NoMore, as we discussed today in PMs, I've read through all your threads and most of your other posts. I found that the behaviors you describe are classic traits of BPD (Borderline Personality Disorder), which my exW has. Below, I respond to statements you made in this and other threads about your H's behavior. Significantly, I am not a psychologist. Rather, I am just a man who took his BPDer exW to six different psychologists for weekly visits over a 15 year period -- all to no avail.
He is very much like having a toddler with no concept of boundaries.[11/20/11 post.]
If your H has strong BPD traits, his child-like behavior is easy to explain because his emotional development likely is frozen at about age four. Another hallmark of BPDers is having such a fragile ego that their self concept is very weak, resulting in their having extremely weak personal boundaries. It is hard to know where your boundaries are if you don't know who you are.
As soon as I head to the bathroom, for whatever purpose, he follows me there....it happens every.single.time I go to the bathroom. (11/20/11 post.)
Strong BPD traits also would explain why your H has little sense of who he is, making him so reliant on you to provide a direction and to ground him in reality. Having only a weak, fragile self image, BPDers HATE to be in a room by themselves -- because, having no sense of SELF to keep themselves company, they feel utterly alone when they are by themselves -- as you know so well whenever your H follows you into the bathroom.
He has zero sense of direction, no ambition and no sense of self. We have a friend from a foreign country, and any time he is around him, he will come home and talk with an accent for the next week.
It is common for BPDers (i.e., those with strong traits) to act like the people they are around at the moment -- e.g., speaking with an accent or behaving with their mannerisms. BPDers often are wonderful actors and mimics because, lacking a strong self image, they ACT in a way that will be acceptable to the people they are around. Moreover, they pull out all the stops when they are infatuated with someone, as occurs during the honeymoon period. At that time, a BPDer typically will mirror your personality so perfectly that you both will be convinced you are "soul mates."
I honestly don't know who is going to walk in the door every day, personality-wise.
It is common for the spouse of a BPDer to feel like she is living with a person who is half way to having multiple personality disorder. Certainly, I felt that way during the 15 years I lived with my BPDer exW. That is what it feels like to be living with an emotionally unstable person who repeatedly alternates between adoring you and devaluing you.
He needs admiration like you wouldn't believe.
Strictly speaking, this is a Narcissistic PD trait. Yet, like NPD, BPD has a strong element of narcissism underlying it. My view is that we all become more narcissistic when we are suffering and in pain. It therefore is not surprising that BPDers and other PD sufferers tend to have a strong element of narcissism. Moreover, because BPDers have such fragile self concepts, they often become reliant on a spouse's admiration to help fortify their weak egos and offset their self loathing.
My oldest has ADHD and a learning disability.
Although strong BPD traits are believed to be inherited to a large extent, most children of BPDers do NOT develop BPD. What is inherited is not BPD per se but, rather, a predisposition to having some type of mental disorder. Whether it takes the form of BPD -- or occurs at all -- is partly determined by the environment in which the child is raised. Most likely, your son will outgrow the ADHD.
If he does not outgrow it, however, you may want to know that a recent psychiatric study (2006) reports finding a fairly strong association between adult ADHD
and BPD. See European Archives of Psychiatry and Clinical Neuroscience, Volume 256, Supplement 1 - SpringerLink
Everyone thought my husband was great...and he is, when he's around other people. At home, however, is a completely different story.
It is common for a high functioning BPDer to treat casual friends and complete strangers with great generosity and caring all day long -- and then go home at night to abuse the very people who love him. The reason that those other people never see his dark side is that none of them pose a threat to his two great fears: abandonment and engulfment. There is no close relationship that can be abandoned and no intimacy that can cause engulfment.
Of course, all I hear now is, "I'm going to counseling to work on my issues," but yet that's all he is doing. ...but he isn't even trying to correct his behavior.
Insisting that a BPDer seek treatment accomplishes nothing if he doesn't want it badly for himself -- and it is rarely the case that a BPDer wants it badly. If a BPDer is unwilling to work hard in therapy for several years, he will only play mind games with the therapist. Moreover, it will be extremely difficult for the spouse to tell if any real progress is being made. After all, a BPDer -- like a man who quits smoking every three weeks -- is always showing great improvement about every two or three weeks. That's the way emotionally unstable people are who have strong BPD traits.
He blames me for everything -- literally. He refuses to take any responsibility for himself.
To the extent BPDers have any self image at all, it is one of being "the victim." They therefore maintain a death grip on that false self image, being convinced they are eternal victims. During the honeymoon period, you "validated" his false self image by being "the savior" (the implication being that he must be a victim if you are trying to save him from something).
After the infatuation evaporates, however, you are allowed to be "the savior" only while he is splitting you white -- an event that becomes farther and farther apart. At all other times, you will "validate" his false self image by being perceived as "the perpetrator" -- i.e., the cause of every misfortune to befall him. He achieves this -- just like any four year old would do -- by projecting all of his bad thoughts, misfortunes, and mistakes onto you. Because the projection is done subconsciously, he usually firmly believes the ridiculous accusations coming out of his mouth.
He is reckless with money, and our joint account was always off by at least $1,000 a month.
Not surprisingly, emotionally unstable people are not good at planning things and executing them flawlessly. Moreover, they are not good at controlling their impulses (e.g., as in impulse buying).
When I ask him why he thinks it is okay not to contribute, he says, "Well, I buy groceries sometimes."
BPDers are notorious for feeling entitled to things and for having double standards (one for them and one for everyone else). Four year olds do that too.
My husband is a very insecure person, has very low self-esteem, is in counseling for passive aggressive issues and help to start developing an identity of his own.[11/20/11 post.]
If your H has strong traits of BPD, it may be difficult to obtain a diagnosis of it because he is so passive-aggressive. Significantly, all BPDers are filled with enormous anger which they've been carrying since early childhood. Typically, BPDers release that anger in temper tantrums and loud verbal abuse. Indeed, perhaps 90% of them are like that. A small portion, however, do not act out. Instead, they "act in" when their fears (abandonment and engulfment) are triggered -- turning the anger inward on themselves.
This does not mean, however, that they do not punish you. They do that with passive aggressive remarks and behavior -- and with cold withdrawal. Significantly, because these "quiet BPDers" are only a small portion of BPDers, therapists often fail to recognize them. Your descriptions of your H describe a man who exhibits strong traits of both "acting out" and "acting in," periodically switching between them. But his primary mode seems to be the "acting in" mode -- the hallmarks of which are the passive aggressive behavior and icy withdrawal.
Because the vast majority of BPDers are loud and throw temper tantrums, it is difficult to find good information about the quiet BPDers online. The best article I've seen about these quiet BPDers is therapist Shari Schreiber's description at BORDERLINE WAIFS AND UNSUNG HEROES; Rescuing The Woman Who Doesn't Want To Be Saved
. Schreiber calls them "waif borderlines."
Another article (which emphasizes the cold nature of some quiet BPDers) is A.J. Mahari's article at Borderline Personality - The Quiet Acting In Borderline and The Silent Treatment - Nons - Borderline Personality Disorder Inside Out
. Of those two articles, I suspect that Schreiber's description is a bit closer to what you've said about your H's behavior.
Here on the TAM forum, you can read my description of BPD traits in Maybe's thread at My list of hell!
. That describes typical BPDers who act out and throw tantrums. You nonetheless may find it helpful because you describe your H as sometimes switching from "acting in" to "acting out." If you have questions, NoMore, I would be glad to try to answer them or point you to online resources that can. Please take care.