Individuals with BPD Make Life Difficult

Imi Lo, Clinical Psychotherapist & Art Therapist

Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) is also known as Emotional Dysregulation Disorder or Emotionally Unstable Personality Disorder in Europe. Despite being referred to as a ‘personality disorder’ in the diagnostic manual, many have proposed that the term ‘personality disorder’ is best understood as a disorganisation of the capacity for regulating emotions. This means that a person can sometimes experience emotions as overwhelming, spiralling out of control, and rapidly changing.

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, D.S.M.5, defines borderline personality disorder as follow:
“A pervasive pattern of instability of interpersonal relationships, self-image, and emotions, and marked impulsivity beginning in early adulthood and present in a variety of contexts, as indicated by five or more of the following:
1. Frantic efforts to avoid real or imagined abandonment
2. A pattern of intense and unstable relationships
3. Persistently unstable self image (and attempts to control it)
4. Impulsivity in at least two areas that are self damaging e.g. spending, substance abuse, sex, reckless driving, binge eating
5. Recurrent suicidal behaviour, gestures, threats or self-mutilating behaviour
6. Affective instability, due to a marked reactivity of mood.
7. Chronic feelings of emptiness
8. Inappropriate, intense anger, or difficulty controlling anger
9. Transient, stress-related paranoid ideation, or severe dissociation

These symptoms may manifest themselves in various ways. For instance, for some people ‘frantic effort to avoid feeling abandoned’ means not being able to be alone and becoming clingy, whilst for others it is about chronically isolating themselves altogether to avoid disappointment or hurt.

Sometimes people with BPD seem to view the world in a black-or-white, ‘all good or all bad’ fashion. This can be confusing and frustrating to the people around , but it may be the only way the person can safely experience the world at a certain point in time.

Love Cooperates. Fear Competes.

People with personality disorders do not like to cooperate. They have a deep commitment to withholding truth, facts and promises. They do not like to empower others and do not like to give credit where credit is due. Lying comes very naturally and without remorse.

letting-goThey avoid honest and open communication. They are the ones who hang up on us because they do not allow others the freedom and right of expressing their own feelings and thoughts. They are deeply afraid and do not feel love authentically. Their love is shallow and conditional, which is not connected to all living beings. Typically, these types insult and shame us. They do not help us save face, especially when they want to have some form of control over us, or try to make us feel lesser than. If called upon as witness to truth that could exonerate someone, they may say something like, “I really don’t want to get involved.”

They lack integrity and grace and are filled with immense judgement and disregard for the well-being of other human beings. They love to triangulate. It makes them feel powerful to have that much self-imposed, artificial control over others. They may treat their animals better than family members.

After decades of studying and teaching, I see all antisocial personalities as being asleep in their own reality, which on some level gives them what they need to sustain themselves. Perhaps it makes them feel more alive, being that they are the archetype of either the walking dead or the vampires who feed on the Light of others.

From what I have witnessed throughout the years, and others have shared with me, they possess a low spiritual and/or emotional IQ. They tend to gravitate toward the fleeting satisfaction of materialism and plow their way through the hearts and lives of the people who are touched by them. They seem unable to control their impulses to destroy people’s good works, reputations, families and relationships. Very rarely do they have their own legs to stand on. They need others to prop them up, financially and otherwise.

We have all wanted to shake them to wake them up and show them that there is an easier and more fulfilling way to live. It seems like they don’t understand the meaning of the words: Love. Respect. Loyalty. Honor. It’s a lost cause. Leave it alone. Focus on building your own beautiful life and don’t confront them with their lies. People know. Or, they eventually figure it out. You don’t have to justify yourself. Give it to the Universe. One day,they may awaken through tremendous amounts of loss and pain, or their own voluntary spiritual development. Maybe it will take lifetimes, who knows? So, do yourself a favor. Don’t wait for it.

Nailed It!

I just happened to scroll through my newsfeed on Facebook, and saw a post from Anne Rice. It’s an article that explains the Sociopathic Style in a different — yet also profound — way. It nails the relationship dynamic to a tee!  Read. Learn. Spread the information.

Empathic People Are Natural Targets For Sociopaths

The empathy trap: therapists and counselors almost by definition are empathic, to facilitate clients’ recovery – but this quality can mean those carers are targets for sociopaths, aided by what Dr Jane & Tim McGregor call “apaths”. The first UK article on this cruel sport shows how to identify and thus avoid it.

People targeted by a sociopath often respond with self-deprecating comments like “I was stupid”, “what was I thinking” of “I should’ve listened to my gut instinct”. But being involved with a sociopath is like being brainwashed. The sociopath’s superficial charm is usually the means by which s/he conditions people.

On initial contact, a sociopath will often test other people’s empathy, so questions geared towards discovering if you are highly empathic or not should ring alarm bells. People with a highly empathic disposition are often targeted. Those with lower levels of empathy are often passed over, though they can be drawn in and used by sociopaths as part of their cruel entertainment.

Sociopaths make up 25% of the prison population, committing over twice as many aggressive acts as other criminals. The reoffending rate of sociopaths is about double that of other offenders, and for violent crimes it is triple.

But not all sociopaths are found in prison. There is the less-visible burden of sociopath-induced emotional trauma which, if left unchecked, can lead to anxiety disorders, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder.

Chronically traumatized people often exhibit hyper-vigilant, anxious and agitated behavior, symptoms such as tension headaches, gastrointestinal disturbances, abdominal pain, back pain, tremors and nausea.

Exposure to and interaction with a sociopath in childhood can leave lifelong scars. This can apply to people in therapy – and for those who in recovery trained as therapists, re-exposure as an adult can trigger old emotions and PTSD.

This article is not about sociopaths per se but about surviving the harm they cause.


Many sociopaths wreak havoc in a covert way, so that their underlying condition remains hidden for years. They can possess a superficial charm, and this diverts attention from disturbing aspects of their nature.

The following case history illustrates how people can be systematically targeted until they feel they can barely trust their own sense of reality – what we call “gaslighting”. Sociopathic abuse is targeted abuse. It can wreck lives. Victims can become survivors, but at huge cost.

At school, ‘James’ took a dislike to a classmate, ‘Sam’, who was sensitive and popular. He would mock him for auditioning for the school play or for getting upset over failing a test. The situation deteriorated when it became known that Sam’s parents were separating. Sam appeared to be taking it with fortitude, to the admiration of his peers. He also got attention and sympathy from the school staff, especially James’ favourite teacher: ie, the one he manipulated most easily.

James decided on a plan of covert bullying. He started a whispering campaign implying that Sam’s parents were not splitting up, that he had said they were in order to seek attention. Sadly, this was all too successful and over the next few days Sam was met with silence and verbal bullying from his hitherto-supportive classmates.

James continued his campaign, targeting Sam’s close friends over the next few days. They found themselves accused of misdemeanours such as sending offensive emails/texts. Then the ‘favourite’ teacher went on “leave with immediate effect” after accusations of assaulting a pupil. Where had the accusations come from? Guess.

This case shows how deliberately sociopaths, from a young age, can target others. Taking advantage of people’s credibility and goodwill, James exploited the situation. With a more perceptive head teacher, this sociopath might have been found out, but he knew who to manipulate and how far he could go.


Ten Red Flags That You Are With An ASP

Most people have ignored the warning signs or red flags, that appear early on in a relationship with an antisocial person.

Here are the most obvious — and most likely — red flags that appear within 3-6 months of the relationship, sometimes much sooner. Your potential mate/friend:

1. Valued and quickly devalued you depending on how much, or how little, he/she can control your behavior; especially your behavior towards other people. For example, he or she may perceive someone significant in your life as a potential threat and will manipulate situations to cause you to doubt that friend or family member. He or she will try to build mistrust in you, and then quickly turn around and “save you” from the situation he/she created. Or, he will blatantly demand whom you can or cannot like or love.

NOTE: Pay close attention when he shares situations from past relationships.  It’s highly likely that your relationship will end up looking like his previous relationships. Every relationship picks up where the last one left off. Take your time before you get intimate. It makes things easier if the relationship doesn’t work out. How long should you wait? The short answer is at least 6 months.

2. He tells you straight-up he’s antisocial. No one who is mentally and emotionally stable will call himself an antisocial. Unless you crave a wild and bumpy ride in your relationship, throw this fish back in the water and find love elsewhere.

3. See how he lives. Is his house cluttered, or a pig sty? Lots going on within when someone hoards and lives in filth. “As within, so without,”

4. He uses the system and doesn’t repay debts. Has a sense of entitlement.

5. Tries to micro-manage people in his life. He’s controlling  and acts like he’s the only caring one in the relationship or household.

6. Perceives the world in a very peculiar way. There is no winning for losing. He won’t compromise with you. End. Of. Discussion.

7.  His responses don’t match what is going on in the room. For example, it’s early morning and you get up first. You’re sitting at your computer He walks in and you cheerfully say: “Good morning!” He, in turn, is frowning and doesn’t reply. Instead, he might start some unrelated dialogue because…

8. He lives in his paranoid mind more than in the real world or any rational world for that matter.

9. Most of your actions are met with suspicion or opposition.  Example: Watching a cute and wholesome video on YouTube featuring a friend of the opposite sex might be seen as you being completely obsessed or infatuated with your friend.  All the explaining in the world won’t change his mind. Does he really believe it, or is he trying to control your happy mood by bringing you down to his level? WHO CARES! Get away from someone who is a harmful, toxic person. Love him from a distance. Wish him well and move on.

10. You are constantly walking on egg shells and have to justify your words and actions. Then, you’re told not to justify yourself. You never know what you’re going to get. Ever. It’s a mystery why he acts the way he does,  but the most important thing is to remember that you will never be able to be yourself. Ever.  Do you want that type of relationship?

Believing Psychopaths

Believing Psychopaths“…almost all of us have, at least once, experienced a compelling idea or semi-dazzling person crawling in through our psychic windows at night and catching us off guard. Even though they’re wearing a ski mask, have a knife between their teeth, and a sack of money slung over their shoulder, we believe them when they tell us they’re in the banking business.”

Clarissa Pinkola Estes, Ph.D.
p. 47 “Women Who Run With the Wolves.”

The Victimization of Lynndie England

Lynndie England
Lynndie England

Before reading this article, we ask you to read our Intent and Disclaimer document to clarify and deepen the understanding of our words.

The focus in our work on The Sociopathic Style™ is on the victim, not the perpetrator. Much is written and will be written on the psychopathic personality. Much is to be discovered. The victim, however, is often overlooked, forgotten or not seen. Sometimes the victim is seen as the perpetrator. The process whereby that happens is the true skill of the psychopath [I am using the term “psychopath to indicate the individual who is 100% committed to the Sociopathic Relationship Style]. When that happens at the societal level it is a clear example of a phantom psychopath at work.

Pfc. Lynndie England was photographed at Abu Ghraib Prison participating in the torture of prisoners. She was quickly seen as a villain, a sadomasochistic perpetrator, evil itself and the poster child for the sick abuser the American military was cast into by those who chose to polarize the activities of the United States in the middle-east.

As a result of her military court process much is coming to light. Of particular interest from The Sociopathic Style™ perspective is the real human accounts of her life and her relationship with Cpl. [now Pvt.] Charles Graner.

KATE ZERNIKE in a recent article the New York Times; 5/10/05:

“Private Graner, 36, a Pennsylvania prison guard and a former marine, had rejoined the military in a burst of patriotism after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. He was fresh from an ugly divorce in 2000. His ex-wife, Staci Morris, had taken out three protective orders against him, and after he was arrested for harassing her in 2001, Private Graner admitted that he had dragged her around by her hair… He introduced (Staci Morris and Lynndie England) the two women, and Ms. Morris said she felt “selfish relief” that with someone new, her ex-husband would stop being obsessed with her. And she liked Private England, finding her quiet and adoring…”If he was as charming with her as he is with most women at the beginning, I can understand it,” Ms. Morris said. “Charming, compliments, you name it. The things you would love to hear as a young woman.”

It would be hard to find a better description of a person committed to The Sociopathic Style™ than the above description of Charles Graner by his ex-wife, Ms. Morris.

  • He was in an occupation that is a position of power over other people on a daily basis.
  • He rallies to the fight when an attack occurs.
  • He is physically abusive to the point of having three protective orders taken out against him.
  • His ex-wife feels relief when he has another woman in his life so he will give up his obsession with her.
  • He was charming with women giving them all the words they would love to hear.

And now let us look at how he involved himself with Lynndie England. Kate Zernike continues writing:

“In Iraq, Private England was disciplined several times for sleeping with Private Graner, against military rules. She flouted warnings to stay on the wing where she worked as a clerk and spent most of her nights in the cellblock where he worked the night shift.

One night in October, he told her to pose for photographs holding a leash tied around the neck of a naked and crawling detainee. He e-mailed one home: “Look what I made Lynndie do.” The now infamous pictures of detainees masturbating, he said, were a birthday gift for her.”

And how he involves himself with another woman: [Again, as an aside, the psychopath will almost always have another woman waiting in the wings as he is unconsciously terrified of abandonment.]

“Specialist Ambuhl, who has been discharged from the Army, was Private Graner’s partner on the night shift…She had been involved with another soldier in the unit. But by late December, she had ended that relationship and started one with Private Graner…She reassured him that she would not get back together with her ex-boyfriend…But Private Graner had not completely cut off relations with Private England. On Jan. 2, 2004, he was caught sleeping in Private England’s quarters and demoted…A few days later, Ms. Ambuhl e-mailed him again, “I really do care about you,” she wrote. “It’s just that part of me says I just got hurt from a relationship so don’t put myself in the position to get hurt again.”

After Graner developed a relationship with Ms. Ambuhl, Lynndie England discovered she was pregnant with his child:

“Private Graner, quickly identified as the ringleader in the abuse, e-mailed his father in early March to discuss the accusations against him, then popped “more good news:” Private England was two months pregnant – he spelled her name Lynndie – and the pregnancy would most likely get them sent home from Iraq. They found out she was pregnant two days after breaking up. “I stopped seeing her back in January but when all this garbage came out i started seeing her again,” he wrote, “chances are very good that it is my child….o well….daddy what did you bring home from the war????”

Lynndie England leaves the scene: [Parenthetically: By Graner having another woman at his side or he would not be faced with his inner emptiness, the core of the abandonment anxiety].

“Private England – but not Private Graner – was sent back to the United States because of the pregnancy. The Army moved Private Graner and Ms. Ambuhl, along with four other soldiers under investigation, to a tent apart from the rest of their unit. And they resumed their relationship… Privates England and Graner were no longer speaking when their son was born in October. She named him Carter Allan England.”

Graner then proposes marriage to Ms. Ambuhl:

“The two spent evenings together during the trial, and it was there that Private Graner proposed. He was convicted, sentenced to 10 years in a military prison and demoted from specialist to private. He had earlier been demoted from corporal.”

“Ms. Ambuhl had gone back to work at the laboratory and was living with her parents. They accompanied her to Fort Hood for the wedding in April. Another man stood in for Private Graner because he had begun serving his sentence and Ms. Ambuhl, as an admitted co-conspirator, is not allowed to see him.”

And finally let’s come back to Lynndie England by again referring to the article by Kate Zernike.

“Private England heard about the wedding from her lawyers, who heard about it from a reporter the Friday before her trial was to begin. She had worked out a plea agreement that limited her time in prison to 30 months, and the jury could have given her less time. She planned to have her son live with her mother while she was in prison.”

“Ms. Morris, Private Graner’s ex-wife, had been subpoenaed to tell the jury that Private Graner was a bad influence, and over pizza in a hotel room, she befriended Private England. She told Private England that she regretted not warning her away from him at the beginning. “She said, ‘I guess I should be grateful for Megan (Ambuhl)?’ ” Ms. Morris recalled, “And I said, ‘Yeah, honey, you should be.’ ”

“The day before his testimony, Private Graner sent a note to reporters saying he regretted that “Lynn” had pleaded guilty and hoped her plea would get her a light sentence. Private England did not return any such affection. She leaned down to a courtroom artist sketching Mr. Graner: “Don’t forget the horns and goatee.”

“Prosecutors advised defense lawyers against putting Private Graner on the stand, but they did it anyway. He testified that he had ordered Private England to remove a prisoner from a cell by a leash and that it had been a legitimate military exercise. This presented what seemed to be a contradiction – a defendant pleading guilty but presenting a witness who testified that she was innocent. The military judge threw out her plea agreement and ordered that the court-martial process start over. “It’s nothing you did,” the judge, Col. James L. Pohl, told her, “It’s what he did.”

Private England turned to Ms. Morris. “Well, he screws everything up, doesn’t he?” Ms. Morris recalled Private England saying.

“I have to agree with you,” Ms. Morris replied.

All italicized sections above are from an article by KATE ZERNIKE, in The New York Times, May 10, 2005

[I need to insert a brief note. I believe that, in the best execution of a judge’s duty, this judge recognized her victimization and used the law to pull her out of the victimization and help her.]

Dr. JLMc.

I have quoted from this article by Kate Zernike at length because it so eloquently illustrates the wreckage left in the trail of the psychopath. We are not only witnessing the debris left of the lives of three young women [I count Ms. Ambuhl as one of the three, as the story of her future with Pvt. Graner has yet to unfold and I will all but guarantee it will be tragic and, she will not be the last].

We are witnessing also the life of a new child brought onto this Earth in the midst of such rubble, the prisoners at Abu Ghraib, the thousands of hours of time spent by highly qualified professionals to untangle the mess and the millions of dollars spent by our military and our government, the besmirching of the reputation of the United States and all its citizens in the eyes of the world and I am sure the debris will pile higher and higher.

I am certain many women can identify with this story. This story is very familiar to many of the people we have worked with. The story is the same. You just plug in different names, different places, and different events. The story is a classical example of Sociopathic Style Archetypes.

Lynndie England is not the only victim of this one person, we all are!

This illustrates one of the most important points we are making in our work on The Sociopathic Style™: The cost to the individuals involved is tragic; the cost to society of this relationship style is huge beyond comprehension!

Remember, this is the story of the web woven by just one psychopath. There are hundreds of thousands of these stories unfolding throughout the world as you read this article. We pay the price.

Oh, and by the way, what is the price paid by Charles Graner Jr.? He was convicted, sentenced to 10 years in a military prison and demoted to private.

As a final note, I would like to quote from another article written in the Dallas Morning News on May 13, 2005.
This comes from columnist Richard Cohen:

“There is no end to the sadness of Lynndie England. There is no excusing what she did, but explaining is a different matter. She is that rare genuine article, the cliché, and the stereotype that turns out upon investigation to be true. She lived with her family in a trailer in West Virginia. She’s only a high school graduate. She married when she was 19 — on a lark, she told her friends, and then for only two years.”

“She joined the Army Reserve…for college money (she wanted to be a meteorologist and chase storms). She had an affair or something with Graner in Iraq and has a baby by him. He apparently encouraged her to abuse prisoners. He also married another woman.”

“A psychologist from her home area testified that England had been a blue baby, born also with a malformation of the tongue that gave her a speech impediment. Apparently, she often chose not to talk at all. She had a learning disability as well. And you can see — can’t you? — what no one will testify to, she’s homely — and that matters for a woman in America…”

“She is the sort of woman who gets used by others, most often men. Powerless everywhere in life except on her end of the leash, she just had to come night after night to the section of Abu Ghraib where Graner held sway…I could have said no,” she told the military court. “I knew it was wrong.” But in all likelihood, only theoretically could she have said no. Some women always say yes.”

“How sad, how ironic, that this wee woman should become the personification of supposed American arrogance. Like all those convicted for the abuses of Abu Ghraib, she is one of America’s little people — not an officer, not even regular Army, but one of a collection of nobodies just trying to get somewhere better. Lynndie England was one of them, and she is suffering for that — officially for abusing prisoners, actually for being a loser. Whatever the outcome of her trial, the sentence will be life.”

Dr. John L. McCormick; May 15, 2005

People of the Lie: The Hope for Healing Human Evil

By M. Scott Peck, M.D.

confrontationThere can be a state of the soul against which Love itself is powerless because it has hardened itself against Love. Hell is essentially a state of being which we fashion for ourselves; a state of final separateness from God which is the result not of God’s repudiation of man, but of man’s repudiation of God, and a repudiation which is eternal precisely because it has become, in itself, immovable.

The varieties of people’s wickedness are manifold. As a result of their refusal to tolerate the sense of their own sinfulness, the evil ones become the uncorrectable grab bag of sin. They are, for instance, in my experience, remarkably greedy people. Thus, they are cheap- so cheap that their “gifts” may be murderous. In The Road Less Traveled, I suggested the most basic sin is laziness. In the next subsection I suggest it may be pride –because all sins are repairable except the sin of believing one is without sin. But perhaps the question of which sin is the greatest is, on a certain level, a moot issue. All sins betray – and isolate us from – both the divine and our fellow creatures. As one deep religious thinker put it, any sin “can harden into hell”:

There are analogies in human experience: the hate which is so blind, so dark, that Love only makes it the more violent; the pride which is so stony that humility only makes it more scornful; the inertia – last but not least the inertia – which has taken possession of the personality that no crisis, no appeal, no inducement whatsoever, can stir it into activity, but on the contrary makes it bury itself the more deeply in its immobility.

So with the soul and God; pride can become hardened into hell, hatred can become hardened into hell, any of the seven root forms of wrongdoing can harden into hell, and not least that sloth which is boredom with divine things, the inertia which cannot be troubled to repent, even though it sees the abyss into which the soul is falling, because for so long, in little ways perhaps, it has accustomed itself to refuse whatever might cost it an effort. May God in his mercy save us from that.*

A predominant characteristic, however, of the behavior of those I call evil is scapegoating. Because in their hearts they consider themselves above reproach, they must lash out at anyone who does reproach them. They sacrifice others to preserve their self-image to perfection. Take a simple example of a six-year-old boy who asks his father, “Daddy, why did you call Grandma a bitch?” “I told you to stop bothering me,” the father roars. “Now, you’re going to get it. I’m going to wash your mouth out with soap. Maybe that will teach you to clean up what you say and keep your mouth shut when you’re told.” Dragging the boy upstairs to the soap dish, the father inflicts this punishment on him. In the name of “proper discipline” evil has been committed.

Scapegoating works through a mechanism psychiatrists call projection. Since the evil, deep down, feel themselves be faultless, it is inevitable that when they are in conflict with the world they will invariably perceive the conflict as the world’s fault. Since they must deny their own badness, they must perceive others as bad.

In The Road Less Traveled I define evil “as the exercise of political power that is, the imposition of one’s will upon others by overt or covert coercion – in order to avoid…spiritual growth. (p.279)

Strangely enough, evil people are often destructive because they are attempting to destroy evil. The problem is that they misplace the locus of the evil. Instead of destroying others they should be destroying the sickness within themselves.

*Gerald Vann, The Pain of Christ and the Sorrow of God. (Temple Gate Publishers, Springfield, Illinois, copyright by Aquin Press, 1947, pp. 54-55).