Quiet Borderline Personality Disorder: Signs and Symptoms
Borderline personality disorder (BPD) is a mental illness that involves strong emotional reactions that frequently culminate in episodes of rage, depression, impulsive and destructive choices, as well as difficulties in relationships. Recent studies indicate that around 1.6% of the general population experiences this condition. While BPD is relatively well-known in mental health circles, there is another lesser-known subtype called quiet borderline personality disorder. How does quiet BPD differ from other forms of BPD?
What is quiet borderline personality disorder?
Quiet borderline personality disorder is a variant of BPD characterized by individuals channeling their intense emotions, like shame, anger, and sadness, inward towards themselves. Individuals may express their emotions by acting out towards others, those with quiet BPD tend to internalize their feelings. This internalization leads to hidden emotional turmoil that can greatly disrupt their lives.
Individuals with quiet BPD may appear to be functioning well on the surface. However, internally, they grapple with intense feelings of shame, self-hatred, abandonment fears, mood swings, and obsessive emotional attachments. They experience various debilitating symptoms. Unlike other types of BPD, those with quiet BPD can adeptly conceal their symptoms, enabling them to maintain a semblance of normalcy in their careers, relationships, and daily lives. However, it is important to recognize that a person’s ability to function outwardly does not necessarily reflect their internal well-being.
Diagnosing quiet BPD is considerably challenging due to the internal nature of its struggles and anger outbursts. It frequently remains undiagnosed or misdiagnosed for an extended period. While it may be referred to as high-functioning BPD, this label is largely inaccurate.
What are the signs and symptoms of quiet borderline personality disorder?
If you suspect that you or someone you know might be dealing with a quiet borderline personality disorder, it can be beneficial to familiarize yourself with common signs and characteristics. The reality is that identifying quiet BPD can be more challenging compared to typical BPD because the signs are not readily apparent on the surface.
Frequent Mood Swings
One of the typical symptoms of quiet BPD is experiencing a tumultuous roller coaster of emotions. While individuals with other forms of BPD may express their emotions outwardly, those with quiet BPD tend to internalize their ever-changing feelings in silence.
Rather than expressing their emotions openly, individuals with quiet BPD often make efforts to conceal their true feelings, put on a facade of being okay, or completely suppress their emotions. Many individuals with quiet BPD feel a sense of shame regarding their unsettling emotions and may choose to withdraw from others instead of confiding in someone they trust.
Self-blame is a prominent aspect of living with BPD, intensifying the inner critic. Individuals with BPD often assume blame even when they are not at fault or have no connection to the situation. In the case of quiet BPD, they may not outwardly display this self-blame, but instead, internalize it and subject themselves to self-punishment as a result.
Many individuals with quiet BPD often exhibit people-pleasing behaviors, which can be attributed to the fawn response. Fawning is a part of the fight-flight-freeze response. It typically develops during childhood as a means to escape harrasment and mistreatment from adults. Children who have experienced trauma learn to fawn as a way to create a sense of safety by appeasing their perpetrators, hoping it will prevent further harm.
Most individuals with BPD have a background of childhood trauma, where fawning becomes a common coping mechanism. This strategy can persist into adulthood, manifesting in various relationships. Examples include making excuses for a partner’s toxic behavior, avoiding conflicts with friends or family members, or molding themselves into someone they believe will be well-liked and accepted.
Fear of Emotional Intimacy
The fear of emotional intimacy can be effectively concealed by simply keeping people at a distance. This also serves as a defense mechanism against the fear of abandonment, as individuals you are not close to cannot leave you. However, this fear of abandonment is not the typical fear of being left alone; rather, it is a fear of pushing people away.
Dissociation in Quiet Borderline Personality Disorder
Individuals with quiet BPD often struggle with a sense of disconnection from both themselves and others. When the intensity of their emotions becomes overwhelming, those with quiet BPD often resort to emotional detachment, a state known as dissociation. It can feel as though one is observing their life from a distance, detached from both distressing emotions and positive ones, such as joy and love.
Dissociation, as described by Mental Health America (MHA), refers to a mental phenomenon where individuals detach from their current surroundings, thoughts, memories, and even their own identity. It exists on a spectrum, ranging from mild to severe, much like other symptoms. Dissociation frequently occurs in individuals who have endured traumatic experiences.
Self-injurious behaviors are prevalent among individuals who suffer from quiet BPD. Research indicates that approximately 75% of individuals with BPD engage in some form of self-harm. These behaviors can include cutting, burning, pricking, aggressively scratching, or intentionally causing harm to their skin or body.
While individuals with BPD often struggle with suicidal thoughts, self-injurious behaviors are not necessarily driven by a desire to end their lives. Instead, many individuals with quiet BPD engage in self-harm as a means to cope with the overwhelming intensity of their emotions. By inflicting physical pain on themselves, they seek temporary relief from the internal anguish they experience.
Individuals with quiet BPD, particularly those who have endured childhood trauma, have learned to conceal their emotions as a survival mechanism. They may have internalized the belief that their feelings are only acceptable when they present a cheerful demeanor. Instead of expressing their true selves, they find solace in hiding their pain and pretending that everything is fine.
Alexithymia, or difficulty describing one’s emotions, is a common struggle for individuals with quiet BPD. Even when overwhelmed with intense emotions, they may find it challenging to pinpoint and effectively communicate their feelings. This inability to identify and articulate their emotions adds an extra layer of complexity to their emotional experience.
Individuals dealing with quiet BPD may find themselves uncertain about what to label their struggles. Their symptoms often overlap with other conditions, and they may not recognize that they are experiencing an illness. Instead, they may perceive themselves as lazy, overly dramatic, or attention-seeking individuals.
However, for many, receiving an accurate diagnosis of BPD can bring a sense of relief. It provides them with a clearer understanding of their internal experiences. Moreover, it opens up the opportunity for them to embark on a journey of recovery, with the support and assistance of others.
If you think that you are suffering from quiet borderline personality disorder, visit Mindshift Psychological Services. You can visit their website to learn more about their services. You may also contact them at (714) 584-9700 to schedule an appointment.