I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about my various “disorders”–both diagnosed and self-diagnosed–and can see where the confusion arises. C-PTSD and BPD seem to be used interchangeably,. I think if C-PTSD did not exist, I might have gotten a nebulous label like “anxiety disorder NOS” or “personality disorder NOS.” No one needs a “diagnosis” like that! (I think the fact I’m paying out of pocket made it easier for my therapist to give me an “unofficial/experimental” diagnosis because no claims are being submitted for reimbursement.)
I also found it interesting that in its Wikipedia entry, and elsewhere, C-PTSD has been compared a lot to Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID–-what used to be known as Multiple Personality Disorder). Dissociation in various forms is very common symptom in patients with both PTSD and C-PTSD. It’s also a common symptom in BPD and sometimes also NPD (during a narcissistic crisis or depression following a loss of supply, usually).
The proposed diagnosis of Covert or Fragile NPD has confused things further and once again, the symptoms can be very similar to those of someone with BPD/C-PTSD. Covert Narcissists don’t act arrogant and entitled like classic/grandiose NPDs but they are every bit as manipulative and their goal is to get supply.
But what is supply? Supply is something to fill an empty hole inside, and the emptiness comes about because a person was not mirrored appropriately (or at all) as a child. I feel like I often need “supply” to boost my ego (to some extent everyone does). Because my personality fits the profile for Covert NPD, I spent a long while sure I was one. I was very relieved my therapist does NOT agree with that. (He said I always try to take care of HIS feelings–probably a codependent trait–-and I have too much empathy)
The treatments and therapy techniques used for C-PTSD and Personality Disorders are very much the same. My therapist is a trauma/attachment therapist and as such, treats people with BPD and NPD, as well as C-PTSD, PTSD because all of these disorders have their roots in trauma and faulty attachments to caregivers. DID and other dissociative disorders also have their roots in childhood trauma. All of them are disorders where there is a weak, fractured, or nonexistent sense of self and a yawning emptiness inside. My therapist thinks my sense of self is there, but is fractured and mixed up with pieces of other “identities” I’ve taken on (sounds like BPD!), including my NPD mother.
I picture my “self” as a kaleidoscope full of broken shards of glass and mirrors, constantly shifting but without an organized pattern, completely confusing to me and everyone else. My therapist is trying to get me to start sorting out the pieces, trying to figure out which ones are “me” and which are not. We’re continuing with the chair work with me talking to my mother asking what it is she wants from me. I feel more comfortable keeping her there in the chair as the sad, vulnerable little 1930s-era girl she once was, rather than the brittle, hollow shell she has become. She was only mirrored by her father–but for all the wrong reasons. Her mother would have nothing to do with her at all.