Tibbitts explains that family members without mood disorders themselves know that emotions are simply emotions and that they do not need to responded to them. This is not so clear to a person with a mood disorder.
The speaker goes on to explain that family members also know that when they want to fulfill a goal, emotional responses need to be "put on the shelf" so they can continue with the task at hand. For someone with Borderline Personality Disorder this can be extremely challenging.
Listen to the audio program Wisemind.mp3
The Dialectal Dilemma - logic in the face of emotion is not helpful
Tibbitts describes what she calls the "dialectal dilemma". The dialectal dilemma is the invading feeling that results when applying logical thought to emotional responses at the time of the response. When this is done by the person having the response or by others it results in a very invalidating and very upsetting experience.
An alternative and the principle behind dialectical behavioral therapy is for the pwBPD to have cognition (recognition when an emotional reaction is in the extreme) and then substitute an alternate behavior - doing something different and more constructive with the emotional reaction. The emotion is not denied. The reaction to others is altered.
Three Characteristics Common with Borderline Personality Disorder
Three characteristics are common in people suffering with Borderline Personality Disorder are heightened sensitivity, extreme reaction/arousal, and slow return to baseline.
Heightened sensitivity - A person with Borderline Personality Disorder has a high sensitivity to emotions and feelings - both their own and of others.
Extreme reaction and high arousal - Extreme reactions and high arousal often makes it difficult to think through issues and act in an appropriate way.
Slow return to baseline - These reactions last longer and this in turn can the heighten the reaction to subsequent events and stimuli.
The struggles with Borderline Personality Disorder are impacted by both biology and by the social environment.
Biological factors - Being tired, hungry, stressed, or under the influence are all conditions that exacerbate the struggles of Borderline Personality Disorder. This is why people with the disorder do not do well in crisis situations.
Social factors - Being in an environment that denies or minimizes emotional experiences (independent of whether they are valid or not) adds to the difficulties. Specific examples include indiscriminately rejecting the validity of feelings, punishing the pwBPD for their emotions, escalation of emotional situations, or oversimplification of the task of solving problems at hand.
When these factors become extreme it often leads to suicidal ideation, or parasuicidal ventures, or even suicide.
BPDFamily.com provides support, education, tools, and perspective to individuals with a loved one affected by Borderline Personality Disorder. BPFamily is a non-profit, co-op of over 50,000 volunteer members and alumni formed in 1994. We invite you to join with us to explore these and other aspects of having a person with Borderline Personality Disorder in your life.