If you have a personality disorder, you may experience some or more or all of the following: self-injury or attempted suicide, strong feelings of anger, anxiety, or depression that lasts for several hours, impulsive behaviour, drug or alcohol abuse, feelings of low self-worth, unstable relationships with friends, family, boyfriends, girlfriends etc and the ten recognised personality disorders that exist are paranoid, schizoid, schizotypal disorder, anti-social, borderline, histrionic, narcissist, avoidant, dependent and obsessive compulsive.

In an article by Richard Bolstad and Margo Hamlet called Healing the War Within, they say “early on in our work with NLP we naively believed that NLP change processes would work with all our clients as much as they did with us. The clients would do the process and then they would change and then they would thank us and leave.

Instead a small group of people told us that none of the processes worked. That NLP was just a set of tricks and that they felt really angry with us for promising things we didn’t deliver and that they wanted to come back and do some more. We apologised and tried to do better. Which made the problem far worse. Since then we’ve learned to detect such responses earlier and respond in ways that quickly enable these people to turn around one hundred and eighty degrees.”

If you’ve met people in the world of NLP who you know blatantly claim that it will and does always work, then actually that’s quite refreshing for you to know about that. It doesn’t always work and that there’s reasons why.

The term ‘borderline’ referred to an old pre-belief that someone with this disorder was on the borderline between sanity and insanity. In NLP terms the core characteristics of the person who gets diagnosed with borderline personality disorder or B.P.D. is as severe sequential incongruence.

This means constant polarised responses. So, the person mismatches their own and other’s experiences continuously. Emotionally, this creates confusion about who they are and what they want, resulting in feelings of frustration, anxiety, depression, emptiness and hopelessness.

The person’s final behaviour may be deliberately self-destructive and destructive of others or dangerously impulsive. It is as if they are at war with themselves and with anyone else who gets in the way of their primary target.

So why does this happen? Well it’s resulting from damage in the healthy development of a love of self, damage in the healthy development of a love for self and that when for example a three-year-old child says ‘look at me aren’t I great’ a functional parent will often respond by mirroring this excitement. So, for example, saying something like ‘wow it’s amazing’. If the mirroring available though is seriously inadequate the child becomes fixated at this level of development.

Here’s how we fix it. The first clue is to teach our mismatching kind of bipolar personality people to stop mismatching.

We need to teach them how to match and one of the small ways we can start to do this is by using what we call negative tag questions. This can displace resistance in a client and sorts of takes the edge off and softens the instruction that we’re giving.

A negative quite tag question is when you add negation into your tag question so for example “You can sit down in the trance chair, won’t you?” By using a negative tag question we can give them the instruction and then tell them that they won’t do it. They’re either going to sit down in the chair (which is what we want them to do) thus keeping rapport) or not do it (which is what you’ve presupposed in the negative tag question thus still maintaining rapport.)

To learn how to help people with such disorders, consider undertaking an NLP training with People Building.


By Gemma Bailey