“Borderline Personality Disorder and Narcissistic Rage”

I don’t generally like the sort of comparisons I see so often that stigmatize BPD as a less stable, “crazier” form of NPD, but it’s a fact that people with both disorders have problems with rage, and their rage can manifest in very similar ways, even though the motives behind the rage are different.

Here’s an article from Narcissist’s Wife that talks about the similarities and differences, and how you can protect yourself from the angry B’s. (sorry for the bad pun, I couldn’t resist).

Borderline Personality Disorder and Narcissistic Rage

Credit: http://www.narcissistswife.com/

Borderline Personality Disorder has many symptoms in common with Narcissism. In fact, the two disorders often overlap to some extent. This can cause a lot of confusion for the spouses and partners of these people as they go from seemingly normal and ok and you start thinking “well, maybe they aren’t a narc, maybe they were just having ________” (Insert whatever excuse you happen to go to when they’re behaving badly). Not everyone is 100% psychopathic Narcissist with the heart of a snake. As with anything in life, sometimes Narcissism comes in shades of grey.

All that said, Borderline Personality Disorder can express itself in ways very similar to Narcissism and one of the most common is in rage. The temper tantrums narcissists throw are very similar to a Borderline, though they are motivated by different things. Knowing these things may help you not only anticipate an explosion, but temper it as well.

Borderline Outburst

Unlike a Stone Cold Narcissist (who uses rages to manipulate, control, and assert his superiority) borderlines are extremely insecure and emotionally unstable. Nearly all their emotions go up and down (leading one to question Bipolar disorder) but anger is the most difficult for those around him/her to put up with. Their intense and fiery anger comes from a deep belief that you don’t care about them, are not listening to them or are otherwise not meeting their needs. They strike out in pain to punish the one who they believe is hurting them. Unfortunately, this may all be in their heads, and their pain could actually be coming from another source that they are not prepared to deal with or that they are otherwise bound to not be able to express anger at, so you become their emotional punching bag.

Those without an overlapping Narcissistic disorder may feel shame and embarrassment, and apologize when their emotions have calmed down a bit, for fear of losing you. Though they may feel remorse, their behavior will not get better unless they are in treatment. A Borderline with Narcissism though, will not make such overtures. Your perceived faults are deserving of their rage in their eyes and the punishment for your shortcomings in their eyes is their scorn and anger. They are more demeaning in their anger, and can be much more passive aggressive.

Read the rest of this article here: http://www.narcissistswife.com/borderline-personality-disorder-narcissistic-rage/#respond


21 thoughts on ““Borderline Personality Disorder and Narcissistic Rage”

  1. Wow, she thinks BPD can’t be cured. I don’t agree with that. I even think NPD may be curable too. I tend to think the same way that the writer of BPDT does.

    I don’t think it’s easy, but if there’s awareness and the work, then yeah, they can be helped. Esp. borderlines, it’s already been proven.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I am not cured (I don’t think) unless I cured myself somehow. I am pretty much asymptomatic and use a lot of tools I learned in DBT such as being mindful. When I can afford it I would love to find a therapist who specializes in curing cluster B disorders and go through it myself. I may not need to though. I guess they’d have to test me again.

      I think some low-mid spectrum people with NPD who are self aware and willing (both need to be present) can be cured. BPD Transformation has done a lot of reading and says James Mastersons gives a couple of case studies of two men with NPD who were cured. Tony Brown was apparently cured too (he cured himself). I also know someone else who is a friend on Twitter and posted here once who is trying to heal himself of NPD (I do not know how he is doing this). He talks a lot about empathy. He says everything has been making him cry lately. I think that’s the way it works. It’s painful and you do a lot of crying. He says it feels good though, so I don’t think he’s going to stop. I think there’s hope for him too, but since he was never actually diagnosed with NPD, maybe he really is a borderline or something.

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      • I think consistency is key too. It is painful that’s for sure. I’m doing a bunch of reading and being triggered through it. So I’m doing a bunch of crying myself.

        I was dx’d but I definitely question the true validity because of the PTSD. Thing is I matched up the traits of BPD, even sat here one night with my roommate (we’ve known each other since 1996) and talked about it. The only stable relationship in my life and the most loyal.

        He was very honest as to what he sees and experiences living with me. He’s kind of on the schizoid spectrum. He has empathy though and you can really see it with our cat. LOL

        Anyway, I am not seeing a therapist who specializes in BPD though, but is in fact been the most helpful and validating therapist I’ve seen to date. So if I can keep it up and continue with her…which means, keeping my car running and my benefits, then I think I can heal with her help. KNOCK WOOD. Every time I say something like that, the other proverbial shoe drops.

        (And that is such a borderline statement.) LOL

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        • Thank you for “coming out” to me about this here. I definitely want to talk to you more about this. I have to run out for a bit, but will write a more thought out reply later.
          I laughed at your last sentence lol!

          One thing I will say is this. Even thought DBT and other therapies like CBT (which I think is used mostly for NPD but is similar) don’t cure BPD, the behaviors you learn actually become second nature after a while, if you keep using them. It becomes a habit to NOT “go off” on people eveery time something upsets you. I also think in my case, my BPD is tempered somewhat by my AvPD and Aspergers–because the traits of those disorders in some ways are opposite of BPD. So maybe it’s easier for me. I actually think I ACT much more Aspie or Avoidant, because it’s almost impossible to to cloak the debilitating shyness and social awkwardness/social anxiety that comes with those.

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          • Ok yeah, that makes sense that DBT teaches behaviors to basically replace the others. And you’re kind of putting the brakes on the usual behavior and reaction, right?

            And no that would not be a cure, I understand. I had such a hard time putting anything DBT into practice. I never got into a group and was told a couple years ago I don’t qualify because I don’t self harm. That was one phone call. Another place told me I was too high functioning. That made me feel a bit better about being turned away there. At the same time though it was difficult to hear because I felt like it was just another place I didn’t fit in.

            My current therapist was giving me papers with DBT practices but I never even looked at them. I know it’s not fair to say that DBT didn’t work for me since I didn’t even give it a chance. But what I felt I need/ed is someone to really hear me, understand me and in fact validate me.

            I think much of the behavior and deep emotion and fear and anger/rage that is so typical, comes from not being seen, heard, validated, acknowledged and treated like we don’t matter, not to mention abused. I was pretty quiet too in many instances. I wonder if I’d been more of a squeaky wheel if I’d gotten more oil, so to speak.

            That’s probably bordering on self blame there. But I digress.

            I don’t know, different things work for different people and I’m definitely finding help in feeling heard. It seems to be making a difference.

            I’m also sensitive to foods and I guess you could say chemicals, like caffeine. Staying away from caffeine keeps the agitation and sound sensitivity down. Processed foods are generally a problem for me and I can get caught up in a cycle of eating crappy and depression. Generally I need to stop the crap food before I come out of the depression. If I get quality sleep I also feel better.

            I go through a lot of self doubt about my family and my decision to stay away from them too, so having a therapist let me know that I’m not wrong about that and be on my side, makes another huge difference.

            I’ve been reading Alice Miller, who I’ve read before, but I’m reading again. She gets into what she calls an enlightened witness to help the abused person by doing pretty much what my therapist has been doing. Help like that can eventually lead to peace, which in my mind is about as close to a cure as someone can get.

            My idea of a cure would be to not even feel that intense triggered need to ‘go off’ punching walls and doors (which is what I tend to do) or cutting oneself, but to respond appropriately. That is something that is learned early on, and I do believe that brains can rewire so that we can genuinely put different, healthier behaviors into place. And not JUST put the brakes on a reaction.


  2. Hey this is a little off the BPD subject and more about Pschopathy. I’m reading Robert Hares book, Without Conscience. He says that your emotional and physical survival requires that you take charge of your life…and to not give in to a Malignant person, because the more you give in, the more the person will take advantage, because the Psychopath has an insatiable appetite for power and control. So focusing on yourself prevents the loss of identity, and that is powerful. Its power within oneself.

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  3. I have often wondered if some of the individuals diagnosed with BPD are actually survivors of Narcissistic abuse who have internalized the projections of their abusers. The behaviors would look similar but the underlying reasons for the behaviors would be very different.

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    • That’s a very interesting theory, Michelle. The underlying reasons are different–BPD’s act the way they do because they fear rejection or abandonment; narcs act the way they do because they fear losing their supply (and thus their mask won’t hold up). I think for borderlines there may be some internalizing of their parents’ narc behaviors, but the motivations are completely different. Borderlines may seem “crazier” but are actually more easily healed because they are usually not happy being the way they are and suffer more than their “victims.” With narcs, not so much.

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      • I have actually been thinking about this for a while now. I have had many survivors reach out to me who have been diagnosed with BPD. However, upon further discussion with these survivors, it turns out they have suffered Narcissistic abuse. The symptoms of Narcissistic Victim Syndrome have quite a bit of overlap with BPD. The problem is that most mental health professionals do not know what Narcissistic abuse is and mistake the symptoms consistent with Narcissistic Victim Syndrome for BPD.

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        • I know some experts believe BPD is really a prolonged form of C-PTSD. This makes sense to me for two reasons: 1. trauma and abuse causes both disorders; and 2. the symptoms of BPD are very much like c-PtSD and include dissociative and near-psychotic episodes. I think BPD may be a case of C-PTSD that started so early in the child’s life that it became part of their actual personality and that’s why it’s so hard to dislodge.

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          • A psychiatrist diagnosed me with Complex PTSD several years ago and recommended that I read Judith Lewis Herman’s pithy landmark book, Trauma and Recovery. Dr. Herman, who coined the term Complex PTSD, is a Harvard educated psychiatrist. In her book, she explains that victims of early and repeated trauma are often misdiagnosed with various personality disorders and/or schizophrenia, when really they have C-PTSD.

            My early life was filled with sporadic episodes of extreme trauma. My psychological pain became so severe that I actually did have a psychotic break that lasted from age 14 to 16. I was diagnosed with schizophrenia during those two years. When I recovered, my doctor decided that I had never been schizophrenic. But going by the official diagnostic criteria of the 1960s, I really did have schizophrenia, and then I beat the odds and got over it.

            Since my more recent diagnosis of C-PTSD, I have done a ton of research on the subject. The best book I have found on this issue is Complex PTSD: From Surviving to Thriving: A Guide and Map for Recovering from Childhood Trauma by Pete Walker.

            Walker is a therapist with over thirty years of experience. He also has C-PTSD. Here is what link to his site: http://www.pete-walker.com/

            This is how I spent my early lunch break, lol. Now it’s back to my memoir in progress…

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          • I definitely wouldn’t go so far as to say that all BPD is really PTSD or C-PTSD that has been misdiagnosed. It have to do more research on this before I would make that claim. I definitely see instances of people being diagnosed with BPD when they really are suffering from NVS.

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            • Here is a really good article by Christine Louis de Canonville explaining what Narcissistic Victim Syndrome is. narcissisticbehavior.net/category/narcissistic-victim-syndrome-what-the-heck-is-that/

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            • Christine’s entire site is outstanding! I love reading her beautiful comments to the many survivors who write to her through comments on her site. She is a truly incredible woman. She also just published her first book, entitled “The Three Faces of Evil: Unmasking the Full Spectrum of Narcissistic Abuse”. The book helps to identify some of the differences between NPD, Malignant Narcissism and Psychopathy so that the victim can begin to reprocess what they have been through and begin the difficult process of healing.

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  4. I think my daughter (with her little old BA or BS degrees in Psych and Neuroscience) may have already diagnosed my sister with BPD. Could be our mom was or is a bit of a (psychopathic) Narc but if that’s the case Sis and I responded quite differently or if we had similar responses we had them at different points in our lives and for different lengths of time.

    I had some helpful therapy in my 20s (during the time I was not in contact with my parents) and currently take Pristiq based on recommendation from Sis to consider meds to control mood swings in my 50s when therapy did not seem to be helping. Clearly all responses are specific to individuals and I guess treatments also vary over time even with the same individual. Don’t know if Pristiq would have been helpful in my 20s or not. Anyway, I survived then and am a happy 60 year old retired old fart (still on Pristiq) now.

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