The BPD is a lot of things, but most interesting to me is the skill with which she sheds one skin after another. For narcissists the mirror is always pointed at themselves, but for BPDs the mirror is always pointed at others -- allowing those around them to see exactly what they want to see.* For instance, under the title Meet the Marriage Magnet, this self-confessed chameleon explains why she believes she received nine marriage proposals:
I was living like a trainee Stepford WifeA similar character can be found in Edith Wharton's short story "The Other Two," wherein the third and current husband of Mrs. Alice Waythone encounters the first two husbands by chance and is distressed to discover that these men -- who share nothing in common with him -- each had a relationship with his wife quite similar to his own. As professor Cynthia Griffin Wolff puts it:
Young and still experimenting with my sense of self, I was happy to pursue their pastimes, agree with their politics, even wear clothes they liked.
Besides, I find it easy to understand other points of view or problems and I get close to people quite quickly. I'm always interested in other people's hobbies, families and their lives - I suppose that's why I'm a writer.
This intimacy can be misinterpreted for a lot, lot more than mere curiosity. My boyfriends assumed I was smitten with them because I fell into the habit of moulding myself into their ideal.
To each and every one of these three quite different men, Alice Waythorne had been the perfect wife: eager to please, ready and willing to adjust her behavior and desires to those of her husband. Gradually, as Mr. Waythorne lets this fatal knowledge penetrate his judgment, the very qualities he had most admired in his wife begin to seem grotesque and deformed. He wonders who she is, wonders whether she is anybody at all in particular. He marvels at her personality, "for it was an art, and made up, like all others, of concessions, eliminations and embellishments; of lights judiciously thrown and shadows skillfully softened."I have a friend who was married to a woman with BPD and had a similar lament -- he never knew who she was, or if what she felt was real. It makes me wonder -- even if sociopaths became truly harmless, would we ever be accepted? Or do our neurological differences represent an unbridgeable divide between us and empaths? If a Stepford wife-type creeps people out, do socios stand a chance?
*sociopaths are probably best described as being behind a two-way mirror.