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BPD: Narcissistic Injuries, Madness and Mindfulness

When you suffer from Borderline Personality Disorder (or complex trauma) one person’s constructive criticism or negative response is another person’s life-threatening narcissistic injury. I received a narcissistic brain hemorrhage this week when my challenging and authoritative therapist decided it was not relevant to our therapy to watch a video link I had emailed her.

My borderline reaction went to DefCon One in less than a nanosecond and I thought my brain would implode.

To be fair to myself, my thoughts remained relatively mindful (she’s said no before for the same reasons and yet I continue to email her things; it could be said that an idiot does the same thing all the time and expects a different response. If that is the case, then I am that idiot) but my body was transported instantly back to the mid-seventies where school bullying and parental fighting had finely tuned my fight, flight or freeze response.

It’s total madness to live in a high alert, hyper-vigilant state where everyone who has an adverse opinion is the enemy, but instead of smashing a cup, a plate or the TV remote, I sat in one place without moving and fantasized about her waking up with a teddy bear and rabbit’s head on the pillow next to her (Godfather style) and screaming incoherently. Luckily I am familiar with this over-reaction and my mindfulness skills kick in almost immediately; I just needed to briefly indulge my favorite revenge plot for a few glorious seconds.

I even tried watching Desperate Housewives to take my mind off her email, but try as I might she bears an uncanny resemblance to Bree Van de Kamp, so that particular day watching the ladies on Wisteria Lane was like pouring petrol onto an already roaring fire. So I decided to go food shopping and my perfectly coiffed blow-dried hair (ready for a function that night) ended up a tangled sticky mess after an unexpected and surprisingly strong thunderstorm hit our suburb.

Because of my state of mind I should have had a seizure and collapsed, but I amazed myself by taking a deep breath – and getting over it (I didn’t make it to the function after all, but that is another story).

But I still was not over that damned email nor my Damned Desperate Therapist. By this time two and a half hours had elapsed since my narcissism needed an ambulance.

These types of semi-fatal injuries are invisible and I managed to hide it well, go about my afternoon without any family member suspecting I was a walking/talking aneurysm. So I decided to re-read the email to see if I had missed something crucial – and I had. I had only read the bit about it not being relevant to therapy but there was so much more that I had missed – or misinterpreted.

This is what happens when my head explodes into a black anaphylactic abyss where toxic neurotransmitters invade and overwhelm my pre-frontal cortex. I literally do not see the rest of the words; I only see the “golf club sentence” which does my head in. I still have that Chernobyl reaction, but now I respond rather than react. I switched on the Large Hadron Collider in my head and manufactured much mindfulness particles (and maybe even the random thunderstorm) out of nothing and let this dark matter wash over me without judgment or criticism (as best I could) and did not let that damned time machine crank itself back to the future where I get sucked into the black hole of the madness and mayhem of the mid-seventies.

I emailed her the next day, took responsibility for my actions (a humbling experience, “sucking it up” as some would say) and mentioned, amongst other things, that I would not send her any more videos for her to watch, and my narcissistic injury healed beautifully without any scar. She knew this; somehow with the words she used in her next email she KNEW what had happened the day before.

She’s like that, she gets me. She’s a witch sometimes but a good witch. And Teddy and Rabbit are safe again, smiling and carefree in the way that all teddies, rabbits and young children should be.

s_bukley /

BPD: Narcissistic Injuries, Madness and Mindfulness

Sonia Neale

Sonia Neale was recently awarded the Inaugural Barbara Hocking SANE Australia Fellowship to study and research Borderline Personality Disorder overseas in the USA, Canada, UK and Ireland. Her previous Psych Central blog was called Therapy Unplugged. She is the author of two books, The Bad Mother’s Revenge and Death by Teenager, both published by ABC Books/Harper Collins. She lives in Western Australia, is married with three adult children, has studied psychoanalytic psychotherapy, has a Certificate IV in Mental Health and is studying for a Psychology/Counselling degree. She currently works as a peer support worker in the mental health field.

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APA Reference
Neale, S. (2012). BPD: Narcissistic Injuries, Madness and Mindfulness. Psych Central. Retrieved on September 18, 2020, from


Last updated: 8 Jul 2012
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