Fragmentation: a mental process where a person becomes intensely emotionally focused on one aspect of themselves, such as “I am angry” or “no one loves me,” to the point where all thoughts, feelings and behavior demonstrate this emotional state, in which, the person does not or is unable to take into account the reality of their environment, others or themselves and their resources. This is a term that my therapist and I use and is on the continuum of dissociation.
Transient, stress-related paranoid ideation or severe dissociative symptoms. This last one is broken down into two parts. Stress-related paranoid ideation is basically just being paranoid-questioning the motives of safe and well meaning people. During childhood, these folks learned that there was not a consistently safe place in the world for them. They were abandoned, abused, neglected, controlled, criticized, unloved and not given what they needed to grow up healthy and happy. It takes many years of effective, caring therapy for them to learn how to trust the world and see it as it is rather than projecting their trust issues onto the world. They view the world through tainted lenses. The final piece of the puzzle is the severe dissociative symptoms. This is a unique ability to stick their pain away for weeks, months and years at a time. They just sort of go bye-bye. I had one borderline explain it as “it was like waking up after 6 months from a deep sleep.” This coping mechanism helps borderlines stay in very dysfunctional and painful relationships for way too long. They can be in the relationship without really being present. However, the disassociating also can be problematic as far as being able to make consistent progress in therapy. When the pain level gets too great, they many times bug out of their therapy. I have had many a door loudly slammed shut after a difficult session with a borderline. They have an ability to cut and run that seems very cold and calculated. They needed that defense mechanism during their childhoods and they end up being sort of stuck with it. It is like a breaker switch in your electrical box; when there is too much current, it trips the switch. Turning that emotional switch back on is a lot more difficult than hitting the breaker switch again. It feels like the ability to turn that emotional switch back on is almost entirely out of their control; they get back in touch with themselves and those around them whenever they are psychologically ready and not before.