No one likes to be criticized, but for Borderlines the sound of criticism is akin to nails on a chalkboard. Their ego is considerably more fragile than others and the time it takes to recover, from what feels to them like a brutal attack, is much longer.
A diagnosis of Borderline Personality Disorder is typically made when an individual is 18 years or older and several of the following symptoms are present:
- An established pattern of unstable relationships that vacillate between intense connections to complete devaluation.
- Panicked attempts to avoid real or imagined abandonment
- Poor sense self or self-image
- Impulsive behaviors in at least 2 of the following areas: finances, sex, substance abuse, risk taking behaviors, and binge eating.
- Recurrent suicidal ideation or behavior
- Persistent feelings of emptiness
- Emotional instability
- Reactive or inappropriate displays of anger
- Some anxiety induced paranoid thoughts
Because these individuals have frequently experienced traumatic childhoods, which may have included abandonment or sexual abuse, and have often been the recipient of intense criticism, their response to disapproval from others can be extreme.
In an article written by Sonia Neale, who has been diagnosed with this disorder, she describes the agony she feels when she receives criticism. She is keenly aware of her diagnosis and has been working for many years to learn to tolerate even the slightest disapproval from others. The experience she describes is similar to that of an anxiety attack where she feels completely out of control and her mind and body fill with rage. She even states that she feels like she is being murdered.
Sonia Neale’s journey has lead her through therapy and long term work focused on how to respond, both internally and externally, to words of criticism, constructive or otherwise. For those who have this disorder these feelings may sound familiar. It’s important to know that while there is no specific cure for the disorder, symptoms such as these can be treated and one can learn to live a more stable life.
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