The curse of the choice (some thoughts on the metaphysical aspects of borderline personality disorder and complex post-traumatic stress disorder) 

This paper deals with a very disturbing topic. It attempts to outline how borderline personality disorder (BPD) and complex post-traumatic stress disorder (c-PTSD) serve metaphysical evil, as its projection, incarnation, and a carrier. The major figure involved in the process is a mother; she is a victim and a prosecutor at the same time. I feel it is necessary to state very clearly that my purpose is not to blame, condemn, lash out etc. but simply name the evil and to show how it operates.

Another important point to make is that the aspects of the modus operandi of these disorders are not confined exclusively to them but lurk in all human relationships which are (as the whole human nature) corrupted as a consequence of the Fall.

A return to the apple tree

Something of the greater value than another has a potential to be corrupted to a greater degree. Or, better to say, the loss of this something is much dearer. The sight of a cut to pieces Rembrandt painting makes a much more painful impact than a cut to pieces anatomical drawing of a student at the art college.

Everything I write I do from the position of a practising Christian. However, not only do I think and analyse human relationships as a Christian, I firmly believe that it is impossible to understand them without employing a Christian understanding of good and evil. Human relationships and their dynamics, if one wishes to understand them in depth – real depth, simply cannot be understood without the human relationship to God. I even think that that the very impossibility to see all the depth of a human psyche without reference to God is not a proof of His existence of course, but a hint.

Jesus Christ, outlining the commandments of God and “compressing” them into two said that a human being must love the Lord your God with all his heart, with all his soul, with all his strength, and with his your mind[1] i.e. with all totality of his being. All others come second: a human being must love his neighbour as himself. This is the model of correct relationships and their correct order.

God who is Unconditional Love creates = gives a life to a human being. A human soul is incarnated via an act of spousal love and is born by a woman. A child is “temporarily given” to a woman who is supposed to provide her with unconditional love. For the time that a child is not psychologically separated from her mother she[2] is a god for her. The mother is “a vice-God”. Her most important task is to be a conductor of God’s unconditional love so that her child could learn, on the instinctive level, that there is one whom she/he can trust absolutely, a paradigm of a blissful secure attachment. This is a necessary basis which later enables a child to form a secure relationship with God. It also means that a mother must let her child go when infancy is over, to allow her/him to form relationships with other human beings and with God.[3]

Hence the major task of a mother is to actualize in her child “an anchor in God” or the vector towards God, something that God imprints in each soul. This is the incarnation which carries some analogy with the Incarnation of Christ. Jesus Christ is God whom His mother, the Virgin Mary, gave her flesh. Any other mother gives her flesh to her child and then, after this physical incarnation, ideally enables the person’s incarnation into God, towards God. I cannot explain it logically but I perceive the word “incarnation” in those two cases, divine and human, to be pivotal. The Incarnation of Christ was the necessary act to release human beings form the curse of the original sin. Human beings are created by Him and in His image; what is required from us after Christ’s Incarnation took place is to follow Him if we wish to become like Him = to be in full communion with God. Considering that the Fall was (regardless of the details) the corruption of the relationships of human beings with God, that Christ came to heal this corruption and that the pivotal thing for a new born person is to be able later to come to God is the secure, loving relationship with her mother it is not surprising then that the metaphysical evil must try to smash the only vulnerable part there – the latter. Nothing can “cancel” the unconditional love of Christ (and of the whole Holy Trinity) for us. Nothing can take from an individual their free choice – to embrace Salvation and follow Christ unless the very ability of making a free choice (that is the gift of God, out freedom) is corrupted. This is a repetition of the fall: human beings had the freedom of a choice (to follow the prohibition or not), they exercised it and immediately this freedom of a choice was lost because from that time they could not choose to die or not, to sin or not. God actually did not lie to them: “eating the prohibited fruit” brought death. The evil lied because they indeed understood what is good and evil (in their own bodies via sin, illness, and death) but they did not become gods as it was promised; the desirable knowledge turned into death. They were tricked into this choice by the evil using deception that is not the whole truth = lie; the whole story has a flavour of mockery. To my mind the corruption of the most unselfish love, of a mother for her child into being manipulative, possessive i.e. pathological is somehow an attempt of the evil to repeat the situation under the tree in Eden. It is the only way for evil to, using a mother as a tool, to twist a human psyche so much that an image of God will become almost unrecognizable and the path to God almost unendurable.

And not only the path to God – but to other individuals as well. Here is another disturbing consequence of the abnormal relationship of a mother with a child: its abnormal mode will be imprinted on the child’s psyche so she will be not only unable to relate to others normally, she will pass this mode upon her children, and so on, further into generations. The analogy is so transparent that there is no need to expand I think.

Other abusers: fathers, other relatives, school teachers, clergy etc. are also very capable of corrupting the capability of a child to attach to God but they are secondary by their impact, for the very reason of extreme vulnerability of an infant at her mother’s breast.


The curse of the choice

Just like the fall of our ancestor, the corruption of the child’s psyche begins with the choice given to her. It is presented via her mother through the personality disorder[4]. In the majority of the cases a child, being moulded by her mother’s behaviour, also develops borderline personality disorder or at least c-PTSD. Those two share at least 70% of the symptoms. In many respects BPD is the more advanced stage of c-PTSD. Here is the scheme:

Normality à
[simple] PTSD (a traumatic event occurred in a life once)
a double bind à c-PTSD (a traumatic event occurred in a life repeatedly during childhood, more often childhood abuse done by a parent) à
BPD of various degree of severity.

Both c-PTSD and BPD begin developing with a double bind that strikes at their very existence (see below), but a child with “only” c-PTSD usually has an alternative attachment figure to whom she is securely attached for some time necessary for the forming her real Self. Such a figure provides an experience of a selfless love that is a reflection of the love of God; this reference to the normal relationship, natural and supernatural, is indispensable. Not everyone who has an alternative secure attachment figure is guaranteed not to develop BPD though; likewise, not everyone who did not have such a figure is doomed to develop it. Other factors play a role, like the strength of a psyche, illnesses, severity of abuse, duration of an attachment to an alternative figure, the wholesomeness of an attachment figure etc.  What differentiate an individual with BPD from one with c-PTSD is that the latter has developed a sense of self and the ultimate good even if it is partially/ periodically obliterated by the original trauma and flashbacks while a person with BPD has not.

I am convinced that many disorders (especially with psychotic features) including c-PTSD and BPD have in their very beginning a double bind of the choice between good and evil, life and death presented by the closest attachment figure, mother or her viceroy. “Normal”, not complex, PTSD differs from c-PTSD by the absence of ever-present double bind = the original choice.

The formula of the original choice: a quadruple bind

                        abusive mother

to stay = death                  to leave = death
-----------------------  child  -----------------------
to stay = life                       to leave = life

The upper line: To stay with an abusive mother means to die (it feels like it to a child; it is always the spiritual reality and sometimes the physical reality as well) but to leave her also means death for a child according to her primary instinct. It is the first double bind which forms the basis of the future persistent darkness in the life of an individual, along the line “there is no exit” out of any life situation which involves a relationship with other(s).

The bottom line:  To stay with an abusive mother means to live (the security that a child needs) but to leave her means also to live (this is the voice which grows stronger as a person grows older; a mother will defend herself against it via inducing shame and guilt into her child, crushing her personality and thus keeping her on a “baby level” psychologically). This is the second double bind which is “a fake light of hope” in the life of an individual, the “secure passivity” of never growing aided by the dreams of something better which are never realized. The first double bind crushes the psyche by conflicting messages and induces the terrible mental pain of an inevitable loss = abandonment = death.  The second double bind is a state of numbness/ derealisation/ depersonalisation, a coping mechanism a child develops unconsciously to defend herself against the first.

The way out of this quadrille bind is the diagonal lines:

to stay = death                       to leave = death
-----------------------  person  -----------------------
to stay = life                            to leave = life

to stay = death  and  to leave = life
to leave = death  and to stay = life  

Those two lines are representations of two mutually exclusive realities, “an abusive mother, a murderess” and “a good mother, a life-giver”. In a normal situation, if an adult is held a captive in a concentration camp for example, he can estimate a danger and decide to run away – he may be killed in the attempt but may escape as well. Whatever he decides it is unlikely that he may consider a cruel guard to be a source of his security and of unconditional love for him. This would be the equivalent of someone on his way to a gas chamber thinking that if he “behaves well” he would be spared and in fact, the executioners are highly moral, loving people. This example may scratch the ears of many but strong comparisons are needed for an adequate description of the hell in the psyche of a child and then in an adult created by those binds. The truth however is that a mother is made good because she gave life, even if she is a monster she will always be seen by her child as such and this impossibility to reconcile the two is precisely what crushes a child.

Returning to the original quadruple bind, what is important here is that it is a combination of real and unreal at the same time. The bad mother is the reality but at the same time it is not the reality, cannot be, by the sheer virtue of being a mother. A mother can abuse a child and this is “bad” but she is her mother, thus she cannot do “bad” things to her. Thus any real action of the mother always has “an opposite interpretation” attached to it. It is easily understood by a common reaction to a victim’s description of an abuse “but she is your mother, she does not want any bad thing for you”. Apart from this, any borderline mother is also a good mother from time to time. The goodness of her “good mode” reinforces the notion of an “all-good mother” who wishes only good for her child – and this is something any child wants to believe. The conflicting facts, their interpretations, and imposed choices of a quadruple bind crush the psyche making it produce an alternative psycho-reality. However, there are never choices like the quadruple bind in a real life, even in the most complex, life and death, situations. Here lies the strength of the quadruple bind or the original choice: being a mixture of reality and unreality (one impossible to distinguish from the other), fed by a child’s psyche, with time it grows into it and becomes a part of it. It operates by activating primary emotions of safety, guilt, shame, and fear of death, on a “reptilian” level. Because of this, in an adult life it does not need the reality (an abusive mother) to function (the strength of primary instincts of survival obliterate it) and it does not respond well to logic (even later, in an adult life). It is often experienced by an adult person with c-PTSD as an invader, something alien to the psyche. In times of a crisis it is often seen as a suddenly opened depth of evil within one’s own soul. There is something incomprehensible in this abyss in which recognizable parts of one’s psyche are entwined with pieces of pure evil. I suspect it is so because one sees God’s relationship with a human being = a potentiality of the ultimate good reflected in a mother-child relationship being twisted, corrupted, and ruined. And not just ruined – every ultimate good was swapped by a fake: unconditional love – with possessive selfish love-hate, trust – by deception; not in a straightforward manner but under a mask of goodness which lures a person into the supposed goodness of their childhood. It is a seduction: “you can have my love and security if you partake of the abuse = the evil”, a seduction which no child can withstand.

Hence the evil here, as everywhere else, utilises the notions of good, selfless, love etc, preserves their form and fills them with rot. Thus abusive treatment of a child implants the evil in her. What is the most important here is that, because it is using the masks of good it teaches a person to perceive good as evil and evil as good or at least the evil as necessary part of good.

Here is an illustration. If we have an original quadruple bind or the original choice:

then its root is:

If a child makes a decision to stay her psyche will disintegrate but such a decision is experienced by her as integration. Reconciliation with her abusive mother means primitive security but also disintegration of her psyche. The pain of the disintegration of oneself with time will be perceived as a necessary attribute of an intimate, “secure” relationship, “a payment” for it. On the metaphysical level it is also a reinforcement of the “evil is necessary part of good” notion. A life of an individual who is forced to live in a quadruple bind is going further and further from reality and into the unreality of its own psyche, a reflection of the inferno populated and governed by  fakes and ghosts.  

Choice as death

One of the symptoms of BPD is “splitting”, seeing everything as only good or only bad, instant idealizing of others and prompt de-idealizing. These dynamics, to a variable extent, are present in the c-PTSD.  The dichotomy of “all-good” and “all-bad” mother; the psyche is conditioned to change its’ opinion over an eye blink and to throw an adorable object from the pedestal. A person is barely able to keep in mind both good and bad aspects at the same time. I suspect that a person with BPD sees everything in black and white while a person with c-PTSD sees the middle tones[5] until an attachment of primary significance is threatened, anything that is perceived as a crucial source of strength, self-identification, and approval. It can be a disappointment with a particular Christian confession because the discovered faults obliterate its strong points etc – something a person longed to belong to completely and now has no strength to hold onto because the discovery is too stressful and the extreme stress throws a person into flashback, a black and white mode[6]. Hence a person with BPD may rage at almost anything that seemingly betrayed their trust but a person with c-PTSD does it only when an extremely personal, truly crucial element is introduced. Because of this, a person with c-PTSD has an additional burden of seeing oneself as she is (impaired) when a flashback is over; a person with BPD very rarely has it, if she does it means she is on her road to normality already or simply does not have BPD.

But why is a choice death?

- If a mother is “bad” then she is the source of a perpetual death threat if a child stays; if a child runs away she will die. This is a simple explanation but unfortunately it does not explain everything.

- The strange “impending doom” = “fear of death” which is like a cloud that chases an adult with c-PTSD or BPD comes also from the very mechanics of the choice perpetually imposed by the mother and its consequences. First of all, as it was established, a child cannot win if she makes a choice within a quadruple bind; the choice is between death of the body (run away) and death of the soul (stay) so it is death indeed but death real and unreal at the same time. Secondly, because any choice is death the process of making a choice is an agony, this is something to remember for understanding many strange symptoms the victims of the childhood abuse manifest; including OCD which is typically clustered around a choice and triggered by stress. The slogan “choice = agony” is engrained in the neural pathways of her brain, it is a Pavlovian reflex.

- There are no objective criteria for a choice. Typically any misdeed of the child = her any wrong choice, whether it is stealing money from a neighbour or petting a street cat or deciding on a future career herself are treated by the mother as a betrayal of her = a matter of a life and death. There is no normal logic here and no universal moral, good – bad; all has relative moral value and its “size” and significance are determined solely by the mother (and often what was defined and “good yesterday” is “very bad” today). The child and then an adult instinctively knows that any smallest “wrong” can be deadly, punished by death and even “good” can be punished by death as well.  Extreme OCD here is the expression of striving for a perfect choice with a realization that it is impossible and corresponds to the first line of a quadruple bind that consists of desperate anxious and contradictory actions

- The choice threatens not only death for a person herself, it also “kills” those who were thrown away. Because of a splitting, a person with BPD and c-PTSD thinks in black and white terms so they are “dead” if thrown out or “alive” if firmly attached to.

- Because she has coped with an abusive mother by “killing” a “bad” and then “good” mother and then again and again via amnesia, depersonalisation etc. she has the involuntarily mechanism of a complete or partial memory loss attached to the choice. When it is triggered, an object in question (a doctrine, a person, even Christ) disappears fully (BPD) or mostly (c-PTSD). This is a death of ones beloved person and on a certain level is experienced as such. For instance, the reaction of a person with c-PTSD when something triggers her doubts about the reality her relationship with Jesus Christ is to become numb towards Him and everything else. She would struggle with “no feelings” for Him while experiencing a terrible pain of loss. It is felt as a wall between her and Christ. The typical response of a person with c-PTSD is over-exaggerated guilt and the sense of her own unworthiness and then an even thicker wall. The fear of death, of one’s own or the other, always accompanies a significant attachment; the more important it is the worse it is.

If making a choice is a necessary part of a human life then for a person who has been strangled by a quadruple bind life means death. The life of people with c-PTSD and BPD is ongoing defence against lurking death – the unreal death which feels more real than the real one otherwise some of them would not try to kill themselves to escape the ghost.


The rationale of the mother

I have just realized that, while providing a detailed description of a daughter’s psyche squashed in a quadruple bind I did not say anything about one who applies it, her mother. Although it was unintentional I think the miss is very fitting because there is nothing essential to say about her outside of the already analysed mechanics imposed by a quadruple bind. She herself is a product of that bind as well; years ago she was what her daughter is now and remains such in many respects, the development of the psyche being arrested on the level of a child who yet did not separate from her mother. The mother is a victim, a carrier, and a perpetuator of the quadruple bind. For example, if her daughter stays, it is a life but yet it is death. If her daughter leaves the mother will lose the whole meaning of her life = life itself. It is unreal of course, but real for her. Yet if a daughter stays her mother will lose the only possibility of getting out of her unreality – providing that she will not simply find a substitute for her daughter.

The seeming difference between the mother = a persecutor and the daughter = a victim, is so huge that it is hard to believe that the psyches of both operate according to the same learnt motto unconsciously absorbed during their childhood. And yet it is so. Metaphorically speaking, the psyche of both have all the necessary elements to be turned  into either a persecutor or a victim. What turns them on is a given power. It is easily demonstrated on examples. It is well-know that abused children often are very cruel to animals. This is because they do not dare to express their rage with their abuser and channel it into the weaker creatures, the power to do so pushes them into cruelty. Just the same, an abused daughter, a silent victim is often transformed by the power she has over her helpless baby. The accumulated aggression is likely to spill out; it also does not help that she did not learn normal behaviour from her mother. This sudden transformation of a victim into a persecutor is not only a feature of personality disorders. Everyone if she is honest can recall a shameful episode of how she treated another weaker than her because of a sudden sense of power or because she could not help it but side with someone else who has such power. This is very common aberration of human nature and the discussed disorders can serve as an excellent magnifying glass for the rot which we all share.

The curse of one relationship

Typically, the child of a possessive (emotionally abusive) mother has difficulties forming other relationships. The reasons for this is the choice imposed upon her by her mother, directly or implicitly “I or he/she/them/it” and also the very relationship with her which locks her psyche (a part of it which is about relationships) on the level of a toddler. The latter is particularly difficult to live with because it is so unnatural.

Irrespectively of the details, often a person discovers that she is unable to have more than one significant relationship at a time, or at least one working relationship. For example, her boyfriend may completely replace her mother for some time; while having a relationship with him she will not think about her mother at all. This situation is somewhat reminiscent of the reaction of children in a famous experiment who, being repeatedly separated from their mothers and presented with the new attachment figures. Those figures would disappear as well, and the new appear, and so on. With time the children learn to attach to anyone as a primary figure, but only on a very superficial level, i.e. they would no longer be upset when an attachment figure disappeared. The imposed inhumane treatment ruined their ability to form a truly human attachment, complex and loving, and turned it into purely utilitarian one. It seems to me that those abused by their mothers, especially if the mother constantly swings between “all-good” and “all-bad” mode instinctively relate to other people as “a potential sole caregiver”, “vice-mother”. When such a figure is identified and acquired then the previous one is forgotten. All this takes a place on an instinctive level; a person may be desperate to expand her circle of friendships but feels a strange inner obstacle.

Hence such a person has two modes of existence: being with someone else (her mother or anyone else in her place) or being on her own. The most habitual = most secure scheme of relationship for such a person is one to one. There is one person (a mother or her viceroy) and there is no one to choose between her and someone else. This liveable maximum that is also the absolute minimum, 1+1, has gross implications. A grown adult, conditioned to operate within this scheme exclusively, may often experience a sense of confusion, anxiety, and guilt because she may think that she is losing her current primary attachment, for example a husband, if she attempts to form another important attachment – with a friend or with God. The case with God may look absurd but it is easily understood. Jesus Christ is Person and in this respect cannot be excluded from the rule of “one relationship at the time only”. Thus if a Christian who is brought up in “1 + 1” relationship really lives her faith she eventually will come to a moment when her relationship with Jesus Christ will become very real; the more she will strive to deepen this relationship the more her another primary attachment will be perceived by her as disappearing bringing on a sense of death. There is another factor which brings on the sense of death: if she perseveres despite a fear she will eventually wish to surrender to Christ completely, i.e. surrender her will. This is an objective of the Christian path to God, to surrender one’s will for the purpose of being restored by Christ into a new state, free from corruption and evil. Alas, for an abused person the very notion of surrender activates the memories of her abuse, the time when she had no choice but surrender to her abusive mother into death. Thus follows an incomprehensible fear of Christ, fear of God, fear of death activated by the very attempt to come to Christ.  Those are two of the endless examples of how the best intentions of an individual which in a normal situation would bring her closer to God = life here, in pathological settings, bring her to an experience of death.

There is another paradoxical aspect here. Because a person with c-PTSD was brought up in a black and white mode, “all or nothing”, in the extreme of making a choice between life and death she may feel that she is truly attached to someone only if it is all or nothing. To feel that she is indeed attached to Christ she must make a sacrifice, black and white, nothing else will suffice i.e. she must “cut everyone out” in an order to feel that she has a relationship with God. The need to make a sacrifice is imaginary i.e. God does not demand it. It is in a sense a re-enactment of her mother’s demand “all or nothing” that also does not have any ground in reality but only in the mother’s psyche. Furthermore, although a person who engages in such an action very often sincerely wants to serve God, in exchange she unconsciously wants the relationship 1+1 only as she knows it, i.e. no other believers, no saints, no other Persons of the Holy Trinity.

The mechanics of losing Christ

Supposedly an abused person with c-PTSD is developing a relationship with Jesus Christ. The fact that Christ is not an abuser cannot instantly cancel her life-long mode of thinking and acting, as a victim of abuse. Such a believer typically expects (unconsciously) from a relationship with Our Lord the same pain, irrationality, engulfment, abandonment, impossible choices she experienced with her mother. Even if intellectually she knows it is not true she cannot overwrite the ruts in her brain worn by abuse. A growing anxiety spanned by her original trauma = a choice presented by her mother will inevitably incarnate itself in a fake choice presented to her by her own psyche, “Jesus Christ or another attachment”. She will chose Christ and this action will obliterate someone else. This habitual action (a copy of “mother, I chose you”) creates a highly subjective sense of security and of more intimacy between her and Christ; she is in a familiar 1+1 relationship. However, the darkness created by abuse is still in her psyche and, fed by it, anxiety begins growing again. To give incarnation to “choice = abandonment = obliteration” which continues to plague her psyche she attributes them to Christ and to herself. Her very relationship with Christ becomes a playground of the trauma of an original choice, a quadruple bind. For example, she imagines that she did something wrong and this is why Christ is distant. Every time she has to make a choice she perceives that if she makes a mistake she will certainly lose Christ; if she makes a right choice she will certainly keep Him. Her self-induced guilt and shame cause numbness in her so indeed Christ appears to her as distant, and so on. She also experiences anger at Him and even hatred for Him – it terrifies her and convinces her that she is indeed rotten and evil. In the process of agony she may see in the depth of her falling apart psyche something she has never seen before: an ugly evil, full of hatred, capable for a murder which she perceives as something alien which is possible to destroy only together with her own life. Eventually, being crushed by an imaginary guilt, shame, necessity to choose and perceived failures she loses His presence altogether, falls into the darkness of abandonment depression and becomes apathetic. Often not only a mind stops working but a body as well.

I am sure that the daughters of borderline and narcissistic mothers recognise the description. It is how they felt towards their mothers being caught in an endless cycle of love and hate, life and death. The only salvation for such a person is to scream to God but the very dynamics of the disorder prevent it, pulling a person into an inferno where it is pointless to scream to God.

There is one astonishing paradox here: the intellect is of no help while a person is descending into guilt, shame, despair, abandonment, and death. Why? Because if the intellect tells that a person is not guilty it sends her in more despair and more hopelessness. This is what had happened with her in the past: she was not guilty before her mother but she had to be so she would make a fake repentance. To feel guilty is a relief because the punishment is just; after the repentance follows the reconciliation.  Paradoxically, the less guilty the person is feeling, the more helpless and hopeless she feels.

Thus a person, via relating to Jesus Christ as she used to relate to her mother, makes Him more and more two-dimensional, black and white, her-mother-like. Because of this, eventually she has an ultimate choice to make: to sacrifice Him for herself = no relationship or to sacrifice herself for Him = surrender to His imaginary demands of sacrifice. Hence she returns to the formula of the relationship with her mother and the “quadruple bind” and to the outcome of the quadruple bind:

All this, I repeat, is in her mind but the suffering is very real.

A flavour of parody

At some point in writing this text a very disturbing thing became apparent to me, that the mechanics of c-PTSD and BPD have some resemblance to Christian theology, anthropology and ascetic practices, a parody of them. The experience of a believer who while attempting to approach God-who-is love feels a terrible fear of death, the opposite of the Christian notion of God, is something the metaphysical evil is dreaming of, i.e.  to convince the human being that God is death experientially. The fear of a deadly catch necessarily attached to an act of love (including God’s) is a parody of Christian anthropology; so too a mother, a symbol of selfless love who abuses her child so much that the latter turns to suicide. A choice which a five years old is making, to stay with a mother “who hates me who loves me who hates me who loves me…” is a parody of morality and of basic normality. Those examples are so gross that I can easily imagine the evil gluttonously laughing at them. Human beings here, so to speak, by their very actions deny the existence of the Christian God and any meaning of existence whatsoever.

All is lost, nothing is lost

We left an abused person (chapter ‘The mechanics of losing Christ’) in a state of severe depression caused by their perceived abandonment by Christ. She made a full circle and returned to what is in essence entrapment in a primary relationship with her mother, “1+1”. It appears that her sacrifices and acts of faith were done for nothing: a person with c-PTSD or BPD is doomed because even her best intentions bring her back to the original evil; everything seems to serve to reincarnate it. It is especially impressive and scary in the case when Our Lord is involved: by choosing Him only a person seems to inevitably recreate her abuser and then something evil comes, something that wants to destroy her. This is only a part of the truth though, or only until a certain point. Even if an “all or nothing” choice of Christ is made by an abused psyche for a wrong reason attached to the right one it is still the only chance to get out of the psycho-inferno providing that the person or even just a part of the person honestly wants to be with Christ, that is with the Person of Christ.

I cannot know what happens between a soul who desires to be with God and God Himself, I only have some disjoined thoughts on the matter. BPD and c-PTSD are essentially a gross violation of a human person. They also destroy “the moral law written in the heart” and, through this, the very potentiality of all that is good. Personhood is something that links a human being to God who is Person (personhood is the image of God) hence by destroying the notion of personhood the evil destroys a possibility of a real relationship with God the Person.

The potential of a relationship with God is destroyed by an abnormal primary attachment. To support this abnormality, a borderline/ narcissistic mother, “a vice-God” for her baby, remains in the place of God for ever, even if she is no longer alive and exists only as an imprint in a child’s psyche.

I do not know whether a necessity of restoration of a normal, i.e. as commanded by God, order of attachments explains why a habitual act of sacrifice “all or nothing” can suddenly work with Christ and opens an opportunity for God to act. Is it because a fake god is thrown from her pedestal and now the real God can act? Is it that her twisted choice given to God is being transformed in God, via the refusal of God to abuse her with it? Or is it that the solo attachment to Our Lord is a counteraction to a primary attachment (to a mother or her viceroy) which, being corrupted first, must be healed first? Perhaps the wisest thing that can be said here is that something happens, and that is it.

An association comes to a mind, of a well-known notion of deception, how Christ when He died on the cross descended into hell and hell rejoiced, swallowing the bait of His humanity but then was immediately obliterated by His divinity. An abused person who wants Jesus Christ all for herself as a solo “caregiver”[8] finds then that she is “stuck” with the Persons of Holy Trinity because it is impossible to love only Christ, a single Person in vacuum. This is an inevitable extension of communion that is a complete opposite to the rule of “one relationship only”, a natural consequence of the desire to be with Christ.

It must be stressed again that an attempt to analyse what is happening in the psyche of a person with c-PTSD who is trying to relate to God looks like a maze with mirrors, each mirror twists the lines of teaching, the words of Christ, the best intentions of the believer. It is so because an encounter with the Ultimate Good always makes the evil rise to a degree unknown to the person before. It is a very peculiar situation when everything seems to be lost and yet nothing is lost if one holds onto Christ, even in the most imperfect way. What I am trying to convey here is that if a person with c-PTSD and BPD or anyone else makes her choice “all or nothing” for Christ it will eventually work; He will make it work. Nevertheless, I feel it is also necessary to outline a certain intention which in my opinion makes the whole difference.

I firmly hold the view that a Christian must surrender all to God with the correction that the first among this all is herself. Herself sacrificed first, before all else and out of a desire for God, this is the key. A believer must surrender herself to Christ as a personal response to His surrender to death on the cross for her sake. In handling herself to Him she also gives to Him the “primary choice” which can be annihilated only by Him.


[1] Luke 10:27.

[2] The word “she” is used through the text because BPD affects women mostly and because the earliest and the most important attachment of a child is to her mother so it is mostly “she” who prosecutes and “she” who is victim and a future prosecutor.

[3] The role of a father is to aid this process; it is not discussed in this paper. It is noteworthy that God the Father has mother and father aspects in Him though.

[4] Borderline or narcissistic; those are the technical terms used for definition of different disorders which have much in common, especially in how their affect the psyche or others, especially the offspring. The focus of this paper is a mother with BPD.

[5] Perhaps it is the result of having an alternative attachment figure, “multi-toned” unlike the “black and white” mother.

[6] It appears to me that a person with BPD is being thrown into flashback non-stop while c-PTSD does it from time to time – another possible distinction between the two disorders.

[7] Perhaps the absurd compulsions = magical thinking are the symbolic re-enacting of the child’s attempts to buy her mother’s forgiveness via absurd acts. Even being an adult she continues making “symbolic sacrifices” for the Mother Omnipotent.  It seems to me that a usual treatment of OCD, exposure, does not work well here unless the primary choice was understood and addressed.

[8] God is indeed the primary and the most important caregiver; to acknowledge it and be open to other attachments is normal, not to be open to them is abnormal.

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