Clinical Issues of Tripolarity
by Linda Powers Leviton
The following symptoms -- in layman’s terms -- are indicative of someone with Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD). Many of these symptoms are also similar to those of a Bi-Polar. If the symptoms below are observed and also the person exhibits “manic rage or anger” that may go on for hours, or even days, then there is a high likelihood of Tri-Polar Disorder. Tri-Polar is not an official clinical diagnosis, but rather something I and others have observed.
- Fear of Abandonment – Frantic efforts to avoid real or imagined abandonment; threats of self harm, accusations and doubts about the intentions of others, fear of friends or loved ones leaving
- Splitting – A defense mechanism that results in unstable and intense interpersonal relationships characterized by alternating between extremes of idealization and devaluation ( e.g. romantic and overwhelming love, vs vindictive need for revenge or complete cut-off, someone is all good or all bad)
- Identity Disturbance – Unstable self-image or sense of oneself; appears different with different people, recreating or ingratiating self to be accepted, false front in different situations
- Impulsiveness -- Impulsivity in areas that are self-damaging such as spending, eating, risk taking, making commitments, sexuality, relationships, extreme difficulties in planning or keeping commitments
- Suicidality and Self Destructiveness -- Recurrent suicidal behavior, gestures, or threats; self mutilating behaviors such as cutting or skin picking; eating disorders; self medicating behaviors such as drug or alcohol use or abuse or searching for foods, supplements, or medications to “fix” a yearning
- Mood Instability – Affective instability due to a marked reactivity of mood (e.g. intense episodic cycling between eurphoria and dysphoria, irritability, or anxiety, usually lasting a few hours and only rarely more than a few days) very often associated with menses, or other health concern, such as back pain, headache, illness, malnutrition or exhaustion
- Emptiness – Chronic feelings of emptiness, low self worth, loneliness, neediness; often creating symbiotic relationships to try to fill a bottomless pit; chronic need for assurance and reinforcement; self-absorbed focus on own needs and how they are not being met
- Rage – Inappropriate, intense anger, or difficulty controlling anger (e.g. frequent displays of temper, constant anger, recurrent verbal and physical fights, often easily triggered by seemingly insignificant events) often lasting for hours or even days
- Paranoia and Projection -- Transient, stress-related paranoid ideation or severe dissociative symptoms; accusing others of the secretive things they are doing, planning, thinking or feeling; projecting their own negative motivations, intentions or feelings onto others
- Blaming—Avoiding responsibility for own behaviors, blaming all problems on others
- Emotional Intensity & Irrationality -- Extreme emotionality, hurt feelings, and irrationality making illogical conclusions by making facts fit emotions, and dramatic displays; rationalization of own behaviors, blame of others based on imagined malevolent intention
- Criticism –- Extreme and unremitting criticism, blame, accusations, deprecations, and negativity toward others; unwillingness to give credit for effort or positive intentions; never satisfied
- Dishonesty and Secrecy -- Lying, or telling half-truths as a means of controlling or manipulating people or situations; telling people whatever they want to hear; furtive behavior, denial when confronted; avoidance of direct communication, creating triangles through gossip and lying to third parties. Lies told to add increased support for one’s position or defame others who are aggressors.
- Extreme Emotional Sensitivity -- Highly vulnerable to having one’s “feelings hurt,” overly deep sense of compassion for others alternatively followed by extreme self-centeredness
- Obsessive-Compulsiveness -- Extreme obsession with someone, something, or an unalterable point of view in spite of overwhelming factual evidence, intense focus on one thing to the total exclusion of other facets of one’s life
If you observe a large number of these symptoms, you should consult a qualified mental health professional.
To understand the complex impact of these behaviors, see the Case Study Section on this site, where we try to explain how we believe Tri-Polar operates, what if feels like to be a spouse of a Tri-Polar, and a diary of a Tri-Polar’s spouse.
From an academic perspective, tri-polars are extremely intriguing, but quite draining on the clinician.
But for the person who suffers from Tri-Polar, their world can be a dream one minute and living hell the next, and the imprint on their brain is not the reality as seen from a third party’s point of view, but from the inner lens of an unstable reality; for the Tri-polar, life is one constant earthquake with a continuing stream of major recurring after-shocks.
Yet for those near the tri-polar, it’s worse than living with a borderline (where its “walking on eggshells’) -- its tiptoeing through a dangerous minefield -- scary and degrading, and hazardous to their health.