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Understanding Borderline Rage

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Borderline rage is a specific behavior of special type of persons who belong to the category of Borderline personality disorder (BPD), but also common among Double High Authoritarians).  Here is a quote from  NIMH description of this disorder.

Borderline personality disorder (BPD) is a serious mental illness characterized by pervasive instability in moods, interpersonal relationships, self-image, and behavior. This instability often disrupts family and work life, long-term planning, and the individual's sense of self-identity. Originally thought to be at the "borderline" of psychosis, people with BPD suffer from a disorder of emotion regulation. While less well known than schizophrenia or bipolar disorder (manic-depressive illness), BPD is more common, affecting 2 percent of adults, mostly young women.

... ... ...

While a person with depression or bipolar disorder typically endures the same mood for weeks, a person with BPD may experience intense bouts of anger, depression, and anxiety that may last only hours, or at most a day. These may be associated with episodes of impulsive aggression

... ... ...

People with BPD exhibit other impulsive behaviors, such as excessive spending, binge eating and risky sex.

Intense, inappropriate anger is one of the most typical symptoms of borderline personality disorder (BPD). Due to its high intensity it is often referred to as “borderline rage.”  (What Is Borderline Anger and How Is It Treated

Borderline anger is more than just a standard emotional reaction. In the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition, anger in BPD is described as inappropriate, intense anger or difficulty controlling anger."

Clinically, anger in BPD is called “inappropriate,” because the level of anger seems to be more intense than is warranted by the situation or event that triggered it. For example, a person with BPD may react to an event that may seem small or unimportant to someone else, such as a misunderstanding, with very strong feelings of anger and unhealthy expressions of anger, such as yelling, being sarcastic or becoming physically violent.

It's not fun to be on the receiving end of a bout of borderline rage (On the Receiving End of Borderline Rage):

I’ve been screamed and sworn at. I’ve been called names, told I had no idea what the f**k I was doing and treated with utter scorn. I’ve had clients slam out the door and never come back, or subsequently leave hate-filled messages on my voice mail. Each time, it’s a deeply painful, toxic experience for me. It takes me hours to recover, sometimes even days, and during this time, I’m reviewing my work in an attempt to regain the feeling that it has value.

While Borderline personality disorder (BPD) is a serious mental illness similar behaviors are typical for the range of  socialized psychopath (sociopaths) one can found in management positions in major corporations. For out topic one particular behavior represents great interest: both authoritarian and all major type of psychopaths exhibit this symptom.  In such persons uncontrollable rage and anger come out of no where which make them very similar in external behavior  although internal mechanisms are completely different.

Clinically, anger in BPD is called “inappropriate,” because the level of anger seems to be much more intense than is warranted by the situation or event that triggered it.

Borderline anger is called “inappropriate anger” because the level of anger seems to be much more intense than is warranted by the situation or event that triggered it...

And that's the key. In case of sociopath it also can be simulated and used as an attach method. It is so intense that it is often referred to as “borderline rage.”  While anger is a key feature of BPD, very little is known about why people with BPD experience anger differently than other people or even how this experience is different.  Borderline anger is more than just a standard emotional reaction. In the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition (DSM-IV), anger in BPD is described as “inappropriate, intense anger or difficulty controlling anger (e.g., frequent displays of temper, constant anger, recurrent physical fights).”

The Rage from Feeling Abandoned

If you watched the movie Fatal Attraction you probably understand that rage of BPD personalities can be the result of feeling neglected and abandoned (Borderline Personality Disorder Abandonment and Rage Psychological Healing):

You will find that your whole being is given over—consciously or unconsciously—to inflicting hurtful revenge on the world around you for neglecting your emotional and physical needs.

In essence, this rage is a dramatic attempt to “get back at” the person who injured you. Even masochistic self-abuse (also called self-mutilation) can have a component of this revenge. In cutting, for example, you let out your rage in slow, “controlled” doses; in seeing your blood, you see yourself showing your wound—your life’s blood—to the “Other” who, you feel, has disavowed the value of your life.

So, too, attempts at suicide are attempts at revenge. “I’ll show them! Maybe when I’m dead they will realize how miserably they’ve treated me!”

Of course, suicide can also have the component of a desire to silence the rage. Drugs, alcohol, and sexuality can also be used to “silence” the rage. But none of these attempts to distract your attention from your rage can ever be successful. What is rage, after all, but an infant crying because she has been abandoned? Ignoring her and walking away won’t silence her crying. The only way to soothe her is to pick her up and find out what she needs—precisely what your parents didn’t bother to do.

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Old News ;-)

"Fairness means not to use fraud and trickery in the exchange of commodities and services and the exchange of feelings...

Exploitation and manipulation produce boredom and triviality; they cripple man, and all factors that make man into a psychic cripple turn him also into a sadist or a destroyer."

Erich Fromm

[Apr 02, 2016] Outward Rage--The pain within by Ms. A.J. Mahari

May 2, 1999 |

is this fundamental dissociative experience that leaves both the borderline and those who care about them in the line of fire. The waiting for the abuse or rejection/abandonment to replay itself is a testament to the existence of a BPD reality in which the larger picture or reality is not consistently known, perceived, held or understood. If it were possible to think beyond the cognitive distortions (which it is through therapy) at the time, the borderline would not be so convinced that a person close to them, in the here and now, was at any moment, going to repeat the rejection/abandonment (etc) of the past. If you have BPD you live in a world within a world.

This in and of itself can be the root of much rage and pain as well. Borderlines grow up learning to think "distorted thoughts". Without re-training your way of thinking, and feeling your actions, namely raging, and acting out continue to replay themselves. The actions of a child continue to play out, no matter how old you are because until those thought patterns are changed you are thinking like you did as a child.

When BPD rage occurs it can be lightening fast and to anyone on the "outside" make little to no sense at all for what is happening in that time and place. For the borderline however, they are re-experiencing (due to triggers) their past. This is the major reason why most borderlines are also extremely controlling of those around them and their environment. It is an effort to control themselves. Since they do not have any clear individuated boundaries: they don't know where they end and others begin, the control that they try to exert far exceeds what the average person would need to do in any given situation. The average person, with boundaries, knowing the difference between self and other needs only to control themselves.

BPD rage, appears to be about control, on the surface. It isn't really. If there is anything that is trying to be controlled through this rage it is that the borderline is trying so desperately to not feel "old" pain (or original pain) on top of what is usually a fair amount of pain in the here and now as well. Though they may often be dissociated from both the present and the past's pain. It is the reality of not having a sense of who one is that also enables so much of the "continuity" of time to be endlessly disrupted in the mind of a borderline. Rage is born of lostness so deep that one feels perpetually like a helpless child. (again no matter what actual age they may be)

At the root of the rage is the anger. At the root of the anger is the hurt and the pain, the devastation at what they had to endure in the past. Most borderlines (up to some point in therapy and healing) remain very unaware of this.

For me, working this through has changed my life. It has always seemed very cruel to me though that in order to work through much of the borderline rage I had to endure not only the rage, and the source of that rage inside of myself but also the anger, hurt, and fear that not only the rage produced in me, but also that I already felt anyway. There is also a tremendous amount of shame connected to any behaviour that is rage-related or that is generated by the rages.

When a borderline rages they hurt.

They hurt more than words can say. They hurt more than they often know. This does not justify the rage in the here and now, nor does it excuse the abuse. If you are borderline you must come to know that the way through the rage to the other side of it all is to feel your feelings in an appropriate way that allows you to grieve them. It is only through grieving them, through journaling, crying, talking about them that you can work them through enough to let them go. This, coupled with cognitive re-training is the way out of what seems like an endless cycle of rage that you, as a borderline may well feel happens to you.

It doesn't "happen" to you --NOW-- in the here and now. NO. It happened to you years ago. You have been recapitulating it from deep within your subconscious because you have not worked it out. This is tantamount to choosing it. You play a central and very active role in your rage it does not just happen. Furthermore, NOBODY can MAKE YOU DO are responsible for it.

BPD rage makes victims of us all. It victimizes those who care about the person with BPD often to the point where they have to withdraw or pull away to maintain their own sanity and health. It also re-victimizes the borderline. Nobody wins. Nobody benefits.

The here and now is lost to--then. It is abusive to rage at anyone for any reason. It is appropriate to express how you feel when you are being personably responsible for those feelings.

Once we reach the age of adulthood there is no legitimate reason to stay in the throes of our childhoods. BPD, as a personality disorder very much has this influence. The thing that can be so difficult to grasp and that produces a significant amount of grief when grasped is that we indeed make the choices that we make. Borderlines were subjected to something as children in the way they were parented or the environment in which they lived that set things in motion. However, so much of BPD though it is an understandable response to trauma remains a "coping" choice.

BPD is a maze of defense mechanisms designed to ensure that we never have to endure the annihilating pain that so affected us originally when we were young. The tragedy is that these choices, when exercised beyond the initial stimuli that caused these reactions are dysfunctional and are mal-adaptive ways of coping. The tragedy is that so much more loss is amassed before one can begin to sift through the damage, the hurt and the pain and the grief that lays so deeply within the hole in one's soul....if you are raging, think about this; "On the other side of rage, is loss" (quoted source not currently known)

Rage seeks to protect.

Within the protection that it offers it is doing (often) irreparable further damage to your relationships or chances to build relationships. Your efforts to protect yourself through rage are only further hurting you. Your efforts to avoid loss and feeling the losses that you've already suffered are only chalking up more losses for you to avoid feeling. Loss hurts. Loss must be felt and dealt with. Loss and the pain of loss is within you. It is yours. It is not bigger than you. You can feel it, now, and survive it now. If you don't stop raging you will not stop losing.

You CAN choose to stop raging and start feeling. I won't kid you, IT HURTS. It hurts a great deal but the worth in healing all of this pain and grief, hurt and loss is that you will not have to continue to rage. You can learn to deal with loss, to hold those feelings, to be safe with those feelings. Being hurt and or feeling our hurt in the here and now does not have to mirror our childhood.

Outwardly you choose to rage to mask the pain that is within you. That pain, that is within you, IS YOURS. It does not belong to anyone else. No one else deserves to have you throw your pain at them in rage, ever again.....

Rage is a selfish and immature choice. It is abusive. It is shaming. It is dissociative and or avoidant behaviour. The decision, the choice, is yours. Will you continue to rage, and to throw your responsibility for your pain onto others? Or will you decide enough is enough and that you want to heal enough to do the work that can set you and those you love free from the rages of BPD that leave others feeling that knowing you is like being held in captivity.

© Ms. A.J. Mahari - May 2, 1999

[Jan 26, 2013] The Dance of Anger A Woman's Guide to Changing the Patterns of Intimate Relationships

Marcy L. Thompson

A large number of books on the topic of anger have recently come into my house -- how to recognize anger, what it means, and how to "control" it. This is the only one of these books that I liked. All the other books on this topic seem to treat anger as a loss of control, which should be repressed. In fact, they seem to be about impulse control more than about anger. (I have nothing against people learning to control their impulses, I just don't think that it's the same topic as the topic of anger.) Luckily, I did not pay for any of these books, so I can just be glad I read this one, and forget about the others.

In this book, Lerner treats anger as a signal that something is going wrong. She explains that only when we address the "something wrong" in a useful way will the anger go away. Then she explores the "dances" we engage in, in our attempts to make ourselves feel better. She suggests that most of our attempts to make ourselves feel better focus on the person(s) we think made us mad, rather than on ourselves. She compassionately and wisely shows how to disengage from the anger and the counter-productive patterns, while staying connected and acting with integrity. However, she also acknowledges the effect that this sort of change can have on other people in the dance, and she provides guidance in maintaining oneself in the face of countermoves.

Fundamentally, this is not the kind of self-help book that provides 10 easy steps to ridding oneself of anger. Instead, it describes a different way to think about anger, and discussion of the ways in which one can respond to anger. No easy steps, just a way of thinking, which can radically change the way one engages with the world.

Rev. Dr. Jude Arnold (Arkansas, USA) -

The Dance of Anger by Dr. Harriet Lerner, Kindle Version
I was happy to find the eBook version of Dr. Lerner's 1970's classic. I'm finding writing my first review of an eBook much more challenging, tho. Dr. Lerner, a champion in women's psychology, offers us this awesome self help around anger. I begin with the Epilogue in which Dr. Lerner talks about what she means by self help.

"'Defining a self' or `becoming one's own person' is a task that one ultimately does alone....In the end, I define what I think, feel and believe....Yet, this lonely and challenging task cannot be accomplished in isolation. We can only accomplish it through our connectedness with others and the new learning about ourselves our relationships provide."(Italics and Underlining throughout are Dr. Lerner's.)

In her books Dr. Learner always stresses "the importance of learning about the experience of family members and sharing our own." She also adds her belief that it's "equally crucial for us to connect with the family of womankind....This book [is] about personal anger and personal change, but as feminism has taught us, `the personal is political.' This means that there is a circular connection between the patterns of our intimate relationships and the degree to which women are represented, valued, and empowered in every aspect of society and culture.... "It is not sufficient for individual women to learn to move differently in personal relationships. If we do not also challenge and change the societal institutions that keep women in a subordinate and de-selfed position outside the home, what goes on inside the home will continue to be problematic for us all....Whether the problem we face is a marital battle or the escalating nuclear arms race, women and men both have a long legacy of blaming people rather than understanding patterns. Our challenge is to listen carefully to our own anger and use it in the service of change - while we hold tight to all that is valuable in our female heritage and tradition."

Dr. Lerner wrote The Dance of Anger "to help readers not only identify the true sources of their anger, but also to learn how to change the patterns from which anger springs....The challenge of anger is at the heart of our struggle to achieve intimacy, self-esteem, and joy. Learning how to deal with it is worth the journey, even though there are no six-easy-steps to personal fulfillment and relationship bliss. The Dance of Anger teaches readers to understand how relationships operate and how to change our part in them. It encourages readers to go the hard route."

Anger is a signal that "can motivate us to say `no' to the ways in which we are defined by others and `yes' to the dictates of our inner self. Women, however, have long been discouraged {and condemned} for the awareness and forthright expression of anger....The taboos against our feeling and expressing anger are so powerful that even knowing when we are angry is not a simple matter. When a woman shows her anger, she is likely to be dismissed as irrational or worse.... "Why are angry women so threatening to others? If we are guilty, depressed, or self-doubting we stay in place. We do not take action except against our own selves and we are unlikely to be agents of personal and social change. In contrast, angry women may change and challenge the lives of us all, as witnessed by the past decade of feminism." (I believe she refers, unfortunately, to the 1960's here.)

"Anger is something we feel. It exists for a reason and always deserves our respect and attention. We all have a right to everything we feel - and certainly our anger is no exception....Our anger signals a problem, but provides us with no answers - not even a clue - as to how to solve it." Dr. Lerner does not however advocate venting anger or letting it all hang out. "Feelings of depression, low self-esteem, self-betrayal, and even self-hatred are inevitable when we fight but continue to submit to unfair circumstances, when we complain but live in a way that betrays our hopes, values and potentials....Those of us who are locked into ineffective expressions of anger suffer as deeply as those of us who dare not get angry at all."
Dr. Lerner defines two styles of managing anger, the nice lady who avoids anger and conflict at all cost, and the bitch who is easily angered and fights with no constructive resolution. In reality, both these styles "serve equally well to protect others, to blur our clarity of self, and to ensure that change does not occur....Anger is inevitable when [nice ladies'] lives consist of giving in and going along; when we assume responsibility for other people's feelings and reactions; when we relinquish our primary responsibility to proceed with our own growth and ensure the quality of our own lives; when we behave as if having a relationship is more important than having a self....Nothing, but nothing, will block the awareness of anger so effectively as guilt and self-doubt. Our society cultivates guilt feelings in women such that many of us still feel guilty if we are anything less than an emotional service station to others." On the other hand, the nature of the hysterical bitch's "fighting or angry accusations may actually allow the other person to get off the hook" protecting old familiar patterns as surely as does silence. The end result in both these styles is we end up feeling powerless. Our self-esteem suffers because we have not addressed the real issues causing our anger.
It is in our first family relationships that closeness often leads to stuckness. Dr. Lerner teaches us to use our anger energy to get unstuck in our stickiest relationships first, so these same issues will not fuel the fires in all of our other relationships. "The ability to use anger as a tool for change requires that we gain a deeper understanding and knowledge of how relationships operate....unresolved issues from our past inevitably surface in our current relationships." We simply must learn to use our anger to change our own patterns of relating rather than blame and try to change other people.

Dr. Lerner identifies these four areas we need to learn to develop our skills and to use our anger as a tool for change in relationships: "1. We Can Learn to Tune In to the True Sources of Our Anger and Clarify Where We Stand. "2. We Can Learn Communications Skills. "3. We Can Learn to Observe and Interrupt Nonproductive Patterns of Interaction....We cannot make another person change his or her steps to an old dance, but if we change our own steps, the dance no longer can continue in the same predictable pattern. "4. We Can Learn to Anticipate and Deal with Countermoves and `Change Back!' Reactions from Others....In all families there is a powerful opposition to one member defining a more independent self...The powerful emotional counterforce (`You're wrong'; `Change back!' `Or else....') is predictable, understandable, and to some extent, universal."

Dr. Lerner adds, "It is never easy to move away from silent submission or ineffective fighting toward a calm but firm assertion of who we are, where we stand, what we want, and what is and is not acceptable to us....Not only can we acquire new ways of managing old angers; we can also gain a clearer and stronger `I' and with it, the capacity for a more intimate and gratifying `we.' Many of our problems with anger occur when we choose between having a relationship and having a self. This book is about having both.....If two people become one, a separation can feel like a psychological or a physical death. We may have nothing - not even a self to fall back on - when an important relationships ends. We all need to have both an `I' and a `we' that nourish and give meaning to each other....The more we carve out a clear and separate `I', the more we can experience and enjoy both intimacy and aloneness."

Dr. Lerner demonstrates that all, and especially romantic, relationships can be like a seesaw; "the underfunctioning of one individual allows for the overfunctioning of the other....The more the man [i.e.] avoids sharing his own weaknesses, neediness, and vulnerability, the more his woman may experience and express more than her share. The more the woman avoids showing her competence and strength, the more her man will have an inflated sense of his own. And if the underfunctioning partner starts looking better, the overfunctioning partner will start looking worse....If the woman is further convinced that she herself cannot survive without the relationship, she will vent her anger in a manner that only reinforces the old familiar patterns from which her anger stems.... "Whenever one person makes a move to rebalance the seesaw, there is a countermove by the other party. There are few things more anxiety-arousing than shifting to a higher level of self-assertion and separateness in an important relationship and maintaining the position despite the countermoves of the other person....Countermoves are the other person's unconscious attempt to restore a relationship to its previous balance or equilibrium, when anxiety about separateness and change gets too high....What matters is the degree to which we are able to take a clear position in a relationship and behave in ways that are congruent with our stated beliefs....The woman who sits at the bottom of a seesaw marriage accumulates a great amount of rage, which is in direct proportion to the degree of her submission and sacrifice....Sometimes, to develop a stronger `I' is to come to terms with our deep-seated wish to leave an unsatisfactory marriage and this possibility may be no less frightening than the fear of being left."

Dr. Learners covers the subject of triangles in great depth. "Identifying the real issues is not an easy matter. It is particularly difficult among family members because when two adults have a conflict, they often bring in a third party to form a triangle, which then makes it even harder for the two people involved to identify and work out their problems.... Underground issues from one relationship or context invariably fuel our fires in another." We detour "feelings of anger from one person to another....We reduce anxiety in one relationship by focusing on a third party, who we unconsciously pull into the situation to lower the emotional intensity in the original pair. Triangles can become rigidly entrenched blocking the growth of the individuals in them and keeping us from identifying the actual sources of conflict in our relationships....Triangles greatly increase the probability of escalating aggression....The three essential ingredients of extricating oneself from a triangle are: staying calm, staying out, and hanging in." It is never helpful to anyone to gossip or talk about a third party. "In the best of all possible worlds we might envision separate person-to-person relationships with our friends, coworkers, and family members that were not excessively influenced by other relationships."
Most of us put our anger energy into trying to change the other person. This, Dr. Lerner repeatedly exclaims, is impossible. We "secretly believe that we have the corner on the `truth' and that this would be a much better world if everyone else believed and reacted exactly as we do. But one of the hallmarks of emotional maturity is to recognize the validity of multiple realities and to understand that people think, feel, and react differently." Closeness does not mean sameness. "We have a right to everything we think and feel - and so does everyone else. It is our job to state our thoughts and feelings clearly and to make responsible decisions that are congruent with our values and beliefs. It is not our job to make another person think and feel the way we do or the way we want them to.... We are able to move away from ineffective fighting only when we give up the fantasy that we can change or control another person. It is only then that we can reclaim the power that is truly ours - the power to change our own selves and take new and different actions on our own behalf."

Dr. Lerner gives example after example illustrating these same basic lessons: "First, `letting it all hang out' may not be helpful because venting anger may protect rather than challenge the old rules and patterns in a relationship. Second, the only person we can change and control is our own self. Third, changing our own self can feel so threatening and difficult that it is often easier to continue an old pattern of silent withdrawal or ineffective fighting and blaming. And, finally, de-selfing is at the heart of our most serious anger problems."

"Even rats in a maze learn to vary their behavior if they keep hitting a dead end. Why in the world, then, do we behave less intelligently than laboratory animals? Repeating the same old fights protects us from the anxieties we are bound to experience when we make a change....Human nature is such that when we are angry, we tend to become so emotionally reactive to what the other person is doing to us that we lose our ability to observe our own part in the interaction....Self-observation is the process of seeing the interaction of ourselves and others, and recognizing that the ways other people behave with us has something to do with the way we behave with them." The form of this circular dance is universal in which the behavior of each serves "to maintain and provoke the other. Once a part of an established twosome - married or unmarried, lesbian or straight - the more each person tries to change things, the more things stay the same."

I am beginning to understand how my interaction had become a circular dance in which my behavior maintained and provoked behavior in my significant other. "In the final analysis it matters little who started it.... A good way to make this break is to recognize the part we play in maintaining and provoking the other person's behavior. Even if we are convinced that the other person is ninety-seven percent to blame we are still in control of changing our three percent." Bottom line - "We do not have the power to change another person who does not want to change, and our attempts to do so may actually protect him or her from change. This is the paradox of the circular dances in which we all participate."

"Opposites do attract, but they do not always live happily ever after. On the one hand, it is reassuring to live with someone who will express parts of one's own self that one is afraid to acknowledge; yet, the arrangement has its inevitable costs: The woman [i.e.]who is expressing feelings not only for herself but also for her husband will indeed end up behaving `hysterically' and `irrationally.' The man who relies on his wife to do the `feeling work' for him will increasingly lose touch with this important part of himself, "and when the time comes that he needs to draw upon his emotional resources, he may find that nobody's at home....This is the `masculinity' that our society breeds - the male who feels at home in the world of things and abstract ideas but who has little empathic connection to others , little attunement to his own internal world, and little willingness or capacity to `hang in' when a relationship becomes conflicted and stressful... . Doing the `feeling work' like cleaning up has long been defined as `woman's work', and lots of women are good at it. As with cleaning up, men will not begin to do their shares until women no longer do it for them."

"When a woman vents her anger ineffectively or expresses it in an overemotional style, she does not threaten her man. If anything she helps him maintain his masculine cool, while she herself is perceived as infantile or irrational. When a woman clarifies the issue and uses her anger to move toward something new and different, the change occurs. If she stops over-functioning [overinvolvement] for others and starts acting for herself, her underfunctioning [underinvolvement] man is likely to acknowledge and deal with his own anxieties."
Dr. Lerner goes on to identify two other types of dancers: "Emotional pursuers are persons who reduce their anxiety by sharing feelings and seeking close emotional contact. Emotional distancers are persons who reduce their anxiety by intellectualizing and withdrawing." No matter the problem, these two styles of responding to stress eventually become at odds. The common outcome of this classic scenario is that "after the escalating dance of pursuit and withdrawal proceeds for some time, the woman [most often the pursuer] goes into what therapists call `reactive distance', which only temporarily reverses the pursuit cycle or has little effect at all....When a pursuer stops pursuing and begins to put her energy back into her own life - without distancing or expressing anger at the other person - the circular dance has been broken....A relationship becomes more `true' and balanced as the pursuer can allow herself to acknowledge and express more of her own wish for independence and space, and in turn, the distancer can begin to acknowledge more of his dependency and wish for closeness."

She repeats again, "Changing another person is a solution that never, ever works." The power that is ours is only and always the power to change our own self. The only real power we have is the power to act and make choices. However, to try to change the other person is usually the first thing we do with our anger. The second thing we do is cut ourselves off either emotionally or geographically. Such distancing does bring short-term relief but there are long term costs - "the unresolved emotional intensity is likely to get played out in other important relationships....When emotional intensity is high in a family, most of us put the entire responsibility for poor communication on the other person....Always, we perceive that it is the other who prevents us from speaking and keeps the relationship from changing. We disown our own part in the interactions we complain of and, with it, our power to bring about a change."
OK! What do we do instead of trying to change the other person or their thoughts and feelings? We clearly state our beliefs and convictions and we stand behind them. This includes identifying within ourselves the true source of our anger, usually our independence from that person. As we become less scared and guilty about showing our own strong and separate selves, in a mature and responsible fashion, we become more ready to make a change in the relationship, a change to being a separate and different person with our own unique way of being in the world. With this change comes the experience of separation anxiety, most often "based on an underlying discomfort with separateness and individuality that has its roots in our early family experience, where the unspoken expectation may have been that we keep a lid on our expressions of self."

"Hit and Run confrontation does not lead to lasting change.... If serious about change, she must show for her own sake as well as the other that at last she is declaring her separateness and independence, but she is not declaring a lack of caring or closeness. Independence means that we clearly define our own selves on emotionally important issues, but it does not mean emotional distance....The work of negotiating greater independence may be so fraught with mutual anxieties about rejection and loss that the person making the move must be responsible for maintaining emotional contact with the other." Success will rest on her ability to share something about herself in a straightforward, nonblaming way while maintaining emotional contact throughout the process. It requires also that she "uphold her position with persistence and calm, without getting emotionally buffeted about by the inevitable countermoves and `change back!' reactions we meet whenever we assume a more autonomous position in an important relationship. This is what achieving selfhood and independence is all about. And it requires, among other things a particular way of talking and a degree of clarity that are especially difficult to achieve when we are angry."

Another important technique that Dr. Lerner teaches is to turn anger into an "I message," a nonblaming statement about one's own self. She emphasizes that "if our goal is to break a pattern in an important relationship and/or to develop a strong sense of self that we can bring to all our relationships, it is essential that we learn to translate our anger into clear, nonblaming statements about our own self .... The significant issue for women is that we may not have a clear `I' to communicate about and we are not prepared to handle the intense negative reactions that come our way when we do begin to define and assert the self....Women often fear that having a clear `I' means threatening a relationship or losing an important person. Thus, rather than using our anger as a challenge to think more clearly about the `I' in our relationships we may, when angry, actually blur what personal clarity we do have."

We really fear rocking the boat. "Feeling fuzzy-headed, inarticulate, and not so smart are common reactions experienced by women as we struggle to take a stand on our own behalf. It is not just anger and fighting that we learn to fear; we avoid asking precise questions and making clear statements when we unconsciously suspect that doing so would expose our differences, make the other person feel uncomfortable, and leave us standing alone."

"Why would any of us attempt to deny our anger and sacrifice one of our most precious possessions - our personal clarity?" For one thing, "our very definitions of `masculinity' and `femininity' are based on the notion that women must function as nonthreatening helpmates and ego builders to men lest men feel castrated and weakened." This explains when a woman's anger turns to tears; she's attempting to restore togetherness. Instead she probably needs to work harder at the task of clarifying her separateness and independence within her first family. She cannot control the other person's reaction. She should not allow herself to be controlled by them either. "She can simply stay on course by listening to what they have to say and then restating her initial position. There is nothing wrong with "sounding like a broken record now and then.... She cannot change the other person's mind or ensure that justice will prevail. She can state her position, recognize her choices, and make responsible decisions on her own behalf."

"Our problem is not the fear of clarity but the absence of it. That we are angry is obvious. But we may have little perspective on the `I,' as a result of focusing exclusively on what the other person is doing to us.... Using our anger as a starting point to become more knowledgeable about the self does not require that we analyze ourselves and provide lengthy psychologically explanations of our reactions....Anger is a tool for change when it challenges us to become more of an expert on the self and less of an expert on others. Learning to use our anger effectively requires some letting go - letting go of blaming that other person whom we see as causing our problems and failing to provide for our happiness; letting go of the notion that it is our job to change other people or tell them how they should think, feel, behave. Yet, this does not mean that we passively accept or go along with any behavior. In fact, a `live-and-let-live' attitude can signal a de-selfed position, if we fail to clarify what is and is not acceptable or desirable to us in a relationship. The main issue is how we clarify our position....We can simply say, `well, it may seem crazy or irrational to you, but this is the way I see it.' Of course, there is never a guarantee that other people will alter their behavior" to suit you and me.

Dr. Lerner also counsels to not be in a hurry with this. It's ok to be uncertain. Sit with it for a while! She says, "Slow Down! Our anger can be a powerful vehicle for personal growth and change if it does nothing more than help us recognize that we are not yet clear about something." What most of us do when we are angry is judge, blame, criticize, moralize, preach, instruct, interpret, and psychoanalyze. She goes on to say, "If I persist in repeating this point, it is because it is an extremely difficult concept to grasp, and hold on to when we are angry. Conflicting wants and different perceptions of the world do not mean that one party is `right' and the other `wrong.'"

Some common communication mistakes we make are, for starters "not being particularly tactful and strategic. Few people are able to listen well when they are being criticized or told what's wrong with them." Second, we communicate as if to convey that we are an expert on the other person's experience. "'Who has the problem?' is a question that has nothing to do with guilt or culpability. The one who has the problem is simply the party who is dissatisfied with or troubled by the particular situation....How many of us can distinguish with confidence where our responsibilities to others begin and end? How can women trained from birth to define ourselves through our loving care of others - know with confidence when it is time to finally say `Enough!'?" Many woman devote themselves so exclusively to the needs of others that they betray if not lose themselves.

"If however, we do not use our anger to define ourselves clearly in every important relationship we are in - and manage our feelings as they arise - no one else will assume this responsibility for us. We are never the first in our family to wrestle with a problem although it may feel that way. All of us inherit the unsolved problems of our past....We put our energy into taking responsibility for other people's feelings, thoughts and behavior and hand over to others responsibility for our own. When this happens, it becomes difficult, if not impossible for the old rules of a relationship to change....As we learn to "relinquish responsibility for the self, we are prone to blame others for failing to fill up our emptiness or provide for our happiness - which is not their job." It is however our job to "allow others the space to manage their own pain and solve their own problems. When we do not put our primary emotional energy into solving our own problems, we take on other people's problems as our own. When we overfunction for another individual, we end up very angry and in the process, we facilitate the growth of no one." We must "acknowledge that we do not have the answers or solutions to other people's problems." Even with children, "Change comes about when we stop trying to shape up the other person and begin to observe patterns and find new options for our own behavior."

In closing, I'd like to thank Dr. Lerner for her tremendous contribution to women's psychology and my emotional health, and for this "review of some basic do's and don'ts to keep in mind when you are feeling angry.

[Apr 15, 2011] Borderline Anger - Understanding Borderline Anger by Kristalyn Salters-Pedneault, PhD

August 21, 2008 |

What is Borderline Anger and How is it Treated? Health's Disease and Condition content is reviewed by the Medical Review Board

National OCD Expert & Author Aureen Pinto Wagner, Ph.D.

Intense, inappropriate anger is one of the most troubling symptoms of borderline personality disorder (BPD). It is so intense that it is often referred to as "borderline rage." While anger is a key feature of BPD, very little is known about why people with BPD experience anger differently than other people or even how this experience is different. New research, however, is shedding light on the nature of borderline rage.

What is Borderline Anger?

Borderline anger is more than just a standard emotional reaction. In the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition (DSM-IV), anger in BPD is described as "inappropriate, intense anger or difficulty controlling anger (e.g., frequent displays of temper, constant anger, recurrent physical fights)."

Clinically, anger in BPD is called "inappropriate," because the level of anger seems to be more intense than is warranted by the situation or event that triggered it. For example, a person with BPD may react to an event that may seem small or unimportant to someone else (e.g., a misunderstanding) with very strong feelings of anger and unhealthy expressions of anger (e.g., yelling, being sarcastic or becoming physically violent).

Research on Borderline Anger

While borderline anger has long been a topic of debate and speculation among BPD specialists, it has only recently become a topic of careful research. Researchers are now examining how borderline anger is different than normal anger and why it occurs. For example, researchers are now trying to understand whether it is that people with BPD are more easily angered, have more intense anger responses or have more prolonged anger responses than people without BPD (or whether it is some combination of these factors).

For example, a recent study examined anger in people with BPD compared to people without BPD (healthy controls) in response to an anger-producing story. This study found that people with BPD reported the same level of anger as the healthy controls in response to the story, but that the healthy controls reported that their anger decreased more quickly over time than the people with BPD reported. So it may not be that people with BPD have a stronger anger reaction, but that their anger has a much longer duration than other people experience.

Research in this area is very preliminary, and much more work is needed to fully understand how and why people with BPD experience borderline anger.

Borderline (BPD) Abuse

Exaggerated startle response I remember when I finally left my wife who had severe BPD. I explored the relationship extensively in my book "The Courtship Dance of the Borderline." I reread this paragraph recently and remember how true it was:

"At moments I felt guilty for feeling good, because it seemed that it was at Jacqueline's (ex-BPD wife) expense. It was precisely because she was not there that I could feel some peace. For what had felt to be an eternity, she had conditioned me not to feel any pleasure outside of her. Her fearsome tantrums had been intolerable in their wrath. Immediately I noticed that my sleep had improved. No longer did I worry that she might attack me in bed. My body felt more relaxed, my thoughts seemed slower and more focused. I felt that I could think about things without worrying about what Jacqueline would say or how she would react. But even with the distance from South Africa, I felt her presence and I jumped and startled when the phone rang or a car backfired."

There should be no doubt that Borderline Rage profoundly affects the psyche of the loved one. In these relationships, it is not only the BPD sufferer who needs help, but the sufferer's loved ones. I would strongly encourage anybody who has been the victim of BP rage attacks to be in therapy so that they too can begin to heal. If not an empty, insecure, mistrustful shell of the former self will be all that remains.

Borderline Personality Rage

Today the plan should of have been to stay home and just avoid society as the Nardil withdrawal has been kicking my ass. No patience, sore bones and a brain that cannot decide what kind of mood it wants to be in. The problem with my great plan was that I needed to go to the pharmacy to pick up the rest of my Seroquel pills for the month so I psyched myself up then put on my best smiley happy face and made my way out the doors. This great sense of being lasted till I jumped into my car and reality came crashing back down, oh well at least I tried. On the way to the store my brain was stuck on this notion that my meds would not be in which basically leaves me screwed. So instead of doing the healthy thing which is preparing a back up plan I took the BPD route and prepared for a confrontation or a rage as those people in white coats call it. My brain pieced together a plan of attack which was along the lines of "The hell with your excuses this is my life you are messing with" and then I ran through every possible response that I could think that they could use then prepared my response to it to ensure all bases were covered. These poor people had no idea what was coming but turns out they would never find out as my meds were there waiting.

Rage is a big part of Borderline Personality Disorder and probably a main part that fuels the stigma but rage like a lot of different areas of this illness is not what it appears. People think that when a person enters a rage that they have no control over their emotions and there is no logic just frustration attached to it, in my case ah no. For me ninety eight percent of my rages are completely in control and for the most part have been rehearsed well in advance. The logic behind it is pretty simple the person did something that I did not like so I need to make sure it does not happen again so here comes the rage. I know this is not the proper way and it is very rare that I actually go this route anymore. For a long time rage would "appear" when someone would say something that would jeopardize the stability of my very rocky false self image so I had to respond to make sure it would not repeat and sometimes the best solution to get people to listen is to yell or teach them a painful verbal lesson. I use to have this mentality that if you hurt me I will destroy you which I really probably should not admit too but that is the reality and I am very good at it. Manipulation factors in here as well and here is an example. Say you want to get rid of the girlfriend but you don't want to look like the bad guy so you set up a rage to make it look like it is her fault. You direct the conversation till she says something that could be considered as a trigger then you let the rage do all of the work which normally ends the relationship. Mentally my BPD is thinking if she did not set off the rage then the relationship would not have ended so it is her fault and I have no guilt over it even though I completely controlled the whole ending. How does my brain justify this? If she knew me better she would have never would have been led down the path that led to the rage. Nice eh. Guilt is a foreign concept when it comes to BPD for guilt happens when you do something wrong or ashamed of but everything a BPD does is right or at least it is to them. This is also the same reason why most people with Borderline Personality Disorder will never be officially diagnosed as they do not see anything wrong with the way they think and the people in their lives who keep suggesting they get help are just jealous that we have more control over our lives then they do which means they are the ones who really need the help and are acting out of jealousy.

This is a BPD slogan if you will when it comes to confrontations "I may not always be right but I am never wrong". Never get in an argument with someone with pure BPD as you will never win and they will never admit that you are right. By admitting they were wrong puts their whole self image out of whack which they can not allow happen as their entire life is based off of certain perspectives that they have created and one dent in the armor may lead to the whole mirage to crumble. Like I said when your at the height of BPD you will protect the false self image with your life and the only thing that matters is to keep their creation on a pedestal for when it falls they fall. Rage is the wall that surrounds the castle and designed to keep all enemies out no matter how much they may make sense.

For me to drop my "wall" the first thing I had to realize and come to terms with is what I was protecting was not really there. There is no castle just a bunch of ideas and perspectives of who I thought I should be to keep myself safe and not who I actually am. The real me is running around naked in a field trying to figure out what the hell happened and how to put the pieces back together the right way. Take care.

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