Borderline Personality Disorder, Bisexuality, and Empathic Capacity

(Over 2% of the population have some degree of BPD. Of this population 8 to 10% commit suicide – this rate is more than 50 times the rate of suicide in the general population and ten times the rate of suicides due to depression alone. This does not even include high-risk behavior that can lead to drug overdose. Approximately one-third of people with BPD also identify themselves as bisexual. If we reversed that, the number of bisexuals who have BPD traits, I believe the numbers would be much higher.  This blog is an attempt to understand the nature of one of the sub traits of disinhibition – risk-taking.)

Pathological personality traits in Disinhibition – Risk taking: lack of concern for one’s limitations. (DSM5)

We now move on to pathological personality trait 21 – lack of concern for one’s limitations. According to Fonagy and Bateman (2006), people with BPD may lack insight into their deficiencies in impulse control and empathic capacity which can lead to distortions in perceptions relating to self and others. The theory led to an interesting study my Morey (2014) who gave course instruction to 104 psychology students and then asked them to estimate their trait levels on the Five Factor Model of Personality. They then completed the Personality Assessment Inventory-Borderline Features Scale (PAI-BOR). High BOR individuals dramatically overestimated their levels of agreeableness and conscientiousness. Morey concluded that a key feature of BPD involves marked perceptual distortions of various aspects of self in relationship to others. Morey purposed that such individuals may have distorted insight into their capacity for cooperative relationships. There are three factors suggested here – empathic capacity, agreeableness and conscientiousness. Let’s begin with deficiency in empathic capacity.

Empathy is the capacity to understand and feel what another person is experiencing. We may actually sense and feel someone else’s emotions as if they are part of our own. In other words, someone else’s pain or happiness can become our pain or happiness. If we lack the ability to sense another’s feelings, it is defined as an empathy deficit disorder (EDD). A person with EDD may believe that only their needs are important, and may lack the ability to sense and appreciate the needs of others. This can result in difficulty forming and maintaining relationships and living in harmony with friends and loved ones. I believe that this is probably at the root of narcissism and anti-social personality disorders, but not BPD.

But does empathic capacity have to be a deficiency? Those of us with BPD tend to be oversensitive and not under sensitive. Fertuck (2012) found that individuals with BPD showed a heightened sensitivity to non-verbal cues when compared with people without BPD. The BPD group was more able to correctly guess what emotions were being expressed in pictures of eyes. They concluded that this showed an enhanced sensitivity to the mental states of others. In other words those of us with BPD may be super-skilled in sensing non-verbal cues such as eye expression, body language, and verbal tones.

            It appears that our high empathy skills may be an outcome of growing up in a traumatic and unpredictable childhood environment. Indeed, many of us have a history of abuse and neglect. As a response to confusing or neglectful parenting, we may have had to rely on our empathic functioning in order to protect themselves. We may have been self-trained by our environment to become highly attuned to the subconscious cues given out by parents and caregivers so that we could prepare ourselves for their unconscious behaviours. If our primary caretakers did not have the capacity to attune to our heightened perceptions, or even resented or were threatened by them, we may have consciously or subconsciously sabotaged our own emotional development. If our parents either explicitly or implicitly rejected us, we may have internalised the shame of being rejected, and experienced ourselves as being profoundly unloved and unworthy of love; however, we did what we could to preserve a good image of our parents even though they were incompetent, abusive, or neglectful. We naturally blamed ourselves because we still depended on them for our physical and emotional survival. We may have even forced ourselves to grow up prematurely so we could take care of our fragile parents.  We may have become emotionally unstable and have struggled all our lives feeling lonely, misunderstood, with the belief that there was something deeply wrong with us, and with the belief that our only function was to please and serve others. All of these factors can lead to a feeling of hopelessness and helplessness often resulting in indulging in high-risk behaviors.

            So how does this affect us bisexuals with BPD? I believe that one of the reasons we are so sexually active, even to the point of sexual addiction, is because we are looking for love, or at least, if not love, some sign that we are indeed desirable. Many of us are also bound by trying to use our sexuality to please others. In many cases our opposite sex relationships may have reached a point where we can sense that their non-verbal communication indicates that sex no-longer seems to thrill them (rejection), so we look for same sex experiences, usually with new partners, so we can experience their extreme forbidden  pleasure as well as our own. We often dabble in kinky stuff such as humiliation and degradation and perhaps forms of role-play involving punishment in order to exercise the demon that keeps telling us that all our abuse and neglect and our inability to please others, including our partners, is really our own fault. We often engage in unsafe sex or combine sex with dangerous drugs to heighten our sexual experience believing that if we die or get some fatal disease it is what we deserve anyway.

            While our heightened empathic capacity may be extremely painful, we should not immediately assume that it is a defect. It may be a gift. Psychologists recognize that empathy is one of the factors in personal intelligence (Gardner, 1985) which makes it a gift or talent rather than a deficit. Not all children who are neglected or abused end up with bisexual BPD; therefore, there may also be a genetic trait that is common to many of us that results in this disorder. Under favourable, circumstances, we could have grown up to have amazing abilities. If we had had an environment where we could have learned to set healthy boundaries and experience secure attachment without exploitation, we could have had an extraordinary ability to self-soothe and regulate our own emotions, have a sense of emotional stability under all circumstances, and a deep sense of internal wholeness. While the history cannot be changed, we can re-write the story that we keep telling ourselves. We are indeed worthy; in fact, we are gifted. We have a high level of awareness and acuity to verbal and nonverbal cues that is extremely precious. We are sensitive, intuitive, individuals who have the ability and potential wisdom to apply the right kind of nourishment to ourselves as well as to others. We have an ability to perceive our partner’s sexual experience and keep adjusting our love making to please them so we can heighten our own sexual pleasure. Because of our innate perceptivity, we can heal ourselves and help others heal themselves.  

            Perhaps there is a little voice within us that has always been there telling us we are special. If we can begin to listen to that voice, we can heal ourselves. Our amazing body wants us to heal so we can feel the full pleasure of our sexuality without feelings of guilt, shame, and rejection. Our mind wants to heal so we can enjoy the attributes or our empathic gifts. Our heart wants us to heal so we can love ourselves and find true intimacy with others. Our soul wants us to heal so we can share our amazing gifts to help please, heal, and nurture others. Once we can begin to recognise and trust our own fundamental goodness, our so-called pathological traits can become powerful tools to create the kind of life we will truly love to live. 

My five suggestions for bisexual Borderliners:

1. We rewrite our story. We recognize that we are gifted. We do not have EDD or even BPD. We are not dysfunctional. We simply function on a different plain.

2. We begin to practice self-love. Every time we feel that old impulse to hate ourselves we stop the noise, soothe our precious mind that is trying to protect us from further abuse, thank our mind for its due diligence, and let our heart express that we do indeed  love our SELF and have this amazing capacity to love and please others.

3. We let that voice from deep inside speak the truth that we are indeed worthy. In fact, we deserve to be treated as special because we are indeed special.

4. We take that painful trip back into our childhood and face the demons of the past. We acknowledge that our caregivers were weak and perhaps even abusive. We forgive and let go and then we pat ourselves on the back for surviving such a caustic situation.  

5. We begin to enjoy our sexuality without the negative feelings of being unloved and used and we stop trying to punish ourselves. We allow our empathic capacity to soothe our fragile self, grow, and enjoy our heightened sexual arousal and intimate pleasure for ourselves and our partner.

1. Fonagy P, Bateman AW: Mechanisms of change in mentalization‒based treatment of BPD. J Clin Psychol 2006,62(4):411–430. 10.1002/jclp.20241
2. Morey, Leslie C.. Borderline Personality Disorder and Emotion Dysregulation. Volume 1, Article number: 4. (2014)
3. Fertuck, Eric a.; Grinband, Jack; and Stanley, Barbara. Facial Trust Appraisal Negatively Biased in Borderline Personality Disorder. HHS Public Access. Published online 2013.

Bisexuality, Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) and At-Risk Behavior

(Over 2% of the population have some degree of BPD. Of this population 8 to 10% commit suicide – this rate is more than 50 times the rate of suicide in the general population and ten times the rate of suicides due to depression alone. Approximately one-third of people with BPD also identify themselves as bisexual. The number of bisexuals who have BPD traits I believe would be much higher.  This blog is an attempt to understand the nature of one of the sub traits of disinhibition – risk-taking.)

Pathological personality traits in Disinhibition – Risk taking: Engagement in dangerous, risky, and potentially self-damaging activities, unnecessarily and without regard to consequences (DSM5).

                One of the sub traits of borderline personality disorder is risk-taking without regard to consequences. This trait shows up in several areas including drug abuse and at-risk sexual behavior. First of all let’s look at substance abuse.  Using a longitudinal study involving 1280 female adolescent twins from age 14 to 18, Bornovalovato and others[1] examined the developmental, genetic, and environmental factors underlying the co-occurrence of BPD traits and substance use. Shared environmental factors accounted for the association between BPD traits and substance use at age 14, but genetic factors accounted for the association at age 18.

                Looking at at-risk sexual behavior, Northey and others[2] asked 955 college students to fill out a questionnaire involving four BPD symptoms: affective instability, identity disturbance, negative relationships, and the tendency to self-harm. They then looked at the correlation of these four sub traits with sexual sensation seeking, sexual compulsivity, and sexual risk-taking. Sexual compulsivity was positively predicted by all four BPD symptoms. Sexual sensation seeking was positively predicted by negative relationships and self-harm. Sexual risk taking was not significantly predicted by any BPD symptoms. 

                So in plain English, what do these two studies tell us about risk taking for those of us with BPD. First of all we see that drug abuse seems to evolve during adolescence. Childhood is essentially a latent peaceful period with few outside traits or symptoms. However in adolescence we do not seem to have the eternal resources needed to withstand peer pressure – in this case, as it refers to drug use. In other words we use drugs because our friend use drugs. However by our late teen years when our friends are moving on, we seem to be stuck in drug use and drug abuse patterns because of our genetic predisposition. We use drugs perhaps because drugs fulfill an internal need for pleasure soothing and anxiety relief.

                When we look at sexual behavior, a similar pattern seems to exist. Because of our lack of self-esteem, we are vulnerable to the desire for the anxiety soothing and anxiety release provided by sexual pleasure and orgasm. This creates a situation where if it feels good we compulsively let ourselves become engaged without any concerns for the consequences often leading to risky casual unsafe sex. This also seems to be related to seeking the pleasure sensations as a kind of distraction from our inner turmoil rather than just for the excitement of risk taking itself. Once engaged, it appears that we may neglect the consequences simply because we feel we deserve to be treated badly and we may engage as a means to punish ourselves.

                When we look at us bisexuals with BPD, certainly at risk sexual behavior can be a major problem. There is still this desire out there for male bisexuals to have random sex without any condoms which can result in STD’s and even HIV and AIDS. Female bisexuals are not immune to unsafe sex either (particularly with males) but they do tend to listen to their brain and not just their genitals.

                These two studies indicate that some of our difficulties dealing with drug use and at-risk sexual behavior are related to genetic predisposition and our response to internal signals rather than external ones. Both drugs and sex appear to be our outlet for dealing with low self-esteem and the anxieties related to childhood issues. These behaviors appear to be impulsive because we either cannot or do not want to deal with the consequences because the pleasure involved is considered essential to our emotional survival, and we don’t give a damn if we die in the process.

My five suggestions for borderliner bisexuals:

1. We have to learn to deal with our compulsive behavior patterns by building in a reality check. I came across an experiment done a few years ago (sorry can’t find the reference) where overweight people tended to eat more shelled peanuts than non-overweight while waiting for an appointment, but the difference disappeared when the peanuts were still unshelled. This shows that compulsive behavior may be compulsive simply because it’s compulsive. For example I like to snack at night so I made a pact with myself to brush my teeth immediately after dinner and then remind myself that I should not snack because I would have to brush my teeth again. Sounds simple but it works. If we can build in a safety valve to give us time to think it through, and then make a conscious decision, then it is no longer compulsive.

2. We have to learn to care for ourselves including our beautiful brain. Drugs, even Maryjane, are mind-altering drugs. That means they alter the functioning of the brain by artificially changing the neurotransmitters and the neural circuits to the pleasure centers. If we love ourselves we will not do anything to harm our beautiful mind that is so well designed to find real ways to enjoy real pleasure.

3. Casual sex may provide a need for emotional and physical release and we can certainly make a case for allowing ourselves a little pleasure. However, this kind of behavior is usually based on not caring for ourselves and believing that no one truly could love us. This is not true. We can search for good sexual partners, either through partnership or on-going relationship, where we respect our sexual partner and we know they respect us (besides, the sex then is a hundred times better). Again this is a conscious decision which frees us from compulsive behavior.

4. Our sense of self-worth has to come from within. We can develop this like any other belief. We work at it. We make deals with ourselves. We recognize our achievements and our talents and gifts. We tell ourselves we love ourselves over and over again until we actually believe it. Then we start making conscious decisions based on that love.

5. We learn to love life, to get pleasure and satisfaction from the beauty of the world around us instead of drugs. We develop a true appreciation of the pleasures provided by wholesome sex with sexual partners who treat us as whole beings rather than just bodies or body parts.

Please Note: If you are serious about developing the skills needed to life a life free of anxieties that leads to at risk behavior, try my program – The Grounding Virtue – a Path to Self-Actualization.

[1] Bornovalova, M. A., Hicks, B. M., Iacono, W. G., & McGue, M. (2013). Longitudinal twin study of borderline personality disorder traits and substance use in adolescence: Developmental change, reciprocal effects, and genetic and environmental influences. Personality Disorders: Theory, Research, and Treatment, 4(1), 23–32.

[2] Northey, Lynnaea; Dunkley, Cara R.; Klonsky, David e.; and Gorzalka, Boris b.. Borderline personality disorder traits and sexuality: Bridging a gap in the literature. August 2016.

Bisexuality and Borderline Personality Disorder and Self-Harm Urgency

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Over 2% of the population have some degree of (BPD). Of this population 8 to 10% commit suicide – this rate is more than 50 times the rate of suicide in the general population and ten times the rate of suicides due to depression alone. Approximately one-third of people with borderline personality disorder (BPD) also identify themselves as bisexual. The number of bisexuals who have BPD traits I believe would be much higher.  This blog is an attempt to understand the nature of one of the traits, disinhibition, so that we can survive and even thrive as bisexuals with BPD.

Pathological personality traits in Disinhibition -Impulsivity: A sense of urgency and self-harming behaviour under emotional distress (DSM5)

                Colle and other[1] looked at the relationship between self-harm and a sense of agency (feeling in control of the environment) in a small group of 20 BPD patients, nine of whom presented self-harming behaviors, and compared them with an age-matched control group. A sense of agency was evaluated through The Sensory Attenuation Paradigm, a comparison with externally generated sensations. The results of this study suggest that self-injurious actions constitute a coping strategy for increasing the sense of perceived control of the environment. The idea is that by inducing physical pain, patients may regulate feelings of distress related to loss of control, estrangement from reality, and experiences of numbness. Self-harm actions appear to enable a new set of emotional and physical sensations which allow the individual to feel alive or in control again by making a plan and carrying out an intentional action. However, the study suggests that the temporal relief afforded by NSSI behaviors is not effective for the long-term reduction of dissociative symptoms.

                 Fossati and others[2] looked at the relevance of emotion with negative and positive urgency (impulsivity) as it related to self-harm activities.  In their study involving 1,157 adolescents who were attending public high school in Italy, they used the Borderline Personality Inventory (a 53–item self–report questionnaire), the Difficulties in Emotion Regulation Scale (DERS), and the UPPS-P Impulsive Behavior Scale (a 59-item self-report measure designed to assess five impulsivity-related traits). Their findings provide support for the tendency for adolescents to act impulsively when experiencing heightened emotional arousal, both negative and positive.  Negative urgency frequently led to self-harm activities. Their findings also suggest that Positive Urgency may be the dimension of an impulsive predispositionto experience a positive sense of well-being by engaging in reckless behaviors such as heavy drinking or sexual promiscuity “just to celebrate” or “just to have fun”. These results suggest that both negative and positive urgency may be emotion-driven based on underlying fears related to BPD.

                These studies indicate that there are several factors involved in self-harm activities stemming from the disinhibition trait for people with BPD. The first is a sense of dissociation from reality. According to Cole and others self-harm activities may be an attempt to get back into a sense control over our own bodies and therefore a sense of control over our lives in general. The study by Fossati and others suggests that disinhibition may also be due to a sense of negative (to avoid) or positive (to pursue) urgency and this sense of urgency appears to be created by out of control emotional forces. The goal is either to fight or flee in the case of a negative impulsive drive or to experience pleasure in the case of a positive one. It may be that the urge to experience pleasure could be to find an outlet to experience something positive in an otherwise negative world. However, we also realize that this source of high risk pleasure is just another way to harm ourselves.

                When it comes to us bisexuals with BPD, we may be using our sexuality as a means to break out of our otherwise cold and impersonal perceived reality. This positive urgency or impulsivity may be the result of pent up negative emotion, pain, or just a need to break out of the often restrictive heterosexual lifestyle we have created. We set out to supercharge our feelings so that we can feel real again. Our same-sex self then becomes our reality and our heterosexual life becomes some kind of trap that we have created to help us survive. However, once we come down from that high, we realize that our heterosexual self is our real self and the life we truly want to hang on to.  Once in this state the same sex excursion can become a kind of self-harm activity where we continue our dishonest behavior in the hopes of destroying the lives we can no longer maintain. If we are not honest with our partners and live in an honest relationship this duality can lead to a breakdown where suicidal thoughts may appear to be the only solution.

My Five Suggestions for Borderliners

1. Recognize that you are in a struggle to avoid some pain by substituting forms of pleasure that are tainted by inappropriate motivation. You do not necessarily have to change the behavior but you will have to change the motivation. If you are engaging in sex to escape pain or a perceived negative dissociative reality it can become a compulsive addictive pattern.

2. Make a conscious decision to seek pleasure just for the sake of pleasure rather than letting it take over subconsciously. Once in a conscious state your sexual pursuits become a matter of choice rather than a compulsion. You are now free to enjoy your sexual experiences without shame or guilt.

3. Honesty is always the best policy and that has to start with being honest with yourself. If bisexual experiences are important to you and you are not in a relationship then by all means engage and enjoy. No shame. No guilt.

4.  If you are in a relationship you will have to make a conscious decision on whether or not to tell your partner. But be honest with yourself. If you are just hanging on to the relationship because you feel co-dependent or are relying on them and your relationship to escape fears of abandonment then this is not the reason to stay together. You may choose to make a conscious decision to keep your two lives separate and secret but this seldom works.

5. If you are genuinely in love with this person you are now free to make a conscious decision to stay with this person in a monogamous relationship or to explain your need for bisexual experiences with the realization that it may result in the end of the relationship. Either way make the decision consciously, don’t just let it happen.

[1] Colle, Livia; Hilvio, Dize; Rossi, Roberta;  Garbarini, Francesca; and Fossataro, Carlotta.  Self-Harming and Sense of Agency in Patients With Borderline Personality Disorder. ORIGINAL RESEARCH ARTICLE Front. Psychiatry 2020.

[2] Fossati, Andrea; Gratz, Kim L; Maffei, Cesare; and Borroni, Serena. Impulsivity dimensions, emotion dysregulation, and borderline personality disorder features among Italian nonclinical adolescents. Borderline Personality Disorder and Emotion Dysregulation. 2014.


Bisexuality, BPD, and Planned Sexuality

Borderline personality disorder (BPD) – pathological personality traits in disinhibition – difficulty establishing or following plans (DSM5).

                Over 2% of the population have some degree of (BPD). Approximately a third of people with BPD are bisexual. Of the BPD population 8 to 10% commit suicide; this rate is more than 50 times the rate of suicide in the general population and ten times the rate of suicides due to depression.  This blog is an attempt to understand the nature of one of the traits, disinhibition, so that we can survive and even thrive with BPD.

                As a society we seem to feel the need to label mental disorders so we can understand them and provide a platform for funding and treatment. In my case a suitable diagnosis was needed before I would qualify for long term disability. The danger of course is that we begin to become our labels which may interfere with the treatment we are attempting to obtain. However, labels can be useful if they give us a clear description of our traits so that we can create strategies to cope with them. I want to be perfectly clear. I no longer have BPD because I no longer have a disorder. I still have traits because they are part of my mental circuitry, but I now control them; they do not control me. I have gotten to this position through hard work, consistent self-analysis, and forcing changes upon my reluctant brain.   

                BPD is such a difficult mental condition to define as it covers a whole spectrum of negative and harmful thought and behavior patterns. Since the DSM5 has been published psychologists have been scrambling to put the traits listed in measurable terms to define a condition that seems to be too broad to define. However, it is generally acknowledged that detailed definition is needed before we can identify the specific patterns in order to make specific strategies to change them.

                One of the difficult areas to define is disinhibition, particularly being able to plan and live according to the plan. Whiteside and Lynam[1]  developed the UPPS-P Model of Impulsive Personality consisting of negative urgency, lack of premeditation, lack of perseveration, sensation seeking, and (lack of) positive urgency. The UPPS-P consists of 59 statements rated on a 1 to 4 scale from “agree strongly” to “disagree strongly.” In their attempt to establish reliability and validity they noted that lack of premeditation and lack of perseverance showed similar effect sizes across alcohol/substance use disorders, suicidality, and borderline personality disorder. Further research using the UPPS-P has indicated that lack of perseverance and lack of premeditation are considered key components of disinhibition[2].

                So what does this mean in practical terms? Let’s assume for a moment (highly unscientific) that we all have the mental capacity to plan; then the question is “Why are those of us with BPD having difficulty creating a better life plan and making better choices?” Speaking on a personal level, I have no difficulty making five year plans, one year plans, and following daily objectives when it comes to my professional and financial decision making. I even have a daily to-do list for organizing my daily routines. Where it tends to breakdown is on the highly emotional personal level. In the distant past, when my emotions entered the equation, I tended to panic, believing that the worst was about to happen (again) unless I took immediate actions to prevent the catastrophe which was about to hit me.

                So how does this relate to bisexuality? In the past, my failsafe outlet for dealing with my anxieties was sexual release and the only powerful enough sexual release was to engage with a new person in same sex encounters. Now having same-sex sex in itself is not necessarily a dysfunctional activity, but the thinking (or lack of thinking) pattern that goes with it certainly can be. Healthy sex is meant to be a positive experience leading to pleasure and shared intimacy. We should emerge from the experience feeling uplifted and refreshed not feeling guilty and depressed. If our sexual experiences have negative results we then may go back to an even worse situation. We have compounded the problem leading to deeper levels of anxiety and feelings of helplessness that can lead to suicidal thoughts.

                Now that I live in a much better space, I see the roots of those negative patterns. BPD engages the amygdala and the sympathetic system releasing fight, flee, freeze, or fond (new one meaning trying to appease others) mechanisms. For bisexuals who are trapped in a heterosexual life style with heterosexual partners, we may feel the need to flee our life circumstances for a few minutes totally detached from our “normal” patterns. The strategy now is not based on clear thinking or planning but slipping into escaping the immediate cause of our anxiety by running away from it or perhaps engaging in submissive behaviors.  Once the amygdala is engaged the rational self is shut down, hormones are in control, and things appear to have to ride to conclusion before returning to rational and productive thinking and behavior patterns. When we return to our “normal” patterns we return to the anxiety and now perhaps add guilt or shame. Continued failure to live up to our self-imposed impossible standards results in a feeling  that things will ever get better and sometimes the only solution may seem to be suicide.

My Five Suggestions for Borderliners:

1. Take your sexual patterns to a conscious level. Be in charge. Make a conscious decision on whether or not you may wish to engage in sex. If you feel the need to have a new sexual experience with a new partner, go ahead and enjoy, but do it consciously giving yourself permission to enjoy if fully.

2. Recognize when stressors are building up leading to feelings of generalized anxiety. Take a deep breath 4 seconds in, hold 4 seconds, deep breath out 4 seconds, and hold 4 seconds. Repeat until you feel calm. Then begin a conversation with yourself on why you feel this way.

3. Take control of your emotions. Recognize the feeling that lead to this urge leading to compulsive behavior.

4. Trace this back to the circumstances leading to these negative feeling of urgency. Concentrate of changing those circumstances.

5. if your anxieties are rooted in your broader life circumstances you may have to consider changing those circumstances whether it involves your work or your life partner. Whatever you decide, make it consciously. Take control of your life circumstances and give yourself the freedom to make the best decision for yourself given the circumstances.  

[1] Whiteside SP, & Lynam DR (2001). The five factor model and impulsivity: Using a structural model of personality to understand impulsivity. Personality and Individual Differences, 30, 669–689. [Google Scholar]

[2] Vaidya JG, Latzman RD, Markon KE, & Watson D (2010). Age differences on measures of disinhibition during young adulthood. Personality and Individual Differences, 48, 815–820. [Google Scholar]

Bisexuality and Labels – A Rose by any Other Name is Still a Rose

            Feeling sexually attracted to both men and women has garnered many different labels – bisexuality, sexual binary, pansexuality, sexually fluid, queer, and non-labeled. Then we seem to have to identify our gender to help explain our sexual preferences including the labels cisgender, bi-gender, and gender queer. We may even want to identify ourselves at the soul level by calling ourselves two-spirit people. Why do we do this?

I wonder, do we become our labels?

                There is certainly a danger in that. In one of the best articles I have found on the topic, Lauren Restivo [1] identified Self-Stigma as one of the problems with labeling. According to Restivo individuals may have a tendency to internalize labels resulting in negative perceptions and beliefs about themselves. I believe that when we identify ourselves as being different with a different genetic predisposition it can affect our belief systems. We may perceive ourselves as not being ‘normal’; we may never be ‘normal’, and not being ‘normal’ automatically makes us ‘different’ from significant others such as parents and siblings. If we lose our bonds with others or even live in fear of losing our bonds, it can make us vulnerable to mental pressures. The label can then lead to low self-esteem and feelings of helplessness.

                On the positive side, it can also help us identify with a specific group and therefore form a shield against discrimination from everyone else in the ‘other’ group. However, unlike ‘other’ groups within the LGBQT communities, we tend to go it alone often feeling further isolated. Case in point, I tried to form a friendship group for bisexuals with shared activities. We had over 60 members sign up but only two of us showed up for the scheduled events. When it comes to forming group bonds, on-line does not cut it. We have to be willing to dance and hug together. Finally, a bisexual label can also become a reason or perhaps an excuse to withdraw from living a life of mental and sexual freedom and the subsequent responsibility for honesty to ourselves and others that goes with it.

Is one kind of label more challenging than another kind?

Let’s have a quick look at the labels, what they mean, and why we choose them. If we are going to have a label, I think bisexuality is the best one. In other words we accept that we have sexual attractions to both men and women. We are NOT bisexuals (a noun) but we have bisexual desires (a verb phrase). Sexual binary is simply an attempt to sound and feel scientific which somehow justifies a behavior that does not need to be justified. Ditto for ‘sexually fluid’. Pansexual to me is getting close to the absurd. It suggests that we are free spirits constantly engaging in sex with anyone and anything (a bias we are already fighting against from some groups in society). We are just like everyone else. We are simply engaging in sex for the purpose of seeking intimate connection with other human beings. I do not like the term queer. I am not queer. I and my behaviors are natural and totally comprehensible within my own mind. I do not have to justify them or be in the face of others by playing on their negative terms for us.

                What about gender? Again, there is no need to try to explain or justify our sexual behavior by claiming it is somehow part of our genetic being. This may apply to submissive gays and dominant lesbians but it does not apply to us. There are some of us that feel we may be more comfortable in our ‘other’ gender but I would argue that this would make us transgender rather than bisexual. Transgender is not about sexual behavior; it is about being psychologically more comfortable in our gender feelings rather than our biological bodies. Being bisexual we are more concerned about the expression of our sexuality rather than the characteristics of our being. Some of us like to play either dominant or submissive roles. We like the feel of things like clothing and mannerisms that go along with these roles; they enhance our sexual experiences. Finally, it gets absurd when we have to give a label like cisgender to describe our physical reality. As bisexuals, as opposed to other members of the LGBQT community, we are (or should be) equally comfortable with our heterosexual, gay or lesbian masculine, or gay or lesbian feminine roles. As a conscious human being who happens to be bisexual, I see myself as having whole and complete access to all so called feminine and masculine traits.

                Finally regarding two spirit, I think this applies more to indigenous people. I sympathize with their desires to understand their sexuality within the parameters of their cultural experiences. I also sympathize with their historical and cultural openness to embracing the softer feminine traits that I believe are common to all but particularly shunned by our white culture as being a sign of masculine weakness, a problem that female bisexuals do not have to deal with.  Again I think we have to look at whether this is a transgender issue rather than our bisexual need to explain and justify our sexual desires and behavior. As bisexuals we all share our humanity, and the nature of our sexual desires and sexual identities are common to all of us. We need to accept ourselves based on our similarities rather than our cultural differences. Personally, I feel I have one spirit. That spirit is not sexual. It is the ‘me’ in me beyond my sexual physical desires and beyond the nature of my masculine and feminine characteristics.

Can labels be harmful within society?

                I believe labels can all have the same impact and results when it comes to Self-Stigma; however, different labels certainly create different responses when it comes to how they are perceived by society. Restivo identified another issue that she refers to as Public-Stigma. She states that the public in general has a tendency to engage in stereotypes (which I believe also applies to sexual behavior). She also believes that Public-Stigma can be unintentionally propagated by government and public institutions in the process of trying to define, help, and support people in need (which, again, I think applies to the LGBQT community) resulting in a lot of negative and mostly unfounded public attention.  In my opinion it is better to simply enjoy our sexuality without drawing unnecessary attention to ourselves by seeking some label for some form of justification through group identity. If there are legal issues then by all means we should stand up for our rights. Discrimination and abuse based on our sexuality should never be tolerated. But for the most part, why kick the dog when it is sleeping? By its nature, when aroused, society will react when it feels threatened by people to whom they have been assigned negative stereotypes.

                Then there is the tendency in the social sciences to try to form correlations with sexual behavior and personality disorders such as borderline, histrionic, avoidant, dependent, and obsessive-compulsive personality disorder, and perhaps bipolar disorder. These attempts to explain why we seem to be so uncomfortable with our sexuality create a double label linking our bisexuality with mental disorders which can cause a public reaction. For example, people with bi-polar and borderline personality disorders are often viewed as having wild mood swings resulting in sex binges and engagement in extremely high risk behavior. This association of our sexuality with some kind of abnormal behavior can result is discrimination in the workforce and even in the process of finding life partners.

If I am diagnosed with cancer, am I “my cancer?” Am I diabetic and not human? Small-minded, rich, poor, black, alien, alienated?

No, you are not your negative label. Why limit ourselves? We are beautiful and powerful spirit beings.

Are there good labels? “Health-conscious”?  Loving? Curious? Interested? BFF (best friend forever)? Spiritual? 

Yes. Not all labels are bad. In fact, even labels dealing with our sexuality can be positive. Some of these labels help us understand our feelings and our thinking and behavior patterns. Once we recognize and accept them, we can take steps to live with them and even turn them into positive aspects of our being. The key is to not view the labels as something permanent leading to helplessness, but something temporary that leads to greater self-awareness and understanding. The goal is always to eventually lead more powerful and productive lives.

My Recommendations

1.     Do not wear your labels proudly or with shame. Recognize them for what they are, verbs not nouns, evolving not static. They are thought patterns and behavior patterns that can be changed. Do not overthink your sexuality. Just enjoy and find others who also like to enjoy their sexuality in ways that complement your desires.

2. Words do matter. health care providers, educators, and people in entertainment who have a tremendous influence on the minds of the general population should work to try and choose their words more carefully and avoid inadvertent labels and potential negative terminology. And please no jokes. This is not funny.

3. Avoid Self-Stigma by focusing on building your self-esteem and gaining self-control. The goal is to take control of your own sexual behaviors and the thought processes that go along with them. Sex is sex. Enjoy it without self-judgement.

4. If you are having mental issues, it probably is because of your mental issues, not your sexuality. It is what it is. If you need help getting to the root of why you are having trouble with your sexuality deal with the mental issues behind that feeling.

5. If you feel you need to use a label to help others, by all means do so. Just remember that you do not need a label for yourself to justify your sexual preferences. If you feel you have something to contribute to your fellow human beings who are struggling with their sexuality, then by all means knock yourself out and go for it. Just be sure that you are part of the solution and not part of the problem.

[1] Restivo, Lauren. Words Matter: The Effect of Stigma and Labeling on Mental Health Care in the MilitaryPsychological Health Center of Excellence. March 19, 2018.



Bisexuality and BPD – Make a Plan and Stick to It

Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) – Pathological personality traits in Disinhibition – impulsivity: acting on a momentary basis without a plan or consideration of outcomes (DSM5).

The Problem

                As mentioned in previous blogs, over 2% of the population have some degree of Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) and roughly a third of those with BPD are also bisexual. There are no stats for the reverse – the number of bisexuals with BPD – but my guess is it would be even higher. We often engage in harmful behaviours to ease distress in the short-term, despite the possible serious negative consequences in the long-term. Of the BPD population 8 to 10% of us eventually commit suicide – this rate is more than 50 times the rate of suicide in the general population and 10 times the rate in people diagnosed with Depression, and that does not even include those of us who depart because of drug overdoses. One of the defining traits that is connected with suicide attempts is impulsivity. In this blog we are going to take a look at how this trait of BPD affects us as bisexuals and we are going to focus on developing plans and strategies with due consideration of outcomes. First let’s take a look at the science to see what we are up against.

The Science

                Cackowski and others[1] used self-reporting to study 31 unmedicated women with BPD and 30 healthy matched women controls using measured response inhibition under resting conditions and after experimental stress induction.  Patients with BPD reported higher impulsivity under both conditions. They concluded that there is a significant impact of stress on self-perceived state impulsivity and on response disinhibition in females with BPD.

                So what is happening in the brain? Leyton and others[2] studied 13 medication-free men and women with borderline personality disorder and 11 healthy controls using positron emission tomography (PET Scans) during a survey of go/no-go commission error activities. In both men and women, negative correlations with impulsivity scores were identified in the medial frontal gyrus, anterior cingulate gyrus, temporal gyrus, and striatum. They concluded thatsynthesis capacity in corticostriatal pathways may contribute to the development of impulsive behaviors in persons with borderline personality disorder. In the male subjects, low trapping was also observed in the medial frontal cortex extending into the orbitofrontal cortex, as well as in the corpus striatum. These sites correspond to regions that seem to be involved in  mediating the planning, initiation, and inhibition of goal-directed behaviors, working memory, and emotional affect.

What it Means

                So what does this mean in plain English? Well friends, we have a problem. Not only do we engage in risky behavior, not only do we seem to intentionally neglect to plan ahead, but under stress we seem to forget all the plans that have been planted in our brains by past experiences and the good intentions of therapists. As bisexuals this is often connected to our sexual behavior. We tend to seek encounters to relieve stress and we tend to avoid safe sex to add a risk factor that adds a level of excitement and pleasure. There is a reason for this. It is the way we are wired. Because of our genetic predisposition to be over sensitive, and the environmental factors that have shaped our behavior patterns, we now have a brain that says run like hell from pain, indulge in pleasure, and to hell with the consequences. The brain scans indicate that both men and women have difficulty reacting to sensory information to controlling emotions (corticostriatal pathway). Women seem to rely more on an emotional response whereas men run into further difficulty when we try to organize that information for decision making (frontal cortex extending into the orbitofrontal cortex). We both end up in the same place with seeking emotional relief usually by avoiding pain and seeking pleasure regardless of the consequences (temporal cortex, limbic areas). This seems to be particularly relevant under stress. As bisexuals we actually seek the pleasure and stress that goes with is rather than try to avoid it. So how do we combat our natural reactions, especially under stress?

Here are my five suggestions for bisexual borderliners:

1. First line of attack is to control your stress and anxiety levels. To do that you have to learn to read your body signals and stop the anxieties in their early stages before they blow up and you lose control. After that – game over until next time.

2. The best way to relieve anxiety is to get out of your emotional mind (corticostriatal pathway). The best way to that is to shut down all thought because at this stage thought leads back to emotion. You can do this by deep breathing. By concentrating on your breathing you interrupt the flow of negative energy into your brain. I recommend the thirty second breathing activity (in the past I said eight for anxiety relief, but science now suggests thirty for healing and building new brain patterns). Take a deep breath and then slowly let it all out (I recommend a stop watch rather than counting). When there is no air left, hold that until the 30 seconds are up. Keep doing this until you feel a sense of peace, calmness and control.

3. Once you have achieved this sense of peace, you are now free to confront your emotions. Self-talk your way through the process. I recommend doing this out loud as this will engage more of your brain and bring some organization processes to the emotional center. Tell yourself why you are seeking sex. If it is for pain relief or to alleviate stress, don’t do it. Find a better way to deal with the pain. If it is for pleasure and you have considered the consequences (besides just pleasure) than go ahead and enjoy. Bisexual women are naturally good at this. They are usually more emotionally intelligent than men and allow themselves the freedom to explore their emotions with their sex partners resulting in an emotionally and physically pleasing experience (sorry for the sexism but there is some truth in it). Bisexual men tend to shut down their emotions all together and just focus on the physical pleasure and may miss out on the broader pleasures that come with intimacy.  

4. Now that your emotions are under control, you are ready to tackle the problem that caused the emotional reaction. This is where your orbitofrontal cortex comes in. You can do this in two parts. First see where the event fits into your life story. You may gain insight into what has happened in the past to cause you to react this way. You can then decide what it is you wish to build into your life in the present and future through your sexuality. By looking at the whole picture, the top down approach, you can see where individual decisions fit into the greater good for yourself. You can then bring your sexuality and the emotions connected with it into your bigger life picture thus adding meaning and purpose into your sexuality.

5. You can then go on to making a plan and putting gates and strategies in place for when these kinds of situation occur in the future. Men are good at this; it’s the emotions that they cannot handle. Both men and women bisexuals with BPD need to build new thinking and behavior patterns. If your plan does not seem to be working, and if you seem to be sabotaging your own goals and happiness, you may need to seek professional help. Whatever strategies you put in place don’t give up on them. It took me sixty years to develop my self-defeating thought and behavior patterns and it took me two years of constant vigilance to change them. Just keep believing in yourself, learn to say you are sorry (including to yourself), learn from the experience, reset your goals and strategies if needed, and remember that you can do this. You are a beautiful and powerful spirit being. Your sexuality is there to bring pleasure, intimacy, and love into your life. Keep the goal in mind and work towards that goal one step at a time.  

[1] Cackowski, S.; Reitz, A.; Ende, G.; Kleindienst, N.; Bohus, M.; Schmahl, C.; and Krause-Utz, A.. Impact of stress on different components of impulsivity in borderline personality disorder. Cambridge University Press.  March, 2014.

[2] Leyton, Marco; Okazawa, Hidehiko; Diksic, Mirko; Paris, Joel; Rosa, Pedro; Mzengeza, Simon N.; Blier, Pierre; Benkelfat, Chawki.  Brain Regional α-[11C]Methyl-L-Tryptophan Trapping in Impulsive Subjects With Borderline Personality Disorder. The American Journal of Psychiatry. Vol 158, Issue 5, 2001

Published Online:1 May 2001


Bisexuality and Interpersonal and Intrapersonal Intelligence

                We are living in a world in crisis. Literally millions are dying from Covid 19 and as many or more are leaving this world due to drug overdose, depression, and suicides. We are asked to trust science and seek intellectual solutions; however, as we have seen, we humans tend to pride ourselves on an intelligence that is based on logical-mathematical reasoning even though it is so prone to errors due to our biases.

                Harvard psychologist Howard Gardner in his book, Multiple Intelligences[1], suggests seven different intelligences including: Linguistic, Mathematical and Logical, Visual and Spatial, Bodily Kinesthetic, Interpersonal, Intrapersonal, and Music. In recent years he has suggested an eighth, called existential or spiritual intelligence, which he defines as our capacity to reflect upon issues such as the meaning of life[2].

                Today I want to look at intrapersonal intelligence  which I believe is a combination of emotional intelligence and  spiritual intelligence and interpersonal intelligence, which I believe can best be  understood as emotional intelligence.  The two go together. I do not think we can have one without the other. Intrapersonal intelligence includes emotional skills like knowing how to relieve stress and to face and overcome challenges. Spiritual skills include self-awareness, living in the moment, acting on the basis of positive beliefs, and having the ability to stand back and examine our setbacks and learn from our experiences. Interpersonal intelligence includes emotional skills like communicating effectively and being able to resolve conflicts positively, and spiritual skills such as deep empathy for others, valuing and respecting differences, and understanding how our actions influence others and affect the greater good.     

                In order for mankind to survive these trying years ahead, we need to first have intrapersonal skills which basically means we have to understand ourselves and why we think the way we think and do the things we do. This means we have to first find peace within ourselves before we will have peace in the world. The first step is learning how to manage our response to stress. We have to get back to our premodern mind states where we used to spend ninety percent of our days just absorbing and responding to the world around us with gratitude and joy. Only in this state can we sense what is right and good; only then can we release our minds so that we can respond to our environment holistically and use the positive energy around us to heal our bodies and our minds. Once in this state, we can become aware of the power and beauty of our spiritual selves. We can live in the moment and deal with issues and conflicts as they arise with clear minds and positive intent. When things go wrong, we can step back and analyze the situation, see where we went wrong, and plot a new course while accepting and growing from the lessons we have learned.

                Once we take the beam out of our own eye, we can strive to remove the speck from our neighbor’s. We can empathize with others, understand why they are saying and doing what they are saying and doing, and not only set aside our differences but actually see that the differences can be used for a better understanding. We can then use this collective wisdom to find real solutions to real problems. In this way we will reinforce each other’s positive beliefs and use the power of our combined spiritual energies to make this world a better place to live.

Here are my five suggestions for bisexuals:

1. Develop your intrapersonal intelligence. Learn to know yourself. Why you think the thoughts you think and why you do the things you do.

2. Once you truly get to know yourself, accept yourself just the way you are, and begin the process of truly loving this wonderful person that you have become.

3.  Instead of rationalizing your sexuality, and labelling and classifying yourself as queer or bisexual or bigender, just accept your sexuality as part of who you are and allow yourself to enjoy being you and to experience the wonderful sensations that your body can provide.

4. Develop your interpersonal intelligence. Instead of random encounters try to really get to know the people you have sex with at an intimate level.

5. Be honest with yourself and intimate others. You can choose to have many friends for many different reasons. If it just for great sex that is perfectly okay. You deserve it. Enjoy it. If it is having intimate friends without sex that is okay too. Define your relationships and share your thoughts and feelings with those who are important to you. 

[1] Gardener, Howard. Multiple Intelligences. Basic Books. New York. 1983.

[2] Gardener, Howard. Intelligence Reframed. Basic Books. New York. 1999.

Bisexuality, Borderline Personality Disorder, and Impulsivity

Pathological personality traits in Disinhibition – Impulsivity: acting on the spur of the moment in response to immediate stimuli. (DSM5)

                Joel Nigg [1] in a comprehensive study on impulsivity defined it as “a rash response in situations where considerate response is more appropriate”. Nigg identified three factors contributing to impulsivity: not planning and thinking carefully (non-planning), not focusing on the task at hand (inattentiveness), and acting on the spur of moment (motor activation). In another review of the literature by Turner and others[2], they discovered that BPD patients demonstrated delays in discounting the dangers, an inability to make proactive adjustments, and evidence of altered brain activation patterns. However, according to Turner and others, there was less difficulty with motor activation, unless influenced by high levels of stress.

                So what do these studies tell us in plain English for us bisexuals with BPD? As Nigg suggests, there appears to be little preplanning to avoid high risk behavior, and there seems to be an inability to attend to the potential danger factors. As a result, we go ahead and engage regardless of the dangers involved. This is typical in our tendencies to engage in unsafe sex with strangers. Turner and others provided a direct link between BPD and impulsivity which included the tendency to not just ignore, but to actually discount dangers. Again, for us bisexuals, we focus on our same sex behavior to alleviate the stresses of   living a so-called normal life with our opposite sex partners. These studies suggest that if there is any thought involved it is used to rationalize and discount the risks. We give ourselves all the old excuses including that these are natural tendencies and that our behaviors will not affect our partners, that what they do not know cannot hurt them, and we ignore the mental and emotional damage it is doing to ourselves. These studies also indicate that there seems to be a mental buffer to actually engaging in the high risk activity itself. As a result, we may tend to live our normal lives and try to control our other life behaviors, usually attempting to control or eliminate our same sex encounters.

                Apparently under stress we may have an actual alteration in brain patterns, almost like something inside our BPD mind snaps and bypasses the control mechanisms of the frontal cortex and responds directly through the amygdala and the pleasure centers of our brain. It’s as if we actually gain a heightened sense of pleasure by shutting down our rational mind and setting fire to our nervous system through the engagement of our sympathetic system. This usually involves leaving behind our normal life to engage in the other life resulting in a heightened sense of sensory awareness and heightened sexual pleasure with same sex partners. In addition, we may actually seek out and create our own stresses so we can release our built up tensions. In other words, we use our same sex encounters as a way to relieve all the stresses in our lives that come from our BPD traits. We will trigger our heightened sense of pleasure perhaps to demonstrate to ourselves that we are in control of ourselves in spite of all the emotional downers we face that lead to feelings of hopelessness and helplessness.

                This appears to result in some kind of fatalistic desire to engage in the activity knowing full well the dangers involved. It may be a means of escape from our relationship knowing that our partner will eventually find out and release us from the life we find so stressful. It would appear that there may also be a latent death wish. We seem to act upon a desire to experience the added rush from knowing that this activity may lead to STDs and possible HIV. It seems as though we may be nurturing a desire for suicide by risk.

My Five Suggests For Borderliners

1. Be proactive. Realize that you have these tendencies and make a commitment to change them.

2. Practice sound mental and spiritual wellness. Meditate every day. During these times focus of love for yourself. Let the feeling of love, well-being, and gratitude, flood your mind and soul. Keep telling yourself that you love yourself and you love the life you have been given. You can use these statements as a mantra during the day. When you feel one of your downers you can simply say “I love myself. I love my life”.

3. Do an assessment and make a list of the risk factors in your life. Then make plans on how to deal with each stress. When you find yourself involved with these stress circumstances and the feelings that go with them, activate your plan until you sense a change in your feelings.

4. Change your life patterns. Instead of being dishonest with yourself and your partner, make a commitment to being honest and working out the issues if and when they arise. Be sure you understand all the consequences and that you are prepared to live with them no matter what that may mean.

5. Instead of trying to fix your old life, plan to build a new one. This includes creating a low stress life style and finding new friends who will support you in your positive choices.

En”joy” the day

[1] Nigg, Joel T.. Annual Research Review: On the relations among self‐regulation, self‐control, executive functioning, effortful control, cognitive control, impulsivity, risk‐taking, and inhibition for developmental psychopathology. The Journal of Psychology and Psychiatry. 2016.

[2] Turner, Daniel; Sebastian, Alexander; and Tuscher, Oliver. Impulsivity and Cluster B Personality Disorders. Springer Link; Current Psychiatry Reports volume 19, Article number: 15.  2017.

Borderline Personality Disorder , Bisexuality, and Suicide

(Because of the high correlation between bisexuality and borderline personality disorder we are continuing to look at some of the traits that we may possess and ways to use these traits to not only survive but to thrive.)

Pathological personality traits in negative affectivity – Depressivity: Thoughts of suicide and suicidal behavior.        

                Black and others[1] in an extensive look at the data about the relationship between BPD, suicides, and suicide attempts, discovered that at least three-quarters of diagnosed BPD patients attempted suicide and approximately ten percent succeeded. The ones at greatest risk were those with previous suicidal behavior, depressive disorder, and substance abuse. They concluded that repeated attempts are not a call for attention but a genuine wish to die. A study my Brodsky and others[2] divided suicide attempts into two categories. Low lethal attempts were a triggered response to minor incidences, and high lethal attempts were more likely due to impulsiveness and comorbidity with major depression. People in the higher risk group made their first attempt at a younger age, responded more to negative social interactions, and demonstrated more aggression, hostility and impulsivity.

                So what can we take for this data? First of all let’s remind ourselves once again that we are looking at traits rather than a full blown pathological disorder. If we are in this category, that means it has not yet descended into major depression and we can still cope with the stressors in life; however, we also have to admit that we are at risk. Three out of every four of us who have allowed our traits to get out of hand have attempted suicide. We have to recognize that one of those traits is to become overwhelmed to the point that we have a tendency to wish to end it all.

                So what should we do about it while we still have the resources to prevent it? Let’s take a look at the three leading triggers: impulsivity, depressive disorder, and substance abuse. First of all impulsivity. The question is – why are we so prone to engage in high risk activity without considering the consequences? Why are we bisexuals willing to risk everything including our relationships with our life-mates and children or even our lives for a few moments of pleasure? Why do we sometimes engage in unsafe sex with people who are practically strangers?  The obvious answer is that we do not value our life and we place no value on ourselves. That pleasure has become all-consuming offering us a few moments way from all our fears and pain.  We are willing to risk everything for an emotional high that can take us out of the stresses of the life we live. We have to somehow change that. We have to begin to see life as a gift. We have to see our bisexuality as a gift.  We have to find a way to get past feeling sorry for ourselves, begin to see the positives, and learn to appreciate the gifts we have and the gifts around us provided my nature and the spirit world of our souls.

                If we do not try to fight it, most of us bisexuals with BPD traits will eventually experience depression. We can fight depression by exchanging hopelessness for hope and helplessness for power. Hope is readily available once we start changing our perspective. When we begin to see ourselves as being capable of loving and being loved, we can then allow others into our lives without fear of abandonment and rejection. We avoid one-night stands and encounters with strangers and find real people to love us so we can in turn love them. These people are out there. All we have to do is make a commitment to go out and find them. We surround ourselves with positive people. We allow positive people to love us. We allow ourselves the sensations of feeling loved.

                The third area is substance abuse. We have to face the fact that our mind is fragile but at the same time powerful. We do not need chemical crutches. We acknowledge that others may be able to enjoy drugs but our brain is predispositioned to be profoundly affected leading to drug abuse and psychological and physical dependence. It is a path that we cannot risk walking. We have to look at our brain as being capable of providing all the highs we need just by breathing and becoming conscious of the beauty and the positive energies around us. We find out what makes us tick; we avoid drugs because we know they will lead to depression and suicide; we accept our bisexuality as one of our greatest sources of pleasure, and  we diligently seek this pleasure in all the right places.

Mt Five Suggestions for Bisexuals with BPD

1. Begin to think positively about your bisexuality. Every time you experience a negative feeling recognize where it is coming from and reject it knowing that these feeling will eventually lead to disorders and suicide. Surround yourself with other bisexuals whom you know care about you.

2. Turn self-loathing into self-love. Get into the practice of stopping and taking a deep breath whenever you recognize self-hate. Go to a mirror, look yourself in the eye, and repeat “I love you” over and over again until you actually feel it. If your self-loathing is associated with your sexuality – stop it. Tell yourself that it is a gift and you have a right to seek pleasure through it.

3. Avoid impulsive behavior. When you first become aware of that negative powerless feeling stop it immediately before it becomes a compulsion. Talk to yourself, telling yourself all the reasons you should not do it. Make a conscious rational decision not to engage.  Give yourself permission to seek out a pleasure activity with a person who loves you or for just some good heart to heart talk.

4. Avoid all drugs. Remember that all drugs are attractive because they promise release from anxiety and a path to pleasure. Acknowledge the pleasure but realize that they are mind altering drugs and that your mind is not capable of dealing with the consequences. Make a conscious decision to love and protect your beautiful mind. If you want a cold beer on a hot day or a glass of wine with a special meal give yourself the pleasure of having it but know your limits and your reactions. Make a commitment to stay within your limitations. In the case of Mary Jane and other drugs, know that these are indeed mind altering drugs and the only reason you are taking them is to alter your mind or enhance your sexual pleasure. Your nervous system under control of your mind can reach all the levels of pleasure you can stand without any help from drugs.

5. If you find yourself slipping out of control, get help. Remind yourself that the path through depression for those of us with BPD will probably lead to suicide attempts and possible death.

[1] Black, Donald W.; Pfohl, Bruce; and Hale, Nancy. Suicidal Behavior in Borderline Personality Disorder: Prevalence, Risk Factors, Prediction, and Prevention. Gilford Press Periodicals. 2005.

[2] Brodsky. Beth S.; Groves, Maria A.; Mann, John J.; and Stanley Barbara. Interpersonal Precipitants and Suicide Attempts in Borderline Personality Disorder. Guilford Press Periodicals. 2006

Two Sides of Heaven – Two Sides of Hell

Lets Leave the science of bisexuality behind for awhile and share the true life story behind my struggles with sexuality. For the next few months, I want to tell my story. This is the first chapter in the biographical novel that I am presently putting together. Comments welcome.

Chapter  1 – Setting the Stage

Growing up on the Canadian Prairies in the 50’s and 60’s, I was aware that society expected people to conform to the rules of normalcy and religion. There was religion in my life but not much normalcy. I was the ninth child but had no father as a role model. My mother was too worn out to take an interest in my life; my eight siblings were all much older than me, so I basically brought myself up.

Counting mon, we were a family of ten living in a two-bedroom six-hundred-square-foot shack. It was a small house with ten cold bodies and ten cold minds, feeding off the heat of the friction of ten fragile egos and ten angry souls. My oldest brother left to work as a teacher in a small Saskatchewan village. That left eight of us still at home. The twins, who worked and helped support the family, had one of the bedrooms. My three brothers who were now teenagers had to share the hide-a-bed in the living room. I shared a bedroom with only one bed with my mother and my two sisters. It was a small bed sleeping between a cold mother and two hot teenaged girls who snuggled for warmth in a cold barren room in a cold barren house. It was a small space for a young child caught between the sheets with those who care and nurture, a lost, cold child who will forever seek to share the same comforting warmth of four like souls in a bed.

Around the age of five my two twin brothers shamed me into moving into the other bedroom with them. I still remember the feeling; it felt so unnatural.  Some of my earliest memories were about being aroused by the sight of my twin brothers’ adult male penises as they dressed for work. It was like I was all alone watching by older brothers live. My young life was like living in a desert. The struggles of desert life lay hidden to those who only view it from a distance. It was dry and lifeless, with all its passion stored under rocks and sand, emotion hidden like serpents in pockets along the trails into the wilderness ready to slither out and strike. My life suffocated under the motion of the wind that dried out the last drops of courage in a blast of hot air aimed to destroy and kill. Naked, burning, isolated, insulated, my life waited for the right moment, to dare to spread my limbs in the hot sun, to make the sap flow up to the surface, so that my own life could begin. There was no self-love. No self-identity of being a boy. No self-identity period.

Living with so many hot-blooded teenagers, I had a sense of sexuality from a very early age. I had an absolute fear of taking my clothes off in the presence of other boys in the change rooms at gym or the swimming pool. I felt like I was a girl trapped in a boys change room trying to hide my sexuality.  I also had an unnatural response to being hugged or touched by older males. It was like I was experiencing a latent sexual response that made be recoil in fear and disgust.

When I look back at my life, I cannot separate the past from the present. All that I am in this moment is seen through the pain of the past. I was young when I took responsibility for raising myself.  I was finger printed when I was five. My next oldest brother, Ivan, six years older than me, that would make him eleven at the time, got together with another guy (I forget his name) the same age who lived down the block from us and they stole a bunch of batteries from a salvage yard. My brother’s friend also had a brother my age, Robert Sinclair, who had become my closest friend. The two mastermind criminals got Robert and me to load up the batteries in our wagons and go sell them back to the same salvage yard. The haul would be seventy-five cents a battery, for a total of three dollars, a fortune at that time. That would provide the funds for thirty movies at ten cents a shot or sixty ice-cream cones from the corner store at five cents a pop.  Needless to say, that plan could only end in disaster. The salvage yard called the police and I wound up in the police station. They carried out a very skilled interrogation by which I spilled the beans and confessed in tears to what had transpired. In order to scare the hell out of me, they took my fingerprints and then called Victor, one of my twin brothers, to come and pick me up. Ivan disappeared for three days before daring to come home.

I was drunk when I was seven. I remember that night as though it was yesterday. There was a party at my house with the young guys and couples letting off some steam. Mom had vacated the premises, and unable to sleep, I was left to navigate the party as best I could. Beer was flowing liberally and I saw my chance. I got a glass from the cupboard and went from brother to brother for a sample. I was soon feeling like I owned the night. I remember jumping on the bed and feeling the bounce like I was floating in air and then coming down again only to rise one more time. My oldest brother, Rene, noticed what was happening and realized I needed some fresh air. He got me on my trusty steed and I pedaled around the community in the night pushing my bike as fast as it would go up and down the streets feeling the rush of the air slipping past my face.

I set my own hours of coming and going when I was eight. I grew into a powerful young man that no one fought with, fearing the cold, latent anger percolating just below the surface. I lived in an impoverished community with single or incapable parents trying to raise large families. One family, the Roblins, had seven boys being raised by an alcoholic father. Two others boys were being raised by tired grandparents because their daughters could not raise them by themselves.  We terrorized the community. But somewhere around the age of eleven I found competitive sport, hockey and baseball, largely because of the guidance of my brother, Vic, who was trying to be the father I never had. He worked in a Sporting Goods store and kept me supplied with sporting equipment. He attended all my games and I set out to make him proud of his baby brother. I made new friends. We golfed together and kept score on how life was progressing. As we moved into our teen years, my old friends got arrested one after another for crimes, ranging from car theft to rape, and eventually armed robbery and murder. It could have been me if I had ever let the smoldering emotions out of the bag.

At the same time I found pleasure in academics and read extensively and wrote my first novel at the age of twelve. I was academically gifted scoring perfect 100% scores in both English and Mathematics on the provincial exams in Saskatchewan during my grade eight year, in preparation for moving on to high school for grade nine. I had an unquenchable desire for perfection. I was a talented athlete in every sport I attempted. I was pretty, sought after as a trophy by the girls. I was the most popular boy in my school not only with the girls but also with those who lived on the outside. I would not allow bullying in my school yard. If I saw someone being picked on I would jump in and defend the one who needed a helping hand. But I did not stop there. I made sure they were included in the workings of the group. When I think about my motivation now, I am sure that it was based on my own feelings of being isolated and alone. By saving them I was saving myself.

As I entered my teen years, I rebelled against the sculpturing of my older siblings. I rejected the masculine brutality, the drive to push myself, my thoughts, and my desires into the fight fought by alpha males. I rejected the anger and coldness aimed at my sisters and mother. I rejected the feminism that manipulated in the guise of weakness. I became a reconciler, a mediator, a seeker of peace, a lover of justice, a poet who watched from the outside, and in the process rejected and ignored the poet on the inside.

As I reached puberty, I realized I was different but didn’t quite know how. I know the day it started. At the age of fifteen, I had the impulse to try on women’s clothes and experienced an erotic arousal. It just happened one day. I was visiting my brother, Ivan, and his wife in Edmonton during the summer holidays after my Grade 9 year. While they were away at work, I decided to try on his wife’s panties and panty hose. It was like another side of me had said to my masculine self to “butt out for a while and let the other me take over”. It was like a dissociative experience but I was totally aware of who I was and what I was doing. As I felt the silk panties slip sensuously over my penis, I had an immediate erection. As I buried my throbbing body into my pillow. I had my first conscious ejaculation. Oh I had ejaculations before, but they had occurred during wet dreams. This was different. It was a masculine moment clad in a feminine identity. That was my first experience in bisexuality. 

I had no one to talk to who could help me understand what was happening to me. As I struggled to figure myself out, the stage was set for a life based on guilt, anger, and shame. It was all so confusing. It was like Loki had played a cruel joke on me and put my female mind into my male body. But that was not the funny part, the real joke was that I was completely comfortable as a male and at the same time completely comfortable as a female. I was bi-gender. It was just a matter of time before my bi-gender would turn to bisexuality.            

                Back in North Battleford in the fall, I went to the all boy’s Catholic college and again excelled in all subjects. Catholic boys went to the college and Catholic girls went to the convent. The wisdom of the priests and nuns determined that it was safer this way. It did not do much for my social life but it sure made a difference academically. I made no attempts to have any relationships with girls in the other high schools but I did not have any desire for sexual contact with boys either. I was able to disguise the feminine side of my identity and not worry about dealing with dating.

                Around this time, I discovered an erotic novel, Last Exit to Brooklyn, that stoked my fantasy life with frequent journeys into masturbation and release. It was like my gay sexual desires were now a part of a fantasy world that was just that, a fantasy world. I looked at the gay world through my limited knowledge of what I thought it meant to be gay. It was just these weird people in the big cities that dressed up as women and went to special bars to solicit sex from men. I did not see my own experience as being any part of that. I was content to live sexually in my fantasy world and devote all my conscious energies to sports and academic excellence.

                It was during that year that I decided to join the priesthood which delighted my mother. She told me I was the seventh son and the seventh son was special; that’s why God had selected me for the priesthood. I informed the priests at the college of my decision and they begin to monitor my school progress. Father Gokarts, the regional recruitment priest, visited me often during those years. Because of my academic excellence, he informed me that I would spend one year at the novitiate in Ottawa and then it would be on to Rome to finish my education. My future was laid out for me. I could relax, forget about my sexuality, and just go with the flow. When I play the game of imagining what life might have been like, I wonder if I would have perhaps lived a life of peace, contentment, and purpose instead of the one that resulted in so much pain. However, looking back, I now realize that this was my attempt to escape the turmoil of my suppressed sexuality. Here I would be close to god and god would protect me from myself and forgive me for my perceived perversion and sin. But it didn’t work out that way. My teenaged sexuality was suppressed and bound to force its way out regardless of what I did to stop it. In desperation I took the six inch metal crucifix that hung above my bed, attached a chain, and wore it around my neck to fend off the evil spirits of my bisexual fantasy life that I seemed powerless to control. Meanwhile I kept the confessional busy.

                One day during one of his visits, I got up the nerve to tell Father Gokarts about my sexual problems. He immediately assumed that I was experimenting with masturbation and assured me that this was not a game-changing problem and that all boys eventually will struggle to come to grips with their sexuality. I accepted what he said lock, stock and barrel but did not tell him about the nature of my sexual fantasies. During these years I experienced deep levels of guilt and shame and suppressed any confusion and pain related to my same-sex fantasies. It never occurred to me that I could be gay. I simply was male. A popular male. I was asexual in all outward aspects of my high school life. I was a man’s man in a boy’s world.

                Between academics and sports I blissfully made my way through high school. We had a terrific sports program at the college, but sports were a weird thing for me. I was highly skilled but I lacked the aggression needed to take it to the next level. I dropped out of junior hockey in my grade twelve year and concentrated on other less aggressive sports.  I represented the district, skipping my high school boys curling team to the provincial finals, and won the Northwest Saskatchewan Junior Golf Championship.     

                As I moved into my grade 12 year, I focused on my studies, sports, and my hopes of becoming a priest and withdrew from genuine relationships. I created a fantasy world with imaginary lovers. Sexual impulses became fantasies of women without souls. This led to fantasies of men without faces. As time went by, all feminine images disappeared, and I was left with the loveless eroticism of faceless men. My self-concept was based on the faceless person I had created. I had no self-esteem, just the unattainable drive to be perfect so that I could feel worthy enough to be loved. I detached myself from the confusion and pain. I had no self-identity; so I continued to stand by and watch myself live. As I grew into a man I lost my way. I wanted to please them all. I wanted to submit, to just let go of my responsibilities and struggles and be taken care of by a man, by the father I never had, or by a woman, the mother who was never there.  My sexuality became just a tool to be used to please, a means to make others love me. My life became a life of pain without tears.

                 Looking back at my childhood now as a mature adult, I think I now understand what was happening to the confused child in me that was becoming a confused young man. I was conceived by a single mother with nine children. After her husband had left her to raise the family by herself, she was lonely and needed comfort and someone to want her so she had an affair. She got pregnant and went through the anxieties of having to nurture another child, her eleventh birth having lost two girls in childhood.  I was born unwanted. I was the evidence of her sorrow and sin.  Following the fearful death of my infant sister, who had been born a few years before me and died a few months before I was born, with no resources, skills, or energy left to give me the essentials of life, my mother raised me loving, but never daring to feel or show love. So I grew up feeling unloved.

                 I was guided by two half-sisters and six half-brothers determined to make me into the man I could not be. Rejecting their scorn, betraying my mentors, I took responsibility for raising myself, growing into a man with no identity, neither male nor female.  I fluctuated in the void. Caring and loving, thinking and absorbing, longing for completion into something, someone, that I could respect and accept, I found only my own failures, and broken relationships, and inadequacies, and unachievable goals. In my fantasies I found masculinity in the arms of soft young women; I found femininity in the strong arms of faceless men, but they could complete me only in the ecstasy of the climax. When the details were consummated, and the lights turned on, I was alone again in my own darkness, incomplete and broken. I had no identity, except the one I had created for himself, forged fearfully in the fires of hell. I had nothing real to face the world in the moment of truth.