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What a Lemonade Ad Can Teach About BPD Symptoms

People with a diagnosis of borderline personality disorder(BPD) often can not integrate more than one side of a situation. One week’s perfect therapy may be next week’s torture, rather than therapy being a helpful yet difficult process.

Recently, I saw an ad that seemingly contradicted itself.  “Strawberry lemonade forever” was proudly displayed above a picture of the product, with the notice that it was available “for a limited time only”.  So which is it? Strawberry lemonade forever? Or for a limited time only?

This is “black and white” thinking, or as philosophers like to say, the either-or fallacy. The belief that there are only two options, when, in reality, there are more than two options, is a symptom of borderline personality disorder.

Rigid Thinking A Source of Great Distress for People with BPD

strawberry-lemonadePeople with a diagnosis of borderline personality disorder (BPD) often cannot integrate more than one side of a situation.  One week’s perfect therapy may be next week’s torture, rather than therapy being a helpful yet difficult process.

Why is this? An annoyed psychiatric nurse/Army lieutenant once told me: “With you, it’s either feast or famine.” I knew better than to share the answer that popped into my head: “That’s what my life has been.”

Evidence suggests that BPD may be a type of post-traumatic stress disorder caused by traumatic childhood events. PTSD is best described as “I jumped out of my skin and kept on jumping.” While re-integrating body and mind is possible, the disconnection between them causes a major problem for a person with BPD.

Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) creator, Marsha Linehan, told Time Magazine: “Borderline individuals are the psychological equivalent of third-degree-burn patients. They simply have, so to speak, no emotional skin. Even the slightest touch of movement can create immense suffering.”

Why do people with BPD experience such pain?  When a person with BPD first jumps out of his/her skin, time stops emotionally. She is trapped in the moment and no longer growing or developing.  Meanwhile, time moves on for every other aspect of existence, and she never develops the emotional maturity needed to respond to what’s happening elsewhere.  She is not failing to use appropriate coping skills–said skills were never developed.  She is often left with a child’s view of the world—it’s either all good or all bad.

Part of healing begins by learning to see all sides of the situation. For example, both of the lemonade ad’s statements could be right. The name of the product could be “Strawberry Lemonade Forever”, while the product could be available “for a limited time only”.  Or the promotion for a temporary product may be a poor reference to the Beatles (maybe “nothing is real” didn’t test too well in the focus groups).  Realizing there are multiple options allows a person with BPD to understand the world around him/her, and respond accordingly.

17 thoughts on “What a Lemonade Ad Can Teach About BPD Symptoms”

  1. The lemonade ad is a perfect example of DoubleSpeak as found in George Orwell’s 1984 – “war is peace,” “freedom is slavery” – I’m quoting. We’ve adopted DoubleSpeak into our media, politics and advertising. Maybe, even our laws. However, on the good side, the BPD symptoms are also traits of a sensitive writer/artist. I understand that substance abuse can be a problem, however, the artist often sees both sides of an issue – it’s a natural part of being able to write characters and form stories with meaning. F. Scott Fitzgerald often talked about this trait in artists, seeing both sides at once. You should try writing fiction occasionally. You’d be good at it. Looking forward to reading more! Glad I found you.

  2. hi, it was really hard to find this article,
    just to be on the right channel, i had to fight…
    thank you, you could help to save from crazyness

    i could not sleep, wondering, why people think,
    i’m not a Bpd, just because, i can have more that those symptom, but i have Bpd and other trouble,

    that is why it is difficult for the diagnostic,(french word,sorry)

    i thanks B.B. here for what he has done for us.

    i will come to have some confort here,
    desperate french woman

  3. Wow! Loved this! It really opened up some thinking for me. Gah! I was just having a crisis due to black and white thinking last night!!! Thank you for this article. I am not diagnosed with BPD.. but, BP 1. However, I think I share some symptoms from both.

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