Trigger warning: this piece discusses themes of borderline personality disorder.
Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) is a complex personality disorder that affects many aspects of an individual’s life, including their relationships, emotions, career choices, and, ultimately, their sense of self. One common characteristic of BPD is the intense need to find and know the truth. This need can display itself in various ways, from seeking reassurance from loved ones, to obsessively researching, and hyper-focusing on facts and fact-checking information. Keep in mind that the intense need to truth-seek is not indicative of having a mental illness of Borderline Personality Disorder, The personality characteristic and BPD are not mutually exclusive.
What is truth?
In philosophy, truth is a concept that has been widely debated, but is understood to be what is actually the case in the world. There are different theories and views of truth that attempt to provide a more precise definition. Still, for this post, I will focus on the Correspondence and Coherence Theory and two philosophers who align with this standard.
Correspondence Theory states that truth is a matter of correspondence between a statement and the facts. Coherence Theory states that truth is a matter of coherence or logical consistency between a statement and a set of beliefs.
According to Immanuel Kant, the truth was directly linked to a priori knowledge, which is the knowledge that is independent of experience, is based on human understanding, which requires experience and thought. For example, we know fire is hot because we understand that 500 degrees Celsius or 1,100 degrees Fahrenheit would burn our skin if we touched something of that high of temperature.
However, he also believed that there were universal truths that were objective and independent of subjective experiences. For example, a universal truth would be something universally ethical and as a collective, a society would agree. For instance, murder is wrong.
According to Aristotle, truth is a correspondence between a statement and the reality that it represents. He believed that truth was an objective and universal concept that was independent of individual opinions or beliefs and argued that there was a single reality that exists independently of human perception. For example, the sun rises in the east and sets in the west.
Further, the truth was related to knowledge, which is the highest form of truth. Because truth was ultimately derived from a sense of perception and reasoning, it is the result of a process of inquiry and analysis.
Investigations or experiments
Fear of abandonment
One of the core features of BPD is a pervasive fear of real or perceived abandonment. This fear can lead individuals with BPD to seek constant reassurance from their loved ones, in order to alleviate their anxiety and the distress they feel around uncertainty. They may ask for repeated verbal affirmations of love and support, or demand constant attention and affection, in order to feel secure in their relationships. If the need for reassurance is not met, it extends to truth-seeking, in an attempt to verify that their loved ones are being honest with them. This can lead to an obsession with fact-checking and investigating to relieve the angst around the lack of reassurance and communication.
Unstable sense of self
Another factor that contributes to the need for truth-seeking in individuals with BPD is their unstable sense of self. People with BPD often struggle with their identity, feeling as though they don’t have a clear sense of who they are or what they want in life. This lack of clarity can lead to feelings of severe anxiety and confusion. These feelings can be temporarily alleviated by finding the truth or seeking out information. Individuals with BPD feel more grounded and secure in their understanding of themselves and the world around them when they do this, and ultimately, this helps with emotional regulation, impulsivity, and identity.
A double-edged sword
However, while truth-seeking does have its advantages, this need for the truth can also be a double-edged sword for individuals with BPD. Despite it providing a sense of security and clarity, it tends to lead to obsessive and compulsive behaviours. Individuals with BPD have a tendency to become fixated on finding the truth, thus spending hours researching, fact-checking information, and investigating to the point of exhaustion. This can interfere with their daily life and relationships, as their need for the truth can become all-consuming.
When you have BPD, it can feel like the entire world is lying to you, not to mention yourself. The search for the truth can be essential for reflection and growth, but sometimes it can turn into an obsession at our health’s expense.
I always have to go back and ask myself, “What is truth?” Truth to one person could be something completely different to another, yet, both individuals are accurate.
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