Originally Answered:Can people with BPD be trusted?
Unfortunately, no. People with BPD (who are untreated) cannot be trusted. It is not because they are purposely manipulative, but because the disorder distorts their perception of reality and affects their memory.
One of the main issues with BPDs is that their memories are not based on facts, but on their present feelings (for reasons that are not quite yet understood). So their present feelings about something or someone will color their entire memory, including promises they have made in the past.
If a BPD promises to do something and then their feelings about you or that issue change, dont expect it to get done. The BPD will unconsciously reshape reality and then try to convince you that their version of reality is the correct one.
In short, because BPD causes delusions, people with BPD who are untreated cannot be trusted. It is very sad actually, but its important not to forget that BPD is a serious and dangerous mental illness.
Edit: Below I am going to add a BPD summary that I created for myself to better understand the disorder, but I think it does an ok job explaining all the basics about BPD.
Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) is ahereditary, genetic conditionthat significantly affectsemotions, sense of self, memory and interpersonal relationships. Studies reveal extensive differences in brain structure and function. BPD is often triggered from the interplay of genetics withtrauma during childhood. It is suspected that during early childhood, increased levels of cortisol caused by stress (trauma) permanently change the brain structure and function of those genetically predisposed to it (such as increased gray matter in the amygdala area, among other things), causing BPD. While there is no cure, BPD is very treatable withDialectical Behavior Therapythat was specifically designed for people with BPD (by a person with BPD) and can give someone the tools to recognize and manage the symptoms.
BPD is a disorder ofDysregulationmade up by Emotion Dysregulation (the core of BPD), as well as, Interpersonal, Identity, Behavioral, and Cognitive Dysregulation.
More specifically, BPD causesintense emotionsthat are difficult to control and manage (i.e. “Emotion Dysregulation”) including unreasonableFear of Abandonmentwhich is central to BPD. BPD is primarily noticed through interpersonal relationships (“Interpersonal Dysregulation”):
Persons with BPD (PBPD) feel all emotions intensely, therefore, when they like someone (either in friendship or romantically) PBPDs will love that person intensely. If the other person reciprocates then they will both be enmeshed in a very intense and personal relationship.
PBPDs see the world throughBlack and White Thinking. Themselves and others are viewed as either “good” or “bad”. There are very few gray areas, if any. For example, it is difficult for a PBPD to be angry at a loved one and recognize that – while the PBPD is angry at them – the PBPD still loves them. Conversely, if a loved one is angry at the PBPD then the PBPD will view either themselves or the loved one as “Bad”, because for them, someone who is “good” would never criticize or make them feel sad. Thinking is generally Black and White or Good vs Bad.
When a PBPD loves you, they will make you the center of their lives. This phase is called “Idealization” and the loved one is viewed as “all good”. PBPDs also feel intensefear of abandonment– and in order to avoid the possibility that a genuine loved one will abandon them – they will unconsciously suddenly start to hate (“Devalue”) their loved ones in a process calledSplitting(which will also completely change their memories of such a person).
Splittingoccurs primarily against those people PBPDs feel like “they cannot live without”. At the suspicion of realor imaginedabandonment, suddenly (overnight), the loved one will be viewed as “all bad” and all their behaviors become suspect with malevolent ulterior motives. The entire relationship is completely forgotten and replaced with an alternate reality where the former loved one was always “all bad” and the two were never enmeshed in an intense, loving and personal relationship. This phase is called “Devaluation”. PBPDs also Devalue people they feel threatened by or who make them feel insecure.
It is important to note that BPD causes a false perception of reality includingfragmentation of memory(memory based on snapshots instead of a flowing narrative),lack of object constancy(a feeling that people who are not immediately present, may disappear forever),lack of whole object relations(difficulty integrating the past with the present), “emotional amnesia” (completely forgetting what someone means to you) as well as outrightFalse Memories(things that never quite happened, but feel as true to PBPDs as anything else). This peculiar problem with memory means that PBPDs only remember others based on their last encounter and continuously color the entire relationship based on each last encounter (i.e. they are unable to link the past with the present. Because of the lack of object constancy, they can only live in the present).
Because PBPDs memories are fragmented, it becomesexceedingly difficult to trust others. PBPDs experience difficulty intergrading what they know about someone into a cohesive image. It is not uncommon for PBPDs to believe that loved ones, will betray them at any moment. For reasons that are not yet fully understood, the PBPD’s mind cannot integrate a consistent perception of others based on past experience. The past cannot be integrated with the present. For a PBPD, given the opportunity, anyone may do anything, no matter how absurd under the circumstances or how out of character it would be. As such, PBPDs are unable to exhibit normal levels of trust.
Ultimately, PBPD memories are based on their present feelingsand not the actual past (i.e. for PBPDs, their emotions and feelings dictate their reality, instead of facts.). A distorted view and understanding of reality is one of the major issues of BPD. Without treatment, PBPDs are generally unaware that their memories and perception of reality are distorted.
If a PBPD Devalues you, then you will be remembered as always having been an unworthy person who they don’t particularly like (even though up until yesterday you were the center on their lives and could do no wrong). Any attempt to remind an untreated PBPD of the past will cause them confusion andcognitive dissonance. Untreated PBPDs will ultimatelyrationalizetheir behavior even against overwhelming facts. For PBPDs, how they presently feel about something, makes it the absolute and only truth.
In short, when a PBPD loves someone intensely, the fear of abandonment will be so overwhelming and all-consuming that the mind, in order to protect itself from those overwhelming emotions, will suddenly “flip a switch” and cause to PBPD to suddenly feel nothing for loved one, hate them and lose all their memories of ever loving them. Sadly, unless treated, the effects of BPD on a PBPD can only be called tragic. There is a relevant and well-known quote by a certain Dr.Thomas Sydenhamthat accurately describes the unfortunate effects that BPD has on the sufferers: “They love without measure those they will soon hate without reason”.
Once Devalued, the loved one will notice a very drastic, sudden change in the PBPD’s behavior towards them– the person who was extremely loving yesterday and the two of you were inseparable, now treats you like apersona non gratafor no apparent reason while denying anything is different. The Devaluation phase completely erases the loving and close relationship. The PBPD will be unable to remember that they once had strong feelings for you.
For those close to a PBPD (such as close friends, life partners, family members etc.) it may feel as the PBPD has two personas, aDr. Jekyll and a Mr. Hyde, where neither the Dr. Jekyll nor the Mr. Hyde persona is aware that the other persona exists. When the Mr. Hyde persona (i.e. the persona with BPD) comes out, the PBPD loses all recollection that the loved one is actually a genuine love one. Again, the loved one is instead viewed as having always been an unworthy and manipulative person who the PBPD never really cared for.
From a loved one’s perspective, the two distinct personalities appear as two very different people (and they might as well be), each with their own separate memories and behaviors. In fact, the two personalities view reality itself very differently. It is important for loved ones to become familiar with the behaviors of each personality.
At the exact moment of Devaluation, PBPDs may start planning and implementing their exit strategy from the relationship (since they now hate/dislike the other person). The PBPD may unconsciously create a false and negative narrative regarding the former loved one, justifying any actions the PBPD takes. Typically, this involves a lot of rationalization as well as the elaboratemanipulation and gaslightingof the former loved one that PBPDs are known for.
Rationalization, manipulation, distortions and gaslighting are not done consciously or with malice, but are simply the result of whatever the PBPD feels is true at the time. As mentioned previously, PBPD perception of reality is based on present feelings (and during Devaluation, they will believe, beyond any doubt, that the former loved one is a person with little to no worth).
This is as part of the famous “I hate you, don’t leave me” phase. In this phase the PBPD will be emotionally distant and very mean to the former loved one (“I hate you”), but at the same time, due to the Fear of Abandonment, they will also take steps to convince the former loved one not to disappear from their life (“don’t leave me”). Needless to say this is a very toxic phase. Alternatively, a PBPD may suddenly disappear from the former loved one’s life completely (they now want nothing to do with the devalued loved one) while the Fear of Abandonment may cause them reappear later.
It’s possible for the PBPD to slowly love the devalued person again (after all, the person they liked initially is still the same person), starting the cycle of idealization and devaluation all over again. Until the PBPD receives treatment, devaluation of loved ones is inevitable and at some point, this cycle will break into permanent devaluation.
From a loved-one’s perspective (if they are not aware of BPD), it would generally appear as if some short of “misunderstanding” has somehow happened, and they may reasonably believe that their PBPD loved-one still loves them (especially since the PBPD is taking steps to convince them to stick around), but otherwise treat them as a persona-non-grata ONLY because of that misunderstanding. The loved-ones may reasonably expect that as soon as that misunderstanding is resolved, their PBPD loved-one would return back to normal.
The loved-ones often fail to understand that they are dealing with a separate personality with its own (false) memories and that separate personality actually and genuinely dislikes them, and only encourages them to stick around because of the Fear of Abandonment. What is actually happening is typically completely incomprehensible to loved-ones who are unaware of what BPD is.
The Broccoli allegory:
A silly, but easy to explain way of how BPD works in relationships is this following allegory involving delicious broccoli. Imagine that you really like broccoli, and you want it to be a healthy part of your life: “Broccoli is awesome and delicious. I love everything about it and I will definitely keep it as a central part of my diet always”. If you have BPD, the disorder will cause you to fear that broccoli will disappear from your life forever and you will no longer be able to have it: “I am sure the broccoli market will collapse and I will not longer be able to get it from anywhere!” The fear is overwhelming and you start to hate and devalue broccoli rather than lose it: “You know what? I never really liked broccoli and I don’t care if I will not be able to have it in the future anymore. It tastes terrible and I am sure it’s bad for me. I want nothing to do with broccoli and I am cutting out of my life.”
BPD will also cause you to forget that you ever liked broccoli, and create false memories and false rationalizations of the past: “Why was I eating broccoli until now? I am sure there is a reason. Maybe I was eating broccoli because my roommate always brought some home, and I only ate broccoli because I used it with that sauce that I like. I only liked the sauce, not the broccoli! Yeah, I am sure that was the only reason. After all, broccoli sucks and I would never genuine like it. In fact, now that I think about it, I was not really eating broccoli all that often anyways, and the very few times I was, I certainly never cared for it”.
Then, you may stop eating broccoli altogether: “Good thing I no longer have to deal with that disgusting broccoli”. With that said, fear of abandonment is central to BPD and it does not go away: “Maybe I should not cut broccoli completely out of my life. I think I will keep it around a bit – even though I certainly don’t like it and will treat it with the contempt it deserves”.
Then, because you actually like broccoli, you may start warming up to it again: “Oh hey, this broccoli does not taste bad! It really should be part of my life!”
At that point, the Cycle begins all over again until the circumstances are such that you permanently devalue broccoli forever (even though, if not for BPD, there would be no reason you would not be enjoying broccoli for the rest of your life). Again, this allegory is a bit silly, but hopefully it makes a good point.
BPD may also cause “Unstable of a Sense of Self”. PBPDs find it difficult to form a coherent image of themselves and their likes/dislikes. As such, when PBPDs Idealize someone, they will often change their personality to match that person’s (as they are unsure of what their own personality is). This “chameleon effect” can occur both consciously and unconsciously. There are many stories of previously idealized persons, reconnecting with their PBPD former loved ones, and being very surprised that the PBPD now has a very different personality than the one they were familiar with.
There is also a distinction in behavior between Traditional and Quiet BPD. A person with “Traditional BPD” will express intense bouts of anger and rage towards the former loved one, while a person with “Quiet BPD” will simply become cold and distant. (Note: Quiet PBPDs experience the same intense anger as Traditional PBPDs, but instead of expressing those feelings outwards, they are internalized).
It is important to note that PBPD s Idealize and Devalue themselves as well as others. They may confident and proud in themselves one moment, but the next moment see themselves as terrible persons who do not deserve love, friendships or success in life.
In addition to Fear of Abandonment, many PBPDs experience “Fear of Engulfment”. As mentioned above, close relationships for PBPDs are very emotionally intense, and because PBPDs are afraid that their loved ones will Abandon them, they are also afraid of getting very close to such loved ones in the first place. If you are in a close relationship with someone with BPD, it may feel like they are pulling you closer with one hand, while at the same time pushing you away with their other hand. BPD relationships are often a balancing act between Fear of Abandonment and Fear of Engulfment. It is due to those fears that Splitting and Devaluation occurs.
BPD can cause a host of other symptoms, such as: Getting angry or upset very easily and finding it difficult to calm down (“Emotion Dysregulation”);unstable sense of self(due to the intense emotionality, PBPDs have a hard time knowing who they are or what they like and dislike) as well asstrong feelings of emptiness(“Identity Dysregulation”);impulsivity, drug use, promiscuity, binge-eating or shopping due to the intense emotions and feelings of emptiness; self-destructive behaviors such as sabotaging close relationships or even self-harm (the self destructive behaviors are called “Behavioral Dysregulation”); difficulty to admit fault and “projection” of fault to others;disassociationfrom reality under stress (and/or hallucinations) as well as incorrect perception of reality (“delusions”) (called “Cognitive Dysregulation”) ; and ultimately an extremely high rate of suicide (upto 70% of PBPDs will attempt suicide and 1 in 10 will commit suicide).
BPD can range from Mild (people with Mild BPD are considered “high-functioning”) to Severe (people with Severe BPD have trouble functioning, i.e. holding doing a job, taking care of themselves etc.).
Not all PBPDs exhibit the same symptoms and in fact, there is great variation of how BPD manifests in different people.
BPD is a serious and dangerous condition and one of the four“Cluster B” Personality Disorders(Antisocial, Narcissistic, Borderline, and Histrionic). It is imperative that PBPDs receive professional treatment.
Unfortunately, many psychologists appear to lack to skills to properly diagnose BPD and it is often misdiagnosed or even left undiagnosed. To make matters worse, because of Interpersonal Dysregulation (PBPDs will hate those they trust and depend on), PBPDs have a reputation of being notoriously difficult patients and many psychologists outright refuse to treat them, so it can be difficult to find a treating psychologist. BesidesDialectical Behavior Therapywhich is absolutely necessary, it is said thatyoga, meditation and breath-workcan help manage the intensity of the BPD emotions.
The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM–5) lists 9 easy to spot BPD behaviors. A psychologist will diagnose someone with BPD if at least 5 of those 9 behaviors are spotted.Laypersons should not use the DSM-5 in attempting to understand BPD; it is a tool for professionals used for the limited purpose of diagnosis and NOT a full description of BPD.Furthermore, there have been several recommendations in updating the DSM in regards to BPD based on our updated understanding of BPD.
It is also important for the loved ones and former loved ones of PBPDs to seek help for themselves. The trauma of suddenly being treated in a horrible way by a loved one and losing them for no apparent reason often causes PTSD and/or other mental health issues. For this reason, people who have been through a relationship with a PBPD are often called BPD survivors.
Finally, loved ones should make sure they are socially and legally protected. It is not uncommon for a Traditional PBPD to make false accusations against a devalued loved one (e.x. accusations for inappropriate behaviors, stalking, sexual harassment, theft etc.). Traditional PBPDs do not make false accusations on purpose or because they are mean. It is important to remember that reality for PBPDs is dictated by feelings and not facts. During Devaluation, a PBPD will genuinely believe that their former loved ones are evil and have behaved in an evil way. There are countless such stories from BPD survivors.
Once someone is aware of what BPD is, it is relatively easy to spot due to the intensity of the interpersonal relationships and the sudden devaluations that follow. It is through these interpersonal relationships that high functioning PBPDs often realize that a problem exists.