Borderline Personality Disorder: damage and developmental impairment in Swadhisthana Chakra
“If you are borderline (BPD), you may never have acquired that basic trust in a loving caretaker. Or, once having learned to trust, you may have been so betrayed that you have had to retreat to a world of discontinuity, peopled by caricatures …splitting prevents you from developing an enduring image of yourself and others and is partly behind your elusive sense of identity…splitting is a defense intended to protect, but it is also a treacherous force that can destroy relationships.”
-Lost in the Mirror by Dr Richard Moskovitz
If you are in relationship with a critical, demanding, intense and self-annihilating individual who seems eternally dissatisfied with anything you do, flares up with unexpected anger at any imagined insult or apparent lack of consideration on your part, and has a history of short and tortuous relationships behind them, then he or she may be suffering aspects of Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD).
Relational Energy Healing suggests that the BPD reflects damage to an essential developmental stage through which each of us must pass, rooted in Swadhisthana or Pelvic Chakra. It is through this chakra that our early infant needs first begin to blossom, allowing us to experience our feelings and personal boundaries as our own. A powerful charge of libidinous (infant mind sexuality) energy flows through Swadhisthana resulting in, amongst other things, a strong infant connection to the mother. This bond is both an evolutionary necessity (to keep the infant attached to, and “fed” by, the mother’s energy system) as well as a way for the infant to begin to distinguish the difference between her own sensory feeling world and that of the maternal holding container.
By seeing the borderline as a damaged or developmentally impaired version of a healthy stage of growth we can more easily see how Swadhisthana Chakra should work correctly. Where the borderline is eternally critical of other and (secretly) of the self, we as healthy adults can work to balance our internal critic (Superego) with compassion and patience. Where the borderline is demanding, we as adults can learn to honestly express our true needs and find appropriate ways to get them met. Where the borderline confuses intensity with passion we can strive for a life that balances both excitement and relaxation. Where the borderline flares into a fight-flight response over any imagined insult we can learn to self-sooth our inner infant “tyrant” and remind ourselves that there are other people in the world who also deserve to get their needs met. Where the borderline moves from intense relationship to intense relationship all the while complaining “Poor me” and obsessing about the inadequacies of their partners, we can increasingly take responsibility for our relationship choices and make healthier decisions as to whom we become intimate. And, when the borderline attempts to keep us forever going around the same dead-end relational issue because they are terrified to say goodbye, we as healthy adults can lovingly and firmly say “no” to what does not bring us happiness, and choose to move on to someone who can truly meet our needs.
Many individuals were raised to take care of their parents or siblings, and automatically ignore or become numb to their own personal needs. Such “co-dependant” or emotionally over-generous people often find themselves in relationship with borderlines, where one personal issue fits like a glove into the other. For these relationships the deal is: “I take care of you (the borderline partner) and you take care of you.” Awakening to the torturous reality of this unconscious agreement can be a shock, albeit a life-changing one. Do you deserve to have happiness and reciprocity in your adult relationships? Yes! Do you deserve to alternate between nurturing periods of relaxation and moments of true passion? Yes! Do you deserve to have a relationship that matures emotionally over time, to meet the changing needs of each life phase? Yes! Will your relationship with a borderline partner accomplish these healthy adult needs? No, it will not.
Understanding a healthy Swadhisthana Chakra and its developmental stage is essential for Relational Energy Healing, both for personal growth and for working with others. The study of the borderline condition provides a needed counterpoint from which many of us can begin to move towards positive emotional health. Both the borderline and their dependent partners are struggling to get their needs met – and are failing. Through personal process many of us can re-set the impact of our unhealthy family patterns and learn to become happier adults. By learning the extent of the problem, by becoming more in touch with our emotional reality and our needs, and by putting ourselves first, we can change from dependent infant to healthy adult. The skills of compassion and patience can come to balance the voices of our inner critic, the acceptance of self-responsibility can heal our “Poor me” identity rooted in despair, and a new template for healthy relationships can replace an eternal cycling of infant demand for an imagined perfection of need-fulfillment that will never come. It may take time, nurturing, help, and prayer, but it can happen to you.
If we do find ourselves in long-term family relationship with a borderline or someone who has many of the borderline characteristics, leaving the relationship may not be an option or even be possible. The good aspects of an otherwise challenging relationship may be worth the effort of learning to manage the symptoms of the borderline while simultaneously working on your own issues of dependency and emotional honesty. Psychotherapy and other therapies can help you mitigate the extremes of this painful situation, and the increase of personal power and growth can make a huge difference to many areas in your life. Also, if your partner is willing to take some responsibility to receive therapy or Relational Energy Healing for themselves a struggling relationship may well be repaired and move to a new level of intimacy.
Below is the diagnostic criteria from the DSM-4, the manual used by mental and emotional health professionals, to define this condition. Relational Energy Healing utilizes this, and other information, to track and repair Swadhisthana damage and infant developmental impairment.
The DSM-4 criteria for Borderline Personality Disorder:
- 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:
- Frantic efforts to avoid real or imagined abandonment.
- A pattern of unstable and intense interpersonal relationships characterized by alternating between extremes of idealization and devaluation. This is called “splitting.”
Following is a definition of splitting from the book I Hate You, Don’t Leave Me by Jerry Kreisman, M.D.
“The world of a BPD, like that of a child, is split into heroes and villains. A child emotionally, the BPD cannot tolerate human inconsistencies and ambiguities; she cannot reconcile anther’s good and bad qualities into a constant coherent understanding of another person. At any particular moment, one is either Good or Evil. There is no in-between; no gray area….people are idolized one day; totally devalued and dismissed the next.
Normal people are ambivalent and can experience two contradictory states at one time; BPD’s shift back and forth, entirely unaware of one feeling state while in the other.
When the idealized person finally disappoints (as we all do, sooner or later) the borderline must drastically restructure her one-dimensional conceptionalization. Either the idol is banished to the dungeon, or the borderline banishes herself in order to preserve the all-good image of the other person.
Splitting is intended to shield the BPD from a barrage of contradictory feelings and images and from the anxiety of trying to reconcile those images. But splitting often achieves the opposite effect. The frays in the BPD’s personality become rips, and the sense of her own identity and the identity of others shifts even more dramatically and frequently.”
- Identity disturbance: markedly and persistently unstable self-image or sense of self.
- Impulsivity in at least two areas that are potentially self-damaging (e.g., spending, sex, substance abuse, reckless driving, binge eating)
- Recurrent suicidal behavior, gestures, or threats, or self-mutilating behavior.
- 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).
- Chronic feelings of emptiness.
- Inappropriate, intense anger or difficulty controlling anger (e.g., frequent displays of temper, constant anger, recurrent physical fights).
- Transient, stress-related paranoid ideation or severe dissociative symptoms. In other words, when stressed, the BPD has the sense that someone – or something – is “out to get them”.
Dissociation is the state in which, on some level or another, one becomes somewhat removed from “reality,” whether this be daydreaming, performing actions without being fully connected to their performance (“running on automatic”), or other, more disconnected actions. It is the opposite of “association” and involves the lack of association, usually of one’s identity, with the rest of the world.
Psychologists stress repeatedly hat thhere is no “pure” BPD; this coexists with other disorders. These are the most common. BPD may coexist with:
- Post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- Mood disorders
- Panic/anxiety disorders
- Substance abuse (54% of BPD individuals have addiction problems)
- Gender identity disorder
- Attention deficit disorder (ADD)
- Eating disorders
- Multiple personality disorder (MPD)
- Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)
Some statistics about BPD.
2% of the general population (but increasing).
10% of all mental health outpatients
20% of psychiatric inpatients
75% of those diagnosed are women
75% have been physically or sexually abused
Implications for singles looking for relationship and someone exhibiting BPD behavior
Assessing a potential partner for BPD is difficult and challenging as they are often charismatic and may tell you they are emotionally available. And yet, even early on in the dating phase, signs of this challenging condition may be evident. “Crazy-making” people, or individuals with a clear self-orientated agenda, can often be spotted fairly easily. Caution must be taken in the realm of sexuality, however, as the BPD often excels at impulsive, “edgy”, or even dangerous sexuality, and may seductively draw you in before it becomes clear this individual has significant issues in the realm of emotional availability and personal maturity. Trust your body and instincts as well as your healthy boundaries and adult pacing towards emotional attachment. If it feels “wrong” in some way it probably is. Slow things down until you have more information. It is easier to stop an unhealthy relationship from beginning than to deal with the clean-up and chakra cord entanglement after you have become emotionally involved with them.
Copyright © 2005 by Dean Ramsden. All Rights Reserved.