bpd questionnaire

BPD research.

I’ve found a journal article on Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) cognitive + emotional empathy!!

Double dissociation between cognitive and affective empathy in borderline personality disorder by Harari et al. 2010 in Psychiatry Research;

This article suggests that those with Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) experience higher emotional empathy and less cognitive empathy than those without BPD who show the opposite pattern. With reference to research done by BPD psychologist and DBT founder M.Linehan that suggests those with BPD have “heightened sensitivity of facial emotional recognition” but the ability to understand another person’s thoughts is impaired in those with BPD suggesting this may be a factor in why interpersonal relationships are difficult, to put simply.

Participants were mainly female (half of which had a secure diagnosis of BPD and the other half acted as a comparison group ie did not have symptoms of BPD) who filled a questionnaire on empathy giving examples of situations where empathy is relevant: taking on the perspective of another or imagining oneself in anothers situation as well as more emotion based empathy situations like feeling compassion for another and also reports of anxiety levels from such an example.

Participants then listened to stories involving empathy and were asked to respond, these responses were measured for cognitive or emotional empathy. It was found those with BPD had less cognitive empathy in such situations presented to them but had significantly higher emotional empathy.

Participants were then screened for psychosis, past and present symptoms, and a relationship was found between higher psychotic symptoms and less cognitive empathy - meaning cognitive dysfunction impairs such ability.

It is therefore suggested that “cognitive and [emotional] empathy are distinct phenomena and probably rely on different [brain areas & functions], albeit sharing common features.” As those with BPD respond more intensely to facial emotions than Healthy Controls, it is consistent that their emotional experiences are more intense themselves and thus resulting in more personal distress.

It’s suggested that because the brain area for cognitive empathy is “impaired” this factor may result in lower control of emotions and thus is another explanation for why those with BPD experience emotions more intensely.

It concludes that this may be the psychopathology of BPD.

31 Days of BPD (Day 7)

Day 7: Have you ever dissociated? If so, how often?

Yes, I have. It happens a couple of times a week. Sometimes it happens almost everyday. But it’s not always that bad.

Now for those of you who don’t know what dissociation is, let me explain.

“Dis-so-cia-tion Psychology a) a split in the conscious process in which a group of mental activities breaks away from the main stream of consciousness and functions as a separate unit, as if belonging to another person b) the abnormal separation of related idea, thoughts, or emotions”

(Source: Webster’s New World College Dictionary Fourth Edition)

In simpler terms, dissociation is basically like checking out or zoning out. Daydreaming, even. That being said, anyone can dissociate and everyone does dissociate.

For people with a mental illness who can dissociate, we use this as a defense mechanism. It’s pretty much automatic and we can’t really control it. 

Or maybe we just don’t know how.

Why do I say it’s a defense mechanism? Because it is. When our nervous system is too overwhelmed and can’t take anymore stimulation (internally or externally), it brings up the ability to dissociate.

The feeling can be similar to feeling numb or not really “being there.” Imagine you’re talking to your friends but you’re not really “there”. You’re there physically but your mind is somewhere else. You can hear them talking but it seems distant. And then your friend calls out to you and snaps you out of your daze. Now imagine that happening to you constantly to the point where you can’t concentrate and it starts affecting your daily life. Perhaps, you’re still able to somewhat participate in life but your mind is always elsewhere. You can sometimes have a warm, fuzzy feeling and you are literally tricked into fake relaxation. Not like you would mind though since you feel safe.

When you dissociate, you feel disconnected from yourself, from your senses, or your past. It can range from mild to intense feelings of alienation or feeling as if things aren’t real, and sometimes the person even loses sense of who they are, where they are, and what they are doing. 

Dissociation is more of a response to trauma than anything. If you were a victim of abuse or anything traumatic for a long period of time as a kid, you might have learned how to “check out” of reality. That’s when it really becomes a defense mechanism. 

Sometimes dissociation can be creepy. For example, I sometimes experience a type of dissociation known as depersonalization/derealization. It feels like everything around you is fake or like you are watching yourself do things with no control of them. Some people experience watching themselves out of their body or having an “out-of-body” experience. It almost feels as if you are in a dream and losing touch with reality. Everything you see feels like you are looking at it through a screen. It looks and feels two-dimensional. 

I did have a disturbing experience once that involved almost all of my senses. I was at a store shopping for crafts when I started to feel depersonalized/derealized. But what was different was that everything sounded really close yet far away, almost like an echo. My body felt really distorted and tingly. It felt as if I was a robot or as if I was being controlled. My sensitivity seemed to increase and I couldn’t really touch or grab anything because it felt weird and freaky. I could only look, but everything looked and felt so fake I almost panicked.

So, yes. I have and still do experience dissociation. It’s not always fun.

31 Days of BPD (Day 19)

Day 19: What are some lyrics that describe what you’re going through right now?

“I don’t know what to take
Thought I was focused but I’m scared
I’m not prepared

I hyperventilate
Looking for help somehow somewhere
And no one cares

—–

I’ve given up
I’m sick of feeling
Is there nothing you can say

Take this all away
I’m suffocating
Tell me what the fuck is wrong
With me”

- Given Up by Linkin Park

“I’m addicted to the madness
I’m a daughter of the sadness
I’ve been here too many times before
Been abandoned and I’m scared now
I can’t handle another fall out
I’m fragile, just washed upon the shore

They forget me, don’t see me
When they love me, they leave me

I admit I’m in and out of my head
Don’t listen to a single word I’ve said
Just hear me out before you run away
‘Cause I can’t take this pain
No, I can’t take this pain
I hate you, don’t leave me
I hate you, please love me”

- I Hate You Don’t Leave Me by Demi Lovato