Borderlines are human chameleons.


My latest obsession seems to be the similarities and differences between people with NPD and BPD. I’ve been trying to come to terms with the idea an increasing number of mental health professionals hold that BPD may actually be on the same spectrum as NPD (for more information about this, see Alexander Lowen’s “Spectrum of Narcissistic Disorders”) but is a less adaptive (to the sufferer) form of the same disorder. What I’ve been reading is disturbing to me because I had no idea how similar BPD and NPD really may be.

The most important thing both disorders seem to have in common is that both borderlines and narcissists feel empty inside. Both feel as if they have a black hole inside them, and many try to “fill” that hole with things like substances, sex or compulsive shopping. People with both disorders are prone to abuse drugs or alcohol, or engage in other unhealthy or self-destructive behaviors (with the borderline more likely to be deliberately self-destructive and the narcissist callous or destructive toward others). Filling the inner black hole becomes so important that people with these disorders may disregard the needs of others in their need to get their “fix.”

I found an article in Psychology Today that discusses the devastating conundrum that both narcissists and borderlines have to face: the lack of an identity. It’s this absence of a true identity that make people with these disorders feel so empty and hollow, and drives them to do the kinds of things they do. The primary difference between these disorders is that narcissists adopt a false self to replace the lost true self, while borderlines–although not having a false self per se — instead become human chameleons, adapting their behaviors to a given situation (to avoid rejection)– but none of these identities are really “them.” The truth is, they don’t know who they really are. That’s why borderlines seem to change with the wind and confuse those they are close to.

The article I’ve linked to discusses these ideas in more depth. It’s extremely interesting stuff, but somewhat upsetting to people like me with a BPD diagnosis.

This article is Part 7 of a series about the differences and similarities between BPD and NPD.
The other 6 can be linked to from this one. (Of course I’ll be reading all of them.)

Who Am I? The Conundrum of Both Borderlines and Narcissists

I cannot repost the article here here without written permission from the author, so you will have to click the link to read the article.

Here is an article by the same author about the False Self the Narcissist uses to mask their lack of an identity: