Let me describe the first group of personality disorders. It comprises the personalities that are stuck on different levels of development, futilely trying to mature.
* Please note, that this is not intended to be a complete description of the disorders, but a simple explanation of the causes, based on Integration theory. For better understanding you may also read these posts: From a child to a (un)happy adult and When childhood went awry – personality disorders.
Borderline Personality Disorder
- Subconscious level: Disruption of Integration process came very early, probably by intense trauma or other intense form of rejections. Other personality disorder sufferers have some internalized content in personality structures, allowing them to deal with the World on their own, with poor quality, but still can. Borderlines must depend only on their parents to feel as a part of the World, but parents rejected them so they need a better parent to be always for them.
- Conscious level: They require to have intimate relationship all the time, do not tolerate being alone. They have basic, volatile, childlike emotional responses. Have also very idealistic perception of their partner, resembling boundless admiration of a small child to a parent. The perception can change dramatically if something in a partner will resemble the evil, rejecting parent. Being alone is unbearable, so they can hurt themselves or engage in frantic, unpredictable behavior. The holes in the very first layers of personality, causes frequent feelings of “emptiness”.
Avoidant Personality Disorder
- Subconscious level: Avoidants in childhood were near the edge of breaking the Integration process, but didn’t cross the line. They still want and try to Integrate but they cannot progress, being stuck in the never-ending cycle. The caregiver’s acceptation did not work well, perhaps because mixed and chaotic accepting, rejecting and engulfing signals. Avoidants turned to search this primary acceptance in every other person – but strangers acceptance is even more chaotic, which together with Avoidants tendency to expect unexpected rejection, makes poor improvement prospects. Theirs defence mechanisms, e.g. narcissistic one, are well developed, but incomplete. On the one hand it makes the rejection more likely and more severe because of the wide gap between narcissistic ideal self and the real self. On the other hand, because of being incomplete, they do not effectively protect the vulnerable core from external input.
- Conscious level: Constant fear of rejection experienced as shame. They expect and feel perceived rejection under any pretext so they avoid contact with other people. On the other hand, they need and crave for this contact and feel deeply unhappy for not being able to integrate with others. The incomplete narcissism, elevates the shame, making it particularly acute for Avoidants.
Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder
- Subconscious level: OCPD sufferer’s Integration partially succeeded. This differentiates them from other personality disorder examples. However, they are always on the edge of being rejected and never know where the rejection will come from, so they are looking for all signs of inevitable catastrophe and bracing themselves against it. They learned in childhood that any flaw, any shortcoming can have dire consequence and that connection they have can be cut at any moment.
- Conscious level: Have strict standards, both moral and in work, they adhere to, as behaving in “right way” lessen in their mind the rejection probability. Are scared of making mistakes, which unfortunately makes them inflexible and meticulous. May hoard things and money, preparing for the calamity. They can, however, have meaningful emotional connections with others, but are quick to reject others for the same reasons they fear to be rejected.