How Could it Not be a Character Disorder?
Dr. Heller, I think youíre full of it to say borderline isnít a character disorder. Iíve been emotionally and physically abused by my ex-wife who was a flaming borderline. She has lied about me to my friends, in court and my kids. My kids wonít have anything to do with me and all Iíve done is try to help. The courts always take her side, and wonít listen. Why is it like that and how can you possibly say being borderline isnít being bad character?
I know too many wonderful human beings with the BPD to believe itís a character disorder. When you combine character problems with the BPD, however, bad things do happen.
What individuals believe while psychotic seems as real as reality. There is an air of believability about them, particularly in court. This is especially true when alleging abuse - since the individual with BPD believes so passionately what they misinterpreted while dysphoric. They can also behave in ways that make their fears seem true, like a self-fulfilling prophecy. Itís the "cornered animal" response thatís broken, and things interpreted while the body experiences terror are unlikely to be objective and accurate.
I repeatedly tell my BPD patients that they absolutely cannot trust their bad interpretations or memories. While they may be valid, they also may not be. Sometimes negative interpretations need to be evaluated by an objective observer, such as a therapist or clergy. A sign that an individual with the BPD has good character is how they deal with this issue. If they discard good friends and close family members because of these interpretations, and refuse to challenge their incorrect beliefs, they will likely be very lonely and bitter people over time. This is why over time borderlines are said to get better in the work environment, but not in their social life. Borderlines can have a great social and family life, but they must have all their chronic medical and psych problems treated, have a medical plan for stress, and absolutely work vigilantly to retrain the brain and challenge bad memories and beliefs. Those who fail to do this will cause lots of pain to themselves and others.
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