It is late evening in the Vaknin abode. The stars are twinkling in the polluted skies.
And of course, we are going to discuss Borderline Personality Disorder.
I was perusing my favorite tone, the Oxford English Dictionary, a sign of mental illness in itself. And I came across an entry in the letter B, an entry about my work, my life's work.
I want to read it to you. I want to demonstrate to you how modest I am.
Bodhicitta, the consciousness that arises on the basis of the resolve to strive for enlightenment in order to liberate other suffering beings regarded within Mahayana Buddhism is the fundamental state of mind of a bodhisattva.
So here is a summary of my work.
I strove for enlightenment in order to liberate you, my suffering beings.
Okay, enough nonsense for one video. Let's move on to the topic of today.
The topic of today is the other anxiety, engulfment or enmeshment anxiety.
Everyone and his dog, including many therapists and psychologists and even scholars have heard only of separation insecurity.
Separation insecurity is the clinical term for what is colloquially known as abandonment anxiety. Everyone knows that people who are diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder have abandonment anxiety. They are terrified of rejection, of humiliation, of being discarded. They spot abandonment everywhere in everything, even in innocuous behaviors. They tend to over interpret situations. They overthink and over analyze, they catastrophize.
This is called anticipatory anxiety.
True, but people with Borderline Personality Disorder have a second type of anxiety, which is very little reported in the literature, but all the same extremely well documented. It is what is known as engulfment or enmeshment anxiety.
Engulfment or enmeshment anxiety is when you get too intimate with a Borderline, when you get really close to her, when you become her bestie or her boyfriend or her spouse.
And mind you, of course, the gender pronouns are interchangeable. About 50% of people with Borderline Personality Disorder are men. So this is not a sexist video for a change. It's simply for convenience sake.
So when you get close to the Borderline, when you get intimate with the Borderline, it provokes in her enormous anxiety. She feels that she is being controlled from the outside. She has outsourced her internal processes to someone else, to her intimate partner, for example. She feels that she's out of her mind, literally. She hands over her mind to her spouse or her boyfriend or her best friend or her special friend.
And this creates a feeling of vanishing, disappearing. The Borderline feels that she's being assimilated, digested somehow, snatched, body and mind. This creates an anxiety about being engulfed, being enmeshed.
Okay, this is documented in literature. I've mentioned it before in several other videos.
Another question is, why is this happening? It's happening because of the bad object.
Now, before you continue to watch this video, I do recommend strongly that you watch my interview with Richard Grannon conducted in, where else, Bucharest, Romania, the Land of Dracula. And in this interview, I explained the Borderline's bad object and the Borderline's compensatory shared fantasy.
Okay, the Borderline has a bad object. What is a bad object? A bad object is the collection of internal voices, the collection of introjects that keep informing the Borderline how unworthy she is, how unlovable she is, how inadequate she is, what a loser and a failure she is, what a no good she is, that she's no good.
And so, the collective of these very self-negating, self-defeating and self-destructive introjects, this collective is known as the bad object.
The narcissist has as a bad object, the Borderline also has a bad object.
But what's the connection between the bad object and engulfment or enmeshment anxiety?
Here's how it goes.
When the Borderline is exposed to intimacy, when the Borderline is the recipient of true love, unconditional or little conditioned love, when the Borderline is treated with compassion and care, afforded succor and support, when the Borderline in short is loved, this creates a dissonance.
Exposure to these messages, I love you, means you're lovable. I support you, means you're worthy of support. I trust you, means you're good, you're not bad.
These messages coming from the outside, for example from the intimate partner, countermand, countervene, contradict the messages of the bad object.
The Borderline then is exposed to two competing sets of messages, one coming from the inside, messages that emanate from the internal objects, from the introjects, you're bad, you're unworthy, you're no good.
And another set of messages coming from the outside, for example from her intimate partner, which say, you're good, you are worthy of love, you're lovable, you're worthy of support, care and compassion and affection.
So now there's a conflict between these two sets of voices. It's like two warring armies. It's like the war in Ukraine. There's one army, one army inside the Borderline that is hell-bent on destroying the Borderline.
This set of voices inside the Borderline are persecutory objects. They are a harsh inner critic. They are a sadistic superego.
These voices inside the Borderline want to bring her down. They want to destroy her self-esteem and self-confidence. They want to dis-regulate her emotions, render her moods labile and render her sense of self-worth fluctuating.
So the voices inside the Borderline are self-destructive, self-defeating. And the voice is coming from outside the Borderline. The voice is coming from her loved one.
The voices coming from someone who adores her, cherishes her, wants her, desires her, wishes her the best, these voices coming from the outside clash head-on from the voices inside.
And this creates something called dissonance, more precisely cognitive dissonance.
There are seven types of dissonance. This is one of them.
By the way, I have a video dedicated to the types of dissonance.
So whenever there's a dissonance, especially a dissonance on this fundamental and profound level, an essential dissonance, a dissonance that has to do with your essence, with who you are, with your core identity, disturbed as it may be, when there is such a dissonance it results in anxiety.
Dissonances cannot be resolved because if they were resolvable, they would not be dissonant. They would become consonant.
So because the dissonance cannot be resolved, it is very threatening, very ominous, very menacing and this creates a lot of anxiety.
This anxiety leads to an attempt to eliminate one of the two horns of the dilemma.
Remember that the dissonance in this case is based on two sets of voices, the internal and the external.
The internal is negative. You're a bad object.
The external is positive. You're lovable. You're good.
The borderline, in order to avoid the ensuing dissonance and anxiety, she has to eliminate one of these two sets and remain only with one.
But she cannot eliminate the internal set of voices. She cannot conquer her introjects. She cannot silence them.
They're too persistent. They're too old, most of them formed in early childhood and they had become a part of who she is.
She misidentifies these internal voices as her own voice. She confuses her authentic self, her authentic voice, with the voices of her, I don't know, mother, father, teachers, role models, peers.
She has identity disturbance consequently. Her core identity is in flux. She's like hundreds of personalities.
And so the borderline is incapable of silencing the tumult inside her. She's incapable of shutting up and shutting off these voices inside her that keep telling her, you are a lost cause. You are good for nothing.
Instead, what she does, she shuts off the external voices.
She pushes her intimate partner away. She withdraws. She becomes aggressive or even violent and she engages in avoidant behaviors.
This is a part of the approach-avoidance repetition cycle.
The repetition compulsion that characterizes the borderline has to do with this.
The conflict between the bad object, these internal disparaging voices and the good messages emanating from the intimate partner.
This conflict creates dissonance, anxiety and avoidance. Running away from the partner, pushing the partner away, alienating the partner, destroying the intimacy, cheating on the partner, hurting the partner.
All this is intended to silence the voices of the partner and thereby eliminate the dissonance and mitigate and ameliorate the anxiety. It's an anxiolytic move.
People pleasers, borderlines and codependents have this. They have this situation. They are constantly in conflict between an internalized bad object and messages from the outside which tend to contradict the bad object.
Very often they behave badly so that others tell them that they are bad objects. They want other people to judge them. They want other people to punish them. They want other people to affirm the internal voices that constitute the bad object. They want to be reflected in the gaze of other people as a bad object.
Anything is better than this mounting anxiety, self-punishment, sexual self-trashing, for example, reckless behaviors, drinking, drug abuse, addictions.
All these have to do with this conflict between bad object and good messages from the outside. All of these behaviors are intended to align reality, outside, external reality with internal reality.
All these behaviors are self-defeating, self-destructive, counterproductive. Their only aim is to create a conformity, to create a resonance, to create a correspondence between messages coming from reality and messages coming from inside.
The messages from inside are you're a failure, so you fail in reality. The message from inside is you're unlovable, so you behave in ways that make you unlovable. The message from inside is you are not trustworthy, so you cheat on your partner. The message from inside is you are corrupt, you are no good, so you become promiscuous, or you do drugs, or you drink. The message from inside is you're stupid, so you behave in reckless ways.
When you're done with your life, it conforms totally to the messages conveyed to you by the bad object. You design your life to fit the bad object hand in glove.
People pleasers, borderlines, and codependents have this, and one of the reactions is what we call constriction. Constriction is a clinical term, constricted life.
These people, people pleasers, borderlines, codependents, they subsist. They exist only through other people, only for other people. They live vicariously. They exist by proxy.
Their identity is determined externally, and consequently, of course, it's very much disturbed. They don't have a core identity. They import their identity from the outside. They have a hive mind, in the case of borderlines, or a narcissist, or a hive identity.
And so how to cope with all this? What to do?
If you're a borderline or a codependent, someone with Dependent Personality Disorder, you may need professional help, and you should use professional help in the following three ways.
So, again, before I go into the three solutions, if there is a situation where you are getting conflicting messages from the outside, messages that conflict with your internal perception, you perceive yourself as bad, corrupt, hopeless, helpless, stupid, ugly, etc., and the message from the outside is exactly the opposite, this creates anxiety. This creates dissonance, and you set out to confirm the messages of the bad object by destroying your life.
This is a syndrome, and if you're suffering from this syndrome, here are the three things you could do.
Again, borderlines and codependents should try these three solutions with the aid of a therapist, with the help of a therapist.
Solution number one, establish a people-free time and a people-free zone. Banish all people from this space and from your thoughts for at least one hour a day, religiously. Don't ever give it up.
I'm not talking about sitting by yourself and daydreaming. I'm talking about eliminating people completely, not even thinking about it.
Training yourself to survive for one hour a day without people in your life, physically, but without people in your life, mentally as well.
You start to think about a person, you stop. You stop this thought in its tracks. You silence it. It's going to be difficult at the beginning, but practice makes perfect.
Solution number one.
Solution number two, introduce structure into your life by embarking on a consuming task or an assignment by adopting a hobby.
In short, keep busy. There's a lot of noise inside you. Drown it with external noise. Create a lot of noise in your life. The more busy you are, the more tasks you confront, the more assignments you take on, the more occupations, vocations and avocations you have, the less likely you are to succumb to the voices of the bad object because they simply are not going to be heard.
If you create a lot of noise in your external life, it drowns out the voices of the bad object.
By the way, that's also an advice which is great for major depression. Major depression is a voice.
Cognitive behavior therapy tells us this. Cognitive behavior theory.
Major depression is a voice. It's a set of voices which tell you that everything is hopeless. There's no hope. There's no help coming, etc.
So you need to drown out these voices, and the only way to do that is to create other voices coming, emanating from the outside, which will drown out these voices but which do not contradict these voices.
So I'm not talking about voices of an intimate partner, for example, who tells you I love you, but I'm talking about getting really, really, really busy with a charity or finding a new job or developing a new hobby, and then you don't have time. You just don't have time to listen to the bad object, and it dies away.
There's a principle of mental economy, use it or lose it, that which is not used dies away.
Solution number three is stop being emotionally invested in the past or in the future.
Yes, you heard me right, in the future as well.
I mentioned hope in the previous two solutions.
It's not the wrong kind of hope.
Wrong kind of hope is a magical thing. Something magical enchanted will happen, and my life will turn around.
That's hope for idiots, hope for dummies.
I'm not talking about this kind of hope. I'm talking about taking life in your hands, embarking on a self-correction trajectory, self-correcting trajectory.
So do not be do not be emotionally invested in the past. Stop ruminating, stop analyzing, stop overthinking, stop remembering. Forget the past. Simply forget it. Make conscious effort to ignore it.
Same with the future. Forget the future. Don't be future-oriented. If you are past-oriented, you don't live in the present, you don't live your life. If you're future-oriented, you don't live in the present, you don't live your life.
Focus exclusively on the presence. Use techniques like mindfulness, if need be. Consult a therapist. Gestalt, mindfulness, there are quite a few treatment modalities which emphasize the presence and your presence in the present. Be present in your present.
Introduce structure into your life. Shut out people for at least one hour a day.
Try these three solutions initially. They ought to silence the bad object.
And then once the bad object is subdued, you will be open to the positive messages of someone who truly loves you, who truly sees you and accepts you the way you are.