The Sensitive Invalidated Person

I have just returned from this afternoon’s session with my therapist and she shared a very interesting insight with me about her understanding of so called ‘borderline personality disorder’.  Apparently there is a therapist in my home town who brought the work of Marsha Linehan, Dialectic Behaviour Therapy to Canberra and her insight (and it is by no means new or hers alone) is that people with a so called ‘borderline’ psychology are actually incredibly sensitive people who are not understood, nor their sensitivity, depth of feeling and insight acknowledged.  As a result they meet invalidation in an insensitive world all of the time, which breeds lots of inner frustration, disappointment and anger.

Their reactions to this are then misunderstood or invalidated further leading to an increase rather than decrease in their feelings of being alone and frustrated, cast to the side, misunderstood and shunned.  To ease our pain over this is it any wonder we start to look for places to self sooth or may even indulge in self harm or feel suicidal.

The insight that I also shared with my therapist which has been coming to me later is that in order to connect with people who don’t and never could ‘get’ or understand us we turn against ourselves. We indulge in self judgement which can be very harsh.  We blame ourselves for not being different or ‘better’.  We have a hard time valuing who we are and experiencing a feeling of self worth until we can understand our dilemma.  We may reverse bond with others in an attempt to win love which makes us even angrier and sadder on the inside.

This kind of dilemma we are set up for is not easy to break out of.  It involves seeing the ways in which others have failed us and recognising the pain of that but also coming to an acceptance of the lack of depth of sensitivity in others who never need to react to things in the way which we do, as well as a turning towards more validating sources and learning how to self validate and self soothe our pain, sensitivity and distress.

The name that this particular therapist gives to such people is sensitive, invalidated persons. This takes the onus of disease and illness off of us.  It ends the pathologising of who we are as unique individuals.  It speaks about what happens to us and how we and others respond which brings us back to a place of power, validation and recognition.  It helps ease the pain of the feelings we have that we don’t truly make sense or belong anywhere.


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