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Empathy

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Empathy

Postby HoneyJules » Mon Sep 10, 2018 2:40 pm

I have read many articles in which they say that BPD people can't experience empathy, like NPD and AsPD people. But I'm pretty sure my empathy is extremely high, I'm very responsive to the environment around me, and if someone that's close to me experiences sadness then I'll get at least as sad even though it may have nothing to do with me. It's like I feel and respond to other people's emotions very strongly. Isn't it empathy?
Thoughts?
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Re: Empathy

Postby fullsky » Thu Sep 13, 2018 10:43 am

What you are feeling is empathy. We borderlines for the most part are extremely empathetic.

Empathy is the capacity to literally feel someone else's feelings as they do or put yourself in their place. I'm in the same boat as you and I do that involuntarily all the time. I'm hyperempathetic which means I am almost always experiencing other people's emotions. I understand what other people are going through almost always on a very personal basis, like I'm also going through it, which can get really exhausting. If someone in a video or a TV show is crying, I'll find myself crying as an involuntary response immediately.

I personally think this is because of abuse and having to be hyperaware of what was going on around me at all times. My parents -- father especially -- would change moods at the drop of a hat, and I had to know what they were feeling at all times so I wouldn't make them more angry and get abused. I learned how to be intuitive to survive.

Many abuse victims and people with BPD I know can relate to this, so us having no empathy is a myth.

I do feel though that I have trouble empathizing with people when I'm splitting on them. If I split on my partner, my empathy is sometimes switched off and I don't have the ability to understand what he's feeling as I normally do. I think this may be the sort of thing driving the view that people with BPD have "no empathy," because there is a stigma of us that only sees our splitting sides and only sees us as mean or angry or abusive people, when that's not true.

And besides... Even if someone has no empathy it doesn't mean they don't care. I can care about someone and be sad about what they're going through and wish they weren't going through it, even though I don't understand or personally feel what they're feeling myself. People with ASPD or autism or anything else that causes/coincides with a lack of empathy do care about other people, they just have no empathetic abilities and so don't feel it from a first-person basis.

The people in those articles are wrong and have a stigmatized view of BPD.
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Re: Empathy

Postby FrozenSpine » Sun Sep 16, 2018 12:44 pm

HoneyJules wrote:I have read many articles in which they say that BPD people can't experience empathy, like NPD and AsPD people.

First of all I think it's very irresponsible and ignorant to just claim that all BPD people can't experience empathy, no matter who makes such claims. It reeks of throwing people together in a pathological yes/no scheme.

The concept of BPD is a set of symptoms that have been found to often correlate; the diagnosis has been agreed upon to be given when a patient meets 5 of 9 criteria, which again is up to the personal judgement of the psychiatrist. This allows great variation between patients, someone who meets 5 of these criteria in the opinion of his psychiatrist may be very different to someone else who meets 5 of these 9 in the opinion of their psychiatrist.

What this all means: there is no typical borderline. There certainly are common traits and behaviours, but that doesn't mean that all borderlines are the same. If someone actually says "X is borderline, so X is incapable of empathy", that is utter BS.

It ignores how different borderlines are, and it's making a general judgement where I doubt it can be made given the conflicting nature of borderline. Borderlines want to make sense of themselves, but often they can't because everything is so contradictory. In my opinion, to say that all borderlines can't feel empathy is a ham-fisted attempt itself at punching order into the chaos of BPD.

But I'm pretty sure my empathy is extremely high, I'm very responsive to the environment around me, and if someone that's close to me experiences sadness then I'll get at least as sad even though it may have nothing to do with me. It's like I feel and respond to other people's emotions very strongly. Isn't it empathy?
Thoughts?


In my case, it varies a lot depending on mood. First of all, talking about your own feelings, I'm ultra-sensitive, and I believe that's common among borderlines. One slight wrong word, no matter how insignificant, no matter how it was meant, can hit me badly and make me lose all balance. In other circumstances, when I'm able to keep my self-control, not even a nuclear bomb can shake me.

As for empathy, which means feeling what others feel, it greatly depends on my mood again.

Mood A: my feelings are somewhat bearable, I suppress them but still find some spare energy somewhere to help others. I want to help others, but I don't want to help myself. In this mood, I may be desperate to offer help but resist accepting any myself.

Mood B: my feelings are almost unbearable, but I somehow manage to keep control. In this mood, I'm cold. It feels like others are complaining about a sneeze while I'm busy bearing the most excruciating pain. In this mood, I'm not empathetic at all, I'm actually angry that everyone doesn't just keep their $#%^ together. I can be very cold and hurting if provoked.

Mood C: I let go of the control and try to accept feelings of myself and others. I become highly sensitive, I quickly feel a bond towards others, I become obsessive about helping them. I control myself but am very receptive and want to do all I can for them. I'm incredibly afraid of what it does with me or them. The most volatile mood.

Mood D: I'm drunk. Self-control is lost, any sense of distance is lost. I do all I can to help others no matter if it's welcome. I don't care what it does to me or others, I'm just so desperate to help. The "victims" of my desire to help may be overwhelmed. The next day, I will condemn myself for letting myself go, for bothering others, and I'm back to mood A or B.

I can't blame my peers for being confused by my behaviour. But I'm pretty sure "being unable to feel empathy" is f*cking rubbish.
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