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In the last section, we discussed the difficulty of treating BPD clients. We examined the reputation of BPD and maintaining optimism and patience. We also covered dealing with abusive BPD clients and Steps for Relating to BPD Clients.
In this section... we will discuss borderline parents. We will explore how BPD affects children and look at "take aways." The case study in this section involves Faye, the child of a borderline parent. Faye was initially diagnosed as having BPD herself. Later, it became evident that though Faye was exhibiting common BPD behavior, she was not borderline. As you listen to this section, consider ways the information can be applied to your BPD client.
♦ #1 BPD Affects Children
Faye stated, "I could never do anything right for my mother. It was like I was the black sheep of the family. That’s why I left home so early. My mother still bad mouths me at every opportunity to anyone who will listen. And she refuses to see her granddaughter. But my brother, Harold, man! He’s a different story! He used to fight with my mother when he was a teen. Both his wives have left him! He is a damned drunk who can’t even hold down a job! But mom adores him. Harold is the perfect son as far as mom is concerned. If he forgets her birthday, she says ‘Oh, well Harold’s just too busy.’ Every time he loses a job, mom bitches about the poor management skills of his boss!"
Other information Faye gave also indicated her mother’s impulsive sexual behavior, suicide threats, and frequent mood swings. Clearly, her mother’s possible BPD behavior affected Faye. Think of your Faye. How does your client’s borderline parent affect him or her?
♦ #2 Take Aways
--1. Faye experienced take aways from her mother Ruth. Faye’s take aways were behaviors and perceptions that resulted from being raised by a borderline personality. For example, Faye developed her own splitting into black and white perceptions. She stated, "Now I see my mother just like she sees me. I see her as a worthless piece of crap. I can’t even remember seeing any good in her at all. And a few weeks ago, I noticed myself doing the same thing to my kids, treating one like gold and the other like dirt."
--2. Another "take away" that Faye had was a fluid perception of herself. By fluid perception I mean Faye frequently changed her thoughts and opinions.
--3. Faye’s third "take away" was a belief that she had no influence over her own actions. As you may guess, the "take away" of believing she had no influence over her own actions led to risky and seemingly impulsive behavior. For example, Faye had been arrested for drunk driving three times.
Clearly, children learn from their parents. Consider your BPD client. How much of his or her behavior was learned from their possibly borderline personality parent or parents?
If your BPD client possibly has a borderline parent, the following Revealing the Truth technique may prove beneficial.
♦ Technique: Revealing the Truth
In Faye’s letter, she explained the reasons for how she felt and indicated some feelings of grief. Some of Faye’s points included emotional experiences, needs and wants, positive interactions, acknowledgement of Ruth’s limitations, and realistic expectations for the future of their relationship. In a later session, Faye stated, "I haven’t really accepted my mother’s behavior or disorder yet, but at least I know that I need to accept it to move past it."
Clearly, Faye had begun to accept Ruth’s borderline personality and how it affected her as an adult child of a borderline parent. Can you relate Faye’s experiences to a BPD client you are treating?
In this section... we have discussed borderline parents. We explored how BPD affects children and take aways.
Peer-Reviewed Journal Article References: