Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Lies and Borderline Personality Disorder - Part 1: Lies I tell myself

Here’s a question. Is lying common in people with BPD? This question comes up quite a bit. Lying is not an official symptom of Borderline Personality Disorder. It’s not listed in the qualification criteria anywhere. I’m also not sure if there’s been any research done on the topic so there’s no scientific proof that lying is a part of BPD. However, I know many love ones of those with BPD believe lying is a big concern in their relationship. So what’s that answer? Is lying common with BPD or isn’t it?

Yes, and no.  What the hell? You’re usually not this vague Haven. You know I have a point to make.

I’m going to tell you there are two kinds of lies:

1. Lies told to ourselves.

2. Lies told to other people… and from here:
a.       Lies of admission
b.      Lies of omission

Now I’m going to tell you another truth. Everybody lies. Ever seen the show House? Dr. House is famous for that simple line, “Everybody lies.” And it’s true. The last time someone asked how you were, did you say “fine”. Were you really fine? A lie is as simple as that.

As an interesting aside, people are also uncomfortable when you answer this question truthfully. The last time I was asked how I was doing I responded with, “Meh, I’ve been better.” They responded with, “That’s good, good.” As if they didn’t hear my answer and were responding to what they expected to hear.

Everyone lies though. People vague up details, they give partial stories, they give a biased perspective, they outright tell people something that is more pleasant to hear… the list of those little “white” lies is endless, and that’s not even getting into the big lies. It’s funny to me that people justify their lies too. Tell yourself, oh, it’s just a little white lie, it doesn’t hurt anyone… doesn’t make it any less truthful. People automatically rationalize their own misdeeds. It’s fine when you do it, but oh no, if someone else were to? Even if their reasons were the same as yours had been in a similar situation? Well that’s not okay at all. So let’s keep that in mind as I jump into this touchy subject.

2 Parts. Today we’ll do:

Lies – Part 1: Lies I tell myself

These are tricky little bastards. Tricky, because if you’re effectively lying to yourself, you don’t even realize you’re doing it. Or sometimes the lie is something we think we need so badly, the truth is too hard, too difficult to face, that the lie is how we protect ourselves from the situation.

When I was with Evil-Ex he was awful to me. I was also completely in love with him. I managed to find all kinds of ways to justify his behavior to convince myself that my decision to stay with him wasn’t just one more way I should be disappointed in my ability to make healthy decisions. I lied to myself over and over, telling myself that if I were better at this, if only I would do that, things would work out. It made me feel desperate. But I believed it. I believed if I tried hard enough, he would love me the way that I wanted him to love me. We all know how that story ends. The truth however, is that he’s a Narcissistic  bastard who only uses the people around him to validate his own lack of self-worth. Nothing I did would ever change how he was, because he didn’t believe there was anything wrong with the way he treated me or any of the other people in his life.

People believe what they want to believe. Does that make it real? It may make it feel real. But does that mean things are really the way we want to convince ourselves they are? Nope. Not always.

I’ve believed so many times, that if I were to lose a certain person from my life that my world would end. That I wouldn’t be able to go on and live a happy existence if they weren’t in my world the way I wanted them to be. So many times I’ve believed this. Believed it so much I felt like my heart would burst.  Are all those people still in my life? Nope. Has my world ended? Nope. Am I a wreck of devastation and destruction piled on my bedroom floor? Nope, not at all. In fact, letting go of the people that caused me so much anxiety and pain has made me better able to form healthier, happier relationships in my present. I’m happier now than I ever have been before, EVER, in my life.

I lie to myself more than I’ve ever lied to anyone. I deserve to be treated this way. If I were better, he would be better to me. If I was more, she would want me. If they really cared, they would know how much that hurts me (I love this one. Do you know how many truly psychic people I’ve met? None.). They didn’t do this thing, so they must not care at all.

Our brains, our feelings, our emotions… lie to us. Those neuro-pathways in our brain are programmed to kick up the adrenaline feed to our amygdala and set our chemicals reactions to nuclear meltdown if someone even glances in the general direction of the detonation button. Oh, not always. Sometimes there is a very real threat because we do live in a hard world. But that trigger mechanism in our brain is set to a setting so sensitive that it can be impossible to know what the truth is, and what is a lie our chemical composition is telling us.

It’s almost funny, in a sad sort of way, when I’m able to push past those feelings that I have and see how differently things turn out compared to how I fear they will.

Often I think we can lie because we can’t actually see the “truth” of a situation. If a situation affects us emotionally, we have this defense mechanism that tries to protect ourselves from being in pain; when pain = facts of a situation.

It’s important to remember that your truth is decided by the information you take in; what you see, hear, and experience to believe as fact. People with BPD experience reality from a different perspective. How reality touches us is seen through a filter of our emotions. We gain knowledge of our environment by how we feel about the experience. These feelings aren’t always accurate in the strictest sense, but it’s what we know to be truth for us.

As Paul Ekman notes in Emotions Revealed, a person overcome with strong emotions “cannot incorporate information that does not fit, maintain, or justify the emotion.” BPD is a disorder of emotional dysregulation. When someone is dysregulated, they can’t necessarily see the truth if it doesn’t match what they are feeling. We may not even realize we’re lying because what we point out are the “facts” as we perceive them. But how one person perceives things, is not necessarily the same as how another person perceives that same thing.

I think self-lying, most lying actually, is done from a perspective of self-preservation. It’s more to protect from the pain or shame that the truth would reveal, and not so much about being deliberately deceptive.
For me personally, and my particular brand of BPD, I think I lie to myself more than I lie to other people. Does that mean I’ve never lied to anyone? Of course not, I’m not immune to being human. There are a number of reasons I’ve lied to people, and a number of reasons I think someone with BPD in particular would feel the need to lie… 


  1. i have a flaxable self
    the abilety to lie comes from that i think
    in my teens i used to think i can fool a lie detector with methode acting.
    (surprise i'm a sociopath)
    if i say things and later think about it it's contrairy to what i think believe but at the time i say it it's real
    and still it doesn't feel like i lie to myself

    1. Interesting. This is very much what I mean by not always feeling like a lie is a lie because it's possible that it seems to be the truth in the moment.

  2. i think that makes "the truth" flexable2

    1. Yeah that's part of the problem. Truth is based on perception and perception varies between individuals when you're dealing with emotional issues. Definitely flexible.

  3. Oh god, Oh ..GOD ..OH OH GOd Yes. Yy Y YEah A aSS !!!


  4. Not everyone lies. People who lie and have secrets from "loved ones" are psychologically disturbed individuals who engage in socially unacceptable ways--usually devoid of morals. You see, it's very simple. All you have to do is behave in a civilized manner and there is no need to lie. You are confusing social niceties (such as not telling someone they are fat) with telling someone you love them when you don't. People with BPD have, generally speaking, no morals. Tey do what they have to to get by.


Leave me a comment! It makes me feel good and less paranoid about talking to myself =)

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