Quiet Borderline Personality Disorder (A guide)

In this brief guide, we will look at Quiet Borderline personality disorder, as well as other related concepts, like a borderline personality disorder test and quiet borderline personality disorder treatment.

Quiet Borderline Personality Disorder

Quiet borderline personality disorder is a variant of borderline personality disorder where the core symptoms of having an intense fear of abandonment and emotional instability may be there, but the emotions are turned inward instead of towards other people.

Quiet borderline personality disorder may be likened to masked depression, which is the kind of depression that may often be masked by other symptoms like impulsive behavior, somatic symptoms of irritability, and the low mood and other classic signs of depression may not be there.

Similarly, in quiet borderline personality disorder, the person may not call attention to themselves or be outwardly aggressive or violent all the time, but they may still go from one relationship to another and go on seeking reassurance from their partners and loved ones because they are terrified of being abandoned.

There may also be intentional self-harm, but they may not threaten to take their life, they may instead have internal fantasies of killing themselves to hurt others and remind them of their value by being gone.

Quiet borderline personality disorder was described by psychologist Theodore Millon who gave 3 other types as well apart from this one, and they are:1. Impulsive borderline, 2. Petulant borderline, and 3. Self-destructive borderline.

According to experts, quiet borderline personality disorder may also be characterized by the tendency of the individual to be excessively people-pleasing, and they may often bend over backwards trying to make sure that everyone is happy with them all the time.

These people may also blame themselves for everything and they may also feel like they are not a part of the world around them or feel like they are not present within themselves, which are known as depersonalization and derealization respectively.

Trauma psychotherapist Pete Walker has given four basic defensive structures: Fight, Flight, Freeze, and Fawn and according to his theory, most healthy people use all of these strategies, but the predominant coping mechanism of someone with quiet borderline personality disorder is freeze.

Borderline Personality Disorder: DSM 5 Criteria

The DSM 5 criteria for Borderline Personality Disorder is given below:

“BPD is a pervasive pattern of instability in interpersonal relationships, self-image, and emotion, as well as marked impulsivity beginning by early adulthood and present in a variety of contexts, as indicated by five (or more) of the following:

  • Chronic feelings of emptiness
  • Emotional instability in reaction to day-to-day events (e.g., intense episodic sadness, irritability, or anxiety usually lasting a few hours and only rarely more than a few days)
  • Frantic efforts to avoid real or imagined abandonment
  • Identity disturbance with markedly or persistently unstable self-image or sense of self
  • Impulsive behavior in at least two areas that are potentially self-damaging (e.g., spending, sex, 
  • substance abuse, reckless driving, binge-eating)
  • Inappropriate, intense anger or difficulty controlling anger (e.g., frequent displays of temper, constant anger, recurrent physical fights)
  • Pattern of unstable and intense interpersonal relationships characterized by extremes between idealization and devaluation (also known as “splitting”) Recurrent suicidal behavior, gestures, or threats, or self-harming behavior Transient, stress-related paranoid ideation or severe dissociative symptoms.”

A lot of these symptoms are not present in quiet borderline personality disorder, but the core symptoms are the Chronic feelings of emptiness and fear of abandonment, which are very key features in the person with quiet borderline personality disorder.

In his Article about quiet borderline personality disorder, Matthew Gemma Karamozov writes:

“The perception of borderline personality disorder (BPD) is one who “acts out.” That’s the “classical” definition, but like every disorder, the condition manifests itself in different ways… So what does being the “quiet” borderline mean? “Quiet” BPD is acting in, rather than acting out, but internalizing all the emotions they feel. The fears of abandonment, mood swings, anxiety, self-injurious behaviors, impulsiveness and even suicidal tendencies and black and white thinking (splitting) are all part of being a quiet borderline. But those emotions are typically acted against ourselves.”

Borderline Personality Disorder Test

To understand if you or someone you know might have borderline personality disorder, here are some questions you can try to answer:

  • Do they have violent outbursts when they are fighting with someone?
  • Do they have extremely promiscuous behavior?
  • Do they often act impulsively without concern for consequences?
  • Are they afraid of being abandoned or do they seek constant reassurance of love and affection?
  • Are their relationships extremely volatile?
  • Do they have frequent breakups or problems in their romantic life?
  • Do you feel that they constantly try to guilt people into doing things?
  • When in arguments, do they try to victimize themselves and make others the bad guy?
  • Do they suffer from feelings of emptiness/complain of feeling like nothing matters or not feeling anything?
  • Do they threaten to take their life every time it seems that things are not going their way?
  • Do they get depressed often?
  • Do they have problems holding down jobs or maintaining a healthy academic life?
  • Do they ever self-harm?

A yes to more than 8 of these questions would imply the presence of borderline personality disorder, but this should not be considered a diagnostic test at all, because for the diagnosis of borderline personality disorder you need to see a psychiatrist or a clinical psychologist.

A clinician uses valid and reliable borderline personality tests like the Millon Clinical Multiaxial Inventory, which is one of the best tests for borderline personality disorder.

This is a self-rated measure that a clinician will score and it provides information about not only borderline personality disorder, but also any comorbid conditions that might be present in the individual, like anxiety or depression.

Quiet Borderline Personality Disorder: Reddit

Sometimes it can really help to understand the experiences of others who are suffering the same way you are, and learn from them or find out what worked for them, therefore, here are some of the experiences of Reddit users with Quiet borderline personality disorder.

“I’m dealing with my BF with Quiet BPD. His go to is silent treatment when overwhelmed – could be even for a week if I don’t do something to get him out of it. When I try to address any type of issue he freezes like a child.

Here’s where I can use some help. After the silent treatment is over, it’s like it never happened for him. However, it feels like he is slow to warm back up to me. Like he almost needs to be sure whatever it is that triggered him won’t be brought up. It could take weeks for us to get back to “normal.” I’ve given him the past 4 days to just have him time, haven’t texted or anything. Just letting him decompress. I notice that he is suddenly very active posting on Instagram. Nothing offensive. But it seems like this is also a pattern. Am I crazy? Anyone else experience this????”

“This was my experience with a quiet BPD wife. Her behavior never appeared to me as “abusive,” more so just mildly depressive. She would go quiet, or cry, or just shut down and lie in bed. And with her history of childhood trauma, I assumed these things were just PTSD related, and didn’t think any harder about it.

But same as you, we never argued, there was never any overt abuse, physical or otherwise. She had her issues, and I was aware of them, and compassionate about them.

But after 5 years, she did finally start raging and abusing when I found out about her affair. Then it was daily rages, intimidation, and threats of self harm or violence.

I suggest you get out before it comes to that.

But yeah, quiet BPD will distort your mind up. Especially if you wait 5 years like I did, and the rages blindside you.”

“I never noticed her splitting me black until I was no longer her favorite person and was idealizing her now husband. The devaluation happened pretty quickly. Any kind of disagreement was met with an insult. She had always lied about stupid stuff but the lies became bigger and even more blatant. She no longer had any time for me but when she noticed that I was moving on and spending time with others she resented that, e.g. “I hope your new friends treat you better!” when telling her that what she is expected of me is unfair giving she was not willing to give me the time of day.

In hindsight, she idealized me for 2-3 years before she found her new favorite person (an “abusive” ex who she ended up marrying). I think that idealization stage lasted so long because we were long distance. However, it is possible that because we were long distance I wasn’t able to see her splitting.”

Conclusion

In this brief guide, we looked at Quiet Borderline personality disorder, as well as other related concepts, like a borderline personality disorder test and quiet borderline personality disorder treatment.

Borderline personality disorder is characterized by the emotional instability of the individual and their tendency to be impulsive and very obvious about what they want and how they feel, which is why a quiet borderline personality disorder may be hard to imagine for many people.

Quiet borderline personality disorder may actually be similar to the idea of vulnerable narcissism, the two things seem so very opposing to each other but they are true and they do exist in the same person sometimes.

The fact is that negative emotions and fear of abandonment are meant to be common in borderline personality disorder, and as long as they are present the outward manifestation does not have to be as outrageous as suggested in psychiatric literature.

If you have any more questions or comments about quite borderline personality disorder please feel free to reach out to us at any time.

Frequently Asked Question (FAQs): Quiet Borderline Personality Disorder

What is quiet borderline personality disorder?

Quiet Borderline personality disorder refers to any person who has emotional instability and fears of abandonment but they direct any mood swings and behaviors inward, rather than directing them toward others.

People suffering from quiet borderline personality disorder may “act in,” rather than “act out.” and just because they are not acting out on the outside does not mean that they are not feeling the same kind of negative feelings that others feel, just that they are not showing them as much.

What is the best mood stabilizer for borderline personality disorder?

The best mood stabilizer for borderline personality disorder is usually topiramate (Topamax) and lamotrigine (Lamictal). 

These two medicines belong to a class of drugs known as antiepileptic drugs because they are commonly used for people suffering from partial complex seizure disorder, but they may sometimes be used in mental illnesses that are characterized by high emotionality, like borderline personality disorder or bipolar disorder.

Do borderlines lack empathy?

Yes, borderlines may lack empathy, but more their lack of empathy is more a lack of cognitive empathy, and they may have deficits in theory of mind, mentalizing, social cognition, or emotional intelligence rather than the kind of lack of empathy than sociopaths have.

Citations

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/living-emotional-intensity/201909/do-you-have-quiet-bpd

https://www.healthline.com/health/quiet-bpd

Divya is currently a Clinical Psychology Trainee in a Master of Philosophy program and holds a Master’s in clinical psychology. She has a special interest in Personality studies and disorders, having researched the subject before, and Neuropsychology; with an additional interest being Mood disorders. She likes to write about Psychiatric issues, having worked in multiple specialty setups during her time as a clinical psychology student, and in her free time she likes to cook and read.