Updated: Jan 6
As a person who authentically recovered from Borderline Personality Disorder over the course of about seven years, give or take, after a major crisis caused me to first recognize that I had a disorder, and then, to do the work to understand the disorder inside and out in the interest of ridding myself of it permanently, I am particularly qualified to answer this question.
It’s going to be an interesting discussion, because this isn’t going to go the way you’re expecting.
The things you should never, ever say to a person with Borderline Personality Disorder are the following:
“Borderline Personality Disorder is a ‘mental illness.’”
“Borderline Personality Disorder is a ‘mental health’ issue.”
“Borderline Personality Disorder is ‘genetic.’”
“Your trouble is ‘managing emotions.’”
“What you need to do is learn ‘coping strategies.’”
“DBT is the solution to Borderline Personality Disorder.”
“You have a sensitive personality, which is why you developed Borderline Personality Disorder.”
“Borderline Personality Disorder has ‘multiple possible causes.’”
“Your parents seem to be emotionally healthy and they did ‘the best they could.’”
The term ‘triggers’ in any conversation at all, as if ‘triggers’ are a real thing. (They aren’t. People are self-contained machines, and we ourselves generate our own feelings within ourselves. There is no such thing as external things being able to generate your feelings and behaviors for you.)
Look at the ‘benefits’ of having Borderline Personality Disorder, like your amazing ‘empathy’, or your great artistic skill.
The reason you should never say any of these things to people with Borderline Personality Disorder is because it is all bullshit; lies that prevent people from ever freeing themselves from the disorder authentically.
Before I back up these claims with explanations, did anything about this list particularly stand out to you?
How about the fact that all of these things are precisely what the psychological professional community as a group has been selling for years, and continues to shovel out?
That’s right: The psychological professional community, as a group, is not a friend of people with Borderline Personality Disorder. These faux intellectual charlatans build gruesome amounts of wealth off the backs of people who are truly suffering and often can’t really afford the prices they are asked to pay. But the sufferers are desperate, and so they pay it. These ‘experts’ seem to feel no embarrassment whatsoever in then flaunting this tainted wealth by living in large homes, driving around in luxury SUVs, going on extravagant vacations, hobnobbing with society’s elite, selling books, building great followers on Quora and YouTube, and enjoying recognition while not having authentically helped a single person.
Notice, it is not the charging a fair wage for honest work that I take issue with. No, the issue is that the work is not honest; it is not accurate, and it does more than just not help - it in fact actively works against people's efforts to get better.
What do these people provide their clients in return for the thousands of dollars they receive from those in search of answers? An enormous, never-ending misinformation campaign; great loads of bullshit that actively prevent suffering people from ever escaping enslavement to a disorder that is entirely fixable.
It’d be enough to make you laugh except for the fact that everything I just said is completely - and I mean completely - true.
Let’s reexamine the previous list of things you should never say to a person with Borderline Personality Disorder (which the professional community as a group says to them every single day), and we’ll talk about the reason why they are inaccurate lies.
Borderline Personality Disorder is an emotional disorder, not a ‘mental illness’. A ‘mental illness’, by its very terminology, means that one’s brain is malfunctioning. Borderline Personality Disorder, in itself, has nothing whatsoever to do with your brain malfunctioning. If you are simply living with Borderline Personality Disorder, your brain is functioning precisely the way it is supposed to function.
Emotional Disorder, on the other hand, is merely the natural, disharmonious results that occur from a person approaching life with an inaccurate, inappropriate understanding about the nature of feelings, self, and life. People who have emotional disorders live with these unhealthy understandings because they were taught them, not because they are crazy, or because they are ‘mentally ill’. It is absolutely no different than being taught to play the piano incorrectly, and then going on to play the piano exactly the way you were taught. Your problems playing the piano have absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with your brain acting up. You are playing precisely the way you were taught.
According to the professional community, everything is a ‘mental health issue’, isn’t it. That’s right, everybody’s crazy. If you’re sad after somebody you love dies, it’s because you’re crazy. If you lost your job and you’re feeling a little down about it, you’re crazy. Well, very few things in this world can truly be attributed to ‘mental health’. The nature of almost everything everybody in the world is dealing with involves emotional health, not ‘mental’ health. The irony is that emotional health issues are frequently rooted in subtle misunderstandings about the very nature of fundamental aspects of life. So what does the professional community do to ‘help’ people suffering from these things? They perpetuate and promote subtly improper, false notions about the very nature of what it is people are truly dealing with! Again, if what I’m telling you weren’t completely true, it would make for such a great, long laugh. By far, the vast majority of issues people are dealing with in today’s modern world are emotional in nature, not ‘mental’. I happen to know of authors across the internet who are perfectly aware of this truth, and yet they still prefer to cling to, and continue perpetuating, the lie. Why? Because their primary interest seems to be in the appearance of intellectualism, as well as the acceptance of colleagues and peers (not having the courage to ‘rock the boat’), rather than in genuinely helping those suffering to completely and authentically understand the nuances of the issues they are dealing with so that they can truly get healthy. Shame on these frauds.
Borderline Personality Disorder is inherited. It is not genetic. Do you know what else you have inherited? Your culture, for one. Your love of fried green tomatoes and bluegrass music wasn’t ‘genetically’ passed on to you. They were learned and emotionally embraced.
Again, the professional community as a group never fails to disappoint: At the root of Borderline Personality Disorder is one’s unhealthy, inaccurate, underlying perceptions about the inherent nature of feelings, self, and life. So what does the professional community as a group do to ‘help’ in response to this? They pile on even more lies about what the inherent nature of yourself is, by trying to convince you that the issues you are dealing with are a genetic aspect of what makes you, you! The false suggestion from this being that you were just ‘born that way’. See, they want to communicate the message that the issues you are struggling with are such an integral part of what makes you, you, that they are literally interwoven into your genes. Well, this is a complete and utter lie told by faux intellectuals who are completely devoid of insight. There may be markers that genetic scientists can observe when analyzing your genes in a lab - but this is nothing more than misdirection; a big decoy duck that fools people who aren’t very bright, but believe that they are. Why? Because our experiences can alter our genes. Do you know what it means that our experiences can alter our genes? It means that the scientific studies are worthless for any practical issues related to your recovery. Why? Because our experiences can alter our genes. This doesn’t only work in one direction, folks. You have lots of experiences left to experience, and guess what? You’re in total control over the decisions you want to make and the direction you want to steer your life in. Whatever your genes have to say is completely irrelevant. The only people talking about genes in this context are those who are truly, utterly devoid of real intelligence or insight. Talk about missing the forest for all of the trees - these people take the cake. If you’re so concerned about what your genes look like, do the work to fix the underlying causes of Borderline Personality Disorder, and your genes will reflect it. Get to work. Don’t let the lies and misdirection of these charlatans rob you of interest and enthusiasm in working to rid yourself of this disorder in an authentic and permanent way.
Your trouble is not in your inability to ‘manage emotions’. This is just another lie perpetuated by those who have no excuse for not knowing better. Here’s the truth: ‘Managing emotions’ is not a capability that human-beings possess. You read that correctly: ‘Managing emotions’ is not a capability that human-beings possess.
Feeling is not something we as human-beings do. Rather, it is something we experience. What does this mean in practical terms? It means that nobody is walking around controlling what they feel, nor the intensities in which they feel it. The healthiest people on the planet do not possess the capacity to choose what they feel and how they feel it. When you observe a person who seems to always be perfectly composed and never gets rattled, what you are seeing is a person managing his or her thoughts and behaviors - not his or her feelings.
Do you remember earlier when I told you that emotional disorder is the naturally-occurring results of living with misperceptions about the nature of feelings, self, and life? This is just one instance of many where this is true: The false belief that as people, we can, and should, control what and how we feel. (We can’t, and the true nature of feelings is such that they cannot ever be classified as ‘good’ or ‘bad’, ‘right’ or ‘wrong’.) Once again, what does the professional community as a group do to ‘help’ in response to people’s erroneous understanding about this? They tell you to learn to ‘manage your feelings’. In other words, they completely lie to you about the very nature of what feelings are.
Borderline Personality Disorder does not involve your feelings behaving any way whatsoever differently than the feelings of anybody else. Now, this may be hard for you to truly grasp at this point, but as you progress in your learning, you will begin to understand. For now, to illustrate it, imagine that I live with the perspective that all dogs are extremely dangerous. Now imagine that one day I am taking a walk, and I look down to see a big dog walking right along next to my leg. Can you imagine the feelings I would immediately experience? It is the perspectives I live with that give rise to the intense feelings I experience. Similarly, the reason I say that your feelings are not behaving any differently or more intensely than anybody else’s feelings is because the reality is that anybody living with the perspectives that you do toward life would experience similar feelings, in similar intensities, in similar situations. Your feelings are not in any way to blame for the issues you are dealing with if you have Borderline Personality Disorder. Rather, it is the misperceptions you live with that is at the root of everything. Correcting the learned misperceptions you live with will cause your feelings - as well as their intensities - to naturally adjust in turn. Why? Because you will naturally interpret different experiences and circumstances differently.
Borderline Personality Disorder is entirely curable. Do you know what one of the greatest things working against your recovery is? The misinformation and lies of people in elevated, trusted positions of authority - the psychological professional community. You will have noticed that I have made it a point throughout this article to criticize them as a group. The reason for this is that within that group, there are many, many, insightful members that are truly helpful. It is as a group that they not only fail society, but actively contribute to keeping people unhealthy. When the professional community suggests you learn ‘coping methods’, it means that they are content with having you continue living with a disorder for the rest of your life that there is absolutely no reason for you to continue living with, and they think you should be content with this, too.
‘DBT’ stands for ‘Dialectical Behavioral Therapy’. In other words, therapy for your behaviors. Do you know where your behaviors fit into Borderline Personality Disorder? Are your behaviors the underlying cause of anything? No. Your behaviors are merely symptoms of the underlying causes. Nobody ever fixed a problem by simply focusing on, and addressing, symptoms of a problem. Aspirin might make your brain tumor ache less, it doesn’t do anything to address the brain tumor. DBT is not the solution for anything. It is an elaborate, expensive, time-consuming aspirin.
Being sensitive isn’t something people aren’t ‘supposed’ to be, and having a sensitive personality doesn’t suddenly mean that your parents’ emotional neglect and abuse wasn’t abuse, or that their abuse was somehow less unacceptable.
Borderline Personality Disorder does not have ‘multiple possible causes’. There is one cause for it, and this cause is true for every single person with the disorder. One’s failure to recognize this in their own case is only evidence of their failure to recognize it, nothing more. The reason the professional community likes to make the claim that there are ‘multiple possible causes’ is because they lack any true insight on the subject, and they do not want to back themselves into a corner. If you throw out ten explanations for a thing, and later it is shown that one of those ten explanations was accurate, and the other nine explanations were bullshit, you weren’t ever technically ‘wrong’, were you? The ‘multiple possible causes’ claim is merely more evidence of strategic incompetence.
Your parents didn’t do ‘the best they could’. They did what they did, but they did not do the best they could have done. If they had done the best they could have done, you would not be living with an emotional disorder. If you hire me as a carpenter to build a house for you, and the house I end up building is so disorganizing and shoddy that it is leaning heavily to one side, and it ends up collapsing three days after you move in, you don’t shrug your shoulders and say, “Well, I guess he did the best he could have done.” Every possible explanation for why I didn’t do better is irrelevant. I could have done better if I had only cared more, and I was responsible for caring enough to do the job well. If there were things I didn’t understand about building houses when I accepted the job, it was my responsibility to go out and do some research, or ask for help, or whatever it takes to build you a proper house that you are paying me to build. I simply had to care more. If you are living with an emotional disorder, your parents did not do ‘the best they could’ have done.
‘Triggers’ are bullshit. There is no such thing as ‘triggers’ - that is, external things that have power to generate the feelings and thoughts inside of you, and ultimately your behaviors. You yourself are generating your own feelings and thoughts within yourself, and you yourself are choosing to behave the way you do. This is the truth about the nature of what you are experiencing. The false concept of ‘triggers’ that the professional community promotes is a flat-out lie, and as long as you continue to believe that external things can be responsible for generating the feelings you feel, the thoughts you think, and the behaviors you act out, you will continue being a slave to your environment, rather than ever being able to take the driver’s seat.
Emotional disorder doesn’t grant people anything positive, such as ‘empathy’ superpowers, or artistic skill. Rather, emotional disorder only contributes negatively to one’s life - never positively. Borderline Personality Disorder makes authentic empathy impossible. It makes authentic love impossible. Those who angrily and reflexively rebel when I tell them this do so out of ignorance and denial. They believe things like empathy and love are simply feelings. Well, they are not just feelings. In other words, what you feel is not what determines if you are experiencing the genuine thing or not. Empathy and love are qualities, and as such, they have to meet concrete qualifications and conditions. Honesty is a quality. It doesn’t matter one iota how honest I feel as long as I am not meeting the concrete qualifications and conditions that honesty inherently requires.
Empathy is a quality that all healthy people naturally experience. It is simply a naturally-occurring result of being healthy. So is it possible then, to take a natural quality that emotional health requires, and that all people are meant to experience (and do indeed experience when they are healthy), but then turn around and claim that there is a select group of unhealthy people who are in an elite class of being ‘empaths’? No, there is no such thing as ‘empaths’ in the real world. Those who consider themselves as such do so because they take comfort in believing something about themselves that makes them feel good. It is not the reasoning of healthy, insightful people. It is only the reasonings of unhealthy, ignorant people who are in denial. If they ever want to experience genuine empathy, as opposed to the inferior, artificial, imaginary, unhealthy kind that they currently experience, they must do the work to rid themselves of emotional disorder authentically.
There are so many topics to discuss, and in fact, I could write an entire book on the ‘empathy’ topic alone. From experience, I already know that what I have said about ‘empathy’ will receive furious reaction. In fact, it is a topic that is useful for me in my work for sorting out those who are genuinely interested in authentically recovering from Borderline Personality Disorder from those who are not genuine at all, and simply prefer to have the things they want to believe confirmed.
For those of you who are interested in learning more, or in following a greater discussion about any of the topics we’ve discussed in this article, I strongly encourage you to dive deeper into my work here at thelastsymptom.com.
I particularly invite you to take advantage of The Last Symptom free, weekly podcast, where I break down subjects in great detail, such as those we’ve discussed here. The show is available on every major podcast platform of your preference, and it is now in its third season. The Last Symptom podcastoffers hours upon hours of free content to help you gain accurate insights, and to authentically escape the endless lies and misdirection that saturate the topic of Borderline Personality Disorder and emotional health out there. This is from somebody who once lived his whole life with Borderline Personality Disorder, and who now really does not have it.