If we have developed borderline personality disorder (BPD) as a result of our traumatic childhood, then one of the main symptoms we are likely to have developed is difficulties with interpersonal relationships. Most often, too, part of this difficulty resides in the fact that we are likely to be extremely thin-skinned.
Our being thin-skinned can, most frequently, be explained by our having experienced severe negative attitudes expressed towards us as children (most commonly by a parent or primary carer), rejection, abandonment, emotional abuse or some combination of these.
Thus, in an unconscious, desperate attempt to protect ourselves from further psychological pain, we become hypervigilant in connection with being on the look out for further signs that someone may be a threat to our psychological welfare by emotionally hurting us.
Rather like a dog who has been regularly beaten, we ‘snarl’ at (or ‘run away’ from) anyone who remotely seems to represent such a threat lest they harm us like we were harmed before.
Do Those With BPD Imagine Others Are Behaving Negatively Towards Them When, In Reality, This Is Not The Case?
Do people with BPD constantly imagine slights against their character when, in reality, such slights have not occurred? In fact, this doesn’t seem to be the problem (or, if it is a problem, not the main problem). Rather, people with BPD, due to their hypervigilant state when interacting with others, perceive real negative attitudes towards them which others may not be perceptive or sensitive enough to pick up on or let pass over their heads.
The problem from here is often how those with BPD react once they have picked up on such negative attitudes.
How Do Those With BPD Tend To React In Such Situations ?
In such situations, those with BPD tend to feel intensely hurt and misunderstood ; this can then lead to becoming highly emotional or, as a form of self-protection, detached. Unfortunately, neither of these reactions tend to be useful in terms of resolving the situation; indeed, such reactions most often serve only to compound the BPD sufferer’s interpersonal difficulties.
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David Hosier BSc Hons; MSc; PGDE(FAHE)