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People often wonder if it’s “borderline” personality disorder, what’s it on the border of? In old terms, it was thought to be on the borderline between neurotic and psychotic. Nowadays, that isn’t the issue. The question is whether the person has a certain set of symptoms, listed in the DSM.
People with true borderline personality disorder have rage storms that come from nowhere. Sometimes an abuser will say their spouse is “borderline,” but further investigation indicates that the spouse’s anger was caused by abuse, not by psychological problems. In other cases the true borderline may simply have irrational rage storms that sweep in like a wind and are not based on anything currently going on in the external environment.
Borderline people have issues with closeness, and life with them often involves a dizzying interpersonal push-pull motion. First, the borderline feels lonely and pulls the other very close. This makes the borderline feel smothered, like they’re losing their identity. The borderline then gives the other person an emotional shove away. This brings the feeling of emptiness back and begins the cycle again. These folks are hard to live with.
I recommend two books on this subject:
I Hate You, Don’t Leave Me: Understanding the Borderline Personality by Jerold J. Kreisman and Hal Strauss–This book gives good advice on how to deal with a borderline as well as a good description of the condition.
The Abusive Personality: Violence and Control in Intimate Relationships by Donald G. Dutton (2002)— This book shows the similarity between being an abuser and being a borderline. This is the only book by this author that I recommend.