This article is published in the book:

"Psych 101 -
What you didn't learn in nursing school."

by Kathi Stringer
Paperback: 320 pages
ISBN-13: 978-0615193137

The Non Dilemma

Written by Kathi Stringer

There are some lists/forums on the Internet that appear supportive for those folks that love borderlines, which may really be a wolf in sheep’s clothing. The Trojan Horse that can be seen as medicine when in fact could be a deadly virus taken by the willing victim.

It is my hope that through this writing, those that love borderlines (nons) can have some sort of warning that sharp curves may be ahead on some roads that masques as recovery and healing. It is a road that may lead to blindness, bigotry, narrow-mindedness and hatred.

The Non Hat

You won’t find the term ‘non’ in the DSM-IV, a psychiatrics reference book. It is non-existent. But since it has become a popular method in some circles of identifying a person who as been affected by another person with borderline personality disorder i.e. spouse, children, friends, relatives, co-workers and even a person with borderline personality, I will make use of the same term 'non' for this paper. I will also make use of the term borderline for those individuals that have borderline personality disorder.

Us Vs Them

The formation of the word ‘non’ has in itself setup a framework for ‘us verses them. Using the application of the word non, splitting is unnoticeably engaged providing an unyielding temptation to split a non as all-good and the borderline as all-bad. It appears to be a useful dynamic for those who hate. To appreciate the point, take out the word ‘borderline’ (bpd) and insert the word “Jew, or Christian, or Fat Person,” or whatever may trigger you. As another exercise, at times replace the word borderline (bpd) with ‘traumatize child’ and then the bigotry becomes exposed. Lets work together and stop all the hate.


It seems in order for a person to become seriously involved with the borderline, they perhaps have some of their own co-dependent issues to resolve. For example, some borderlines that are needy appear to a non as needing to be rescued. The non with poor boundaries whose life script is to rescue is ripe a for dysfunctional engagement. Some are attracted to each other like a magnets, each hoping to get their needs resolved. Since they are both looking to each other for completeness, and each terrified of rejection, it makes it hard to have a healthy relationship built on the foundation fear.


Much in the same way some borderlines need their diagnosis to lead them an identity, some nons do the same thing. A non may take on a name like, “EternalNon”. Which is sad since it is a metaphorical wall that will keep a non from resolving their own issues which they are 100% responsible and are at risk to become fixated in their own progress.

Anger and the Empty Self

Some nons have become so angry they have lost sight of their true-self. The argument is that a non must go through the anger phase before healing can take place. I completely agree with this. However with some of the non’s this anger doesn’t get resolved, and it becomes a part of their identity, because without this anger some nons would be introduced to the abyss of the empty self and that would the unthinkable.

Black & White Thinking (splitting)

Black & white thinking is something that children and borderlines do quite often. Once some nons are actively engaged and enmeshed with the borderline personality, they too may begin to take on the primitive defensive mechanism of black and white thinking (splitting). At this stage a non becomes what may be referred to as a post-non. I have seen many examples of post-non thinking using absolute sweeping statements such as, “All borderlines are evil” and “Everyone in a relationship with a borderline is wasting their time” and “Borderlines never get better.” Notice the operative words “All, Everyone and Never.” These are absolute terms that are framed in ‘either/or’ type statements. I have even read one post-non message declaring all nons as “wonderful, sensitive, altruistic, companionate human beings” while this same person viewed “all borderlines as self-seeking, mean-spirited, and users.” This post-non painted a non as all-good and the borderline as a villain to be cast out. She was not able to see any shades of gray. It is interesting when reading a message from a post-non that they easily give themselves away in these sweeping statements. They have taken on a borderline symptom that has caused them much grief. When it is gently pointed out to them, some nons behave in the same manner as some borderlines with sarcasm, rage and vindictiveness.


One non suggested that acquiring borderline behavior is similar to an analogy of fleas jumping from one person to another. That post-non black & white thinking stems from a flea that jumped from the borderline onto the non. While this rings true, I’ve noticed that when a group of some angry nons form a clan, the fleas began to breed and it becomes an epidemic. The nons are now infecting themselves along with any new members that are seeking help. As I mentioned, some of the new and long term nons wrote to me off-list since they were afraid to join in on the conversation fearing any comment that wasn’t split-bad would be seen as weak. In a non’s words, “I’m writing to you off-list since I’m afraid of being jumped by the other non’s” It seems they are afraid of flea bites from the angry clan. I don’t blame them. I don’t see the sense in breeding fleas since there is no use for them.

Hurling <throwing up>

One individual that supported the non’s used the analogy of hurling. Which, I liked and wanted to pursue this analogy further. He insightfully made the point that since the non had swallowed putdowns, rage, and sarcasms over time, it was hard to be logical when hurling, i.e. making black & white statements and etc. It is true that when in an abusive relationship, it can make one sick and it does need to come up and out of the body/mind.

I recalled a time (funny now, but wasn't then) when both of my little brothers were sleeping in the back of the car, one laying on the seat and the other laying on the floor. The brother on the seat got car sick and threw-up all over my brother's head on the floor. He was pretty upset to say the least. Then from smelling all the vomit, and even though he wasn't sick, he began throwing up too. The car began to stink and I almost threw-up myself and had to concentrate not too.

I got to thinking about how this analogy also applies to some of the not-so-sick nons that are becoming sicker from getting vomited on. I've noticed some influential list/forum members that are still sick and vomiting after all these years, and it's not being directed at the toilet but wherever at random. I think if I were sick, I would want someone to help me get well without being vomited on.

Reaction Formation

Reaction Formation is a defense mechanism that wards off unacceptable feelings and behavior by exhibiting the opposite of one's true wishes or impulses. For example, in some cases the EternalNon who is unaware of his own borderline issues wears the strange masque of the non, and frequently makes black & white statements. But over a period of time, this masque that is very, very heavy may begin to fall and he is exposed. The non behavior that appeared as co-dependent was really Reaction Formation at work. Fortunately, most non’s really are intelligent, compassionate, empathic and wonderful people and after a bit of time they figure out they have become re-victimized in this sort of forum and again need to purge themselves of all the negativity and hatred.

Run With the Wolves

It is sort of an innate paradox that this behavior is to be sold as trust, toleration, patience, hope, and love. A co-dependent person (some nons) are highly at risk since they need validation from their alleged supporting peers. I’ve noticed how with some individuals’ their spots begin to change when they run with the pack and devouring everything in their path. After a time, some of them also become wolves, tearing at the flesh of those who need help. This type of a forum is an empty abyss and only a representation of support, and underneath....the hunt is on.

Catch 22, The No Win Situation

Some nons are so outraged they have become quite adept at getting revenge with the borderline. Some nons learn all they can about boundaries and become experts at BPD, rationalization, denial, hovering, and on and on. Then with all this knowledge and experience from spinning it off the rest of the hateful clan, some of these hateful individuals encourage the more reasonable nons to put the borderline in a no-win situation. Some nons actually delight in doing this without any aim to resolve anything. It just provides some sort of eternal payback.

Dr. Vaknin [1] is an ingenious writer as well as perceptive. The following except from his brilliant work illustrates how the victim of a person with BPD can turn into a borderline themselves.

By Sam Vaknin Ph.D.

Some people here - and on my mailing lists - adopt the role of a professional victim. In doing so, they become self-centred, devoid of empathy and, abusive and exploitative. In other words, they become narcissists. The role of "professional victims" - ones whose existence and very identity is defined solely and entirely by their victimhood - is well researched in victimology. It doesn't make for a nice reading. These victim "pros" are often more cruel, vengeful, vitriolic, discompassionate and violent than their abuser. They make a career of it. They identify with this role to the exclusion of all else. It is a danger to be avoided.

Borderline Personality Disorder

In reality and out of cyberland, there are those with the borderline illness and those that don't have it. It's that simple. There are no nons or post-nons but only those that come into contact with individuals that have BPD.


I can understand having anger as well. I had so much anger with the system, but then I thought to hookup with a friend and figure out a way to correct the problem rather then cut their heads off. This anger was taking up a big chuck on my soul and without it would I would be left empty. I needed that anger to feel complete. Then their came a time I thought it would be much better to seek a win-win instead of revenge. This is what I would view leadership as, to bring about a win-win.

A support list needs leadership that will help redirect the vomit from splashing on someone else, or will at least help clean it up. Clearly, a lot of negativity and hate got transferred to other members.

Non vs. BPD and Validation

What lies behind the masque of most nons and borderlines is a need to be validated. The hidden force behind the need for validation is the need to be loved. Am I loveable? That is the haunting question that continues elude us.

While it makes perfect sense to be able to have a safe place to vent with others that can relate, it is sad that at times the healing process gets swallowed up in hate and becomes an identity.

Parting Thoughts

Lets work on ebbing away the hate. Lets try and use the brush that paints in shades of gray. Lets use those skillful tools to help each other instead of splitting each other apart.

Let us find the greatest love of all, to love one self so we can truly love others.


1. When Victims Become Narcissists - Sam Vaknin Ph.D.
Author of "Malignant Self Love"