Have You Been Accused?

"Borderline", "Manipulative", "Attention Seeking"

I recently received a promotional flyer for treatment of “personality disorders”. One of the objectives, “Learn the hidden agendas of each of the personality disorders” belies the contempt of many providers and even trainers. I believe people act the ways they do as an effect of the families in which they grew up—most do not actively ‘plan out’ or knowingly impose a “hidden agenda” on others.

The term “ambivalent attachment” explains the "push/pull" thinking and behavior of survivors of trauma, especially relational trauma. This type of trauma often goes unrecognized as such by survivors and many professionals who are in helping roles. Often, when this condition is prevalent a person may be called "manipulative, attention seeking, needy, borderline"--all quite negative, non-helpful labels. I don’t believe anyone wakes in the morning thinking, “how annoying can I be to my loved ones and associates?”

Humans are wired to survive, at all costs. Children must attach to survive. Brain development, ability to communicate (and get vital needs met), social development, and other aspects of human life depend on attachment and interaction with caregivers. When the attachment offered is inconsistent, accepting at times and rejecting at others, development of physiological and mental systems may be less than ideal. The person may exhibit behavior that reflects the inconsistencies he experienced from intimate caregivers.

When we look at this behavior with a compassionate lens, we begin to understand that people are almost always "just trying to get their needs or their perceived needs met.” When a child is sometimes loved and sometimes hurt by the same caregiver, she cannot make sense of this.

The child must attach to that caregiver to survive, physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually. So, the child, naturally, becomes like the caregiver. Inconsistent attachment offered to the child can result in a non-integrated adult who is often unable to sustain healthy relationships, maintain a desirable job, complete school assignments, regulate intense emotion or tolerate stressful experiences.

If you have been accused of any of these labels, be assured that my wellness-focused approach does not include expecting you to have a “hidden agenda”. Learning to apply self-compassion and radical acceptance can help you integrate your past experiences and move on with your life. Give me a call to discuss your needs 619.807.9159

 Dr. Dan Siegel explains how this “ambivalent” or “disorganized” attachment can develop:

Cathy Harris