Borderline Personality Disorder and Parental Alienation Involve Similar Abusive Behaviors

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September 25th, 2010 Leave a comment Go to comments

While the old research on BPD reflected in the DSM-IV indicates that females Borderlines far outnumber male Borderlines, newer research indicates that is not so. Yet there has still been a strong focus on BPD being an illness affecting primarily women. We’ve previously shared a video produced showing the emotionally manipulative conversations some Borderline females have in about a minute and a half. A year later, it’s still a popular article as it resonates with folks who have had relationships with Borderlines.

Recently I ran across a set of three videos about a Borderline male made with the XtraNormal animation tools that have been popular with many of those trying to explain what it is like interacting with personality disordered emotionally abusive people. After watching them, I’d say the conversations are quite plausible representations of how these people reason and speak. The guy in these videos, represented by a cuddly looking teddy bear, seems to engage in the “magical thinking” sometimes seen in Borderlines. In particular, he seems to believe that his girlfriend is inhabited by demons because she doesn’t do what he wants. This sort of twisted thinking is typical of Borderlines. If you don’t do what they want in every way, something must be wrong with you. And they are not afraid to tell you that and to make threats, such as the “withdrawal of affection” threat seen in these videos, to get you to comply with their demands.

The Borderline Male, Part 1: Date Night

The Borderline Male, Part 2: The Exorcism

The Borderline Male, Part 3: The Breakup

You might suspect, as I did, that these videos were produced by a female suffering from a Borderline male. But it turns out the producer is a father named Michael Chicca who has struggled with the effects of severe parental alienation on his son induced by the boy’s mother.

Chicca has also produced a couple of videos on parental alienation. If you watch all these videos he’s done, you’ll note the common theme of the twisted selfish thinking, bossiness, emotional manipulation, blame-shifting, and inability to hear and understand what others are saying that are common between the Borderline male and the alienating mother. Given the alienation video content and some of Chicca’s website content, I suspect that he may have based the parental alienation videos on actual interactions with his ex-wife.

Parental Alienation in Action, Part 1

Parental Alienation in Action, Part 2

It’s to Chicca’s credit that he can see that personality disorders and parental alienation are connected in their behaviors and that both harm women and men, girls and boys.

It’s no coincidence that BPD and parental alienation behaviors are so similar. Many books focusing on one topic also mention the other precisely because Borderlines who have kids tend to alienate their children against the other parent and parental alienators often suffer from a personality disorder. Both conditions generally originate from an abusive childhood.

If you’re in a relationships with a Borderline, you should fully expect that your children will probably become victims of parental alienation. This is especially the case for “acting out” variants of this personality disorder in which the focus is on trying to control and manipulate others rather than harming themselves. Such people have major trouble with relationships and as a general rule are very self-centered and have difficulty empathizing with others. These are also fundamental personality traits of parental alienators, although the difficulty with empathy may not always be apparent because often what appears as “empathy” coming from these people is really emotional manipulation for their own benefit.

Borderlines often regard those emotionally close to them as “love objects” that belong to them. This is tied to their emotional insecurity about relationships. They tend to have very severe fear of abandonment and as their adult love relationship crumbles, they tend to cling to their children in unhealthy ways. Not only do these types of fears create a great degree of distress in them, they also become motivated to do what they can to ensure that their remaining “love objects” (the children) will not stray by having affections for others. Borderlines and alienators alike tend to believe their children cannot love the other parent without ceasing to love them. Thus they strive to ensure this will not happen and often use a parental alienation campaign as a major instrument to control the outcome and protect themselves from their deep fears of abandonment. Parental alienation often starts during the relationship or marriage, but this may not be apparent to the target parent. In nearly every case, it is likely to become far worse after the separation or divorce starts.

While there is certainly no absolute rule that a Borderline will always alienate children, it is so common that it should be recognized as a significant risk. In my view, Borderlines who are not undergoing treatment showing long-term significant reduction or remission in symptoms probably should not have children. They are not emotionally capable of being mature parents who can put their children first and keep them out of conflict with the children’s other parent. Their insecurities and habits of emotionally and verbally abusing others makes it almost a certainty that they will drag the children into conflicts, perhaps nearly every conflict, with the other parent.

Conversely, if you’re experiencing parental alienation directed at you (whether you are a parent or a child), you should take a long, hard look at the background of the alienating parent. The odds are strong that you will find, if you dig deep enough, that he or she was abused as a child, shows many behavioral signs of a DSM-IV Axis II Cluster B personality disorder such as BPD or NPD (Narcissistic Personality Disorder), and is in denial about the behavioral problems. You may find that reading more about BPD, NPD, and similar personality disorders gives you a lot of insights into what drives the alienating parent in your life and helps you to find coping mechanisms for dealing with them.

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Further Reading

Telling Your Nasty Ex About BPD or NPD May Hurt You

How Sociopathic Parents Use Police Reports for Defamation

Welcome Back Pluto is Dr. Warshak’s New Parental Alienation Video for Kids and Parents

Escaping Sociopathic Abuse Almost Impossible When Children Are Involved

Extreme BPD / NPD Behaviors Are Internally Triggered

Stopping Parental Alienation Requires Family Court Reforms

Relationships and Divorces with Someone Who Suffers Borderline Personality Disorder

Borderlines Can Make You Feel Insane Via “Gaslighting”

Counteracting Tactics for Interfering With Custody and Visitation

Co-parenting With A Sociopath (Borderline, Narcissist, etc.)

Personality Disordered Abusers in Family Law Courts

Personality Disordered Abusers in Psychological Evaluations

Support for Family Members of Those With BPD

Talking with a Borderline

Brain Scans on Borderlines Show Emotional Oversensitivity

Study Finds High Correlation of BPD, NPD, and Schizotypal Personality Disorder

BPD prevalence may be 6%, 3 times higher than previously thought

  1. September 26th, 2010 at 09:42 | #1

    Borderline Personality Disorder is often present in the alienating parent. We write about this in our book, A Family’s Heartbreak: A Parent’s Introduction to Parental Alienation.

    Also typical of the alienating parent is the fear of abandonment. This causes the alienating parent to pull a child into the middle of the adult conflict as a replacement for the soon-to-be ex-spouse or partner.

    Obviously, there is lots more to say about both these topics. For more information and resurces about parental alienation please feel free to visit our website at


    mike jeffries

  2. Step mom
    September 28th, 2010 at 11:25 | #2

    Both males and females can alienate a child, whether they are borderlines or not I would think. Unfortunately, the science just isn’t there even though we need it NOW. Psychologist Ira Turkat says there still is not the proper research studies done on parental alienation or on Divorce Related Malicious Parent Syndrome and even on child custody evaluations so families and courts are left in chaos. And don’t borderlines thrive in chaos?

  3. Tigerlilytoo
    October 1st, 2010 at 19:35 | #3

    I want to thank you for publishing these videos. I personally know Mr. Chicca and the struggle he has endured. He is a true survivor who loves his son despite some really terrible things that have happened. Until PAS is recognized as a true syndrome there will be more sad stories. Even recently, I have heard and read very disparaging comments about it and a complete refusal on the part of some to understand its serious and insidious nature. For those who are living it, there is not doubt that it is real.

  4. hallie
    November 19th, 2010 at 07:26 | #4

    i find it interesting that the witchhunt on women is alive and well. my sociopathic ex accused me of parent alienation, abuse, being mentally ill et etc….didnt bother to show up in court once he got me and the kids i always cared for tangled in another horrific expensive stressful mess. why? because i finally got to submit my affidavit on what he was doing during the marriage and up to today, years later, to destroy us. i would dare suggest that a lot more often than not, the poor estranged ex husband doesnt even take care of his children financially or try to see them much at all. my ex was actually alienating my kids from me on his paltry visits he ever made to see them. but, even the courts find it easier to just blame the mother, string her up on the cross, burn her at the stake, tag her with negative names…instead of really looking at both sides of the real parenting equation to see what is what. who is financially responsible? who sacrificed career, relationships and freedom? whose body got torn up having the kids? who affords the children their needs and nurtures them? more than likely not the male crying ‘parenting alienation syndrome’. a term by men for men to excuse their weak parenting skills.

    • November 19th, 2010 at 19:53 | #5

      Where do you get the idea of a witch-hunt on women? Although I write from my own experiences about my ex who happens to be a female doesn’t mean that I generalize that to all women. I certainly don’t believe that all or even most mothers are so malicious, nor do I believe that all men and fathers are victims of such women.

      The facts are that there are many women who are being alienated from their children by a vindictive, malicious, personality disordered, and/or sociopathic ex-husband or ex-boyfriend. While family law appears to be undeniably biased against men overall when you consider facts including the statistics showing that the vast majority of children put into “sole custody” are placed with mothers, that in no way reduces the harm being done to many moms and children by alienation, false accusations, and other evil tactics the aggressors use.

      You seem to be arguing that dads are defective at parenting and therefore parental alienation syndrome isn’t real while simultaneously stating that your ex has been trying to alienating you, a mother. You can’t have it both ways. The way to escape this incongruent thinking is to realize that gender is not the driving element or factor behind abuse, alienation, and other destructive behaviors. It may influence the outcome because of bias, sexism, or differences in socialization of genders, but it does not make a fundamental difference in who is an abuser and who is the victim.

      In your case, it might be that your ex has done some very bad things. That doesn’t mean that the many male victims of the same sorts of misconduct and crimes are all liars who are projecting their own actions on their victims any more than it means you deserved such maltreatment.

      Look at it this way, we in other stories have reported on cops shooting people in the back, beating them up, falsely accusing them of crimes, and planting evidence against them to aid in wrongful prosecutions. But does that mean that all people cops arrest are innocent? No way. That would be black-and-white thinking, it simply is not true.

      A more rational opinion is that there are some very bad cops, some who do nothing to stop the bad cops, and some good cops who truly do try to uphold the law even when it means turning in another cop who has broken the law. You can’t know which is which simply because you see one wearing a police uniform any more than you can know which parents are victims or abusers based upon their “gender uniform”.

      Furthermore, being a man or a women doesn’t make one an abuser or a victim any more than being arrested makes one guilty.

      It’s most helpful to focus on the behaviors rather than the gender. Gender is fine for examples and personal experiences and indeed helps people understand each other’s experiences, but generalizing and stereotyping psychological and behavior problems by gender is simply inaccurate in many, even most, cases. That’s become increasingly clear as the research on BPD, for instance, has shown that decades-old beliefs that women are the predominant sufferers of this disorder has been supplanted with newer research that shows that men and women suffer about equally from BPD.

  5. steve
    December 25th, 2010 at 16:15 | #6

    Interesting videos…One thing that seems difficult about this subject is that one could generalize about any broken relationship with children where at least one parent is less than stellar in their behavior and exceptance of the other parent as critical to their child’s development…so people or the courts hear about BPD and parental alienation and brush it aside or find it impossible to except in the same way one would have to address outright physical abuse. But the difference between run of the mill divorce and custody disputes and BPD and PAS is tremendous and is often outright abuse.

    The post by Hallie would be something my ex would say…something that basically denies a father’s basic role and importance to their child’s development. Classic. My ex is on the run with our infant child….I have not seen either of them for 4 months. I don’t know where they are or if my child is ok…other than a process server sighting them briefly several months ago, as they fled service. I spent 5 months before she left pleading with her parents and therapist and other therapists that she was not ok and needed help, but of course she had gone from total engrossment and almost obsession over me…to total rejection and disassociation as if I was not even a human being in the room. And since I was the focus of her rage, me saying to her mom and therapist that she was basically crazy seemed like the run of the mill thing a guy says when he screws up and does something bad to his partner…

    I never put any credence to guys that after a custody dispute say that the system is biased against men…but in the case of a BPD mother, they are screwed as that emotional disorder will thrive in conflict and will steam-roll the average person.

    I have heard people respond to claims of BPD in women as some sort of newfangled anti-feminism and all I have to say is that despite popular culture regarding the sexes…men are basically assumed to be the perpetrator in most court systems, due to the physical/strength issue of men vs. women. A female BPD/parental alienator is often quite intelligent and otherwise functional as most court ordered psychologists would probably miss the diagnosis especially if she is claiming abuse by him. But it is my opinion that the court systems probably get it pretty much right in most run-of-the-mill custody disputes and when a guy is bad news he loses custody because he probably acted out in a way that is indefensible…but for BPD women – they can run roughshod over the legal system so it needs more attention and focus because our legal system does not yet have the tools to address it and advocate well enough for the father…for example I can’t even bring charges against my ex! WHY! It would be automatic if the roles were switched. But the cops assume that since she is the mother and our child is an infant then it is a civil issue. WTF!

  6. Tigerlilytoo
    January 5th, 2011 at 12:20 | #7

    hallie : i would dare suggest that a lot more often than not, the poor estranged ex husband doesnt even take care of his children financially or try to see them much at all. my ex was actually alienating my kids from me on his paltry visits he ever made to see them. but, even the courts find it easier to just blame the mother, string her up on the cross, burn her at the stake, tag her with negative names…instead of really looking at both sides of the real parenting equation to see what is what. who is financially responsible? who sacrificed career, relationships and freedom? whose body got torn up having the kids? who affords the children their needs and nurtures them? more than likely not the male crying ‘parenting alienation syndrome’. a term by men for men to excuse their weak parenting skills.

    You sound very angry, like many other BPD’s I have known. Full of blame, full of hatred, full of projection. Ugh.

  7. Robert
    April 8th, 2011 at 11:23 | #8

    I am forever flabbergasted with the slight of hand that goes on in such posts. Yes, men do sometimes start into this child abuse (parental alienation). By presenting this male / female alienation on equal footing you are distorting factual reality (are you a feminist there?).

    The facts are: WOMEN are 2,500% (two thousand five hundred percent) more likely then men to abuse their children in this way. The facts are: 90% of women get sole custody. The facts are: 40% of those women who have sole custody admit that they do this. The facts are: 70% of divorces are initiated by women.

    So the next time you see a woman lamenting her “single mother” status as a badge of honor with her “victim mentality” know that in all likelihood you are speaking with an abusive, psychologically disordered individual who is abusing her children & harming their future ability to have successful relationships of their own. Those are the facts.

    • April 8th, 2011 at 19:54 | #9


      I fully understand how you feel discriminated against as a man and feel similarly to you. I’d almost go so far as to say that men are the new slave class of the United States, Canada, and most of the Western world. That is how pervasive and extreme the anti-male sexism has become in family law and juvenile courts.

      However, there is also a pervasive bias against falsely accused parents of both genders. This is especially common when the government has acted inappropriately and then needs some “justification” to excuse away its own abuses. There are many parents, men and women, who are victims of governmental abuse instigated by an alienating ex. These parents are frequently scapegoated and abused for decades by the very government that should be attempting to protect them and the children.

      The problem with focusing on gender bias, even though it is obviously common, is that is tends to alienate and polarize a lot of people in the process and distract from even more serious problems. Ultimately the problems are the abuse behaviors of the alienating ex and the government accomplices, not the gender of either parent.

      As it stands today, still a vast majority of the populace is completely ignorant of the widespread severe emotional abuse being inflicted upon millions of children via parental alienation, hostile aggressive parenting, or whatever name you’d like to apply to the behaviors designed to cause children to hate a loving parent and that parent and children to be forever deprived of contact or so traumatized that they develop lasting injuries from the abuse. They are likewise totally ignorant of how widely local governments profit from such abuse and endeavor to cover up their actions.

      Some of the “father’s rights” crowd claim that men never alienate children. That’s not true, either, but they can points to statistics that make it appear so. Statistics are helpful to a point, but they can also providing a stepping off point into the abyss of intractable gender warfare.

      From my reading, I think your statistics are not totally accurate but the statistics on the gender bias of custody awards and divorce filings are in the right ballpark.

      Often the parent granted primary custody of the children is the alienating parent. The effects of the abuse, namely how children were deprived of a good parent for years due to false allegations of child abuse, are actually used by courts to justify the continuation of the abuse. Fathers & Families has recently publicized a New Hampshire Supreme Court case in which it seems a court has finally understood that it is completely immoral and unreasonable to reward the parent making false child sexual abuse allegations.

      Some selected quotes from the appeal decision:

      Portsmouth Family Division
      No. 2009-806

      The trial court awarded custody to Todd primarily because the children have spent the majority of their lives with her and that is where they are most comfortable. However, it was because of the unfounded allegations of sexual abuse that Miller was denied any contact with his children for over two years and had little opportunity to establish a home life with them between 2004 and 2009. This raises the question whether Todd has benefitted from her misbehavior.

      We conclude that the award of parental rights and responsibilities must be vacated and the case remanded for reconsideration in light of this opinion. On remand, the trial court must consider the factors set forth in RSA 461-A:6, I(e)-(g) in determining the children’s best interests in this case. Also, the court should consider the applicability of the recent amendment to RSA 461-A:6, IV (Supp. 2010). It is within the trial court’s discretion to take into consideration any additional circumstances that may have occurred while this appeal was pending.

      This case is horrible yet actually tame compared to the abuse inflicted by the malicious parent in many others. The cases cited by the court include disputes in which parents of both genders were the alienating parent and how the effectiveness of the alienation was then used by a court to wrongly reward the child abuser. I believe they may have done this to show they are trying to avoid gender bias and thereby make a stronger statement about how damaging parental alienation child abuse is and how it should never be rewarded by a court.

      Perhaps this case will help pave the way for the family law system in the United States to stop rewarding abusive parents with primary child custody. In doing so, it may help more abused fathers, but it would undoubtedly help quite a few abused mothers, too.


  8. Lila Jones
    October 18th, 2012 at 10:32 | #10

    ‘In my view, Borderlines who are not undergoing treatment showing long-term significant reduction or remission in symptoms probably should not have children’

    Wow, can’t believe someone has the guts to say this! I wouldn’t just rule out BPDs though, I think anyone with a mental illness or abuse issues should think before having kids. Just because someone isn’t diagnosed with a PD, doesn’t mean they aren’t dangerous. It’s just that BPDs tend to be diagnosed more, as we are hospitalised and seek therapy more often than the other PDs. NPD, HPD, SzPDs can be just as damaging. Or even those without full blown PDs can mess up their kids.

    As a BPD in recovery I am determined to never have children of my own. Even though I am stable now and working through my abuse issues, I have no idea how I will treat my own children. I am in a BPD support group, and have witnessed PAS, it’s selfish and childish but the women really believe they love their kids. Also emotional incest, verbal and emotional abuse towards their children. They often blame their kids and decide one day they love them, next they hate them. They use their kids as surrogate spouses and offload their problems onto them. It’s sick to watch. The sickest thing is, the therapists enable it and don’t try to make them see what they are doing. I think the therapists have their own issues and think this type of abuse is OK. They try to teach them to be better parents, but they should be supporting the kids instead, helping them break free and be put in a more stable environment.

    Just because a BPD parent had a horiffic childhood, doesn’t make things like PAS and emotional incest OK. Yes, the abuse is a lot less, but it shouldn’t be tolerated.

    Any BPD who has children knowing they have a disorder is entirely responsible for what they do to their kids. But at the same time, the fathers are also responsible for having a child with someone who is obviously unstable and with the huge potential to be abusive towards the child.

  9. Jason
    April 19th, 2013 at 18:57 | #11

    Change the accusations of demon possession to that of sex addict and intensify the other religious stuff and the brown bear in video 1 is so similar to my ex wife, it made me cringe.

    “Do not raise your voice to me,” was one of her favorite lines. She recently said that same thing to our oldest [twenty-something] daughter.

  10. Jt
    January 22nd, 2015 at 15:46 | #12

    @ hallie
    I’m sorry you feel that PAS is a witch hunt against women. Unfortunately, my mother alienated my brother and I from our father and his family. Even though it does go both ways, it does seem a lot more women alienate their children from the father. Two of my sister in laws have and are trying to end their children’s relationship with their father. I’m sorry you were a victim of parental alienation. PAS is real and it has long term effects on the family structure. I almost feel the courts should be held accountable for any maltreatment to children and non-alienating parents that incurred under a judge’s ruling.

  11. Robert
    February 28th, 2015 at 10:21 | #13

    Hi I just got my kids after 6 years of hell. My ex was 10 minutes away. I have the kids now and I only now know the extent of the abuse. Such as my son telling me his mom said I was murdered and he will never see me again because I was dead. She has been diagnosed with BPD and deemed untreatable.

  12. art
    June 2nd, 2015 at 18:21 | #14

    @ Robert
    I too am 10 minutes away and have no contact with my children. Ex wife got 100 custody, two different therapists “recommended” visitations (total of about 6 hours per week), which in actuality are impossible because the children resisted them so much that I thought it would be better for everyone involved to stop them.
    How did you get your children back? How old are they?

  13. C
    August 4th, 2015 at 11:30 | #15

    I am a female divorced for 9 years & was unfortunately unaware of parental alienation or the cluster b personality disorders that contribute to alienating behaviors until it happened to me.

    I’ve been the parent with greater time sharing this entire time based on our mutual agreement at time of divorce, but now that our child is a teen, the alienation that has been occurring for some time, in bit and pieces during visits, unbeknownst to me, is now at such a severe level that I am spending lots of $ trying to reconnect with our child . She went to her Dad’s 7 months ago for her regular weekend & never returned.

    Gifts and spoiling followed, despite his other financial obligations related to our child’s care falling by the way side for years. Seeing the manipulation of such a selfish & narcissistic person who treats our child like his wife is sickening and my best advice for those falsely accused, those whose ex’s are violating court orders, blocking all contact to the child, etc., is to NOT let anything go on record that isn’t true just because you are exhausted from the fight. Our children need at least one sane parent looking out for their best interests.

    Also, I suggest finding a **forensic psychologist** to evaluate each parent and the child/ren. Get it court ordered if possible. They aren’t cheap & those that are skilled at the complexities of alienation are not easy to find but I believe they are more likely to see through the manipulations of the alienating/disordered parent to get to the heart of the matter and they have the ability to provide expert testimony if needed (I know, more $ but our kids are priceless).

    We can only hope that family law judges and magistrates start seeing the truth in these situations. I am not giving up my fight, though when I re-read the Judgment of Solomon, I question how much this is “tearing” our child in half. That’s the most painful part, knowing our child must be hurting and the potential long term affects on her. Wishing any loving, non-abusive parent the strength to keep fighting for our parental rights & involvement, & equality under family law in all states, no matter your gender!

  1. September 25th, 2010 at 02:54 | #1
  2. October 5th, 2010 at 04:50 | #2
  3. October 11th, 2010 at 22:32 | #3
  4. November 4th, 2010 at 18:29 | #4
  5. July 17th, 2012 at 07:39 | #5
  6. October 3rd, 2012 at 02:30 | #6

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