borderline personality disorder

Defense

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People have right to defend themselves

 

Beyond the Borderline Personality: Projection and Borderline Personality Disorder: Part 1

It is possible to reach behind those walls, that will be there for a good reason. Behind the wall, someone wants to peek out

1. Rationalization

In psychology and logic, rationalization (or making excuses) is the process of constructing a logical justification for a belief, decision, action or lack thereof that was originally arrived at through a different mental process. It is a defense mechanism in which perceived controversial behaviors or feelings are explained in a rational or logical manner to avoid the true explanation of the behavior or feeling in question. It is also an informal fallacy of reasoning.[citation needed] This process can be in a range from fully conscious (e.g. to present an external defense against ridicule from others) to mostly subconscious (e.g. to create a block against internal feelings of guilt).

Example: A new patient comes to you for a physical examination. During the history, you note that he has been smoking two packs of cigarettes per day for twenty years. You tell him that cigarettes are harmful, and he should stop smoking. There is a reasonable likelihood that he will develop emphysema and/or lung cancer if he continues to smoke. The patient responds that both of his parents smoked their whole lives and are currently alive and in their eighties. Neither one has lung disease. He states, “I think smoking is good for you; it helps you live longer!” This patient dealing with the potential fear of smoking- induced disease through Rationalization. -Wikipedia.org

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2. Identification

Identification is a psychological process whereby the subject assimilates an aspect, property, or attribute of the other and is transformed, wholly or partially, after the model the other provides. It is by means of a series of identifications that the personality is constituted and specified.

Partial identification is based on the perception of a special quality of another person. This quality or ideal is often represented in a 'leader figure' who is identified with. For example: the young boy identifies with the strong muscles of an older neighbour boy. Next to identification with the leader, people identify with others because they feel they have something in common. For example: a group of people who like the same music. This mechanism plays an important role in the formation of groups. It contributes to the development of character and the ego is formed by identification with a group (group norms). Partial identification promotes the social life of persons who will be able to identify with one another through this common bond to one another, instead of considering someone as a rival. -Wikipedia.org


3. Displacement


In psychology, displacement is an unconscious defense mechanism whereby the mind redirects affects from an object felt to be dangerous or unacceptable to an object felt to be safe or acceptable. For instance, some people punch cushions when they are angry at friends; a college student may snap at his or her roommate when upset about an exam grade. Displacement operates in the mind unconsciously and involves emotions, ideas, or wishes being transferred from their original object to a more acceptable substitute. It is most often used to allay anxiety. In scapegoating, aggression is displaced onto people with little or no connection with what is causing anger. Displacement can act in a chain-reaction, with people unwittingly becoming both victims and perpetrators of displacement. For example, a man is angry with his boss, but he cannot express this so he hits his wife. The wife hits one of the children, possibly disguising this as punishment (rationalization). -Wikipedia.org

displacement2.jpg image by drsanity

4. Projection

According to Sigmund Freud, projection is a psychological defense mechanism whereby one “projects” one's own undesirable thoughts, motivations, desires, and feelings onto someone else. It is a common process that every person uses to some degree. To understand the process, consider a person in a couple who has thoughts of infidelity. Instead of dealing with these undesirable thoughts consciously, they unconsciously project these feelings onto the other person, and begin to think that the other has thoughts of infidelity and may be having an affair. In this sense, projection is related to denial, arguably the only defense mechanism that is more primitive than projection. Projection, like all defense mechanisms, provides a function whereby a person can protect their conscious mind from a feeling that is otherwise repulsive. Projection can also be established as a means of obtaining or justifying certain actions that would normally be found atrocious or heinous. This often means projecting false accusations, information, etc onto an individual for the sole purpose of maintaining a self created illusion. -Wikipedia.org

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5. Regression

Regression, according to psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud, is a defense mechanism leading to the temporary reversion of the ego to an earlier stage of development rather than handling unacceptable impulses in a more adult way. The defense mechanism of regression, in psychoanalytic theory, occurs when thoughts are temporarily pushed back out of our consciousness and into our unconscious. Regressive behavior can be simple and harmless. A person may revert to an old, usually immature behavior to ventilate feelings of frustration. Regression only becomes a problem when it is used frequently to avoid adult situations and causes problems in the individual's life.

A clear example of regressive behavior can be seen in J.D. Salinger's The Catcher in the Rye. Holden constantly contradicts the progression of time and the aging process by reverting to childish ideas of escape, unrealistic expectations and frustration produced by his numerous shifts in behavior. His tendencies to reject responsibility and society as a whole because he 'doesn't fit in' also pushes him to prolonged use of reaction formation, unnecessary generalizations and compulsive lying. Anna Freud called this defense mechanism regression, suggesting that people act out behaviors from the stage of psychosexual development in which they are fixated. For example, an individual fixated at an earlier developmental stage might cry or sulk upon hearing unpleasant news.

Behaviors associated with regression can vary greatly depending upon which stage the person is fixated at: An individual fixated at the oral stage might begin eating or smoking excessively, or might become very verbally aggressive. A fixation at the anal stage might result in excessive tidiness or messiness. -Wikipedia.org

6. Reaction Formation

In psychoanalytic theory, reaction formation is a defensive process (defense mechanism) in which anxiety-producing or unacceptable emotions and impulses are mastered by exaggeration (hypertrophy) of the directly opposing tendency. Where reaction-formation takes place, it is usually assumed that the original, rejected impulse does not vanish, but persists, unconscious, in its original infantile form. Thus, where love is experienced as a reaction formation against hate, we cannot say that love is substituted for hate, because the original aggressive feelings still exist underneath the affectionate exterior that merely masks the hate to hide it from awareness.

When an individual cannot deal with the demands of desires (including sex and love) and reality, anxiety follows. Freud believed that anxiety is an unpleasant inner state that people sought to avoid. In an attempt to protect ourselves from this anxiety, people employ reaction formation unconsciously in their daily lives. Reaction formation involves adopting opposite feelings, impulses or behavior. Someone adopting a reaction formation defense strategy would treat a spouse or loved one in the same manner in which they’d treat a hated enemy. Another example would be that two people really fond of each other fight all the time to suppress their desire of love for each other. This may also occur when there is a failure of acceptance that the other person is really important to them. To suppress their feelings for that person, they may resort to reaction formation and try to hate or fight with their loved ones to avoid the anxiety of not having them around. -Wikipedia.org
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7. Repression

Psychological repression, or simply repression, according to Sigmund Freud's psychoanalytic theory, is the involuntary psychological act of excluding desires and impulses (wishes, fantasies or feelings) from one's consciousness and holding or subduing them in the unconscious. Since Freud's work in psychoanalysis, repression is now accepted as a defense mechanism by psychoanalytic psychologists; however, there remains some debate as to whether (or how often) repression really happens and mainstream psychology holds that true repression occurs only very rarely.

In the Primary Repression phase, an infant learns that some aspects of reality are pleasant, and others are unpleasant; that some are controllable, and others not. In order to define the “self”, the infant must repress the natural assumption that all things are equal. Primary Repression then is the process of determining what is self, what is other; what is good, and what is bad. At the end of this phase, the child can now distinguish between desires, fears, self, and others.[citation needed] Secondary Repression begins once the child realizes that acting on some desires may bring anxiety. This anxiety leads to repression of the desire. The threat of punishment related to this form of anxiety, when internalized becomes the superego, which intercedes against the desires of the id (which works on the basis of the pleasure principle) without the need for any identifiable external threat. This conflict manifests itself within the ego. Abnormal repression, or complex neurotic behavior involving repression and the superego, occurs when repression develops and/or continues to develop, due to the internalized feelings of anxiety, in ways leading to behavior that is illogical, self-destructive, or anti-social. A psychotherapist may try to reduce this behavior by revealing and re-introducing the repressed aspects of the patient's mental process to her or his conscious awareness, and then teaching the patient how to reduce any anxieties felt in relation to these feelings and impulses. -Wikipedia.org

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Top Psychological Defense Mechanisms

 

 

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baggReblogged from a psychologist who writes about Borderline Personality Disorder in a non-judgmental way. This is so important, and I thank the author for this nuanced view of the psychological challenges people with BDP face.
 
 
 
Friday, 20 September 2013

Borderline personality disorder: Abandon the label, find the Person

 
Steven Coles
 
In 1980 the mental health industry invented a new diagnostic label, one of many, for the 3rd edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM III). The American Psychiatric Association (APA) presented DSM III to the world as a scientific revolBorderline Personality Disorder Awarenessution in psychiatric understanding. If people suffering emotional distress had accepted the APA’s statements about the new manual, they would have rejoiced that such a wealthy and powerful organisation had put its energies into making sense of psychological suffering. The vast majority of people receiving one of these new labels had experienced great trauma – sexual abuse, extreme life events and repeated abuses of power. Quite a progressive move by the APA then: understanding the effects of power on people. Psychiatrists could show care, understanding, and perhaps even provide a sense of solidarity to people who were marginalised. Unfortunately, in 1980 the APA willed Borderline Personality Disorder into being. The APA’s idea of empathy and understanding led to vast numbers of survivors of abuse being labelled as disordered individuals.
 
In many ways the diagnosis of BPD is an easy target for criticism and satire. The diagnosis of BPD is defined by a series of social and moral judgements, applied to people who have been traumatised and dressed up as a medical problem. If we had a friend who revealed to us after years of secrecy and shame that they had been repeatedly sexually abused as a child, our first response is unlikely to be “your personality must be really disordered – no wonder I’ve felt like rejecting you”. Instead we would show care, be amazed at their survival and probably feel anger at the perpetrators of abuse – basic common sense and decency. Sadly when it comes to psychiatric diagnosis good sense does not prevail. The survival of psychiatric diagnoses is in many ways an astonishing feat of magic; its supporters have woven a spell that repels good sense, compassion, logic and evidence.

There are multiple problems with a diagnosis such as BPD. Here I want to highlight just one: it locates the problem within t08d0ab8d1b1a5435a32a3e5134150cd2he individual. ‘BPD’ hides disordered environments, misuse of power and perpetrators of abuse. The following quote from Suzi, someone who received the label, makes the point better than I can:

 
‘I cannot understand how the vast majority of perpetrators of sexual violence walk free in society; whilst people who struggle to survive its after effects are told they have disordered personalities’ (Shaw & Proctor, 2004, p.12).
 
Think about the implications of that for a second. It’s accusing us of failing to recognise the abuse of power in society, of colluding in suffering. People are traumatised and hurt in many ways. For some there are obvious damaging events involved, for other people the circumstances are more complex and subtle. The flow of power is usually crucial in each. Unfortunately, the way in which we offer mental health services can lead us to ignore life circumstances and power. An understandable reaction to a horrifying life experience is converted into an illness, which a person is held responsible and rejected for having.
 
If that doesn’t paint a pretty picture of mental health services what are the alternatives? Perhaps a little good sense might help here. We need to support people to make sense of their distress in relation to their life experiences and circumstances – survival strategies in the face of disordered environments. People need to be offered practical support and guidance, as well as compassion and care. It seems unnecessary to grab at the concepts of illness, treatment and disorder, when we can talk with people using ordinary language. Our conversations need to honour people’s survival and strengths against the odds, as well as their difficulties and needs. When supporting people who have experienced high levels of abuse and are struggling in life, workers need space, supervision and time to reflect on and cope with their own feelings, and to consider the most useful ways to help. People should not have to accept a label and the attached baggage to receive support.
 

There are multiple problems with a diagnosis such as BPD. Here I want to highlight just one: it locates the problem within the individual. ‘BPD’ hides disordered environments, misuse of power and perpetrators of abuse. The following quote from Suzi, someone who received the label, makes the point better than I can:

 
‘I cannot understand how the vast majority of perpetrators of sexual violence walk free in society; whilst people who struggle to survive its after effects are told they have disordered personalities’ (Shaw & Proctor, 2004, p.12).
 
Think about the implications of that for a second. It’s accusing us of failing to recognise the abuse of power in society, of colluding in suffering. People are traumatised and hurt in many ways. For some there are obvious damaging events involved, for other people the circumstances are more complex and subtle. The flow of power is usually crucial in each. Unfortunately, the way in which we offer mental health services can lead us to ignore life circumstances and power. An understandable reaction to a horrifying life experience is converted into an illness, which a person is held responsible and rejected for having.
 
If that doesn’t paint a pretty picture of mental health services what are the alternatives? Perhaps a little good sense might help here. We need to support people to make sense of their distress in relation to their life experiences and circumstances – survival strategies in the face of disordered environments. People need to be offered practical support and guidance, as well as compassion and care. It seems unnecessary to grab at the concepts of illness, treatment and disorder, when we can talk with people using ordinary language. Our conversations need to honour people’s survival and strengths against the odds, as well as their difficulties and needs. When supporting people who have experienced high levels of abuse and are struggling in life, workers need space, supervision and time to reflect on and cope with their own feelings, and to consider the most useful ways to help. People should not have to accept a label and the attached baggage to receive support.
 
Abuse and misuse of power are social and political issues. We seem to resist asking the questions that flow from this though. Such as why is sexual violence so prevalent in society? How do we prevent people doing horrendous things to each other in the first place? What economic policies decrease oppression and misuse of power in society? Going back to the 20th century, at one point the APA decided people who identified 616557b8644a5f124a2ad7e3964173fathemselves as gay were suffering from an illness. Some of those who were labelled accepted and internalised the label. However due to lobbying and activism this idea was eventually abandoned. It is now time to speak up and say that people in emotional pain, who have suffered and attempted to survive, should no longer be labelled disordered. It is time to abandon the concept of borderline personality disorder and instead find and honour the person.
 
Shaw, C. & Proctor, G. (2004). Suzi’s Story. Asylum (Special Edition: Women at the Margins), 14 (3), 11 – 13. Also reproduced here.
 
Steven Coles is a Clinical Psychologist  and co-editor of Madness Contested: Power and Practice (PCCS Books, 2013). Follow him on Twitter @Steven_Coles_.

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