Facial expressions

It’s always interesting for me to read about things I considered to be quirks of mine in essays about BPD.

For example I ask people who are important to me if they are angry with me or sad, if I did anything wrong and if they still love me very often. Some are quite annoyed by it which is perfectly understandable. But for me it just feels that way in those moments. I look into peoples’ faces and feel like they think something negative and that it probably has to do with me.
That fits what some studies I read about say – when different persons have to judge facial expressions on photos, borderlines tend to think they are negative (angry, sad, etc.), especially if the expressions are actually neutral. At the same time, angry expressions are recognized more quickly by people with BPD than by others.
Once again the question whether this is genetic and/or has to do with childhood experiences (like having been judged in a negative way and now expecting the same thing to happen again) isn’t answered.
Anyway, I think it’s interesting that I’m not just “paranoid” but that I actually might sometimes not be able to interpret other peoples’ expressions correctly.

The phenomenon works the other way round as well – in another study I read that persons with BPD show other micro expressions (facial expressions that only last for split seconds, are very hard to suppress and can give away liars) than other people. According to the study, disgust, contempt and joy appear frequently whereas fear, sadness and surprise were rarely recorded (or were replaced by contempt, disgust, etc. quickly, which implies a defence reaction). Logically, I don’t know much about how my mimic is taken in by others but I feel that surprise and sadness are emotions that I try to block unconsciously. When I’m surprised, I often feel helpless which leads to anger. And even as a child I felt that I am never sad like other people are. Crying has always been difficult for me and when I’m at a funeral I feel as if I was going ice cold and I even start judging people who show their sadness in a disdainful way (of course I just envy them because they’re capable of something I’m not, I actually feel inhuman then).
Apart from this I often feel as if my mimic was “derailing” in longer private conversations. It feels like I have to control my expressions consciously and I always fear that the other person could notice that something’s weird. I don’t know if this has to do with BPD but it’s certainly uncomfortable and I don’t know what to do about it.

I only tried to give the gist of some studies and relate them to my own behaviour as this is interesting for me and helps me to monitor myself. Of course I don’t want to pretend that this is somehow scientific so if you’re interested in the topic, please read more about BPD and facial expressions in case I didn’t reflect things properly šŸ™‚

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5 thoughts on “Facial expressions

  1. I had to do a similar test in therapy. They showed me all kinds of pictures which I had to interpret. There was a picture of someone and the psych asked: “Is this person happy, sad, angry or disappointed?” There also was a macabre picture of someone with her eyes closed and the question: “Is this person sleeping or dead?”.
    The idea of not being able to cry is also very recognisable! I always relate it to the fact that I see things in a different way than others do. I don’t solely link it to my BPD, I think my scientific background may play a large part in it as well. As a Buddhist I have also learned to see things like death in another light, which changes your reactions.

    Like

    1. Interesting…I never had to do that anywhere.
      Well but not crying due to reacting in a different way is not the same as not being able to cry. The funeral-example was just for illustration, I, too react different from others when talking about death but especially in the past I often was on the verge of crying and just actually not able too. It’s a horrible thing as crying can take away a lot of pressure that I always had to bottle up.

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