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Author Topic: BPD BEHAVIORS: Waif, Hermit, Queen, and Witch  (Read 57352 times)
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« on: August 26, 2007, 11:20:42 PM »

Borderline Personality Disorder can manifest itself in mutliple ways. In her book, Understanding The Borderline Mother, Dr. Christine Lawson describes four role types which BPD is exemplified by:

~the Waif,
~the Hermit,
~the Queen, and
~the Witch.

The Queen is controlling, the Witch is sadistic, the Hermit is fearful, and the Waif is helpless.  Each requires a different approach. Don't let the Queen get the upper hand; be wary even of accepting gifts because it engenders expectations. Don't internalize the Hermit's fears or become limited by them. Don't allow yourself to be alone with the Witch; maintain distance for your own emotional and physical safety. And with the Waif, don't get pulled into her crises and sense of victimization; "pay attention to your own tendencies to want to rescue her, which just feeds the dynamic.

This workshop is about identifying the BPD types and ways to cope such as:

Being Firm But Sensitive - Personal validation, which is important in any situation, is essential with a borderline parent. Express your awareness of their emotions even as you set boundaries.

Trust Yourself - Many children of borderline parents say they felt crazy growing up. They experience a lot of inconsistencies—an action or statement that earned praise one day would touch off a three-day, stony silent treatment the next—as well as sudden outbursts and overreactions.  They never learn to trust their own judgment or feelings. An important element of recovery is to accept that you're not crazy"

Trust Others -  People who've survived a borderline parent most frequently suffer from feelings of worthlessness, fear of abandonment, and fear of people in general because these adult children received "such mixed messages—you're a great person one day and you're horrible the next" — there's a certain mistrust of people because you're always afraid they're going to hurt you.

Defend Your Boundaries  - Children of borderline parents are often forced to act as the parent themselves— it's often like a child raising a child.  The children grow up very quickly in many ways and can act as caretaker for everyone, often at the expense of taking care of themselves.  An important part of recovery is to set limits for the parent, set them for other people and learn to put yourself first.

Thanks in advance for your participation in this workshop.

Skippy

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The link to the discussion of Understanding the Borderline Mother:

http://www.bpdfamily.com/message_board/index.php?topic=53779.0
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Mollyd
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« Reply #1 on: August 27, 2007, 10:58:55 AM »

Unfortunately, I've loaned my UTBM book to someone, and can't remember who.  However, as a jumping off point, I'd like to add:

"Degradation by someone who claims to love you is qualitatively different than degradation by a stranger," (Christine Ann Lawson, Ph.D.).  

The types described by Lawson are not absolute categories.  For example, I can recall my stepmother vacillating between the waif/queen and waif/witch.  The importance of this is in coping strategies needed, if one determines they would like to maintain some sort of relationship with the person acting out in these ways.  Soping strategy ideas are identified in the titles of different chapters, such as:

Loving the Waif Without Rescuing Her (Implying a clear sense of self and ability to hold boundaries.  De-tangling co-dependent relationship tendencies would be part of healing)

Loving the Hermit Without Feeding Her Fear (I've seen this played out a great deal with folks who refuse to drive (their afraid), refuse to work (people bug them), refuse to leave the house (they'd rather stay at home).  So, not enabling these fears by "doing for them" what they need to is part of the boundary work with this type of acting out.)

Loving the Queen Without Becoming Her Subject (I view one of the needed skills to be able to do this as exemplified in the Four Agreements [Do my best, be impeccable, not take anything personally, and don't make assumptions].  Understanding that people acting out Queen behaviors are operating with faulty filters and in an unrecovered state may allow us to walk away when the "Queen" is being queenly, and rejoin when he/she has returned to a more civil state.  The demand of the Queen on her children or those around her to be a subject can be influential in one's ability to maintain some contact or not.)

Living with the Witch Without Becoming her Vicitm (Lawson, imo, implies, even in this title when one is in "witch" form, loving is not really part of the picture.  I read this as the name of the game is survival.  Boundaries about what we are willing to tolerate, and more, why we would tolerate abusive behavior is the work here).

I also found the following summation of Lawson's words of value:

The Waif  "learned that submissive behavior was the most adaptive response to an oppressive environment." She also "sees herself as an incompetent failure, and is overly dependent on the approval of others."

The Hermit is "a perfectionist, a worrier, and . . . an insomniac. . . Hermit mothers suffer from persistent fantasies of harm coming to themselves or others, and tend to attribute hostile intentions to others."

Queen mothers "compete with their children for time, attention, love, and money." And "The dramatic and sometimes hysterical behavior of the Queen mother can terrify her children."

And finally, Witch mothers can be "bitter, demanding, sarcastic, and cruel," and "Witch mothers know what to say to hurt or scare their children, and use humiliation and degradation to punish them."

Best,

Molly
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« Reply #2 on: August 27, 2007, 02:40:53 PM »

I think we also need to add in the fairy tale fathers. It is pretty common on the children of board to watch a person process their mother's illness and then have a lightbulb moment where the father is concerned.

page 179: Understanding the father's relationship with the Borderline Mother is essential in understanding the child's experience.

The Waif marries a Frog Prince, someone she can rescue and who she thinks will rescue her.The Waif identifies with the Frog's helplessness and fantasizes about providing for him what she needs for herself.

The Hermit seeks a Hunter, a partner who will pity and protect her. The Borderline Hermit envies the Huntsmen's courage desperately seeks his soothng presence.

The Queen seeks a King, somone who attracts attention through his prominence, wealth or power. The Queen therefore is more likely to marry a Narcissist-or King.

The Witch seeks a Fisherman, someone she can dominate and control (hey there dad). She chooses a subservient partner who admires her courage and who relinquishes his will at her command.


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GENERAL ANNOUNCEMENT

This board is intended for general questions about BPD and other personality disorders, trait definitions, and related therapies and diagnostics. Topics should be formatted as a question.

Please do not host topics related to the specific pwBPD in your life - those discussions should be hosted on an appropraite [L1] - [L4] board.

You will find indepth information provided by our senior members in our workshop board discussions (click here).

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« Reply #3 on: August 27, 2007, 08:08:57 PM »

I have a tendency to simplify things to the least common denominator.

There isn't one "category" that cannot be met effectively by pure detachment.  Once you truly realize that you're "in it," you discover that you cannot fix it.  You have to begin by putting your own life in order to prepare for the next appropriate step (be it divorce, break-up between unmarried partners, etc).   Becoming selfish with the important things in life... yourself and your children (if there are any)... and detaching yourself from becoming embroiled in the drama, no matter which category s/he is in - you will ultimately be better prepared for the end of the relationship, whether initiated by you or her/him.
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« Reply #4 on: August 27, 2007, 10:31:47 PM »


Once you truly realize that you're "in it," you discover that you cannot fix it.  You have to begin by putting your own life in order to prepare for the next appropriate step (be it divorce, break-up between unmarried partners, etc). 

I do see what you are saying, Mr. M. However, it is very hard and difficult to put your own life in order when you have never seen what a  real life looks life. To me, chaos was normal as it was and is for many children of BP parents, adult or otherwise.
The categories do help. The way a person detaches from a Waif mother is vastly different than how one would detach from a Witch.
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« Reply #5 on: August 28, 2007, 09:06:59 AM »

I do see what you are saying, Mr. M. However, it is very hard and difficult to put your own life in order when you have never seen what a  real life looks life.

I agree, which is why I wrote, Once you realize you're in it...

The suggestion I offered is rather simplistic as many of those dealing with a suspected BPD have issues of their own that prevent them from realizing that there is something very wrong with their partner.  The longer they're in it, the worse this can become and the vicious cycle only gets worse.

Personally, I never reached a point where I was ever convinced that I was who I was portrayed to be, but that very often is the exception, not the rule.  I didn't even "discover" BPD until after everything came apart.

That's a big issue... being able to discover what you're dealing with as early in the process as possible.  In the absence of that discovery but still realizing something is wrong, a person must find the inner strength to realize:

- I am not the demon my partner oftentimes makes me out to be.
- I am a very good and caring person.
- The stories/version of events given to me by my partner are not real.
- I will continue to be who I am and will simply not be convinced I am something else by this person.

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« Reply #6 on: August 28, 2007, 10:00:44 AM »

Perhaps the distinction lies not so much in the type or category of the bpd, but in the individual's relationship TO the bpd.  In other words, if the BPD is your parent, there are far more complex issues to consider when attempting to disengage oneself.

Quote
That's a big issue... being able to discover what you're dealing with as early in the process as possible.  In the absence of that discovery but still realizing something is wrong, a person must find the inner strength to realize:

- I am not the demon my partner oftentimes makes me out to be.
- I am a very good and caring person.
- The stories/version of events given to me by my partner are not real.
- I will continue to be who I am and will simply not be convinced I am something else by this person.

Considering these very valid points through the eyes of a child (even an adult child) would present a different perspective than it would from a partner of a bpd.  I think that may be your point, screamingfire?
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« Reply #7 on: August 29, 2007, 09:01:38 AM »

I'm also convinced, based on reading here over the months and years, that people can switch "types"...  either as the situation demands, or over years.  I think that many with bpd turn more "hermitish" over the years.
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« Reply #8 on: September 27, 2007, 08:21:49 AM »

I just reread the book recently, and I read it out of order some.  I read about all of the "Mom" traits, then went back and read about the Fairy Tale fathers part.  Until I got to the fathers part, I saw bits of her in all of them, but more of the witch than I originally thought. 

I analyzed myself as a Hunter / Fisherman.  And this explains my stress when I realized that I was letting her get away with her bad behavior, though not specifically helping with it too often.  I turned that around...  and here I am.  And the Hermit / Witch definitely fits the bill for her - I'd have thought more waif before, but not any longer.

I have to wonder if analyzing myself is actually a better way to gauge her?  I reread the book with the upcoming D in mind - I needed to get a feel for how she would likely react.  I now know that I haven't yet really abandoned her (I work from home, don't travel much, enabled, enabled, and enabled).  So it could be that "I ain't seen nothing yet".
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« Reply #9 on: October 26, 2007, 12:20:58 PM »

The Borderline mother, especially the Queen/Witch variety, will view the children as all good or all bad.  Either way, the children become her emotional victims.  This books shows that children treated as all good do not get a realistic view of life and are at higher risk of becoming Narcissistic.  Children treated as all bad become very insecure, have low self esteem and are at higher risk of becoming Borderline.

I've found that in my case, and apparently others, when the mother sees the marriage disintegrating and the father preparing to stand up for himself and the children, the children may at first be viewed as all good since the father is being blasted as Mr. Evil Incarnate.  In a way, this serves to protect the children from the worst of her animosity since she is so focused upon the now rejected spouse who is all bad.  But eventually as time goes on, her interactions with the children will allow her to resume splitting.
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