Research evidence has been mounting for some time that the concept of “personality” is not as well-defined as we have long tended to think. And the evidences also suggests that the patterns of behavior that define our personality are not nearly as stable or as immutable as many still believe.
Insight is a wonderful thing, but without challenging dysfunctional thinking and behavior patterns, and reinforcing efforts to do things differently, most people stay stuck.
Disturbed characters will expend all kinds of energy in self-serving pursuits. But they simply detest work they perceive is primarily on someone else’s behalf, or working for something that’s not clearly and intentionally self-serving, despite the potential benefit they might derive in the long run. That’s why they tend to give assent or “lip service” to the natural demands of a relationship (Assenting is one of the responsibility-avoidance tactics I outline in In Sheep’s Clothing and Character Disturbance), while resisting the real work of making amends.
It’s an unfortunate reality that when character disturbances either fail to be recognized or are improperly labeled as something else, the problems associated with those disturbances can be “enabled” to continue or even worsen.
Perhaps no two concepts in psychology are as confusing at times as personality and character. That’s in part because the definitions of both terms have evolved over time. But it’s also because certain misconceptions about the terms have persisted over the years not just in the minds of the general public but also in among professionals.
Perceiving the nature of a problem accurately and labeling the psychological realities underlying it correctly are of paramount importance when providing or seeking help. The current series of articles will address some popular misconceptions and the principal reasons important psychological principles and terms are often misused or misunderstood.
A person’s use pattern and prospects for “recovery” are always heavily influenced by their personality dynamics, which is why it’s so essential for character issues to be taken into account in treatment.
Unlike their more “neurotic” counterparts, mostly character-impaired borderlines don’t just inadvertently manipulate out of their neediness and inadequacy. Rather, they more deliberately engage in dramatic, often hostile gestures to keep others both entangled and exploited.
Depending upon what traits and tendencies tend to be more prevalent in their overall makeup, living with a borderline personality can present some very unique challenges.
The folks we label “borderline” are individuals whose personalty never quite came together. And it’s because of this personality integration failure that they not only appear to have a distinctively erratic, unpredictable, and unstable manner of coping but also frequently display features of other personality disturbances such as narcissism, dependence, manipulation proneness, etc. For these and many other reasons, coming to an accurate understanding of Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) can be quite a challenging task.