Asperger's Syndrome vs. Borderline Personality Disorder

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Asperger's Syndrome vs. Borderline Personality Disorder

Postby NeantHumain » Sun Jul 02, 2006 6:25 am

I never thought there would be much confusion between Asperger's syndrome and borderline personality disorder, but apparently I was wrong. Over at the Neurolands, there is a topic AS vs Borderline discussing just this matter. It's a few months old, but it's kind of interesting. My reading of the borderline personality disorder criteria makes it sounds almost the polar opposite of Asperger's syndrome and the autistic spectrum in general. Borderlines are manipulative, impulsive, unfocused (in terms of identity), and practically the reason why we have the adjective irrational. Think of them as extraverts with low self-esteem and lots of emotional outbursts.

On the other hand, we aspies have our flat or blunted affect, our obsession with routine, our inflexibility and behavioral rigidity, our poor grasp of social interaction (making any kind of sophisticated manipulation highly unlikely), and our narrow but intense focus (which can be a buffer against identity diffusion). We were the geeks, nerds, and misfits of our classes in school and the weird loners at work and in our neighborhoods.
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Postby Civet » Sun Jul 02, 2006 11:29 am

I agree, some of the symptoms can look similar, particularly with the issue of meltdowns vs. emotional outbursts/mood swings from borderlines. Also, some autistics have trouble identifying themselves, as well. Difficulty with "theory of mind" I would imagine.

One girl I used to work with is possibly borderline, I don't think she's gotten an official diagnosis, but it's been suggested to her and she thinks it fits. From my real-life interactions with her, she is extremely outgoing, loud, a bit boisterous and at times self-centered, and *extremely* focused on relationships (though oddly, the focus seems to switch from person to person at times). She is a very emotional person. From reading her livejournal and seeing what goes on in her head, it's very clear she has problems with becoming overattached and also feeling betrayed, goes through severe mood swings sometimes in a period of hours, and changes her mind and opinions very drastically at times.

If you were to think of an out-going aspie, some of it might seem similar, just because of the lack of social boundaries and the impulse control/emotional response issues. Not all aspies have flat affect, either. Thinking of the more stereotypical introverted aspie, I agree, it looks nothing alike.
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Postby Sophist » Sun Jul 02, 2006 2:26 pm

I was misdxed Borderline for a little while. I think the main things that can make us look Borderline is the relationship thing:

1. We can get obsessed with a particular person to a point almost beyond obsessive, and
2. We aren't always the greatest with where personal boundaries lie so we may invade someone else's emotional space far too often

I don't think we manage to fit the remainder of the profile. But these obsessional, often unequal, relationships are a tip-off to BPD and unfortunately they also can occur in AS as well.

As for me, I simply had to learn how to be more careful of personal boundaries. I haven't learned this too well because I find I go from one extreme (too close) to the other (too far). But at least being too far doesn't chase people away. And taking a more cautious approach has solved my mimicking BPD problem. A Borderline, however, is not likely to realize this. An Aspie potentially can.
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Postby goddessoflubbock » Sun Jul 02, 2006 2:53 pm

I think it's easier to see the differences (rather than the similarities) if you happen to have people correctly diagnosed with each close to you.

My son was dx'd AS and there's no question in my mind that it's on the money. However, after he was diagnosed I started to take a closer look at my oldest daughter, who was diagnosed bp several years earlier. While there are a few similarities that could be misread, even those are not really the "same", just similar. My son's meltdowns are a lot different than my daughter's emotional rollercoasters. She tends to focus on people and attention, he tends to focus on things and mostly avoiding attention. As neanthuman said, my daughter can be manipulative to the ends of the earth, while sometimes my son's behavior can be *mistaken* as manipulative but in fact may be related to a sensory issue or a perseveration, not out of trying to get me to act in a specific way for his enjoyment.

This also may just be my experience of it due to the behaviors of my kids and as always, your mileage may vary 8)
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Postby Sophist » Sun Jul 02, 2006 4:21 pm

In high school, when I was obsessed with a particular teacher, I can promise you in some ways I looked very Borderline.

In fact, she was my only focus for about two years. Other than doing a little art, she was my obsession. And I did a very good job of suffocating her.

I feel bad now. But now I understand what I did wrong. It was very much like an addiction-- an altered mind-state-- I just couldn't stop. It was like being given a book I'd been wanting for ages yet being told I could never open it, but that it had to lie on my night stand and I had to look at it every day, but I was never allowed to read it or even flip through it or lay a single finger on it.

Being so near to something and not owning it or having it. It was infuriating. And I really feel bad for behaving like that towards her. I no doubt made her job so much harder than it had to be.
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Postby NeantHumain » Sun Jul 02, 2006 5:49 pm

goddessoflubbock wrote:[M]y oldest daughter [...] was diagnosed bp several years earlier.

Do you mean bipolar disorder, as in in the mood disorder with major depressive and manic or hypomanic episodes that last for days at a time, or borderline personality disorder as in the diffuse identity, impulsivity, constantly shifting mood, etc.?
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Postby Sophist » Sun Jul 02, 2006 6:17 pm

I'm assuming she meant BPD.
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Postby SomethingElse » Sun Jul 02, 2006 10:04 pm

Do you think an AS person's need to be in control of a situation can be misconstrued as a BPD person's manipulation to get attention?

I also wonder whether, depending on where you are on the spectrum, AS people do have the ability to be manipulative. Not with everyone, I shouldn't think, but possibly the people closest to you, especially with the tendency to have obsessive relationships.

For example, I see my relationship with my ex as him having been first of all allowed into my bubble and then kind of being trapped in it. I could read him extremely well even though I have never been that close to anyone else or able to read anyone else so well. But it allowed me some control because I did know how to get my own way with him.
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Re: Asperger's Syndrome vs. Borderline Personality Disorder

Postby phin » Thu Jul 17, 2008 12:46 pm

Hello,
I hate to say it but there could be a whole lot in common between ASP and a least certain subtypes of "Borderline Personality Disorder".

Before I get into this subject though, first of all, I feel there's a real need here to point out that "manipulative" is not part of a diagnosis for BPD. Anyone who has worked with this population will find that it is precisely their lack of communicative skills, their inability to clearly express their intense, overwhelmingly inner emotional pain, that has made them seem "manipulative" in the past. However those who suffer from pure BPD generally lack the foresight and planning that true manipulation would entail. That said, very often those with BPD who are not autistic have an astonishing capacity for empathy whereas those with ASP generally have great difficulty in "putting themselves in someone else's shoes" - as hard as they try. (Which would also mean that they are not capable of "true manipulation" any more than someone with BPD, albeit for other reasons). Many BPD sufferers cannot shut out the suffering of others. One could say that they have no skin - they are constantly assailed by the emotions of others and cannot filter out other people's pain from their own. This alone drives many of them to isolate themselves over the years.

The DSM description of this disorder mixes all kinds of states with traits and does not achieve a coherent description of one kind of personality. It is becoming more and more clear that there are many subtypes finding their way to this diagnosis. Perhaps the most important subtype for this conversation is the "internalizing dysregulated borderline". These are people in intense emotional pain, mired in negative feelings, most often dysthymic, who do not think in black and white, but who spiral down into prolonged periods of anguish, fear, guilt, shame, etc. (intense dysphoric states), tend towards major (melancholic) depressions, are mostly introverted and are very far from the stereotypes of this disorder as reflected in these posts. They are almost invisible, as they had great difficulty in expressing any feelings of anger whatsoever - turning anger against themselves repeatedly - they may be masochistic and very SELF-destructive, undermining all their chances for real achievement.

This subtype is most likely to be classified "fearful-avoidant" as far as attachment goes. They are the most likely to spend years of their life "dissociated" - i.e. numbed out, feeling little or nothing, barely "alive" emotionally. They often have the similar stories of peri-natal traumas found in many bios of those more clearly in the "autistic spectrum". They often present with speech difficulties and feel cut off from contact with others just like those with ASP. It is very likely that many people with very difficult childhoods and adolescences suffering from ASP are unfortunate enough to also fall into this subtype of BPD.

Over half of those suffering from BPD are not related to the impulsive-histrionic spectrum of this disorder, but rather to the "emotional dysregulation"- dysphoric spectrum. There is more and more speculation as to the possibility that these are even two separate disorders.
Emotional dysregulation also includes the lack of nuanced emotions - one can swing from feeling nothing at all to writhing under intense feelings of self-loathing, guilt, shame, etc. in a flash, but hardly with anything in between. It is thought that the HPA axis is damaged - their nervous system in on red alert, and insomnia is rampant among these people.

It is quite possible that in these individuals BPD is a kind of childhood PTSD, possibly with roots in the first days/weeks of one's life, which would make it a developmental disorder, and link it to other developmental disorders such as found in the entire autistic spectrum. BPD and ASP are both disorders of the SELF. It is this sense of self that is so hard to obtain for individuals on the autistic spectrum and so hard to maintain for those who we call "borderline" (for lack of a better word). One can say that without a firm sense of self, one cannot have more than a vacillating sense of others...

It's time to stop thinking of BPD as a kind of personality, all the research points to problems with emotional processing in some, with impulse problems in others, with both in still others and as BPD makes it's way slowly and surely to AXis I (as did autistic disorders before it), it will become more and more evident that even those with ASP can also suffer the hell of being "borderline". Once we stop using BPD as a lame adjective for difficult or unlikable people, we will finally realize to what a degree all kinds of (good, caring, sensitive) souls may have this disorder, even those with ASP. The "quiet" ASP who also struggles with the nightmare of this inner pain merits the same compassion and attention as that of more "extroverted borderlines".
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Re: Asperger's Syndrome vs. Borderline Personality Disorder

Postby Aspen » Thu Jul 17, 2008 12:51 pm

Wow, this is a very interesting assessment, Phin.

Welcome to Gestalt, by the way.
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Re: Asperger's Syndrome vs. Borderline Personality Disorder

Postby Noctivagus » Thu Jul 17, 2008 3:46 pm

Hi Phin, parts of that interesting post I recognise in me, but not all of it. Though I am not saying I suspect any BPD in me.

Good post :D

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Re: Asperger's Syndrome vs. Borderline Personality Disorder

Postby SomethingElse » Thu Jul 17, 2008 10:00 pm

ASP? What does the P stand for?
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Re: Asperger's Syndrome vs. Borderline Personality Disorder

Postby Noctivagus » Fri Jul 18, 2008 12:19 am

Benji wrote:ASP? What does the P stand for?


ASPergers... I thought.
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Re: Asperger's Syndrome vs. Borderline Personality Disorder

Postby beware_the_sluagh » Fri Jul 18, 2008 12:39 am

Aspen wrote:Wow, this is a very interesting assessment, Phin.

Welcome to Gestalt, by the way.


Seconded!!

I also see similarities in myself to that description, although not to other parts - as is the way with many things I guess.
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Re: Asperger's Syndrome vs. Borderline Personality Disorder

Postby TheZach » Fri Jul 18, 2008 1:36 am

I was mis-dx'd borderine before as well - then medicated into a zombie.

After the AS diagnosis I got a dog that helped me cope with overwhelming and rough times, and took myself off the zombie concoction without anyone knowing for 7 months, then I told the doctor and he was suprised.

Its been a year off the zombie conoction now and the only meds I take are caffine in the mornin.
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