While the behavioural aspects were more for the self-improvement to deal with, this is where the real deal begins. The mood of those with BPD is described to be ‘horrible’. To use an analogy from a famous novel, it is like having a burn and developing hypersensitivity in the skin.
It’s not just experiencing greater degree sadness or anger, but having a horrible day to day mood, even they describe to be ‘disgusting’. However, you won’t exactly know how they feel, no matter how I describe it in this way.
“Are they depressed, or sad, or angry; what does ‘horrible’ exactly mean?”
It cannot be easily comprehended.
Hence as psychiatrists do, we can only approach this as a certain affective state. They are emotionally hypersensitive, and experience intense emotional reaction to something trivial. Everything from anger to sadness is felt in great magnitude. Sometimes, this can almost go to the level of dissociation or psychosis. They feel loss of control when immersed in certain emotions.
These can happen abruptly and the emotions can change suddenly. You can’t stay complacent just because they like you or complement you, because frequent alternation between extreme idolisation and vilification is their nature.
One moment they can say they respect you, like you personally and will cooperate with the therapy deligently, and the next moment they can curse you, criticise you and attack you. They will just go back and forth countless times. While one can change their perception and evaluation on someone from time to time, it doesn’t normally occur in such extremes; from ‘the best to the worst’. However, this is very common in BPD.
One day they can say they can’t live without you, and the next day fault you for their life being a hell, and when you show the slightest signs of leaving, they will go into overdrive. Abandonment anxiety. It is a desperate fear of even the sligtest possibility of being forsaken.
Hence, it is difficult to leave them. It is like trying to abandon a vulnerable child, who has nobody else to take care of them. But nobody knows the reason behind the vigorous volatility of mood states.
Not even the therapists,
Nor the patients themselves,
Nor their families, friends and significant ones.
They don’t know what exact emotions and moods exist in their mind.
As humans we are all equipped with some degree of empathic ability, and we can empathise most things.
For example, if there are three friends, and one came back from a trip and bought gifts for everyone except me, we can easily guess what feelings will be felt. But if it is somebody with an emotional problem in that situation, you will be nowhere close to guessing how they will feel and react.
So how are we going to help people when we can’t empathise nor logically comprehend their feelings?
The biggest problem is that not even they know it themselves. If you ask, you will soon find that they have difficulties expressing or even formulating any descriptions to their emotive state.
Trying to drive a CBT and instilling logical framework of thoughts etc. will have no use. It’s like explaining colors to the blind.
But actually this is not a problem that only pertains to BPD. Almost all people with problems regulating their mood and emotions have this issue. Often times, they do not know exactly what their emotional state is, and sometimes will even believe that they are feeling what they ‘happened to say’, i.e. resolving cognitive dissonance.
The reasoning behind lack of emotional self-awareness was described within SanMyu long before the advent of psychoanalysis movement. To know that, we must move past the (1) behavioural pattern and (2) mood and affect, toward the third factor I mentioned earlier: sense of identity.
Then we are past the realm of self-improvement, through the realm of psychiatry and reach the realm of meditation. In modern words, ‘psychoanalysis’ will be the closest match.
Here is a formula that you should memorise. Well, in fact it’s way too simple to forget.
Mood and affect = sense of self + experiential feelings
Later on you will find out that this is actually related to one’s speech and conversation. The problems of mood and affect can manifest as certain changes to the way one talks.
Experiential speech and non-experiential speech are the concepts you will have to first know, in order to get a grasp of what those mean, so let’s take a slight detour to get hold of that.
In general population, these are actually used to distinguish between truths and lies. For example, if you ask a suspect if they met this person, and they are actually in a position to lie, they will instinctively try to separate themselves from their experience.
That will lead to non-experiential speech.
– Yes I met him,
is a normal experiential speech.
– Yes there was a time I met him.
– Yes I think I remember having met him.
These are non-experiential speech.
You can see how the experience and the subject of experience are getting separated?
Normally this happens when there’s some motive.
I have deliberately transcribed the teachings of my teacher.
Who is the Editor?
The translator of this series, as well as the manager of this blog, is the ‘Editor’. I study under the current GyoJeon, and also translate some of the teachings to English. Long ago, I fortunately stumbling across his post on the net, and from a simple message, the relationship continued even until today.