My good friend, James Renard, thinks I’m more of a Borderline than a Psychopath. All the online personality tests I have taken show me very low in Borderline traits. But, as James points out, self-administered tests can be skewed by the self-image of the testee. Is it true he sees something I don’t see?
BPD and Psychopathy have some striking similarities as well as vast divergences. Both involve a lack of firm identity. Psychopaths’ identity is fluid, flexible to enable us to become the person we need to be in each instance of our lives. “Why Does the psychopath wear a mask in the first place? Because he has little or no identity? True, that gives him the freedom to be whomever or whatever he wants to be.” Borderlines also experience this lack of clear definition. “Borderlines lack a constant, core sense of identity…” Of the two, only the Borderline is bothered by this, wants to “find hirself.”
Both have been described as involving an abyss. Borderlines find this terrifying. Blogger, Lucky Otter, a Borderline herself, wrote “sometimes they (psychopaths) can be caught when their mask is momentarily down (usually when they’ve been called out–or caught), and it’s here when we see the emptiness and evil inside them.” As a baby, I remember feeling as if there were an abyss inside threatening to swallow me up. I experienced that feeling only one time since then, on my first acid trip. I also remember not having a clear idea of what I looked like. What I saw in the mirror, seemed only an outline of a person. This void within and lack of clear identity could fit either personality.
As with the abyss, Borderline and Psychopaths live a lot of their lives in present time. However, only the Borderline stresses over it.
Sexual promiscuity and an omnivorous sexuality is another trait shared by both personalities. Psychopaths are notorious for hyper sexuality and many conquests. I, myself, have noticed how many Psychopaths are bisexual as well as kinky. The same thing is true of many Borderlines. I Hate You — don’t leave me describes the bed and bar hopping protagonist of Looking For Mr. Goodbar “Some writers have noted an increased incidence of homosexuality, bisexuality and sexual perversion among borderline personalities.”
But there are differences too, of course. Unlike Psychopaths, Borderlines tend to have low self-esteem while we are grandiose. Sure there’s some low self-esteem hidden away. In “Do Psychopaths Suffer,” James admits to “even the inferiority complex, though I hide it from even myself most of the time.” Personally, if I have to have low self-esteem, I prefer the kind that’s camouflaged by grandiosity.
One of the biggest differences is emotionality. Borderlines are hyper emotional. Psychopaths the opposite. Here is where I score more points on the Borderline and lose some on the Psychopathic side of the dyad. I am more emotional and, therefore, more vulnerable than my friend James. Yet another difference, perhaps more important, is the one dealing with conscience. In this area, I am as psychopathic as James. I once mentioned to Lucky Otter that some shrinks are hypothesizing that women diagnosed with Borderline Disorder are really Psychopaths. Psychopathy, they muse, manifests as Borderline in women. To me, it was just an interesting bit of information but, to Lucky Otter, it was a heinous insult. As a diagnosed Borderline, she was adamant in her insistence that she had a conscience. From what I know about Borderline Disorder, she is probably right. Borderlines seem just as guilt-ridden (perhaps more so) as anyone. Of course, conscience is one of those things that cannot be objectively measured which is why it isn’t listed as a characteristic of ASPD. The APA wants to purge it’s concepts from anything subjective. They want to be scientific, after all. But, in separating Psychopathy from ASPD, they actually liberated Psychopathy from the world of personality disorders. Robert Hare, himself, has said Psychopaths “are not disordered. They have no deficit.” So Psychopathy is not properly part of Cluster B. (However, it makes a backdoor appearance in the stepchild of personality disorders, “NOS,” or “Not Otherwise Specified.”)
All my life, I’ve had a pattern of reinventing myself every few years. Am I still doing so? I had a personality appraisal by certified shrinks. They gave me two diagnoses (for the price of one). My life as a whole? ASPD. My present-day life? NOS. I don’t find this satisfactory. I want to be measured on the PCL-R. I’m on the spectrum but where? And I want an MRI too. Both are out of reach.
- Are Some Psychopaths Deeply Emotional? Psych Central News