more and more by some psychiatrists to "prove" that certain behavioral disorders are brain abnormalities when most differences merely reflect performance variables or, more importantly, conditioned responses to prevalent environmental factors. Some differences may reflect disease, but other factors have to be considered to know for sure.

“Borderline” Provocations Part VII: Parasuicidality

Being in a relationship, by blood or romance, with someone with traits of borderline personality disorder is incredibly challenging. In Part VII of this series, I discuss one of the most problematic and frightening of all aspects of the disorder: parasuicidality (suicide attempts, gestures, threats and non-suicidal self-injurious behavior).

What to Expect From Your Marriage

Couples with ongoing relationship problems may complain bitterly about some aspect of their partner's behavior, yet continue to put up with it for years. Sometimes they will even say that if the relationship improves in the way they are asking for, it will end. The dirty secret is that both of them may actually share a problem, and both are invested in not solving it.

Responding to “Borderline” Provocations Part VI

Being in a relationship, by blood or romance, with someone with traits of borderline personality disorder is incredibly challenging. While they may seem at times to be irrational, there is in fact a method to their madness. In Part VI of this series, I recommend countermeasures for when they seem to be making illogical statements or absurd arguments.

The Obvious Secret of Interpersonal Influence in Families

In families, people attempt to determine how their families want them to behave by trying to figure out the motives of the others. However, when family members are themselves ambivalent about what they want, they give off a double message about this. When two members of a family misread one another, the double messages can go both ways. Interesting things then transpire.

Responding to “Borderline” Provocations Part V

Being in a relationship, by blood or romance, with someone with traits of borderline personality disorder is incredibly challenging. While they may seem at times to be irrational, there is in fact a method to their madness. In Part V of this series, I recommend countermeasures for times when they ask you to solve their impossible problems.

Responding to “Borderline” Provocations Part IV

Being in a relationship, by blood or romance, with someone with traits of borderline personality disorder is incredibly challenging. While they may seem at times to be irrational, there is in fact a method to their madness. In Part IV of this series, I recommend a countermeasure for times when they make highly exaggerated and/or over-generalized remarks.

Mindfulness or Mindlessness?

The latest fad in both psychotherapy and self help is “mindfulness.” Derived from Zen Buddhism, it is a skill one can use to better tolerate emotional distress. When faced with distress, having ways to keep oneself calm is a good thing—much like taking a tranquilizer. But changing the social environment creating the stress in the first place is far more important.

Responding to “Borderline” Provocations – Part III

Being in a relationship, through blood or romance, with someone with traits of borderline personality disorder is incredibly challenging. While they may seem irrational, there is in fact a method to their madness. In Part III of this series, I discuss the overall philosophy behind the countermoves to specific provocations that I will be describing in future posts.

Hatefulness as a Gift of Love

When parents treat their children like dirt or constantly do things that drive them crazy, and then complain when the children stay away from them, what is going on? Can it be that such horrible behavior has a hidden altruistic intent? These parents know they are toxic, cannot seem to stop being that way, and covertly think their children are better off without them.

"Borderline" Provocations: How NOT to Respond

Patients who have the traits of borderline personality disorder often are experts at inducing in those closest to them feelings of anxious helplessness, anxious guilt, or overt hostility. If you want to continue to feel that way, here is a list of the best ways to help them help you to do so.

Where Psychoanalysts Went Wrong

All schools of psychotherapy consist of multiple theories connected by common threads. Some of these can be correct while others completely wrong. Psychoanalysis was once the dominent treatment. One thing they got right was the importance of parental influences on psychological development. One thing they got wrong was thinking this influence stops by the time you are 5.

Responding to “Borderline” Provocations—Part I

Being in a relationship, by blood or romantically, with someone with traits of borderline personality disorder is incredibly challenging. While they may seem irrational, there is in fact a method to their madness. In Part I of this series, I introduce some important considerations before going on to describe in future posts specific countermeasures to their provocations.

Don't Ask, Don't Tell

Do you trust a complete stranger with your most embarassing deep dark secrets? Me neither. Do you know all about every psychiatric disorder in the book so you can give a clinically relevant answer to every inquiry about a symptom a psychiatrist makes? If doctors do not ask the right questions, including follow-up questions, patients will often not tell.

Invalidation in Families: What Are The Hidden Aspects?

Invalidation of children, a characteristic of family dysfunction, is thought to be a major cause of personality problems, particularly within the families of patients with borderline personality disorder. However, the process of invalidation in a family involves a lot more than meets the eye. This post discusses two important but highly covert aspects of the phenomenon.

Logical Fallacies and Games Without End: Countermoves

When people try to talk about problematic family dynamics and become defensive, they often confuse the picture and invalidate other participants in the conversation by using fallacious arguments. This post discusses two last fallacies, and goes on to describe a strategy for countering all logical fallacies, as well as a strategy for undoing the "game without end."

Arguments About Race: A Giant Mind Boggling Game Without End

When Blacks and Whites try to discuss the extent of racism in America today, it seems to get nowhere. Anything either side says seems to be automatically reframed as just another manifestation of the Black belief in the incorrigible racism of all Whites, or of the White belief in the presence of innate Black pathology and inferiority. No wonder we are stuck!

Borderline Personality Disorder in the Movies

Movie scriptwriters often are clueless about the mental disorders they wish their characters to portray. Putting the right family dynamics with the right disorder is even rarer. However, sometimes a movie can get things so right it is scary. Such was the case with two movies about borderline personality disorder, "Frances" and, especially, "Thirteen."

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