BPD, Are people with BPD manipulative? manipulation ?
Connection between borderline personality and manipulation. On the face of it, a lot of non-BPs often feel manipulated by the borderline people. Even the BPD people could have this feeling that he or she is manipulative. Things are more complex and if I had to answer by "yes" or "no" to this question, the answer would be "no" even if... You will find on the last part of this document our vision which we hope comprehensive and listening to the suffering
Meme page en Francais / Same page in french
Data, studies
What they say ?
Aapel view
Data, studies (statistics, prevalence, comorbidity, co-occurency)
* James A, Berelowitz M, Vereker M. - Highfield Unit, Warnford Hospital, Oxford, England
1996 Eur Child Adolesc Psychiatry - Borderline personality disorder: study in adolescence.
"...high rates of interpersonal psychopathology, i.e., manipulation, devaluation, and a pervasive sense of boredom..."

* Harvey SC, Watters MR. - Neuropsychology Service, Tripler Army Medical Center, Honolulu, USA.
1998 Mil Med. - Medical treatment and discharge planning for a patient with a borderline personality
"...This case study discusses a patient with substantial medical problems whose hospital course was further complicated by her borderline personality disorder. Difficulties related to this patient's hospital course included noncompliant, manipulative, and self-injurious behaviors..."

* Mitton J, Huxley G. - Department of Psychiatry, McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario.
1998 Can J Psychiatry. - Responses and behaviour of patients with borderline personality disorder
"The researchers investigated the behaviour of the Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) patient... to test the hypothesis that these patients are frequently more hostile, aggressive, demanding and manipulative in an interview situation, as has been reported in the literature. These patients were compared to a similar group which had been identified as having BPD traits. The findings suggest that the BPD patients respond with more helplessness and anxiety, that they are more reliable, and that they do not differ significantly in displays of negative behavior during the interview"

Manipulation and BPD, what they say
"Manipulation or Desperation ?
It's no secret that non-BPs often feel manipulated and lied to by their borderline loved ones. In other words, they feel controlled or taken advantage of through means such as threats, no-win situations, the "silent treatment," rages, and other methods they view as unfair.
We believe that, in most cases, the BP's behavior is not intentionally manipulative. Rather, this kind of behavior can be seen as desperate attempts to cope with painful feelings or to get their needs met-without the aim of harming others" (Bpdcentral, “Are people with BPD manipulative?”, www.bpdcentral.com 2001)

"Although patients with BPD often use suicide threats in a manipulative manner, the primary care clinician must never ignore these threats or suicide attempts" (Elizabeth A Finley-Belgrad, MD,”Personality Disorder: Borderline”, Emedecine 2OO2)

"Viewed by others as incredibly manipulative, borderlines themselves feel powerless.  They act completely entitled yet have very little self-esteem, expressions of which others often misinterpret as attacks" (Tim Pheil L.P.N, “Borderline Personality Disorder”, mhsanctary)

"The Borderline's predicament results in both her enormous need for relationships and her great fear of intimacy. The tension between this fear and need can cause rage, guilt expressed in self-punishment...and anxiety that is relieved by acting out. The angry, impulsive, manipulative behavior of borderlines is their pathological attempt to elicit involvement and caring...
Herein is a very central dilemma for most borderlines. How does one learn to stop seeking this soothing, this nurture (often absent in childhood) from others through manipulative and pathological means? " (Janice M. Cauwels ,”Imbroglio: Rising to the Challenges of Borderline Personality Disorder”, Norton & Company 1992)

"Persons with BPD may often be thought of as manipulative or as attention-seeking. They can sometimes "act as if" they are okay. People with BPD need validation and acknowledgement of the pain they struggle to live with as well as compassion without blame or judgements." (Valery Porr,”Understanding Borderline Personality Disorder”, TARA APD)

"Dysphoria (a profoundly painful emotional state) is triggered by mood swings, stress, and emotional pain. The pain is so severe that borderlines will do almost anything to make the pain go away - the dominant cause of self-destructive behaviors, manipulation, drug and alcohol abuse, suicide and self-mutilation" (Leland M. Heller,”Life at the border”, Dyslimbia Pr Inc; 3rd edition)

"Antisocial Personality Disorder and Borderline Personality Disorder are both characterized by manipulative behavior, individuals with Antisocial Personality Disorder are manipulative to gain profit, power, or some other material gratification, whereas the goal in Borderline Personality Disorder is directed more toward gaining the concern of caretakers" (American Psychiatric Association)

Aapel view of Manipulation and Borderline Personality Disorder
Here is our feeling.

Are BPD people manipulative ?
If the question was: "Do Bpd people give the feeling they are manipulative ?" my answer woud be "yes".
At the question "are bpd people manipulative?" my answer is "no"

In Dictionary "Manipulate" : "To influence or use someone shrewdly or deviously at not avowed aims and by misleading it"
That's mean that to "manipulate", we need to:
- Be conscious
- Act with premediation
- Act in a narcissistic way
- Have choice

Are they conscious of manipulation  ?
Very ofen, no, they don't have in mind some hidden aims... And when they are aware of some kind of manipulation, they don't see any alternative and also sometimes don't know that they have no alternative

Are they acting with premeditation  ?
I would say "no". In my opinion it is totally impulsive "I have to do this now, because it is the only solution / way to solve the problem"

Are they acting in a narcissistic way  ?
Even if in the other hand, we could see them selfish, because we think they deny others, I never met a bpd people loving him or herself. Do you know narcissistic people who kill themselves ?

Do they have choice to act in a different way ?
I don't think so. Most of their time, they can't deal with the situation, deal with contradictory emotions, they feel cornered and act in the only "available way" (of course in their mind)

Are they "Bad" people ?
We have the right to think that, but could we say a person is "bad" when he or she act in the only available way ?
To illustrate in an totally different case, "Am I bad if I never run in the garden with my son who'd like that?" yes ? ... "Oh, sorry, I forgot to say you I was hemiplegic !"

How a "non" could deal with that ?
We are here in the real headache
If we act, we can launch splitting (all good / all bad) and if we don't act, we don't help the loved one who needs informations and limits.
So "the solution" does not exist. The best way is trying to explain that we know why "our" bpd people act like this, explain to him / her that it is not because he or she is "bad" and then explain that it is hurting us... but in end, hope is possible

... and to conclude, it is not because we know why the loved one act like this that we are no more hurted. The hardest situation is to deal with our feeling of helplessness in the face of bpd behaviors

Please read also page borderline and lie

AAPEL - Back to BPD summary page

All the informations on this site are with an aim of helping to understand a "particular" disease at the very least and puzzle
But more especially to support peoples who suffer, sick or not.  In all cases, it is ESSENTIAL to have recourse to a therapist specialized in the disease to confirm or to cancel a diagnosis
Though it is the name doesn't much matter, which is important, it is to apply "the right" treatment to each patient

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