BPD: Intense emotions…including empathy?

I’ve been trying to do research on this. The only things I’ve come across say that borderlines don’t have or can’t show empathy. I, for one, couldn’t disagree more.

What say you?

To an extent, I can agree with not being able to show empathy. Not feeling it, however, I think is inaccurate. I know for myself, I think I feel too much empathy. When someone goes through something, I envision what happened to them and I feel like I can feel the emotions they must be feeling, and just like for myself, those emotions get so intense. All I know of emotions, are intense and overwhelming waves that overtake me mentally. I think I then overestimate how badly they are feeling, and that leaves things with yet another disconnect with transferring that empathy to the other person.

This is what I think makes it hard to show the empathy. The empathy that we feel becomes so intense that we get consumed and it becomes “about us”. Like anything else, if we could only learn to moderate it, we may do a better job.

On the flip side, because there’s always a flip side with BPD, I think at times when I am numb emotionally, I may know that I feel for someone, but I have no clue how to show them, and so I hold it in and the other person receives nothing from me. 😦

There’s some good contradictory information for you.

I’d like to hear other people’s thoughts or experiences with this. I haven’t found enough research to come to a clear understanding on this one yet. Can you tell I’m still trying to figure it out? 😛


5 thoughts on “BPD: Intense emotions…including empathy?

  1. I am speaking from a recovered Borderline’s point of view. I personally think that Borderline’s (weather they still struggle or are recovered) have an extremely high dose of empathy. I know that. Borderlines and recovered Borderline understand w/out a shadow of a doubt know how it is to be struggling and/or be in pain and that’s what makes us empathetic. We understand.

  2. I agree with both you, Mandi, and with Gertie.
    I live – have lived – with a BPD woman my entire adult life, long before she was diagnosed. And I have seen and felt empathy coming from her towards others.
    Here’ the problem:
    WTF is BPD?
    I know, I know, it’s listed in the DSM V like a Chinese take-out menu: two out of five symptoms from Column A, three out of seven from Column B…
    stop me if you’ve heard me go on about this before.
    It is quite possible that “lack of empathy” can be a symptom or behavior of BPD, not as prevalent as it might be with Narcissistic Personality Disorder or Sociopathic diagnoses, but it could still be there.
    Face it: there are a shitload of doctors out there who know less about the disorder than you guys do, professionals who don’t “understand w/out a shadow of a doubt know how it is to be struggling and/or be in pain”.

  3. It’s interesting that I come across this now. Yesterday, I wrote a post on empathy and expressing emotions. I am autistic and borderline, and I can totally relate to feeling others’ emotions strongly. I don’t, however, connect rational empathy (ie. knowing that someone is in pain) to feeling someone’s emotions. In my post, I also speculated that attachmetn difficulties, which are common in BPD, can cause borderlines to appear less empathetic. At least in my own case, I sometimes have a stronger attachment to peoeple who should not be as close, and miss them more when they’re gone than I miss my own family.

  4. I agree I feel too much empathy. I think for me my bpd stems most around feeling love and accepted (or is that everyone’s I am newly diagnosed so still sorting it out) it makes me hyper sensitive to others feelings but then again is it empathy or narcissism??? HMmmm great food for thought idea

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