Coping with the embarrassment and shame of borderline personality disorder

Many people with borderline personality disorder (BPD) experience strong and long-term shame, which is a conscious emotion related to feelings of worthlessness, self-contempt, or self-loathing. Shame may partly explain the high incidence of self-harm and suicidal behavior in BPD patients.

What is shame?

We have been using this word, but what exactly is “shame”? Shame is considered a conscious emotion; it is an emotion related to our behavior or self, usually related to the opinions of other people. Other conscious emotions include embarrassment and guilt.

Although the boundaries between these emotions are conceptualized in different ways, one way of thinking is that shame is different from embarrassment or guilt, because we experience both emotions in a situation related to our behavior, and shame is a kind of Emotions directly related to our behavior. Feeling of yourself.

To understand this distinction, let us take the example of the impulsive behavior of some BPD patients-shoplifting. Imagine you steal something from a store on an impulse.

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Even if no one notices shoplifting, you may feel guilty and feel that you have done something wrong. If someone does find out about your behavior, you may feel embarrassed. This is how it feels when someone else finds out that you have done something that violates social norms.

On the other hand, shame is a feeling that you are bad or worthy of being despised. It is not necessarily related to a specific behavior or event, but a feeling of inadequacy as a person. You may feel ashamed after shoplifting, but shame comes with extra judgment.

BPD and shame

Regardless of their behavior, many people with BPD experience general and long-term shame.This leads researchers to believe that shame can distinguish BPD from other mental health disorders.

For example, a 2007 study found that women with BPD and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) are no more ashamed than women with only BPD.These findings suggest that shame propensity may be specifically related to BPD, rather than the simultaneous occurrence of trauma-related symptoms. Other research seems to support this suggestion.

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Research on the role of shame in BPD shows that women with BPD report more shame than women without BPD, compared with women with other mental health disorders, such as depression and social anxiety. No mental illness (healthy control).

Link to self-harm

In addition to increasing research showing a link between BPD and shame, many experts have also proposed a link between shame and deliberate self-harm and suicide attempts.Shame can also happen before deliberate self-harm.

Self-reported shame and self-loathing are related to suicide threats and thoughts of people with multiple mental illnesses (including BPD).Research also shows that women with BPD who show more shame when talking about self-harm behavior are more likely to self-harm in the future.

Reduce shame

Although it is well known that intense emotional distress is caused by the shame associated with BPD, there is currently no effective treatment aimed directly at reducing shame. Researchers admit that more research is needed to prove that reducing shame can reduce the self-harm urge in BPD patients.

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Some preliminary studies have shown that the dialectical behavior therapy technique of “opposite behavior” may help reduce the shame of certain BPD patients.Unfortunately, people who experience high levels of shame may also be motivated to hide their feelings because of fear of judgment.

Very good sentence

Confidentiality and shame can prevent people with bipolar disorder from receiving the treatment they need. If you or someone you love has BPD and is dealing with shame or suicidal thoughts, you must share these feelings with a therapist or other qualified mental health professional you can trust.


Coping with the embarrassment and shame of borderline personality disorder
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