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4/14 Interactive Board: Codependent Partners

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12/29 Interactive Board: There Goes the Wife...

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Borderline (BPD) Abuse

Borderline (BPD) Abuse

by Anthony Walker, MD

"Yesterday is ashes; tomorrow wood. Only today does the fire burn brightly." - Eskimo proverb

I read a wonderful book. It read like a novel and I couldn't put it down until the end. But, it wasn't a novel. It was the true story of a young doctor and the woman he married - who suffered from BPD. I asked Dr. Walker if he would write something for us. He did.   Doc

Ps: Diagnostic criteria for BPD are here.

April 30, 2002

Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) is different from any other type of psychiatric or medical illness in one very key way. That is that one of the symptoms, rage, is frequently directed toward the very people who love the Borderline sufferer most. Episodes of rageful tantrums or rageful attacks directed to the loved one, are one of the hallmarks of the disorder. I would further say that Borderline Personality cannot be diagnosed if these type of rageful attacks do not take place. Because rage is such a key feature, the recipient of the rage will undoubtedly, over time, be profoundly affected by the rage. This rage can, in many cases, be rightfully seen as abuse. The abuse can take the from of verbal or physical abuse, but ultimately it take a tremendous toll on the loved one. The loved one develops symptoms that are very similar to the symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), those being:

recurrent and intrusive distressing recollections of the abuse.
intense psychological distress at exposure to internal or external cues that symbolize or resemble an aspect of the abuse.
physiological reactivity on exposure to internal or external cues that symbolize or resemble an aspect of the abuse.
efforts to avoid thoughts, feelings, and/or conversations associated with the trauma
efforts to avoid activities, places, and/or people that arouse recollections of the trauma.
inability to recall an important aspect of the trauma
difficulty falling or staying asleep
irritability or outbursts of anger
difficulty concentrating
exaggerated startle response I remember when I finally left my wife who had severe BPD. I explored the relationship extensively in my book "The Courtship Dance of the Borderline." I reread this paragraph recently and remember how true it was:

From the book: "At moments I felt guilty for feeling good, because it seemed that it was at Jacqueline’s (ex-BPD wife) expense. It was precisely because she was not there that I could feel some peace. For what had felt to be an eternity, she had conditioned me not to feel any pleasure outside of her. Her fearsome tantrums had been intolerable in their wrath. Immediately I noticed that my sleep had improved. No longer did I worry that she might attack me in bed. My body felt more relaxed, my thoughts seemed slower and more focused. I felt that I could think about things without worrying about what Jacqueline would say or how she would react. But even with the distance from South Africa, I felt her presence and I jumped and startled when the phone rang or a car backfired."

There should be no doubt that Borderline Rage profoundly affects the psyche of the loved one. In these relationships, it is not only the BPD sufferer who needs help, but the sufferer's loved ones. I would strongly encourage anybody who has been the victim of BP rage attacks to be in therapy so that they too can begin to heal. If not an empty, insecure, mistrustful shell of the former self will be all that remains.

Anthony Walker, MD   (website no longer exists)

Copyright 2002 by Anthony Walker, MD. To reprint, please contact the author at