Thursday, June 9, 2011

Common Sense of Entitlement - Borderline Personality Disorder Entitlement

Well. Maybe not all of it. But something. I'm sure of it. Or not. But maybe you'll offer it anyways because you think I deserve it. No? Well you should have. Shouldn't you?  

Entitlement or a 'Sense of Entitlement' is an unrealistic, unmerited or inappropriate expectation of favorable living conditions and favorable treatment at the hands of others.

“Because of the elevated highs and lows in mood that people with personality disorders often experience, it is not uncommon for them to attach elevated sense of importance to their own emotional needs. They may appear at times to care only about their own desires and needs at the expense of other people around them or they may habitually prioritize their own needs above those of others. This trait is often referred to as a "sense of entitlement".”

(This is tied in with what is often considered Borderline Narcissism.)

“Sometimes, people who suffer from personality disorders seem to have a no sense of shame nor scruples. They are not afraid to "make a fool out of themselves", it's always the other who is to blame when something goes wrong. That in-built "what would other people think of me if I did this or said that" can sometimes appear not to exist in them. This makes it more common for them to tread into territory most people would avoid.”

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve used the phrase “I don’t care if I make a fool of myself”, “I don’t embarrass”. I’ve never had any scruples about saying exactly what is on my mind unless I think it will turn out poorly for one of my own goals. It’s odd. I never wonder what people would think of me. I know they would think I’m a terrible person; I simply don’t care. I will often stay my tongue simply because I don’t want the attention or I don’t have the energy for an argument but I don’t avoid issues because I’m afraid broach touchy subjects. My personal boundaries are practically non-existent and I don’t see other peoples without being shown so I don’t think to tread lightly.

What it Feels Like:

The sense of entitlement is often interpreted as selfishness by those who are closest to them. However, the personality-disordered individual may forcefully and even convincingly defend their position. The disconnect often occurs when a person who suffers from the personality disorder feels the need more intensely than is normal for most people - even to a point where they attach a sense of desperation or adopt a crisis response, where immediate bystanders see no crisis and are willing to apply situational ethics, sacrificing long term goals for short term relief.

This is something I hate to admit to. In fact, it’s something that I’ve only very, very recently realized I’ve done.

I put so much of myself into other people, into relationships, into providing and doing things for others… somewhere along the lines I lose that I do these things because I enjoy them or because I care and it gets muddied with “well look at all these things I’ve done for you, doesn’t that mean I deserve something back?” “Sure you’re there, but I’ve done so much more, I should have this” “I’m so much better for you than them because of all of these things that I’ve done”…. And on and on it goes. Except it’s not really true I suppose. It’s hard to admit. It’s hard to face. When you care about someone so much, want so much to do for and be with someone, that they can’t always be for you the exact specific thing that you NEED in order to have everything perfect and whole, complete and right. When they can only be who they are; with a normal human beings ability to give of themselves, if they choose, it can feel like we’ve been mistreated, neglected, ignored, and unappreciated. It hurts and it’s confusing. I’ve done so much for you. You wanted this thing done, you may not have asked for it, but I did it, I didn’t ask for anything in return, I just did it because I knew you wanted it… over and over… until somewhere it compounds into something that may not have originally been there.  

In that, a realization that all ties back into our sense of self-worth. Despite all of these things you still don’t want to give the same in return? So we do more, hope more, want more, and yet you’re still only human capable of giving, and/or taking, the amount that you are willing to give, which is never enough to make us feel like our efforts are truly appreciated. Every time you can’t, or won’t, reciprocate, it becomes more and more frustrating. Or maybe it’s a failing on the borderlines part. Despite all her efforts, the lack of reciprocation {disproportionate} seems like a rejection. We did all this, we must deserve some more recognition and yet we’re not getting it so you must not think we’re good enough. Who do you think you are? Maybe it’s not that you don’t appreciate what we do. Maybe you appreciate it just fine. Maybe you’ve just been taking advantage of our generosity. Without giving back something we deserve. Anger. This can follow with lashing out, breaking down, dissolving, seething, any number of things, until we shame ourselves into remembering how good of a person, friend, loved one you are, and we start all over again trying to do things for you that will make you forgive us and appreciate us again.

Cycle after cycle. And with each iteration it gets a little stronger. I’ve never set off with a sense of entitlement. Somewhere along the way it develops. Gradually.

Thinking back on this I know I’ve done this so many times with so many different people. Probably everyone that truly gets close to me. And I’ve never thought I was wrong or that I wanted something unreasonable. I’ve always FELT like what I needed was totally justified and appropriate. Idealized, maybe, but not out of proportion to the effort and meaning that everything had to me. Except, I’m starting to think that it really was. It doesn’t change the fact that these situations still felt a certain way to me, but I’m beginning to see the signs and clues that maybe will prevent me from falling into this trap of entitlement in the future.

Really the only thing that I think has ever worked for me is for the other person{s} to take a solid stance. Don’t be wishy-washy.   Don’t leave room for interpretation in what you want or your intentions for the relationship are. Set boundaries and stick to them. This will help both the Borderline and the NT. If you don’t establish where your world starts and her world ends she won’t have any way to check the elevated need for inclusion in yours because what does take precedence to her is how she feels.

Tune in tomorrow for a first look at what I mean by Borderline Narcissism….


  1. I have a hard time grasping this one. Hmm I will have to read this again and see if I can wrap my mind around it.

  2. idk, for me a lot of it is the empty feeling I'm left with and the fact that this sense of entitlement creeps into places where I actually don't believe I have a right to expect anything. Maybe because I don't believe I'm worthy of having it, it makes that desire for it greater. I don't believe I deserve it, but because of all I do, maybe it's owed to me regardless. If i can have something I don't really believe I deserve, just because what I've done is worthy of it, then that would mean something special.

    It never works out that way.

  3. I feel like I just read a post about my 32 year old daughter. This is so strange for me. My daughter has a sense of entilement, big time. And we have just recently started the 'tough love' routine with her (december). This certainly clarifies a lot for me. I really appreciate this 'education' so much. I look forward to reading more. Thank you so much for your help! Take care.

  4. Whoa... I know I'm a year late here but I have to say something. I don't think this is true. Or rather, I get the concept of 'sense of entitlement' but not taken this far!
    I don't think someone who is hurting so much inside deserves to be left alone do they? I'm not talking 'favourable living conditions' generally, but I mean in the moment when someone is really hurting and needs a hug or a friend around or whatever - that doesn't seem unreasonable. People with depression are encouraged to 'reach out' for help (although the response is pretty similar if you actually do) so why are people with BPD encouraged to suffer in silence? Any kind of physical or mental condition might need support/different treatment from others, why isn't BPD the same? Why are they always blamed and made to feel like a waste of space for feeling anything, even the memories of abuse?
    I feel really upset at this post, because I have had friends tell me I expect too much - yet I think anyone who is hurting that much/suicidal/barely able to breathe/needing to SH badly actually deserves a hug and a friend, whatever their reasons. I couldn't leave someone like that and I can't understand how anyone else can. Especially people who I've cared for myself (often repeatedly as they split up with a partner and get back together like yoyo's!)
    I feel like I'm not worth as much as everyone else - and this has come about mainly AFTER trying to get treatment and asking for support from friends that was not given. I now 'suffer in silence' to some extent and it's not healthy, I get more depressed and desperate cos I have to hide all the feelings and memories coa I can't ask for help cos I'm not 'entitled'. Without my boyfriend I don't know what I'd do, and I hate that cos I'm ususally single and independent! He holds me and lets me cry when the memories and fear come, and that is amazing, to be conforted for the things I was never conforted for and until now have never been allowed to speak of.
    Sorry I just feel you are jumping on board with the professionals a bit much here, their idea that BPD means evil, and no thought of compassion of understanding the pain they might be in.

  5. Ah, me again! Just to qualify previous post - I think it depends on the situation in terms of the person's insight into their issues. So if they are aware and trying to recover, then there will be times when their 'inner child' needs a hug and care. (ooh look I daren't type 'love'). I think validation is an important thing, and when someone recognises my pain is real and isn't dismissive it really helps me. And I mean in the long term too; knowing I was 'worth' helping when in pain as much as the next person gradually helps 'self-soothing' tendencies to take hold. It might be different for myself as my primary dx is severe depression (though they try to shoehorn me into BPD because there are some similarities; though not enough to fulfill the criteria). But I also have a friend with post-war service PTSD and when they act weird/nasty/upset then the best thing is loadsa love and hugs and they will spill out memories or thoughts and it helps them to come to terms with everything. BPD has been likened to PTSD so if the person is aware of their issues I think the same treatment when in distress stands.

    1. Hello. Thank you for this. It's actually made me want to revisit this post.

      I do absolutely agree with you that when someone is in real distress it is important that they receive help, love, and understanding. Without a doubt and no question. I agree.

      Validation of what we, anyone, is going through is also extremely important.

      There's a difference between needing help and believing you deserve it to the exclusion of what other people need. When you're in actual distress to the point of hurting yourself and suicide, believing you need help isn't a sense of entitlement, that's justifiable pain that needs to be addressed. Entitlement is when this becomes a constant state of overlooking the needs and functioning of other people because it's not possible to understand that other people have to take priority in their own lives at times.

      It's: Needing help vs. Feeling like the world OWES you help. The world doesn't owe anyone anything, but that doesn't mean we aren't justified in wanting help because of what we actually experience. With a sense of entitlement there's an inability to recognize that that person is not the center of the world and everyone else's world and believing that everyone should cater to them, and they shouldn't have to worry about what others think or feel.

      I have spent years, and years, in a near suicidal state when I actually needed help. Believing that people should drop everything in their own lives and cater to my constant emotional turmoil and trauma at the expense of their own needs is beyond reason though.

      Entitlement is when need is taken to an extreme beyond what can be reasonably given, yet is expected as being OWED to you.

      Needing help, deserving help, deserving validation... is different than feeling that it is owed to you at the expense of what is important in other peoples lives.

      Every human being that has ever experience psychological distress or pain has had periods of time when they can't escape their mental pain to see beyond their world. That is okay. It happens. It's understandable. It's when this is a persistent state of mind that it becomes problematic.

      Re-thinking about this: it may be justifiably problematic, but it's still an objectively self-centered point of view. I don't mean this as a negative judgement, just a literal observation.

  6. Your blog is the best I have found; your insight invaluable to a parent working to understand out wonderful daughter.

  7. My husband just ended our 9 year-marriage,leaving 3 young children because he is 'not happy with his life." I always thought it was extreme selfishness on his part brought about by not being unloved as a child. He still talks about his unhappy childhood but other times want seem to only want to remember the few happy times of his past. I had enough as he acts hot and cold, coming back to us, promising to come back if "I" change my ways, etc. After a year of doing all I can, trying to keep our broken family, broken trust, lack of respect after a year of separation, I called it quits. And yes, he acts like he still owns me and my time and my loyalty. I want to help him but really don't know how but now that I have given up all hopes of getting back together and treat him like the 'stranger' that he has become, he is restless and tries so hard to get my attention. Despite feeling extremely hurt, I still want to help him because I believe he is still a good person.


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