Hey so I've recently started thinking I might have bpd based on some of the symptoms but I was wondering what fp and splitting were because I've seen those terms used a lot but I don't really know what they are
Hey anon! That’s a great question. There are a lot of terms associated with BPD that people probably never heard before they were diagnosed. The important thing to remember, though, is that just because this type of symptom exists in BPD, does not necessarily mean you will experience it.
Most of these things are very negative and undesirable ways to think or feel. I’ve seen this a little bit lately in the online BPD community, where one particular term or symptom will be almost glorified, and everyone starts talking about that one thing and how they feel that in their lives. I’m not saying they’re all not really feeling those things, but a lot of time we can create situations subconsciously if we innerly feel like it should be happening somehow.
These are not healthy patterns in behavior/thought, and we can save ourselves a lot of pain and difficulty if we actively try to defend AGAINST these symptoms.
But I do understand how it is super helpful and validating to have a name or word for something, and being able to talk about it with others who have experienced it. That’s totally okay. For that reason, here are some common terms associated with BPD that might be a little confusing. Let me know if you think I should add any more to this list? Thanks! :)
Favorite Person (FP): A “Favorite Person” is a person that people with BPD tend to latch onto or glorify for sporadic lengths of time. We tend to just want all their attention, time, and focus. It’s not something we do on purpose, necessarily…we just become dependent on that person’s particular brand of attention as a way to simple cope with our emotions. An FP doesn’t even necessarily have to be romantic—it can be anyone that we somehow found solace or comfort in any given moment.
Imprinting: Imprinting kind of goes along with the “favorite person” idea, except I’ve only ever heard it referred to in a romantic context. It’s the sudden moment when you become dependent on the person, and pretty much all of your time, focus, energy, and devotion goes to that person. It’s seen as more of an involuntary situation. FP and Imprinting are NOT medical terms…more just relatable feelings within the BPD community.
Splitting: Splitting is a common pattern of thinking/conceptualizing in people with BPD. We tend to think of things as ALL good, or ALL bad. It doesn’t have to be about good/bad, it can be about anything. We can even love a person and hate them, too. We can feel wholly accepted and fully rejected. It’s really just about extreme opposites of emotion, and thinking it has to be one or the other, nothing in between. The terms “devalued” and “idealized” are often heard in context of splitting, meaning we tend to idealize people that we are close to by putting them on an extremely high pedestal and constantly looking up to them; and then we can devalue them, or consider them “worthless” to us, when we portray them to make a mistake. It’s a very unhealthy, subconscious coping mechanism our brains use to try to avoid intense anxiety or pain.
Dissociation: Dissociation is a state where you feel disconnected somehow from your mind/consciousness. It can vary a lot in different people, from simply zoning out to having multiple personalities (Dissociate Identity Disorder). It’s a coping mechanism that our brain uses to kind of just “turn off” your thinking for a little bit, because it knows you can’t handle the intensity of your emotions/pain. Sometimes you don’t remember things from the periods you were dissociated, and a lot of people report feeling “hazy” or “blurry” about events or things that happened when they were dissociated. Dissociation can last for a couple minutes, hours, or even days.
Depersonalization: Depersonalization is a specific type of dissociation, when you feel somehow disconnected from your body, like you’re watching yourself from somewhere outside of yourself. It can feel very surreal, almost dream-like, and is very disturbing to most people who experience it. It’s a more physical manifestation of dissociation, which can be very hard to describe. Physical, as in…you physically don’t feel connected to your body or the place where your body is at.
Apathy: Apathy is a general “I don’t care” feeling. We tend to kind of become emotionally unavailable, not really feeling anything. Some people describe it as feeling “numb.” This happens a lot when we feel like we’ve reached the end of our rope…”there’s no point in caring or trying anymore, because it just hurts when you do.” For me, it usually feels like there’s almost a block on my emotions. Like, there’s something blocking them in the back of my mind so they can’t get through. I don’t know if that’s typical for people with BPD, but that’s one way I personally experience apathy.
Baiting: Baiting is a form of manipulative behavior, in which you purposely act a certain way in order to elicit the emotional response you want from someone. It’s definitely not healthy or interpersonally effective. When we’re in a highly emotional state, we tend to think of self-preservation, especially if we’re fighting with someone. So we unconsciously use unfair methods to try to simple save ourselves from the impending emotional intensity.
Mimicking/Mirroring: Mirroring is common in people who don’t have a firm sense of identity, which is a very typical BPD symptom. Mirroring/Mimicking happens when we see things we like in someone else, or other people in general, and we try to make ourselves be/look that way, too. It’s a desperate way to try to figure out who we really are underneath all of our pain and symptom, even thought it’s not typically anything we would do/look like.
Magical Thinking: It is possible for someone with BPD to be so emotionally/mentally overwhelmed that they start showing psychotic symptoms, such as paranoia, delusions, and hallucinations. Magical Thinking is a slightly more mild version of those psychotic symptoms. Magical Thinking is when we look at two completely unrelated things, and somehow draw unreal connections between them. For example, “I cut myself, and it rained. Cutting myself makes it rain!” Magical Thinking can also manifest itself in the form of idealization/devaluing. We create unreal or imaginary expectations for people close to us, or ideas in general (ex, “Ideal Love”).
Detachment: Detachment happens when we shut ourselves off from something completely. It could be from a family member, friend, certain situation, feeling, etc. The “Detached Protector Pitfall” is a very common BPD situation…when we detach from our own needs, and try to completely please somebody else. We stop caring about our own needs in order to fulfill those of someone else (typically our “FP,” but not in every case).
Maladaptive Daydreaming: This is another form of dissociation, in which we involuntarily become caught up in fantasies/daydreams. It is a coping mechanism our brain uses to try to save us from feeling the pain of our real emotional state. Maladaptive daydreaming can be very frightening, especially when you realize that you’re not really in control of where your brain is going at that point. It thinks about whatever it needs to think about in order to feel better.