Poor Sebastian

August 29, 2011

This is the story of Sebastian, a young man who married a histrionic woman. If you were to look at a photo of Sebastian now, you would hardly recognize him from his former days. That’s because he’s been transformed by a master manipulator. She tells him how to dress, how to behave… even how to think.

Look closely at photos of them together and you will notice her arm is always over his shoulder, like a leash around his neck.  This subtle body language states who is in control of this relationship. What Sebastian doesn’t realize is he is on a very short leash.

Histrionics are control freaks. This is the only way they can soothe the overwhelming feelings of insecurity that have plagued them since childhood. Their experience has taught them that bad things happen when you lose control.

Histrionics have been abused their whole life. They suffer from C-PTSD (lifelong trauma). This means that normal and healthy defense-mechanisms have been cranked up to abnormal and unhealthy levels to ensure survival. That is why the histrionic is so brutal. A histrionic lives in a dog eat dog world. The histrionic will eat you alive.

Histrionics are predators. They look for people they think they can control. They look for submissive behavior. And if you’re not submissive enough, they will try to break you down. They will soften you up with sob stories.

They will tell you what a horrible family they have. They will tell you they were raped in college. They will tell you they have a mysterious disease that no doctor can find a cause or cure for. She will tell you horror stories of ex-boyfriends who were abusers and stalkers. She will convince you that everyone around her is crazy. Everyone except her. Then she will look to you to save her. She is the damsel in distress and you are her knight in shining armor. It is a fantasy role-play that few are able to resist.

Sebastian has no idea what he signed up for. He is clueless. He doesn’t know about BPD or HPD. He doesn’t know about C-PTSD. He doesn’t realize that he is under her spell. He doesn’t realize that she has him wrapped around her little pinky.

Sure, there were times he noticed that she was a little off. Moody at times. Quick temper. He noticed there were times when she was paranoid (on red alert). And then there were other times when she was careless (like a naive child). But he couldn’t put all the pieces together.

Histrionics are good at fooling most of the people most of the time. Everything is an illusion to fool people into thinking all is well. They can even fool themselves. But for this they must employ mind-bending tactics. They must resort to mind games to keep their partner in check. A partner in check is less likely to leave them. A partner in check will not question their ways. A partner in check is clueless. And that is exactly the way the histrionic likes it.

Because if Sebastian were to wisen up, things would get very hairy. If Sebastian were to start questioning her behavior, she would suddenly become insecure again. Because a partner that questions a histrionic is a sign that he is thinking for himself. It means she is losing control. And a histrionic control freak can not allow that.

If he insists on being his own man, she will find ways to knock him down to size. This is the process of devaluation. When a histrionic feels inferior, she will find a way to drag you down to her level. She wants you to feel as insecure as her. This is when the histrionic engages in acts of infidelity- sex with strange men she just met, maybe after a night of binge drinking. Such behavior has the added benefit of distancing them away from you and sabotaging the relationship. Crisis averted.

If Sebastian were smart enough to know what’s up, he would be quickly shown out the door. There would be no sentimental good-byes. No thanks for the memories. He would be done. He would be expected to “move the fuck on”. And if he didn’t, she would accuse him of stalking her. She would accuse him of being abusive. False-accusations are the histrionic’s most potent weapons. Playing the victim is their first line of defense.

If Sebastian were to suggest she seek help, she would suggest he leave her alone. She would suggest that he was crazy. Everyone is crazy except her. Then she would slam the door, leaving him to reel in pain by himself. A histrionic leaves a relationship in a hurry to find someone else who will save her from this tragic life.

This is the histrionic’s MO. It is well-documented. But histrionics will fight tooth and nail to suppress the mountain of evidence. If you know a histrionic, you know this story well. Unfortunately, it is a true story. These are the telltale signs that you are in a relationship with a woman who suffers from histrionic personality disorder.

Let’s start with the definition of pathalogical lying (aka pseudologia fantastica). For that, we turn to Wiki:

Pseudologia fantastica, mythomania, or pathological lying is one of several terms applied by psychiatrists to the behavior of habitual or compulsive lying

…Although it is a controversial topic,[2] one definition of pathological lying is the following: “Pathological lying is falsification entirely disproportionate to any discernible end in view, may be extensive and very complicated, and may manifest over a period of years or even a lifetime.

… The defining characteristics of pseudologia fantastica are that, first, the stories told are not entirely improbable and often have some element of truth. They are not a manifestation of delusion or some more intense type of psychosis: upon confrontation, the teller can admit them to be untrue, even if unwillingly.

Second, the fabricative tendency is long lasting; it is not provoked by the immediate situation or social pressure as much as it is an innate trait of the personality.

Third, a definitely internal, not an external, motive for the behavior can be discerned clinically e.g. long lasting extortion or habitual spousal battery might cause a person to lie repeatedly, without the lying being a pathological symptom.[2]

Fourth, the stories told tend toward presenting the liar favorably. For example, the person might be presented as being fantastically brave, knowing or being related to many famous people.

Pseudologia fantastica may also present as false memory syndrome, where the sufferer genuinely believes that fictitious events have taken place, regardless that these events are fantasies. The sufferer may believe that he or she has committed superhuman acts of altruism and love or has committed equally grandiose acts of diabolical evil, for which the sufferer must atone, or has already atoned for in his/her fantasies.

When you listen to their stories you would think they were mythological figures from a Greek Tragedy or re-incarnations of Joan of Arc and Mother Theresa. This is the histrionic indulging in flights of fancy. Histrionics are self-indulgent narcissists. They are either inflating their egos or seeking attention with victimhood. Any attention will do.

False Memory Syndrome is defined as:

[A] condition in which a person’s identity and interpersonal relationships are centered around a memory of traumatic experience which is objectively false but in which the person strongly believes. Note that the syndrome is not characterized by false memories as such. We all have memories that are inaccurate. Rather, the syndrome may be diagnosed when the memory is so deeply ingrained that it orients the individual’s entire personality and lifestyle, in turn disrupting all sorts of other adaptive behavior…False Memory Syndrome is especially destructive because the person assiduously avoids confrontation with any evidence that might challenge the memory. Thus it takes on a life of its own, encapsulated and resistant to correction. The person may become so focused on memory that he or she may be effectively distracted from coping with the real problems in his or her life

What’s frightening is that some of these people have put themselves in a position of authority. They masquerade as activists, advocates and “journalists”.

But in reality, they are spreading misinformation and their warped view of the world. Their mind is warped by years of abuse. Science tells us that abuse (both physical, sexual and emotional) alter the brain’s biochemistry. The way they see the world is vastly different than those who have not been affected by life-long trauma.

They have formed support networks that support their lies and promote a dysfunctional lifestyle. Networks of enablers enabling lies upon lies. They recruit other emotionally damaged people by telling them the lies they want so badly to believe. As individuals, these people have the power to ruin lives. (remember Caylee Anthony) But as a collective, they have the power to do much more harm. They have the power to spread their disease.

This is no conspiracy theory. This is merely the observation that disordered people will do ANYTHING to maintain the lie. They will create lies to cover up lies. They will create lies until their whole life is a lie. This blog has given you a glimpse into their world. If I am obsessed, it’s because I know firsthand how damaging these people can be. I know the only way to stop these liars from telling their lies is to confront them with their lies. (Oh but don’t think they won’t fight you tooth and nail to stay in denial).

Lies are actually the least of our worries with histrionics. As Casey Anthony demonstrated, histrionics spread misery and pain where ever they go. You might be able to argue that they are not doing this intentionally, but what does it matter. Regardless of intent, misery and pain is misery and pain.

I quoted this article in my last post, but I think it deserves its own post:

The need for attention

Human beings are social creatures and need social interaction, feedback, and validation of their worth. The emotionally mature person doesn’t need to go hunting for these; they gain it naturally from their daily life, especially from their work and from stable relationships. Daniel Goleman calls emotional maturity emotional intelligence, or EQ; he believes, and I agree, that EQ is a much better indicator of a person’s character and value than intelligence quotient, or IQ.

The emotionally immature person, however, has low levels of self-esteem and self-confidence and consequently feels insecure; to counter these feelings of insecurity they will spend a large proportion of their lives creating situations in which they become the centre of attention. It may be that the need for attention is inversely proportional to emotional maturity, therefore anyone indulging in attention-seeking behaviours is telling you how emotionally immature they are.

Attention-seeking behaviour is surprisingly common. Being the centre of attention alleviates feelings of insecurity and inadequacy but the relief is temporary as the underlying problem remains unaddressed: low self-confidence and low self-esteem, and consequent low levels of self-worth and self-love.

Insecure and emotionally immature people often exhibit bullying behaviours, especially manipulation and deception. These are necessary in order to obtain attention which would not otherwise be forthcoming. Bullies and harassers have the emotional age of a young child and will exhibit temper tantrums, deceit, lying and manipulation to avoid exposure of their true nature and to evade accountability and sanction. This page lists some of the most common tactics bullies and manipulators employ to gain attention for themselves. An attention-seeker may exhibit several of the methods listed below.

Attention seeking methods

Attention-seeking is particularly noticeable with females so I’ve used the pronoun “she”. Males also exhibit attention-seeking behaviour.

Attention seekers commonly exploit the suffering of others to gain attention for themselves. Or they may exploit their own suffering, or alleged suffering. In extreme forms, such as in Munchausen Syndrome By Proxy, the attention-seeker will deliberately cause suffering to others as a means of gaining attention.

The sufferer: this might include feigning or exaggerating illness, playing on an injury, or perhaps causing or inviting injury, in extreme cases going as far as losing a limb. Severe cases may meet the diagnostic criteria for Munchausen Syndrome (also know as Factitious Disorder). The illness or injury becomes a vehicle for gaining sympathy and thus attention. The attention-seeker excels in manipulating people through their emotions, especially that of guilt. It’s very difficult not to feel sorry for someone who relates a plausible tale of suffering in a sob story or “poor me” drama.

The saviour: in attention-seeking personality disorders like Munchausen Syndrome By Proxy (MSBP, also known as Factitious Disorder By Proxy) the person, usually female, creates opportunities to be centre of attention by intentionally causing harm to others and then being their saviour, by saving their life, and by being such a caring, compassionate person. Few people realise the injury was deliberate. The MSBP mother or nurse may kill several babies before suspicions are aroused. When not in saviour mode, the saviour may be resentful, perhaps even contemptuous, of the person or persons she is saving.

The rescuer: particularly common in family situations, she’s the one who will dash in and “rescue” people whenever the moment is opportune – to herself, that is. She then gains gratification from basking in the glory of her humanitarian actions. She will prey on any person suffering misfortune, infirmity, illness, injury, or anyone who has a vulnerability. The act of rescue and thus the opportunities for gaining attention can be enhanced if others are excluded from the act of rescue; this helps create a dependency relationship between the rescuer and rescued which can be exploited for further acts of rescue (and attention) later. When not in rescue mode, the rescuer may be resentful, perhaps even contemptuous, of the person she is rescuing.

The organiser: she may present herself as the one in charge, the one organising everything, the one who is reliable and dependable, the one people can always turn to. However, the objective is not to help people (this is only a means to an end) but to always be the centre of attention.

The manipulator: she may exploit family relationships, manipulating others with guilt and distorting perceptions; although she may not harm people physically, she causes everyone to suffer emotional injury. Vulnerable family members are favourite targets. A common attention-seeking ploy is to claim she is being persecuted, victimised, excluded, isolated or ignored by another family member or group, perhaps insisting she is the target of a campaign of exclusion or harassment.

The mind-poisoner: adept at poisoning peoples’ minds by manipulating their perceptions of others, especially against the current target.

The drama queen: every incident or opportunity, no matter how insignificant, is exploited, exaggerated and if necessary distorted to become an event of dramatic proportions. Everything is elevated to crisis proportions. Histrionics may be present where the person feels she is not the centre of attention but should be. Inappropriate flirtatious behaviour may also be present.

The busy bee: this individual is the busiest person in the world if her constant retelling of her life is to be believed. Everyday events which are regarded as normal by normal people take on epic proportions as everyone is invited to simultaneously admire and commiserate with this oh-so-busy person who never has a moment to herself, never has time to sit down, etc. She’s never too busy, though, to tell you how busy she is.

The feigner: when called to account and outwitted, the person instinctively uses the denial – counterattack – feigning victimhood strategy to manipulate everyone present, especially bystanders and those in authority. The most effective method of feigning victimhood is to burst into tears, for most people’s instinct is to feel sorry for them, to put their arm round them or offer them a tissue. There’s little more plausible than real tears, although as actresses know, it’s possible to turn these on at will. Feigners are adept at using crocodile tears. From years of practice, attention-seekers often give an Oscar-winning performance in this respect. Feigning victimhood is a favourite tactic of bullies and harassers to evade accountability and sanction. When accused of bullying and harassment, the person immediately turns on the water works and claims they are the one being bullied or harassed – even though there’s been no prior mention of being bullied or harassed. It’s the fact that this claim appears only after and in response to having been called to account that is revealing. Mature adults do not burst into tears when held accountable for their actions.

The false confessor: this person confesses to crimes they haven’t committed in order to gain attention from the police and the media. In some cases people have confessed to being serial killers, even though they cannot provide any substantive evidence of their crimes. Often they will confess to crimes which have just been reported in the media. Some individuals are know to the police as serial confessors. The false confessor is different from a person who make a false confession and admits to a crime of which they are accused because of emotional pressure and inappropriate interrogation tactics.

The abused: a person claims they are the victim of abuse, sexual abuse, rape etc as a way of gaining attention for themselves. Crimes like abuse and rape are difficult to prove at the best of times and their incidence is so common that it is easy to make a plausible claim as a way of gaining attention.

The online victim: this person uses Internet chat rooms and forums to allege that they’ve been the victim of rape, violence, harassment, abuse etc. The alleged crime is never reported to the authorities, for obvious reasons. The facelessness and anonymity of the Internet suits this type of attention seeker. [More]

The victim: she may intentionally create acts of harassment against herself, eg send herself hate mail or damage her own possessions in an attempt to incriminate a fellow employee, a family member, neighbour, etc. Scheming, cunning, devious, deceptive and manipulative, she will identify her “harasser” and produce circumstantial evidence in support of her claim. She will revel in the attention she gains and use her glib charm to plausibly dismiss any suggestion that she herself may be responsible. However, a background check may reveal that this is not the first time she has had this happen to her.

Karma Chameleon

August 13, 2011

One person notices that his BPD girlfriend is constantly changing her physical appearance and wonders if it has to do with splitting:

I briefly raised this point in another thread just now. I’ll cut a long story short, here. I met my bpdexgf on facebook in March of last year (LDR). On her fb profile pics I noticed that she looked like a very different person on every single shot, whereas the people who were on the pics with her never looked any different.

When I eventually met her in person she again looked completely different than she did on her pics — you could just about tell it was her. Still very pretty but markedly different.

When I met her family and friends they appeared to look exactly the same as they did on the pics, but she didn’t. Even when I brought her to my home town to meet my family my sister even remarked that she looked like a totally different girl in the flesh than she did on her pics.

Even her personality was totally different than how she came across over the phone! She came across as bubbly, warm, caring, sincere, cutesy and really down-to-earth. But in person she had a slightly snobby accent and she had a spoiled daddy’s little rich girl kind of attitude.

I came across an internet article on multiple personality disorder, whereby some psychotherapist was talking about a phenomenon in patients with multiple personality disorder (she had BPD), where they ‘switch’ or split. This guy said that he notices when his patients switch/split, their physical appearance changes also! I believe that this would explain why she looked like a totally different person on her pics, because the camera was capturing her image each time she would go through her splitting states. She even said to me that she feels like a totally different person in front of other people.

It was all incredibly strange, in retrospect, and it felt as though my girlfriend, who I was in love with over the phone, had been replaced by a clone created in some shady genetics lab.

Have any of you experienced anything like this?

I laughed when I read this. My borderline-ex was constantly changing her image as well. And yes, it would someone how correspond to what was going on inside her funny little head. When she felt threatened, she would become uptight and aloof. When she split me, she took on this ridiculous supermodel/diva persona (an air of superiority if you will). If I wasn’t so upset about her sudden animosity, I probably would have laughed at how absurd/fake her behavior was.

She was compensating for how she felt on the inside (which is to say she felt like shit) by gussying up on the outside. We all do this to some extent, but she took it to the extreme (as she does with everything). It’s misleading for those who have no idea how disordered she is. They see this fashion model exterior and think “wow, she looks great, she must be feeling great.” But the reality is the more airbrushing she would put on, the worst she felt on the inside. It is all part of the illusion she creates for the outside world.

It sounds like the guy above is dealing with a histrionic borderline- they can be cartoonish at times. They put on airs that seem silly (even scary) to an observer, but they hardly notice the change. They take on whatever personality they think will be able to handle the situation at hand. It’s a survival skill. At times, H/BPD looks remarkably like Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID or multiple personality disorder). I believe they are all on the same spectrum, with DID being more disordered.

I also believe the gal above was probably a survivor of sorts. Whenever you have a major personality shift it implies there has been some traumatic past. When she acts snobbish in person, that is a defense-mechanism. She is putting up a protective barrier.

People with histories of physical and sexual abuse often display both BPD and DID as a result of their trauma. Dissociation is just one of the many red flags. People dissociate from traumatic memories to cope. It is my belief that my borderline ex also had DID along with all the other bad things that go with BPD. BPD is like an emotional variety pack from hell.  It comes with all sorts of undesirable qualities… all sorts of contrivances.

Single White Female

August 7, 2011

When I first saw this movie in the theaters, I had no idea what BPD was. Recently, they aired it on TV and it was eerie to see it through the filter of BPD. The villain in this movie displays obvious BPD characteristics, in particular mood and indentity disturbance. Hollywood melodrama aside, Jennifer Jason Leigh does a good job of capturing the emotional instability of a borderline. Especially, when she starts smothering the main character with attention. You really get a sense of how insecure a borderline can be when they become intimate with someone they perceive to be their soulmate.

One scene that gave me flashbacks was the scene in which Hedy snaps and starts insulting the object of her obsession. When she realizes what she has done, she immediately begs for forgiveness. But by then, Bridget Fonda’s character realizes what a psycho she is and begins to take steps to distance herself. This only makes Hedy more desperate and more unstable.

The movie even touches on Surviving Twin Syndrome. Hedy lost her twin at 9, but most people who display borderline pathology lose their twin at birth. Which would certainly explain why this person is so desperate to fill the void of the missing twin.

Just Can’t Get Enough

August 6, 2011

This video is dedicated to a recent poster KSG.  Often ex-partners of borderlines feel ashamed when they are still longing for someone who basically treated them like dirt. This song comes to mind, because many of these people don’t realize abusive relationships are strangely addictive. One does not simply “move on” or “get over” co-dependent relationships. Recovery will always seem slower than it should be. Especially, when you’ve had a history of abusive relationships. With each abusive relationship the hole is dug deeper and deeper. The trick is to break the habit. Easier said than done. These destructive patterns took a lifetime to learn, it will take a good amount of time to unlearn.

I Should Have Known It

August 6, 2011

This Tom Petty video sent to me courtesy of Zan. He’s choosing it as the theme song for his ex-borderline friend. Song writers are so good at capturing the essence of a BPD relationship, it makes me wonder why creative types are so susceptible to borderline charms. That being said, writing and creativity in general is a healthy way to express pain.