Borderline Personality Disorder can manifest itself in mutliple ways. In her book, Understanding The Borderline Mother, Dr. Christine Lawson describes four role types which BPD is exemplified by: the Waif, the Hermit, the Queen, and the Witch. These role types are not mutually exclusive and characteristics of these types over overlap and inter mix.
Dr. Lawson writes :
"The borderline Hermit seeks solitude but paradoxically longs to belong." p. 81
Like the Waif, the Hermit also often has trouble sleeping at night ruminating about the safety of her children, her husband, her job, her heath, and any number of other things. Hermits can be extraordinarily sensitive and may believe that they are psychic according to Dr. Lawson. She looks for hidden meanings in greeting cards, gifts, invitations, and innocent comments.
One of my clients told me that she went to a large wedding reception where there was assigned seating. She was seated at a table of people she didn't believe had as high status as the other guests. She stated that the candles on her table burned down quicker because the bride wanted to save money and so put cheaper candles on her table than on the other tables.
The predominant emotion of the Hermit borderine is fear and so they often shut out the ones they claim to love. It's as if they have been hurt so much in the past by people who were supposed to love them that they have made a pledge to themselves not to let anyone ever hurt them again. They, therefore, protect themselves by putting a wall around themselves which can be cold and stoney or accusatory and wrathful.
In a similar vein, to project an exterior of invincibility, the Hermit borderline will never admit she is wrong, never say she is sorry, never apologize or take responsibility fo her part in hurt and injustice. She dreads being understood by others because it indicates a loss of protective seclusion and so usually refuses any psychotherapy or counseling.
Hermit borderlines can be relentless in their criticism and denigration of the no-good child because there is tremendous fear that the child's imperfections will reflect on her. To bolster her self esteem, the Hermit borderline will often cling to the all - good child giving the all - good child a sense of being trapped, drained, and upstaged.
For the Hermit borderline suicide often will be seen as a victory rather than a defeat because it is a way of maintaining control. This type of suicide is characterized as the Queen of the Mountain type because the person looks at life as something like "If I can't have it the way I want it, then I'd rather not have it at all." It is in the loosing of control, or in the feeling of being boxed into a corner that the suicidal behavior will manifest in its most deadly forms.
The Hermit borderline is often depressed and filled with a sense of impending doom. Her view seems to be, "People are out to screw you, and if anyone can take advantage, or anything can go wrong, it probably will." This view often becomes a self fulfilling prophecy and the family gathering is not over until the fight has broken out or some sort of high drama has occured. If nothing negative happens there is an increase in tension because, as one client told me, "It's only a matter of time."
With a Hermit, there is rarely a happy holiday. Children are filled with anxiety hoping that Mom will be happy and "nothing bad will happen to ruin the holiday." In a similar matter, vacations become difficult with invariable snags and problems which can quickly escalate to abort or change plans at the last minute.
Plans are difficult to make with the Hermit Borderline because she is constantly changing them or finding reasons why they are no longer viable to being carried out.
One client told me that he and his wife and their 5 children planned to go camping with another couple and their two children. Plans were made to meet this couple at the camp ground about 200 miles away by mid afternoon. After working all night, the husband said he arrived home at 8: 45 AM expecting things to be packed and everyone ready to go. The wife had let the eldest daughter go baby sitting and she was to arrive home at 11:00 AM, but then was delayed and there was no way that they could rendezvous with the other couple successfully at the camp ground. When the husband brought this to his wife's attention she became outraged and blamed him for being inflexible, nonsupportive, and always ruining everything. She told him to take the other four kids and go by himself. Not knowing what else to do, and not wanting to stand up the other couple and disappoint both his and the other couple's kids, he took his four kids camping by himself for a week. When he returned home, his wife seemed happy to see him and the kids, and acted as if nothing unusual had happened.
Dr. Lawson says that the motto of the Borderline Hermit is: "Life is too dangerous."
This is post #14 in a series based on Dr. Christine Lawson's book, Understanding The Borderline Mother