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 behaviours.
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 behaviour) 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 patterns are 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.
RIGID THINKING EXAMPLES :
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.
Possible Therapies :
Therapies that can help you change your core beliefs and correct a dysfunctional, rigid thinking style that derives, at least in part, from the theories of Albert Ellis (a pioneer and expert in this field of psychology) include rational emotive behaviour therapy (REBT), cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT) and dialectical behaviour therapy (DBT).
David Hosier BSc Hons; MSc; PGDE(FAHE).