One of the main hallmarks of borderline personality disorder (BPD) is the pronounced tendency of those who suffer from it to display marked rigidity in relation to both their thought processes and behaviors.
This means that, when events occur, the way in which the BPD sufferer interprets them tend to be habitual and fixed and it is very difficult indeed for him/her to adopt a more flexible view or alternative perspective ; instead, once the rigid way of interpreting events formulated in his/her mind, it becomes a kind of idée fixe (the problem is compounded, of course, because, very frequently, such rigid thinking also leads to rigid, inflexible behavior) that s/he, terrier-like, refuses, seemingly at all costs (even if such incurred costs are extraordinarily, perhaps tragically, high), to relinquish (sometimes, it has to be said, provoking great exasperation, pain and frustration in others, particularly those who are not well versed in the disorder).
Rigid thinking is associated with poor mental health, not least because it can give rise to obsessive worry and rumination (intensely and chronically focusing on one’s problems) and a dysfunctional way of interacting with others.
Examples Of Rigid Beliefs :
Examples of rigid beliefs include :
- others should always agree with me and see things from exactly the same perspective as I do
- others should never behave in ways of which I disapprove
- if others don’t agree with me it’s because they’re stupid
- I need to always be right
- things must go perfectly
- I must be liked and approved of by everyone at all times
- others can NEVER be trusted and will always eventually screw you over
Core Beliefs :
Our fundamental core beliefs about ourselves, others and the world in general develop early on in childhood and this period of development is closely related to how flexible / inflexible our ‘thinking style’ becomes. If this period is traumatic, stressful and involves chronically dysfunctional relationships with significant others (most of all, our primary carer) we are at high risk of developing negative core beliefs and a rigid way of thinking that can very seriously harm our adult lives including our intimate relationships, friendships and career. To read my article, previously published on this site, which explains more about core beliefs, click here
Possible Therapies :
Therapies that can help with correcting a dysfunctional, rigid thinking style that derive, at least in part, from the theories of Albert Ellis (a pioneer and expert in this field of psychology) include rational emotive behavior therapy (REBT), cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and dialectical behavior therapy (DBT).
David Hosier BSc Hons; MSc; PGDE(FAHE).