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Lewis, Robert M. The Abandoned Heart. San Diego: Behavioral Science Applications, Revised and Abridged Edition, 2000

Copyright © by Robert M. Lewis, 1982, 1983, 1984, 1985, 1988, 1990, 1996, 2000.


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Cover photo-art and graphics by Robert M. Lewis

Illustrations by Vincenzo G. Adragna and Robert M. Lewis


To the

The Abandoned Heart

A Dynamic Energy-Shift Model of the Borderline Personality Syndrome

Robert M. Lewis, Ph.D

Behavioral Science Applications San Diego, California


Revised and Abridged Edition

Version 2000

In its original form, The Abandoned Heart monograph is a collection of three papers presented to the Association for Transpersonal Psychology at annual conferences during the summers of 1982, 1983 and 1984 held at Asilomar near Pacific Grove, California.

These papers have gained a degree of recognition that could not have been anticipated. Inquiries for reprints have been requested throughout the 50 states as well as Canada and Europe. These continue to be received as of this writing, nearly twenty years since the first paper was presented. In several instances, one or more of the papers have been placed on required reading lists in graduate psychology departments that introduce their students to transpersonal issues.

Although the original monograph included several additional papers that address peripheral issues, the majority of requests have been for the first two papers, which specifically discuss issues of onset and recovery of the borderline personality phenomenon.

In order to meet this need, the revised edition is being made available in this abridged format.

Nevertheless, since the first papers were presented, there has been a natural progression of research and understanding, which has led me to the following conclusions: 1) The original premise is correct, 2) there are many who suffer from an abandoned heart who do not display the full extent of the syndrome, and 3) the personal, interpersonal and transactional processes of human nature are imbedded far more deeply in man’s spiritual nature than I had originally assumed. These conclusions support the original assumptions, but extend them far beyond what is presented here.

It is my hope that those who suffer from an abandoned heart, or who know and love them on a personal level as well as those who work professionally with these issues, will continue to explore their own spiritual nature ever more deeply. The rewards are worth the journey.

Although I am presently retired from my private practice, I remain open, as I have in the past, to receiving inquires and calls from those who wish to discuss these important issues. I can be reached at the address and numbers listed below.

If you wish to order additional copies of this abridged version, the cost is USD $29.95, which includes shipping and handing.

San Diego, California January 20, 2000

Robert M. Lewis, Ph.D. Founding Director Behavioral Science Applications 4869 70 th Street, Suite 8 San Diego, California 92115-3061

Phone 619-463-5350 / 619-750-7290 rmlewisphd@cox.net

The Abandoned Heart

A Dynamic Energy-Shift Model of the Borderline Personality Syndrome

Robert M. Lewis, Ph.D.

Edited and Abridged Version 2000

Table of Contents

Preface to Version 2000…………………………………………………. Introduction……………………………………………………………… The Model……………………………………………………………… Borderline Pathogenic Development…………………………………… Energy Dynamics and Symptom Formation………………………… Recovery: Initial Considerations.………………………………………. Initial Summary and Conclusions……………………………………… Onset and Breakdown: Setting the Stage for Recovery………………. The Recovery Process…………………………………………………… Psychotherapy and the Recovery Process…………………………… Technological Advances: Hemispheric Synchronization…………… Altered States of Consciousness and Recovery………………………


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The Abandoned Heart

A Dynamic Energy-Shift Model of the Borderline Personality Syndrome

Robert M. Lewis, Ph.D. Founding Director Behavioral Science Applications San Diego, California

Historical Perspective


The borderline personality syndrome is one of the more puzzling, complex, and

difficult to differentially diagnose of the major personality disorders. It is also not without

its special challenges in treatment.

Historically, the borderline syndrome has been surrounded with controversy and a

certain skepticism. Although the clinical picture had been formally described in 1911 by

Bleuler, who used latent schizophrenia as the diagnosis, and while the terms borderland

and borderline were utilized in 1918 by Englishman L. Pierce Clark, it was not until 1938

that the term borderline was introduced formally in American journals by Stern.

Following a paper by Hoch and Polatin on pseudoneurotic schizophrenia in 1949, and

two papers in 1953 by Knight, who used borderline as the descriptive term, the diagnosis

of a discrete clinical entity became more common. The diagnosis has only recently been

given permanent clinical status by the American Psychiatric Association, which has for

the first time included the borderline personality as a diagnostic classification in the


Clinical Picture of the Borderline Personality 1

Much has been written concerning the clinical picture presented by the borderline

personality. Although a comprehensive review is beyond this paper’s scope, a brief

description will be useful. The text of the disorder, as presented in the DSM-III manual,

is reproduced below:

The essential feature is a Personality Disorder in which there is instability in a variety of areas, including interpersonal behavior, mood and self-image. No single feature is invariably present. Interpersonal relations are often intense and unstable, with marked shifts of attitude over time. Frequently there is impulsive and unpredictable behavior that is potentially physically self-damaging. Mood is often unstable, with marked shifts from a normal mood to a dysphoric mood or with inappropriate, intense anger or lack of control of anger. A profound identity disturbance may be manifested by uncertainty about several issues relating to identity, such as self-image, gender identity, or long-term goals or values. There may be problems tolerating being alone, and chronic feelings of emptiness or boredom. Some conceptualize this condition as a level of personality organization, rather than as a specific Personality Disorder. Quite often social contrariness and a generally pessimistic outlook are seen. Alternation between dependency and self-assertion is common. During periods of extreme stress transient psychotic symptoms of insufficient severity or duration to warrant an additional diagnosis may occur (pp. 321-322). 2

The symptoms presented by the borderline are varied, and overlap with other

disorders. The most important of these are:


Absence of a centered sense of self-identity;


Strong approach-avoidance, or vacillation, in relationships;


Depression of significant duration; cyclothymic mood swings;


Anger as a primary affect, often explosively or inappropriately expressed;


Somatic complaints and/or hypochondrias;

1 The contributions of Vincenzo G. Adragna to the development of this model are gratefully acknowledged.

2 It is now interesting to note that the current DSM-IV includes abandonment issues as an essential feature of the borderline personality diagnosis.


Anxiety, phobias, and panic anxiety states;


Dependency and fear of dependency;


Feeling of being empty, unfulfilled, bored, with difficulty being alone;


Inconsistent work habits, and faltering long-term career patterns;


Difficulty being in touch with true affect, or lack of congruence between thoughts or feelings and their expression;


Fear of separation from or abandonment by others;


Self-condemnatory thoughts, with high risk of self-mutilation or suicide;


Possibility of psychotic-like states of limited duration;


Obsessive-compulsive tendencies.

Disagreement among clinicians and therapists regarding the borderline

personality as a discrete syndrome stems from the fleeting and cyclical nature of the

symptoms, and the not uncommon shift from neurotic patterns, to the loss of ego

boundaries associated with psychotic-like episodes of relatively short duration, and back

again. In addition, many borderline patients function within normal ranges a good portion

of the time, and may be quite successful in their careers.

It is the complexity of these processes, which shift and recycle between neurotic,

normal, and psychotic-like episodes, and the observation that many symptoms of the

borderline are shared with other diagnostic categories, which have contributed to the

clinical controversy, and have delayed its acceptance as a diagnostic category. Even now

there is disagreement concerning “borderline” as an appropriate term for this syndrome.

Questions such as the following continue to be asked: What is the person afflicted with

this disorder borderline to? Is it primarily a thought disorder, associated with the

psychotic states of schizophrenic processes? Or is it more closely aligned with the

rigidity and internal constraints of the neuroses? Is it primarily an affective disorder,

manifesting as depression, countered by explosive episodes of anger? Is its onset triggered by abnormal developmental patterns, and is it therefore a learned behavior? Or is it more closely tied to genetic and constitutional factors? This paper is the initial attempt to present an alternative, yet integrative, approach to understanding the development, symptoms, and recovery of the borderline personality. The approach may be considered unorthodox by some, perhaps radical by others. However, it is not an attempt to dispute or to replace the current ideas of others. It is, rather, an attempt to further explain the puzzling dynamics of the borderline, using a frame of reference uncommon to Western psychology and psychiatry, and to suggest some alternate means for therapeutic recovery. The concepts herein are presented in terms of a model, rather than to prematurely elevate them to the level of theory. In addition, the idea of a model more adequately encompasses the dynamics of energy flow central to this presentation, although many of the concepts lend themselves readily to the generation of testable hypotheses required of theory construction. The rigors of hypothetico-deductive thinking and empirical procedures must await the prerequisite of more intensive clinical observation, from which the ideas contained herein were initially obtained. The model to be presented has had its own historical development. Although covering a relatively brief time span, it has evolved through certain stages, each one having a bearing on understanding the model. The author made the initial observations and tentative hypotheses in the clinical setting of his private practice in individual and family psychotherapy. As the clinical model crystallized, and there began to be evidence of its application in psychotherapy, these observations were shared and explored with research associate Vincenzo Adragna during weekly discussions. It was during these discussions that many of the spiritual implications began to unfold.

Stage I was a period of exploring the dynamics of reactive (functional, uni-polar) depression with clients responding to some form of situational loss, great or small, and its relationship to anger. Stage II, a closely related and natural extension of the first, involved the complex reactions, dynamics and symptom development of clients working through the grieving process of separation, death, or their own terminal illness. It was during this period that a most interesting observation was made. Each of these clients was able to describe a certain set of somatic complaints, primarily involving deep visceral pain, in the region of the lower thorax, heart, and upper abdomen. Also experienced was a great emptiness, or void in the same region, accompanied by a sense of personal powerlessness. This symptom was more commonly expressed during periods of depression, and was often accompanied by intense separation or death anxiety. As this observation was pursued, it was noticed, consistent with object relations theory, that the symptoms disappeared when a strong emotional connection was made. This fact in itself is not surprising. It has always been a part of the human condition. However, we began to ask the question “why?” Why did the symptoms disappear? Were they related to an inner process, perhaps an energy dynamic, which could, if understood, be helpful in the recovery phase of loss and grieving? Was the feeling of emptiness or void a literal subjective interpretation, rather than a psychological metaphor? If so, what “disappeared” to produce the void and pain, and what “returned” to provide the feeling of fullness? Sometimes the fullness was associated with love, and a yearning to give of oneself. In these moments, the pain disappeared, replaced by a sense of warmth and contentment, as well as increased excitation and body tone, accompanied by a lessening of depression. At other times, the emotional response was fully experienced anger, in

which the pain temporarily disappeared, and a sense of personal power returned, but which was often accompanied by increased anxiety, sometimes reaching panic proportions following awareness of the anger. Stage III was a period of working with clients experiencing phobias, a large proportion of whom were diagnosed as agoraphobic. It was during this period that an understanding developed of the complex dynamics between intense separation anxiety, dependency, deep visceral pain, emptiness, depression, anger, panic responses and the fugue states of ego boundary dissolution, which were key to recycling and perpetuating the process. Later, similar processes were to be seen again and again in the borderline personality. Stage IV was a period of contemplation and integration. What did these observations mean? The most important observation seemed focused on clients who were experiencing intense loss of an important emotional relationship. For these clients, there seemed to be genuinely something we could describe as a “broken heart.” But what was it that was “broken?” Certainly it was not the physical heart. Besides, the symptoms were not necessarily located in the left lower thorax, but were in a broader, although still circumscribed, region. And rather than broken, it was more as if something vitally important was temporarily missing. It was, as some clients would describe, as if there were a deep hole in their very center, a hole which, when present, produced such a deep ache or pain that it seemed at times unbearable, and which prompted many of them to first seek medical attention, before being referred for psychotherapy when all diagnostic tests proved negative. An assumption about human nature, which had gradually been evolving into acceptance over the years, was the eastern religious philosophy of an energy matrix or system contiguous to and interactive with the structural system of the physical body. Was it possible that the broken heart and the symptoms, which corresponded to it, were

actually the predictable outcome of a vital energy depletion of the Heart Center, or Fourth

Chakra? It was recalled that Shafica Karagula had reported observations by certain

sensitives concerning swirling energy vortexes, or “holes”, receding into the body

structure, which seemed to be correlated with physical or psychological pathology. Was

the pain of a broken heart associated with a “negative” energy vortex, and the fullness of

being in love associated with a “positive” energy vortex which extended outward beyond

the boundary of the physical body to make a literal energy connection with the loved


Tentatively at first, this idea was advanced to clients experiencing these

symptoms. With very few exceptions, there was a subjective response in which the idea

made intuitive sense to them. In some instances, simply the idea itself seemed helpful. If

nothing else, it “explained” to them something that had been so puzzling. Some clients

also began to consciously attempt to “move” the energy outward, resulting in the

alleviation of symptoms.

Was there an important therapeutic principle hidden here? It remained for a

concentrated period of work with borderline patients for the answer to become clearer.

The movement of energy outward from the Heart Center to make a connection with a loved one was later to be viewed as an ultimate act of giving, but

presented a basic paradox. Energy extending outward from the Heart Center produced

more fullness, whereas attempts to “take in” energy from someone else from a state of

neediness eventually produced a greater emptiness. Teaching the nature of this paradox,

the flip side of our normal world view, became a basic task in psychotherapy with

patients experiencing the pain of a broken heart.

Stage V extended further the processes of observation, contemplation,

integration, and application, with some surprising results. An increasing number of

borderline patients were being seen in therapy during this phase. Gradually, some basic

patterns began to emerge, which drew quite naturally upon the experiences and understandings of the previous four stages. In fact, the symptoms and dynamics of the borderline seemed a composite of these stages, with the addition of certain unique characteristics that presented a picture of greater complexity, variability, and difficulty. First, there emerged a consistent pattern of characteristics or traits, which suggested a predisposition or constitutional factor. Second, there seemed to be a typical set of developmental variables, which interacted with the predisposition-constitutional factors. Third, from this genesis arose a reasonably predictable set of dynamics which, when set into motion, could be viewed as accounting for the fleeting, cyclical, and unstable patterns of the borderline personality. Finally, as a cognitive model of the borderline syndrome emerged, opportunities arose to apply some unique therapeutic interventions derived directly from the model. The results were far beyond expectations. Indeed, for some patients recovery came so swiftly and so completely that one had to wonder if these patients were in fact borderline, even though they fit well the clinical picture. We were reminded of the medical “problem” of spontaneous remission, and were tempted to dismiss the event as misdiagnosis. However, since instances of spontaneous remission were being observed in case after case, it was felt that there might be value in sharing the model. The validity of these observations must of necessity await further corroboration by others.


The Model

Borderline Predisposition, Basic Assumptions, and Healthy Development

The progressive stages of observation described above became the building blocks from which this model evolved. The most significant observation, which will be detailed as we progress, was this:

The dynamics of the borderline personality appeared to be a derivative of the broken heart pattern, but with some fundamental differences. The basic symptoms of deep visceral pain, emptiness, and depression were the same. However, the symptoms of the broken heart were temporary, being the acute stage of response to intense loss. In the borderline personality, the symptoms of loss had become chronic. There had, for whatever reasons, developed a certain permanency to the depletion of energy in the Heart Center. Although it could, and often did, return temporarily, resulting in illusive feelings of euphoria, there eventually came to be an expectancy of the emptiness, void, and pain, which contributed to an ongoing dread and hopelessness. Although the depletion and void was the result of inner dynamics and processes, the emptiness and pain so often felt was not experienced as such, but was instead attached to the presence or absence of a loved one, or nurturer, which contributed to the feeling of helplessness and dependency: It was others who were perceived as ultimately in control of the borderline’s sense of well-being on the one hand, or vast emptiness and pain on the other, resulting in the constant dread of separation or abandonment. Thus the defense of projection developed and was maintained, and prevented the borderline from seeing the singular truth that would ultimately set them free. At a critical point in their development, the borderline had made a most crucial decision. Out of an agonizing sense of survival and self-protection, the decision was made to prevent the

possibility of any further pain from abandonment. This was accomplished, in one intuitive leap, by removing awareness from the locus of pain, from their own Heart. With the removal of awareness, the energy of the Heart Center became increasingly depleted, numbing the pain through denial, but with ever so costly results. The borderline had made the decision that began the process of their own pathology. They had made the decision -- to abandon their own Heart. From this point onward, the constellation of personal beliefs, feelings, and behaviors symptomatic of the borderline personality progressed in a fairly predictable manner. However, the predictability that was observed was not simply the end result of mutually interactive dynamic processes. Further, developmental variables were not enough to account for the disorder. Gradually it became more and more evident that persons with the disorder had certain general characteristics in common, characteristics which, if isolated within normal development, were certainly not pathological. As these characteristics were identified, we came to view them as borderline-predisposed individuals.

1.1 The Borderline-Predisposed Individual

Certain individuals seem more prone to the borderline syndrome than others. We believe there are three primary predisposing characteristics. These are: (1) A highly sensate body, (2) a capacity for high emotional intensity, and (3) a naturally creative intelligence. A fourth, involving the possibility of a constitutional factor, will be discussed in a following section.

1.1.1 Sensate body.

Borderlines have a highly sensate body, with lower than usual sensory input thresholds of pain and touch. Their bodies are very responsive to external stimuli, and

therefore the environment, especially other people. They are also unusually aware of inner body states. As a result, they tend to be sensual and pleasure seeking, as well as pain sensitive and pain avoiding. The borderline’s low thresholds involve the peripheral nervous system. This is not the same as the inadequate CNS filtering of information input hypothesized to account for some schizophrenic processes. They, therefore, have the capacity for accurately “mapping” the external world, sometimes in great detail, which seems not to be true of the schizophrenic.

1.1.2 Emotional intensity.

Borderline’s have a higher than usual capacity for emotional intensity. The intensity of their emotional energy makes them inherently responsive to relationships. In

its natural, undistorted state, we might view this as a love-giving, love-receiving trait, that is, having a “full heart.” When distorted, it will shift to a deficiency state of neediness, and may become a preoccupation with sexuality, perversions, or gender identity, often expressed only in fantasies, which act as substitutes for the fulfilling emotional connection and expression in love-giving, love-receiving relationships. Under the strain of repeated separation, loss of important emotional relationships, or physical abandonment, this emotional intensity will eventually provide the fuel for the pain-generated anger and later, when insulated from awareness, will account for much of the depression experienced by the borderline.

1.1.3 Creative intelligence.

Borderline’s have a naturally creative intelligence. Although not necessarily associated with a high measured IQ., the borderline-prone individual is intellectually- cognitively responsive. Paradoxically, this quality, as we will see later, is necessary for

the development of the disorder. Their minds are often constantly active, and they frequently report difficulty shutting off their thoughts. An obsessive-compulsive quality

develops from attempting to avoid pain and find fulfillment. To use the colloquial, their minds are “sharp,” with a quick wit, and “fluid,” being able to make cognitive associations easily. These quick and fluid qualities also make their cognitive processes slippery,’’ being unable to maintain certain cognitive sets required for a consistent self-identity, and making long-range goal-setting and attainment difficult. These qualities may also make them prone to using dry humor, often to a degree that becomes annoying to others. Although eventually counter-productive, humor is an attempt to spontaneously bring relief to the pain or emptiness they are experiencing. Although they are able to put cognitive constructs together in unusual ways, this creativity may be for better or for worse. While it allows them to problem solve productively, it also provides the mechanisms for developing intricate defensive patterns, the cornerstones of which are projection and denial, which eventually become their undoing. These three predisposing factors, each of which in their positive forms are potentially enhancing of the self, have a negative side if distorted. In Abraham Maslow’s terms, they can become Deficiency-needs rather than Being-needs, with predictable adverse consequences. In combination, these three factors can account for the tripartite essence of the borderline personality: (1) A thought disorder, giving it pseudo-psychotic characteristics, combined with (2) an affective disorder, involving both a preoccupation with sensation and a denial of true affect, resulting in (3) relationship difficulties, which not only provide the primary genesis, but serve to perpetuate the disorder as well. These factors intertwine to form the relatively predictable dynamics, which are the predominant subjective experience of the borderline.


Constitutional Factors: A Tentative Hypothesis

Individuals with a borderline disorder often report somatic complaints in the general region of the throat, thorax and upper abdomen. These generally include vague aches, pain, and neuromuscular tensions of varying intensities. We believe it may be of heuristic value to note that this is the region served by the Tenth Cranial (Vagus) Nerve, an autonomic efferent and afferent system, with motor fibers to the larynx, pharynx, lungs, esophagus, heart and stomach. It has lesser branches to several abdominal organs, and sensory fibers to the larynx and lungs (see Figure 2). We have noted, for example, that upper thoracic and laryngeal tension increases as primary emotional energy moves upward, away from the Heart Center, and decreases as the energy returns to the Heart Center. Voice register, an indication of laryngeal tension, also seems to rise and fall in correlation to the upward and downward energy movement. Other tentative observations include peritonitis, gall bladder disorders, nausea, upper respiratory ailments, heart and chest pain associated with the chronic nature of an abandoned Heart. Is it possible there is some causal or mutually causal relationship between Tenth Cranial Nerve activity (e.g., inhibition; dis-inhibition) and the instability of primary emotional energy of the Heart Center in borderline prone individuals? The question seems worth pursuing further.

1.3 Basic Assumptions of the Model

Several assumptions are basic to the model. These are treated “as if” true for purposes of hypothesizing certain processes and dynamics. Consequently, there is no attempt to support the validity of these assumptions with empirical evidence for, in fact, there is none. It is a theoretical procedure familiar to the physical sciences in which an unknown

energy state, process or dynamic is advanced to account for an observable event. This has

been particularly valuable to theoreticians concerned with developing a more unified


Assumption 1: The Heart Center, or Fourth Chakra, consists of out-flowing energy, which remains immeasurable and therefore unobservable to contemporary Western science. Only its effects are objectively observable.

Assumption 2: This energy we shall call Primary Emotional Energy, and is the basis for the emotional connection between persons in a relationship. It is, therefore, the “energy of relationships.”

Assumption 3: In its natural state, primary emotional energy ‘fills” the region of the lower thorax or chest area, producing the subjective experience of contentment, warmth, openness to others, trust, and giving of self (love).

Assumption 4: Under certain conditions, primary emotional energy can shift away from the Heart Center, resulting in the subjective experience of a “hole” in the center of one’s self, producing either undifferentiated or specific somatic complaints of vague or unknown origin.

Assumption 5: Primary emotional energy follows the “Law of Awareness” which states : (a) Awareness activates the energy; (b) The energy follows awareness; therefore, by shifting awareness, the energy will shift to the new locus of awareness; (c) Withdrawal of awareness de-activates the energy; it is potentially available, but latent; and (d) Reactivation of awareness reactivates the energy.

Assumption 6: The natural state of the energy is without limit or constraint, and establishes connection (i.e., relationships) in an undifferentiated manner. That is, it “gives to all.”

Assumption 7: Thoughts give form to (produce constraints upon) the natural state of the energy. Thinking (i.e., information processing) results in the formless energy being in-form-ation.

Assumption 8: Thinking directs the locus of awareness. That is, one’s thoughts are responsible for shifting the locus of primary emotional energy.

Assumption 9: Specific emotions are the result of thoughts (i.e., constraints) applied to the formless primary emotional energy.

9.1: Every thought (i.e., a constraint, producing a form) applied to primary emotional energy will to some degree shift energy away from the Heart Center, which is it natural “home”.

Assumption 10: Primary emotional energy can be returned to its natural state (i.e., its “home”), and to formlessness, by redirecting an emotion, through the vehicle of awareness, to the region of the Heart Center.

Assumption 11: Having redirected an emotion (e.g., guilt, anger, love, hate) back

to the Heart Center, it will undergo a natural transformation analogous to biological metabolism, making the energy more readily available to the self and others.

11.1: This natural transformation will change the emotion from a state of constraint (form) to a state of undifferentiation. This is analogous to the change that occurs when H 2 0 is transformed from ice, to water, to vapor. The process allows the new thought-energy to re-fill the void once created by its shift away from the Heart Center.

Assumption 12: The steady state of the return of all primary emotional energy to the Heart Center will produce a state of internal integration, and the subjective experience of fullness and wholeness, resulting in a natural, spontaneous giving of self: A parable’s parable of the Prodigal Son.

1.4. Normal (Ideal) Childhood Development

Normal childhood development is discussed briefly to provide a backdrop for

understanding the pathogenic processes that contribute to the borderline disorder.

Ideal development for the borderline-prone infant and child (i.e., childhood

interactions that will prevent development of the disorder) focus primarily on qualities of

the nurturing parent. Although we will often use the term “mother,” this denotes function

rather than gender, and could just as easily be provided by an appropriate male or

significant non-biological surrogate parent.

Proposition 1.1: The ideal mother (of a borderline-predisposed infant) has a full Heart. That is, her own primary emotional energy is strong and stabilized in her Heart Center. She is therefore centered within herself.

Proposition 1.2: Because she is centered in the Heart, the mother experiences herself as full and whole, and is therefore able to give freely.

Proposition 1.3: Being centered in the fullness and wholeness of her own Heart, the mother is free from projection. There is no need to attribute her internal state to those around her, including her infant.

Proposition 1.4: Being integrated and whole, the mother is free from denial. There is no pain of unfulfillment, and therefore no need to withdraw awareness from any portion of herself, including thoughts, feelings, or actions.

Proposition 1.5: Being free from projection and denial, the mother can maintain full awareness of her child’s essence and needs, including the infant’s needs for fusion and oneness, and later the child’s needs for separation and individuation. Neither oneness nor separation are cause for anxiety, either for the mother or her


Proposition 1.6: The strong, stable primary emotional energy of the mother establishes and maintains connection with the infant’s Heart Center.

1.6.1: The stability and consistency of this connection gradually serve to anchor the child’s primary emotional energy.

1.6.2: The child’s subjective experience is warmth, contentment, trust, openness, and freedom to explore fully their own nature. The experience of fullness allows for the development of their own capacity for giving to others.

Proposition 1.7: The stability and consistency of the primary emotional energy connection between mother and child continues through both the separation- individuation (going away from mother), and the rapprochement (coming home to mother) sub-phases of development. This further reinforces the strength and stability of the child’s primary emotional energy, thus setting the stage for normal and fully adaptive adolescent and adult development.


Borderline Pathogenic Development

The idea that developmental factors contribute to the borderline disorder is not

new. Masterson (1981), for example, argues well for this viewpoint.

This model does not differ greatly from others regarding what is objectively

observed about the borderline disorder. Where the model departs is the level of

explanation, by hypothesizing an energy dynamic rather than a psychodynamic as the

primary moving force. This may account for the difficulty traditional clinicians have

experienced in circumscribing the phenomena. Even so, psychoanalytic writings are not

discounted, having proven quite useful in understanding the borderline personality.

Developmentally, we believe there are four primary stages in the pathogenesis of

the borderline. The first is the infant stage, from birth to 18 months. The second is the

toddler stage, from 18 to 36 months. The third stage occurs around age seven, plus or

minus one year (6 to 8 years), and is the critical turning point of the disorder. The fourth

stage occurs during puberty at approximately age 12, plus or minus two years (10 to 14

years), and signals the onset of a prolonged period of formalizing and rigidifying the

personality infrastructure. This is the period, from adolescence through adulthood, in

which the social consequences of endogenous factors reinforce and perpetuate the


2.1. Infant Stage (birth to 18 months): “The Empty Heart.”

The borderline-prone infant, paradoxically, has the potential (perhaps even more

so than other infants), for a strong, intense Heart Center. However, as described above,

the infant requires a nurturing parent with a strong, stable Heart Center to ensure the

anchoring and stabilization of their own primary emotional energy.

Proposition 2.1.1: Developmentally, the disorder begins when the borderline- prone infant is nurtured by a parent with “an Empty Heart” who, through predisposition, physical or emotional illness, has weak or unstable primary emotional energy, and is therefore unable to establish a consistent connection with the infants Heart Center.

Proposition 2.1.2: During periods in which the infant does not experience the stable primary emotional energy connection with the parent, there will begin to occur a dissipation, shift or “drift” of energy away from the infant’s Heart Center.

Proposition 2.1.3: In the infant this will be recognized to be a generalized irritability and/or crying, as if in discomfort or pain, but with no identifiable physical source.

Proposition 2.1.4: Over prolonged periods, this drift of primary emotional energy away from the infant’s Heart Center will eventually produce a deeper ache of emptiness and unfilled “hunger.” The infant may begin to show symptoms of eating difficulties or digestive problems. Behaviorally, there may begin to be signs of either passivity or hyperactive movement, and may be difficult to hold, console, or put to sleep.

Proposition 2.1.5: Because (1) the natural tendency of the infant is for a strong Heart Center, (2) and because the infant has not yet developed a cognitive understanding of the source of its vague, internal discomfort (i.e., a parent with an Empty Heart), and (3) because there may be other children, family members or part-time surrogate parents who nurture the infant’s Heart Center, the drift of energy may occur slowly, and may in fact return to fullness for periods of time, only to drift again if not anchored by the mother’s primary emotional energy.

It is during the toddler stage, without a “change of Heart” occurring within the

mother, that the developmental process and symptom formation will become more


2.2. Toddler Stage (18 to 36 months): “The Broken Heart.”

A critical period of the child’s development is the “toddler stage.”

It is between 18 and 36 months that the child begins the important process of

moving away from its mother, establishing separation and mdividuation, and then

returning to re-experience her presence. Both the sub-phases of separation-individuation,

and the complimentary sub-phase of rapprochement, are necessary for healthy


The borderline-prone child experiences difficulty, even a sense of trauma, with

one or both of these sub-phases.

It is during the toddler stage that projection becomes established as a cornerstone

of the eventual pathology.

Proposition 2.2.1: It is during the active process of moving away from mother

that the child establishes the ability to separate self from the parent, and develops

a sense of self, or individuation. At first, this may cause little difficulty or anxiety for the child. Since the mother has an Empty Heart, it may even provide a sense of relief from the discomfort, or energy drain, it experiences in her presence.

Proposition 2.2.2: The critical event for the child is its return “home,” for its need is to reestablish the connection with mother’s primary emotional energy. In the early stages, the child is ever hopeful that, upon return, he will experience the warmth, the fulfillment, the contentment and the oneness associated with being-in-connection with her Heart Center.

Proposition 2.2.3: When the borderline-prone child returns, he finds “no one home,” for he returns to a parent with an Empty Heart. Again and again, the child experiences the emptiness, the hunger, the ache of having hopeful expectations broken. Although separation is being accomplished successfully, there is a gradual erosion of a sense of self, as the pattern of emptiness, hunger, and unfulfillment is re-experienced upon each return, for the true self-identity

of the borderline-prone child is in its awareness of its own Heart Center.

Proposition 2.2.4: Gradually, as the pattern of returning home to an Empty Heart continues, the child will experience a deeper and more persistent pain in the region of the Heart Center. He will be experiencing the initial stages of a Broken Heart. Crying may be more frequent. Sleeping patterns may be disrupted with nightmares, and anxiety about death, couched in the symbolism of a child’s mind, may be noticeable. Normal eating patterns may be altered by “tummy aches” or overeating. Enuresis may be a signal that anger and depression are present. Communication difficulties, involving articulation or dysfluency may appear. As the child grows older, the tension, somatic discomfort, and visceral pain associated with a Broken Heart may reach intolerable limits, prompting irritability, angry outbursts, and acting out behaviors, or withdrawal. Separation anxiety and fears of abandonment may increase.

Proposition 2.2.5: It is during this period that the child is earning a significant lesson: Other people seem to be directly responsible for either the fleeting feeling of fulfillment, or the increasingly familiar awareness of somatic discomfort and visceral pain. Thus is born the defense of projection.

Proposition 2.2.6: Projection as a primary defense.

The borderline-prone child is highly sensitive to two major loci of awareness

simultaneously, a combination that leads directly to projection as a primary mechanism,

and which eventually serves to perpetuate the borderline disorder.

First, the highly sensate nature of the child makes them acutely aware of their

own body states. They are natural bedfellows to both pleasure and discomfort, and may

be unusually sensual as well as pain avoiding. These two qualities may predispose them

later to hypochondrias, and to avoidance patterns.

Second, their capacity for high emotional intensity and responsiveness to primary

emotional energy connections with others which, when present, provide them with

fulfillment or, when absent, are associated with emptiness and pain, make them acutely

aware of human relationships, and to the movement of people in and out of their life.

In combination, these two qualities create projection, which is the process of

attributing the cause of their own internal states to the thoughts, feelings, or actions of


2.3. The Critical Age Seven--Plus or Minus One:

“The Abandoned Heart.”

Up to the age of seven, plus or minus a year, the constitutional, pre-dispositional,

and developmental factors associated with the borderline condition have not yet solidified

to produce the borderline personality.

Proposition 2.3.1: At the approximate age of seven, if the nurturing parent is still not capable of “being home” in the Heart Center (thus providing connection and stabilization of the child’s primary emotional energy) a situational crisis may occur, which will precipitate a decision by the child that will take them a critical step closer to becoming borderline. The crisis may be either major (e.g., a death), or minor (one more rejection, or emotional abandonment) in objective terms. However, it will be perceived as irrevocably traumatic by the child, thus by definition producing the crisis.

Proposition 2.3.2.: Because of the now intolerable pain associated with a sudden shift of energy away from the Heart Center, the child makes the self-protective decision to withdraw awareness from the locus of pain, creating a chronic state of void or emptiness. Not realizing that to withdraw awareness from the pain in their Heart Center is to unavoidably create more emptiness, the child unwittingly makes the decision to abandon their own Heart. Thus, motivated by a sense of self-preservation, the child initiates a process which eventually leads to their down-fall.

Proposition 2.3.3: The child has now firmly established the defense of denial, which is temporarily helpful, for through it the pain is dampened. It results in the denial of awareness, but also the denial of self. Self-identity thus becomes an on- going issue as the disorder progresses.

Proposition 2.3.4: Although the child has made the decision to abandon their own Heart, this is protected from awareness and therefore self-responsibility through the defense of projection, already firmly established from the preceding stage. In the eyes of the child, others still remain the cause of their emptiness and pain.

Proposition 2.3.5: This stage is critical in the development of the borderline dynamics because the child is now actively directing the energy shift. This is made possible by the maturation of the child’s creative intelligence. He is now in control of logical processes, which, inevitably, given his nature, dictate an upward shift of energy to the region of his “mind” (i.e., his head). At the moment of decision, his mind has been given the role of savior, rather than his heart. Self-protection has taken the place of love. This shift could (and eventually will) also be made downward to the sex center. But at age seven, the child is entering into the latency period, reducing awareness of genitals and sexual energy. Further, school is serving to give heightened attention to the mind, adding to the logical choice of shifting energy upward to the head region.

Proposition 2.3.6: As the energy is shifted upward, it may accumulate inappropriately and excessively in various body parts along the midline, including upper thorax, neck, larynx, pharynx, tongue and lips, creating tension and awareness of discomfort, resulting in various possibilities for communicative disorders.

2.4. The Critical Age Twelve--Plus or Minus Two:

“The Split Heart.

It is a paradox of the disorder that the borderline-prone child has a higher than

average capacity for love-giving, while those in advanced stages are often viewed as

excessively selfish, needing to take from others and, in fact, seeming to have little to give

in return. They can be a continual drain on those around them, and may receive more than

their share of social rejection as a result. When in a state of excessive need, the borderline

may actually draw primary emotional energy from others, quickly raising the discomfort

level of those around them, without others consciously knowing why they are

uncomfortable. When this occurs, there can be the feeling of simply wanting to escape

the presence of the borderline.

As people consistently withdraw from them they may react in socially

inappropriate ways, which serves only to create more distance and fewer opportunities

for social contact. They may have few true friends.

They may not only feel lonely, they may in fact be socially isolated for extended

periods. As a result, they often have a delayed social and sexual development.

It is not uncommon for the borderline disorder to be complicated by sexual issues

and concerns, sometimes of a pathological nature, which may have an obsessive-

compulsive quality. These may include unusual sexual practices, excessive masturbation,

questions of gender identity, and masochism, to suggest the more common. These may

exist primarily or solely at the fantasy level for long periods, or may break forth into

episodes of acting out during the reduction of impulse control following periods of

excessive stress.

Many of these dynamics have their genesis during and following the onset of

puberty, and occur as a function of their predispositional qualities in combination with a

second major energy shift, this time downward to the genitals.

Proposition 2.4. 1: The borderline-prone adolescent, following the essence of their predispositional nature, are innately sensate and sensual, emotionally intense and responsive to relationships, and creatively intelligent. When found in conjunction with a full Heart, these qualities will manifest as unusual capacities for nurturing, empathy, love-giving, and problem-solving, and they may prove to be unusually strong candidates for the healing professions. However, when present in conjunction with an abandoned Heart, an unfortunate distortion of these qualities is likely to result.

Proposition 2.4.2: During the pre-adolescent years, the borderline-prone child has made a uni-polar vertical shift of energy to the head region. As sexual awareness increases during puberty, a portion of the primary emotional energy may be shifted downward to the genitals, creating a bi-polar shift, or “Split Heart,” with excessive energy accumulating both above and below the Heart Center.

Proposition 2.4.3: The essence of the Heart Center is the natural, spontaneous love-giving that comes from awareness of one’s wholeness. It is a feeling of “fullness to overflowing.” It has no need to take; only to give. The shift to the head region is essentially the shift from love- giving to self-protection. Indeed, the shift was precipitated by the vast feeling of emptiness and pain.

Proposition 2.4.4: As energy and awareness become split between the head and genitals, a distortion occurs. Without the mediating awareness of the Heart

Center, sexuality becomes a means of “getting” fulfillment, rather than giving it. Sexuality becomes a substitute for love, rather than love’s expression.

Proposition 2.4.5: Sexual perversions, in the true sense, are acts of taking rather than giving. It is therefore not the act itself, but its motivation, coming as it does from the deepest form of confusion about the nature of one’s self, which is the perversion.

The sexual pathologies of the borderline are precipitated by the bi-polar energy shifts

of the Split Heart. This dynamic results inevitably in confusion about self-identity, and

the identity of self-in-relation-to others as sexual beings. It is compounded by the

obsessive-compulsive tendencies that result from the never-ending cycle of attempting to

substitute sexuality for self-fulfillment, love-taking for love-giving.


Energy Dynamics and Symptom Formation

The symptoms manifested by the borderline personality tend to group naturally

into symptom constellations. However, they will change and fluctuate cyclically,

appearing to give a fluid, unpredictable quality to the borderline disorder.

In this section, we have organized the symptoms into groupings, which correlate

with directional energy shifts. Here we suggest tentative hypotheses of energy-symptom

relationships in order to provide some coherence and predictability to changing patterns

of the borderline.

Six major energy shift patterns are hypothesized. They tend to occur in time-

sequential phases, suggesting a relationship to developmental events.

Each energy pattern is presented in two parts: First, a description of the energy

dynamics, followed by the symptoms which correlate with the shift.

3. 1

Phase I: The Upward Vertical Shift


As a pain avoidance response, awareness is withdrawn from the Heart Center. Awareness is focused on thinking processes, which are then defined as the essence of self. Primary emotional energy follows awareness in an upward vertical shift. Primary emotional energy changes from its original undifferentiated state, to the constraint of specific emotions, from formlessness to form. Initially vitalizing the natural creative intelligence, it later serves to distort reality as it is used for self-protection through the mechanisms of projection and denial.

Symptom formation


Pain, emptiness, void, boredom

As primary emotional energy shifts away from the Heart Center, it produces deep visceral ache or acute pain. The more quickly the shift occurs, the sharper the pain.

The chronic state results in the subjective experience of emptiness and void in the center of one’s self. Boredom is experienced when emptiness is projected onto the current life situation.

3.1.2 Anxiety, panic states, phobias

Anxiety occurs when the shift of primary emotional energy away from the Heart Center is anticipated.

Panic anxiety states, often associated with depression, occur when a sudden, unexpected shift occurs. This is usually associated with a belief in the lack of support for self by others. It is correlated with depression when slowed motor, cognitive, and affective responses are subliminally recognized as being inadequate to respond adaptively to a life situation.

Phobias (e.g., agoraphobia) are a learned pattern of response to a belief in the absence of support for self, combining anxiety, panic states, and depression.

3. 1.3

Obsessive-compulsive tendencies

Awareness of one’s thinking process increases as the energy moves upward to the head region. Awareness, in turn, draws more energy. Excessive reliance on thought processes to protect self and avoid pain, in conjunction with anxiety, produces obsessive, repetitive, and circular thinking.

Compulsive behaviors can result from the impossible dilemma of attempting to experience fulfillment through activities, rather than a return of awareness to the Heart Center.

3.1.5 Avoidance patterns

The essential formula is: “A void produces avoid.” The void in the Heart Center produces pain. A consistent motivation of the borderline is pain- avoidance. Social avoidance is the response to anticipated pain of eventual abandonment in relationships.

3.2 Phase II: The Upward-Downward Cyclical Shift


In the borderline, primary emotional energy can return to the Heart Center if certain, usually situational, conditions are met. However, this is temporary and the upward vertical shift will again occur, usually in response to a life stress.

Symptom formation

3.2.1 Euphoria, cyclothymic mood swings

Many borderlines retain hope, sometimes against seemingly great odds, of eventually finding a “perfect” love relationship in which they will never be abandoned. Consequently, they may “fall in love” many times in their lifetime.

Each time a potential love relationship exists, their primary emotional energy may temporarily return to their Heart Center, producing euphoria.

However, since they still rely on projection, which is the belief that one’s fulfillment or pain is caused by someone else, they eventually lose trust or faith. They then re-experience the pain and depression, and fall out of love, only to keep searching and repeat the pattern, thus vacillating between hope and hopelessness, euphoria and depressive mood swings. Some, however, may give up and withdraw from meaningful social contact for long periods.

3.2.2 Approach-avoidance and vacillation in relationships

The above patterns will eventually result in an approach-avoidance in relationships. Because they retain their underlying belief that others are responsible for their inner states, they seek dependence, yet fear it at the same time, producing pronounced vacillation.

3.3 Phase Ill: The Inward-Outward Shift.


Usually in response to a love relationship, in which primary emotional energy has temporarily returned to the Heart Center, a quick shift of energy may occur in either an outward, or inward, direction, rather than upward or downward.

Symptom Formation

3.3.1 Sadness crying, joy crying

The quick shift of energy outward from the Heart Center, which makes a connection with a loved one, will often produce a crying response of sheer joy.

The opposite, a quick shift inward, signaling a disconnection from loss or pain in a relationship, may also produce the crying response, this time as sadness.

This dynamic may also be similar to a “flutter,” in which the shift occurs in and out quickly, producing a crying response, in which the person is not sure whether they are happy or sad.

3.4 Phase IV: The Split Shift.


This dynamic involves the bi-polar vertical shift of energy upward to the head region, and downward to the genitals, leaving a void in the Heart Center. It has been discussed at some length in a preceding section.

3. 5 Phase V: The Pendulum Shift.


This energy dynamic results from a cyclical vacillation between projection and denial, anger and depression, as self-protective mechanisms.

Although purely symbolic, the imagery of a pendulum swinging from one apex of its arc to another, with depression (denial) at one end, and anger (projection) at the other, has proven useful in therapy. These two affective responses are connected psycho-dynamically, being mutually interactive in the borderline, which swings from one end of the pendulum to the other and back again, in a cyclical pattern.

Recovery requires stopping this cyclical pattern. This is accomplished by stopping the pendulum swing. The technique is to bring awareness of the energy in anger, and the energy in depression, back to the midline of the body, and “dropping” the energy, through the mediating process of awareness, to the Heart Center. Once awareness returns, it undergoes the natural transformation from emotion to primary emotional energy.

Symptom formation

3. 5. 1

Explosive anger

Intense anger is generated in response to the pain, emptiness and personal powerlessness experienced from the Abandoned Heart.

Projection maintains the delusion that the cause of the anger lies outside of oneself.

Anger is withheld for long periods, since the anger is usually felt toward those whom the borderline feels most dependent upon. Therefore, to express anger directly might lead to driving away the very person upon whom the borderline relies for love, support and caring. Anger is experienced as threatening to oneself, since adverse social consequences may follow.

When anger is expressed, a duality is experienced. First, there is a temporary shift of energy to the Heart Center, helping to create a feeling of strength and the return of personal power. However, guilt will often follow as awareness is gained of the social consequences, along with a renewed feeling of threat to self.

3.5.2 Depression

In response to the guilt and threat, the energy of anger is encapsulated through denial and the withdrawal of awareness, which temporarily deactivates the energy, eventually producing, through the mechanism of depression, the slowing of motor, affective and cognitive responses.

The borderline then becomes less effective, adversely influencing social, self-expressive, and career patterns.

Gradually, as the energy of anger is added to the dynamics of the depression, tension builds beyond the capacity of the protective encasement of depression to contain it.

The energy of anger, fed by projection, is finally forced into awareness by the disequilibrium, and the cycle repeats.

Helpless to stop the pattern, hopelessness seeps in, undermining


3.5.3 Suicide risk

Awareness of depression, dependency, helplessness, sense of loss, emptiness, lack of self-worth and hopelessness combine with the energy of anger, guilt, and awareness of social threat to produce high suicide risk.


Phase VI: The Up and Out Shift


In response to a severe life stress, often involving separation, primary emotional energy is depleted almost completely from the Heart Center as it is directed upward and “compressed” into the head region during a panic anxiety state.

Symptom formation

3.6.1 Pseudo-psychotic episodes

Activated by the energy, an information processing over load stress occurs, which creates intolerable subjective experiences of tension, obsessive, circular and redundant thinking.

Since the borderline does not have the healing strategy of returning energy to the Heart Center, there may be one further last-ditch attempt to push the energy upward, as a response to the intense stress.

With no other directional options, the energy is expelled upward and “outward,” away from the “self,” producing an energy under load stress which creates the additional feeling of void in the head region, resulting in the feeling of non-being and unreality. Temporary fugue states may occur, in there are short- term memory lapses, and short-term hospitalization may be required.

Initial Considerations



The borderline personality syndrome is the clinical manifestation of an

abandoned Heart. An abandoned Heart is the chronic phase of a broken Heart. A broken

Heart is the disintegration of the energy matrix or subsystem known as the Fourth

Chakra, or Heart Center.

Puzzling in its complexity, the borderline syndrome is often viewed as presenting

special challenges to both the individual and the therapist. Because of the inherent change

and flux of the symptoms which may produce a sense of hopelessness and fear of

abandonment, the recovery process has been viewed as a therapeutic mine-field for

patient and therapist, both of whom can experience frustration and despair.

The model of the borderline personality as an abandoned Heart, derived from

clinical experience, suggests hope. In this section we will outline the basic principles of

recovery. Derivations of the model, they are straightforward, and essentially simple to

understand and implement.

The emphasis, in therapeutic terms, is always on the basic principles underlying

the development of this disorder, rather than on the symptoms. The symptoms, however,

are useful therapeutically, for they signpost the underlying energy dynamics, and their

disappearance in the course of therapy will be viewed as great cause for hope, something

the borderline desperately needs. Further, knowing the symptom constellations, and how

they interact, can be used sensitively and caringly by the therapist to communicate

empathic understanding of the client’s disorder, and thereby engender the trust so

necessary for successful recovery. The client is hopelessly confused by the internal

disorder they subjectively experience. The therapist need not be.

4.1 The Basic Principles

The basic principle, for both understanding the disorder, and implementing

therapeutic processes and techniques, is the “Law of Awareness,” discussed earlier under

the section on Basic Assumptions.

Principle 4.1.1

A cognitive map of the disorder, including predisposition, development, and

energy-symptom dynamics, has proven useful to clients. This should follow an

intense period of exploring the unique subjective experience of the client.

Because of the natural creative intelligence of the borderline, they often can take this information and make it work for them at a conscious level, reversing the unconscious decision they earlier made to abandon their own Heart.

Principle 4.1.2

In therapeutic use of the model, the therapist should feel free to continue using all

the therapeutic skills acquired through training and experience. Nothing about this model implies discarding the old for the new.

Principle 4.1.3

The overriding purpose of therapy is to return primary emotional energy to its home, the Heart Center or Fourth Chakra.

Principle 4.1.4

The only guideline for the implementation of any therapeutic skill, process or technique should be the question: Does this action help return primary emotional energy to the individual’s Heart Center?

Principle 4.1.5

Primary emotional energy follows awareness. To return this energy to its home, one first returns awareness to the Heart Center. Concentrated, focused awareness on the Heart Center will transform an emotion, or emotional state (e.g., anger, guilt, sadness, anxiety, depression, and sexuality) into the subjective experience of warmth, peace, contentment, fullness, and desire for love-giving.



The techniques for recovery described below involve a reversal of the original

decisions and energy dynamics that led up to and perpetuated the borderline disorder.

Once this principle is understood, the therapist to suit the individual needs and

circumstances of the client can invent new techniques.

Technique 4.2.1: Resolving Anger

Anger is a product of projection. It is an attempt to place responsibility for an

unwanted state or condition in one’s life onto someone else. It is an attempt to reduce the

internal tension of misdirected primary emotional energy by expelling it, and projecting it

outward onto someone else, rather than to return the energy to its original home, the locus

of the Heart Center, which resides within oneself.

Alone, or with someone you trust, lie or sit down in a comfortable position. Become aware of the anger, in all its intensity, with all the accompanying thoughts. Become aware, but do not express your awareness verbally.

Next, “move” your awareness to the region of your Heart Center. This may involve a spatial reorientation, bringing thoughts and imagery from outside of yourself, back to your body’s centerline, and then downward to the Heart Center.

At first, there may be experienced a burning sensation in the throat or lungs, and a strong desire to run, mentally, emotionally, or physically, from this experience by shifting awareness.

However, by maintaining awareness of the anger at the location of the Heart

Center, within a short period (20-40 minutes) the burning will change to warmth, and the Heart Center will be experienced as calm, strong, and full. This indicates that the natural transformation of the emotion into primary emotional energy has occurred. This can be repeated during each occurrence of anger, but each successful attempt will reduce the total amount of anger, acquired during your life time, until it is eventually eliminated, and replaced by compassion and a desire for love-giving.

Technique 4.2.2: Dealing with depression

Depression results from denial of awareness of an unacceptable feeling. The

denial encapsulates the energy of the emotion by removing awareness from it. The energy

in therefore deactivated, and is temporarily unavailable for use, either for self-expression

or work.

Therapeutic paradox can be useful here. For example, “We accept your

depression. It is useful to you now, and you do not need to change. Therefore, we would

encourage you to be as depressed as you need to be. However, as you allow the

depression, become aware of it. Become aware of all the body states that accompany your

depression. Then, express to the fullest possible extent your awareness of the many body

states as they arise.”

At the point the client becomes aware of the unacceptable emotion (e.g., anger,

guilt) hidden within the depression, follow Technique 1 (Resolving Anger).

Technique 4.2.3: Pain, Emptiness and Void

Pain in the Heart Center is a signal that primary emotional energy has been

withdrawn. However, the borderline is unusually sensate, pleasure seeking, and pain

avoiding. Their natural tendency is to avoid pain. This is attempted by the strategy of

removing awareness. However, the result is the perpetuation of the pain. Pain is seen as

the natural “enemy” of the borderline.

This view can be reversed. Pain now can become the “friend,” since pain can now

tell the individual exactly where primary emotional energy is needed for recovery.

Therefore, when the pain of emptiness occurs, it can be used as the locus for awareness. As awareness is maintained, the natural transformation will occur. The pain will become warmth, strength, peace, contentment, the experience of fullness as the primary emotional energy returns.


Initial Summary and Conclusions



The borderline personality disorder, recognized only recently by the American Psychiatric Association as a discrete and diagnosable syndrome, is gaining clinical and public attention. Increasing numbers of cases are being seen in both private and publicly funded mental health clinics, suggesting we may be on the verge of a psycho-social phenomenon approaching epidemic proportions. It has been hypothesized, for example, that Vietnam veterans who have experienced extreme difficulty adapting upon their return may include relatively large numbers of borderline personalities. This is suggested by their susceptibility to abandonment depression, low frustration tolerance, explosive anger and high suicide risk, among other features. John Hinkley, the man who attempted to assassinate President Reagan, fits many of the borderline criteria. However, there are many others in our society, with less extreme public visibility, who suffer the constantly shifting emotional anguish, relationship difficulties, and interrupted or delayed career patterns also associated with the disorder. Historically considered difficult to differentially diagnose due to its cyclical and elusive characteristics, having both neurotic and pseudo-psychotic qualities with

pathological affective, cognitive, and behavioral-social components, it is confusing and difficult for the patient to subjectively understand. It breeds hopelessness, despair, and suicidal tendencies, among other symptoms. It has therefore been a most perplexing and difficult phenomenon for psychotherapists as well, with treatment times averaging three years. However, with increasing numbers being seen for therapy, length of treatment has become a critical issue. Traditionally, the borderline personality has been considered the primary clinical domain of psychoanalytically oriented psychiatry. However, borderlines are now being diagnosed and seen for treatment by psychologists, marriage and family therapists, and clinical social workers who, although confronted with a patient in crisis and in need of skilled professional assistance, may not have the orientation, resources or time to provide a long-term psychoanalytic treatment program. Further, a three year time span in pursuit of recovery has enormous costs to the patient, both economically and socially. Confronted with these variables in my own clinical, consulting and supervisory practice, I began a process, brought into focus through necessity, of reconceptualizing the borderline disorder. This activity culminated in a paper (attached) which was presented to the Association for Transpersonal Psychology (1982) and the California Association of Marriage and Family Therapists (1983), with additional presentations and workshops scheduled for professional organizations in 1983. Although still in the early stages of development and refinement, clinical observations have proven encouraging far beyond expectations. In some cases, recovery time has been reduced to under three months, thus giving hope for addressing a present need within both the mental health community and society-at-large.


Chronic Loss, Energy-Shift Patterns, and the Borderline


The original model was based on the observation that the borderline patient displayed symptoms strikingly similar to people experiencing the intense pain, grief, anger, and depression of a “broken heart.” However, rather than reflecting an acute, one- time loss, the borderline had patterns suggesting their experience of loss had become chronic. Furthermore, their experience was compounded by an almost constant feeling of emptiness or void, which they invariably identified as being located in their lower chest and closely surrounding area. We began our clinical research with the assumption that, in addition to a bio- psycho-social being, man is an energy-matrix system, the form of which responds sensitively to awareness, thought, and choice. Following this assumption, we explored with patients their subjective perceptions of being “in love” and “in loss.” Invariably, with these patients, being in a love relationship stimulated a feeling we called a “fullness of heart,” in which there was a sense of connection with another, a feeling of expanding beyond the body’s physical boundary, and a desire to fill or give completely to the loved one. On the other hand, the experience of loss produced a profound and often excruciatingly painful disconnection, with a feeling of contracting and becoming empty, and a compulsive desire therefore to take into their own bodies something, anything, which would reproduce a feeling of fullness, alleviate the pain and boredom of emptiness, and recreate the experience of oneness sought for in their love relationships. Drug, alcohol and eating dependencies are therefore not uncommon secondary features of the disorder. In sum, our observations suggested that something (e.g., energy) was “present” in the Heart Center during the love experience, and “absent” in loss. Formulating these observations into a working hypothesis, we began searching for

means with borderline patients to assist this energy to “return to its natural home,” i.e., the Fourth Chakra or Heart Center, even (and particularly) in the absence of a love relationship which, if viewed as necessary for recovery, would unavoidably perpetuate the defense of projection, well recognized as a cornerstone, along with denial, of the borderline pathology. Initially utilizing techniques which emphasized focusing awareness on the locus of emptiness or pain in the Heart Center, we observed indications of symptom relief and recovery. Although clinically hypothesized from the model, the speed with which the patient began to experience recovery was surprising. Clinically we proceeded on the following assumptions: (1) the pain and emptiness resulted from a void or breakdown in the underlying energy-matrix system, (2) the energy-matrix system responds sensitively to awareness, thought and choice, (3) returning awareness to the locus of pain produces a return of primary emotional energy to that location, and (4) it is possible to eventually anchor this energy by maintaining the new locus of awareness for a sufficient period of time so that it no longer shifts erratically, thereby eliminating the cyclical, fluctuating pain-avoidant patterns of the borderline. Although the exact process remains unknown, permanence seems to require only that the energy be “anchored,” and the length of therapy is determined largely by successes (or failures) in this energy stabilization. A subjective result of this internal process, reported by clients, is the sensation of warmth and fullness in the Heart Center usually associated with emotional connection in a love relationship, but now occurring in the absence of such a relationship. Nevertheless, we also observed that some patients were resistant to the elusive nature of techniques which depended upon refocusing awareness, making it imperative that other treatment modalities also be found. In general, we found that those who experienced the most difficulty with awareness techniques (1) experienced more emptiness than pain, (2) had not yet broken through major areas of denial, (3) had little

experience differentiating between thought and awareness (e.g., had not previously engaged in meditation) and (5) had a greater tendency to view the therapist as an expert to whom they could look for solving their emotional and behavioral dilemmas.

5.3 Conclusions

The borderline personality syndrome is a composite disorder initiated by constitutional, predispositional and developmental factors involving a dynamic cyclical shift of primary emotional energy away from the Heart Center or Fourth Chakra. As the energy moves away from the Heart Center, it accumulates in other energy centers and/or body parts of the individual, producing several discrete sets of symptoms, which correspond to the following processes:


Energy underload symptoms

Energy underload symptoms, which result from energy shifting away from the Heart Center (e.g., emptiness, pain, anxiety, boredom, depression);


Energy overload symptoms

Energy overload symptoms, which result from the energy shift accumulating inappropriately and excessively in other energy centers and/or body parts (e.g., tension along vertical midline, communicative disorders, sexual pathologies, panic states, and explosive anger);


Information underload symptoms

Information underload symptoms, which result from withdrawal of awareness from self and/or one’s life situation, including social contact (e.g., interrupted career patterns, lack of reality testing, delayed emotional development

and unrealistic appraisal of self);

5.4 Combined information overload/energy underload symptoms

Combined information overload/energy underload symptoms, which result

from panic response to intense life stress, such as separation (e.g., obsessive,

repetitive and circular thinking, with an attempt to forcefully expel excess energy

from the head region, producing a thought disorder and psuedo-psychotic

episodes); and

5.5 Behavioral changes

5.5.1 Behavioral changes producing relationship difficulties and occasional

social pathology, which serve to both trigger and perpetuate the disorder.

5.5.2 Puzzling and confusing to both the borderline and therapist due to the

intensity, complexity, and cyclical nature of the disorder, the individual

nevertheless is not without hope.

5.5.3 Recovery can come swiftly once the basic principle of therapy is

understood and implemented. The abandoned Heart of the borderline can be

returned to the wholeness and fullness of its natural state by following the Law of

Awareness: Reawaken awareness of the Heart Center, thereby allowing one’s

primary emotional energy to return to its natural home, producing peace, strength,

contentment, and a desire for giving of self.

The successful outcome of the recovery process is a spiritual transformation, in which

one can finally say:

I Am


Within love

With you.


Onset and Breakdown:

Setting the Stage for Recovery

From onset to complete recovery, the borderline syndrome may be viewed as occurring in seven stages, the progression of which moves through several overriding phases, including onset, breakdown, crisis, recovery, and a psycho-spiritual transformation. These seven stages are:

Onset and

1. The Broken Heart


2. The Abandoned Heart

Crisis and

3. The Awakening Heart


4. The Heavy Heart

5. The Strong Heart

Interpersonal and Spiritual Transformation

6. The Full Heart

7. The Light Heart

The Seven Stages of Onset and Recovery

6.1 Onset and Breakdown

The constitutional, developmental and psychological factors, which, when occurring together and in sequence, comprise the borderline personality syndrome, have been described in detail above. However, we shall again summarize the essential elements here, hoping it will contribute to a perspective of the disorder, from its onset to full recovery in its entirety. Although the description of onset and breakdown is bleak, and the borderline’s subjective experience filled with pain, turmoil and emotional anguish, the essential message here is hope. Based on clinical observation to date, full recovery is not only possible but can occur swiftly, changing a person’s life not only in ways unforeseen, but (and I admit to editorial license here) awe-inspiring. The transformations I have been privileged to observe have touched me, as deeply as if they were my own.

6.1.1 Stage I: The Broken Heart

The essence of the borderline pathology is a broken heart. Most of us have experienced an intense emotional loss, and with it the pain that we are often able to locate in a particular area of our body, usually our chest or upper abdomen. The pain may be so intense that we feel genuine concern for our physical and emotional wellbeing. Physical symptoms may ensue, motivating us to seek medical attention. What we may not yet recognize is that a broken heart, far from being simply another metaphor, is a valid subjective phenomenon. The pain and emptiness are real, because something has been torn from us. Whereas before something was present that provided a feeling of fullness and well being, that “something” is

now absent. There is, in a literal sense, a hole in our middle. It is, if we are to judge from our reaction to it, an invisible gaping ugly wound. Although first occurring during infancy, and continuing periodically throughout their lives until the final crisis which brings them to therapy, the broken heart of the borderline patient is the same experienced by all who have known catastrophic emotional loss. There is only one major difference. The borderline has known this loss not once, but literally hundreds of times. During the initial phases of treatment, it can be especially meaningful to the patient if they sense the therapist has an intuitive and sympathetic understanding of the subjective emotional significance of a broken heart. It is helpful for the therapist to know their own emotional pain in this way. And it is useful to be sympathetic to that special insanity that can follow loss: The grieving process, profound depression, frustration and futility leading to rage, to helplessness in the face of overwhelming emotional adversity, the undermining of self-worth from nameless guilt, and hopelessness leading to suicidal ideation or action. It is helpful for the therapist to intuitively know this, and more, for these comprise the foundation of the borderline’s subjective experience and existential dilemma. Often, however, the borderline’s walk through life is not met with empathy, much less sympathy. They are in actuality quite disabled for lengthy periods in their life, but appear to others to be very much the master of their own fate. Expectations from others are often high, yet their own competencies, particularly interpersonal ones, may be severely underdeveloped. Later in life, career patterns may falter for these underlying, unseen reasons, thus leading to greater frustration and eventual explosive rage.

The pain of a broken heart leads to symptoms interpreted as physical. These may range from appetite loss to nausea, from irregular heartbeat to symptoms mimicking angina. Physical pain in other body parts is not uncommon. Although medical attention is often sought, there usually is no basis for diagnosis. Disenchanted and unconvinced, the borderline may drift from physician to physician until a mental health referral is finally made. The psychotherapist who can assess within the first session or so the presence of a borderline syndrome, and then work immediately toward uncovering the multiple experiences of loss by encouraging them to tell their life’s story, will often be rewarded by the statement, “This is the first time I have ever felt understood.” Although payment for therapy is always appreciated, it will never replace the feeling one receives from a borderline’s gratitude. For most of us, our first broken heart does not occur until adolescence, or later, when we have a strong, usually sexually energized connection with another person. Not so with the borderline patient, who through predisposition, constitutional factors and family history, has lived through that experience multiple times, usually hundreds if not literally thousands, since infancy.

6.1.2 Stage II: The Abandoned Heart

The child who is constitutionally prone to the pain of a broken heart is in greater than usual need of consistent, stable emotional nurturing from a parent well-grounded and secure in their own sense of self, and whose primary fulfillment comes from resources not directly tied to the child. The nurturing principle of empathic non-possessive, emotionally warm caring, provided by a mother capable of emotional and non-erotic intimacy while encouraging independence applies to this situation.

So, imagine the child in vital need of this nurturing. Yet also imagine that each time the child comes to the parent to fulfill this need, the parent is unable to respond. The parent has an “empty heart,” unable to connect emotionally with the child. For the child, the parent may be physically there. But emotionally, no one is home. For the child, seeking merely to have their own Heart Center affirmed, each time they approach the parent without the fulfillment of connection, their primary emotional energy drifts. It moves away from its center. And each time it drifts, each time it is not allowed to connect and to stabilize, there is an empty ache. At first the ache may be but a gnawing hunger. But each time it becomes stronger, more and more a dominant part of awareness, until finally it becomes pain, the pain we know as a broken heart. This process, for the borderline-prone child, occurs not once, but again and again, a thousand times, uncountable times, until the pain reaches intolerable limits. Drastic measures for self-survival are necessary now, and the child responds. The acute pain of a broken heart has multiplied once too often: It has become chronic. And the child responds, attempting to forever remove awareness from the pain’s locus. However, without recognition of the enormous implications, the child has abandoned not their pain, but their own Heart. They have abandoned awareness of their own essence. And thus doing, they have begun a process of breakdown, which will lead them, step by anguished step, toward the syndrome we now know as the borderline personality.


The Recovery Process 3

The decision to remove awareness from the locus of pain is the unknowing decision to abandon awareness of one’s own Heart Center. Because, for the borderline- prone child, primary emotional energy is a dominant aspect of the self, the decision to remove awareness from their Heart Center is also the decision to abandon their own essence. The natural state of the pre-borderline child is warmth, caring, and unconditional love giving, which comes from the experience of a full Heart. However, when empty and filled with pain, there are few more needy, more dependent, more rageful, or more potentially harmful to themselves and others in close relationships. Nonetheless, they are not a sociopath. They respond to misdeeds and harmful action with more than the ordinary shame and guilt. Indeed it is this underlying guilt, coupled with eventual hopelessness, which may drive them to acts of self-destruction. They believe desperately that they have lost their way; and they do not know the way home, for to come home, home to their own essence, strong and full in Heart, they perceive only a path of pain, leading to a void. But not until they return full awareness to their own Heart (thereby allowing primary emotional energy to return to its natural state) will the borderline ever find fulfillment. To understand the pathology of the borderline is to understand the dynamics of this underlying energy shift, the perverting influence of projecting need-fulfillment onto sources outside oneself, the debilitating consequences of denial, and the cognitive, affective, behavioral and interpersonal results of these dynamics. The original paper (1982; Sections 1- 6) dealt in detail with these issues. Now the intent is to look more closely at the processes and dynamics of recovery which, when allowed to follow fully their natural course, will lead, we believe, inevitably to a transformation we might best describe as a spiritual transcendence of self.

3 This section is based upon a paper presented in 1983 to the Association for Transpersonal Psychology.

A Patient’s Description of Recovery

Subjectively the experience is felt as a mutual, harmonious coexistence of self with all that is, but which may focus, in the earlier stages at least, on a profound, newly discovered way of viewing self-in- relation to others. In the words of one patient, who kept a daily journal of the process:

The beauty in the world

is almost more than I can bear The kindness of people



What do they see? Me.

I just look into

their eyes-I am aware of the flame in my heart.

I am understood

I am loved

I am trusted

I am seen

I am so happy

I cry I’m Real.

I’ve lost my head. I’ve found my heart!

Welcome home Dawn I’ve missed you The sweet you How ‘ye you been gone

The gentle you. The loving things you do.

Welcome Home.


7.1 Stage Ill. Crisis: The Awakening Heart

A crisis is a life-event which penetrates our defenses, leaving our core exposed and vulnerable. A crisis increases our awareness of the core by peeling off the protective layers and unveiling it from the outside-in. A crisis presents us with a critical choice, often perceived as a dilemma, between two basic, limited alternatives: Either we choose to risk expressing our core experience, thereby opening our self to a sense of threat, but with a possibility for growth; or, we choose the old defenses, with their seductive illusion of security. This latter alternative can result in thickening the facade, thereby delaying growth, or worse, making future growth more difficult. The true core of the borderline is one’s own Heart. The primary defense is projection, which is the process of attributing an internal state to something or someone outside oneself. The facade is that protective armor which has prevented awareness of the true self. The crisis may be any event--a death, the dissolution of a marriage, a faltering career. But whatever the source, it signals the death of illusion. And therein lies the crisis- -the hopelessness--and the hope. Before the borderline can begin the recovery process, they must experience personal crisis, a crisis of the self. It is the crisis that may bring them to therapy; but not necessarily so. They have experienced many crises in their life, but each time they have chosen the path that leads them further and further away from their true self, the ultimate course of which is suicide. But in the crisis that brings them to therapy, they have had a glimpse of their core, and in so seeing they have made a tentative decision to take another path, yet not fully aware of what this means. There is something inside which seems to say, “There’s got to be a better way.” And just as ominous as the other is positive, “I’ll give it one more try; if this doesn’t work, I may as well die.” For both the patient and therapist, the crisis is a double edged sword. The existential and psychological crisis provides the motivation and energy for change, and can (indeed must) be utilized immediately for therapeutic work. There is little time for prolonged assessment and evaluation procedures disconnected from therapeutic

involvement. And while there is the energy pushing for change, there is another part waiting for a reason to withdraw and fail. The crisis is a place of pain and depression for which no escape is seen. The old ways do not work now, for the crisis was precipitated by the death of an illusion that functioned to sustain them for awhile. But beware progress. For in it also lies the seed of hopelessness and despair. Once they begin to feel the reduction of pain and tension, and the lifting of depression, they may easily choose again the path of illusion, not uncommonly seen this time in transference issues. And further, if the therapy falters, it may precipitate a withdrawing or self-destructive course of events, which may not easily be reversed. Nevertheless, assuming the best, the crisis is both powerful and necessary. And it is productive, for its essence is the reversal of projection. The borderline has been thrust, unwillingly, back upon their self, and must now learn the strength of their own support. It is this need that can ultimately bring them home, home again to their own Heart. This, always, is the ultimate goal.

7.2 Stage IV. The Heavy Heart

Whereas the previous stage of crisis precipitated, and hopefully sustained, the reversal of projection, the Heavy Heart signals the breakthrough of denial. Once these two processes have begun, a new degree of awareness begins to flood the consciousness. No longer does the borderline see their self, their life, or their relationships in the same way. They are now unable to utilize the same defenses against the pain of abandonment, nor ignore the true anxiety of coming to depend upon themselves. Gradually, more and more illusions about themselves and others begin to die. The emptiness, the hollowness, the pain experienced as they abandoned their own Heart are gradually replaced by clearer and more frequent glimpses of their true essence. Yet as their illusions of self and others begin to fade, being no longer tenable and therefore less useful, they enter a period of true grieving and recognition of loss. It is during this period that a “heaviness” is experienced in the Heart Center, as primary emotional energy begins to return. It is accompanied by the sadness and depression of genuine grieving, but without the same sense of hopelessness that

contributed to the anguish experienced prior to the initiation of the recovery process. While they recognize they are now headed home, they intuitively know the road may be long ahead of them. It is important to recognize that this heaviness is not the leaden slowness of feeling, thought and action characteristic of clinical depression. In fact, there can be a certain lightness and buoyancy in this stage. However, there now can be periods of true terror. The path to recovery is becoming clearer; but with it comes the recognition that, to be ultimately successful, one must eventually surrender completely to the Heart, a feeling akin to the beginning parachutist who, once airborne for the first time, realizes that to reach the ground they must eventually jump. There must eventually come a moment which is truly a leap of faith. And the terror of that moment for the borderline must never be underestimated. During these times, gentle are the ways of successful psychotherapy.

7.3 Stage V. The Strong Heart

As awareness of their true center increases, and recognition of their own power dawns upon them, primary emotional energy continues to return and stabilize. No longer do they experience a capricious shifting and vacillation; and no longer do they feel the need for dependence upon another’s energy or support for their survival. They begin, now, to grasp, perhaps for the first time, who they really are, to come to terms with the individualistic nature of their own being, and may reassess their values, priorities, choices, goals, and relationships. They become, tentatively at first, but later with greater strength of will, “self” centered in a way that provides the final thrust “away” from unhealthy dependency relationships and “toward” competency and self- sufficiency. It is during the initial phases of this necessary stage of the recovery process that others may regard them, with no small dismay, as selfish, ungrateful, and uncaring, as they separate and individuate, often creating the stimulus for another person’s own abandonment depression. It is during this period that family therapy may be helpful or essential.

This period may be experienced as a time of great testing, as they see the anguish precipitated in their personal relationships. Although periods of uncertainty and vacillation may again produce the illusion of their own weakness, there comes an increasing recognition that there is no real option to return. Leaden heaviness is being transformed to tensile strength. The Strong Heart is the stage during which primary emotional energy reconnects and stabilizes in the Heart Center. The energy, once utilized almost exclusively for defending against the pain, emptiness, anxiety, anger and depression associated with abandonment, is neutralized upon returning to its true home, being now available for fulfilling one’s purpose, meaning, or function in this existence. The primary experience is that of freedom, coming as it does from the recognition of one’s strength, for individualistic self-expression. This stage is usually considered the successful end of orthodox psychotherapy.

Interpersonal and Spiritual Transformation

Where traditional psychotherapy ends, a process of transformation begins, for the journey of the recovered borderline is not yet complete. They have progressed from the point of a Broken Heart, the endless anguish of their Abandoned Heart, through the crisis of their Awakening Heart, they have been drawn now beyond into the Heavy Heart, and have discovered self-reliance in their Strong Heart. They may stop here, if they choose. But once they begin to sense internally the recovery process, they may decide to make the commitment to continue. There now is a certain peacefulness, a gentle sweetness in their strength, which calls them onward toward an unknown end. Once they surrender to this inward calling, there is no turning back.

7.4 Stage VI. The Full Heart

Primary emotional energy, once having returned to its home, begins to undergo a natural transformation. Thus neutralized and freed from the bondage of specific emotions, it begins to fill the Heart Center completely. No longer are there subjective sensations of emptiness. No longer is there a need to take. Only felt is a need to give. At

times the awareness of love becomes an ache so strong it feels unbearable, stretching, pushing out, beyond the body’s boundary, a pregnant fullness yearning, unseen labor preparing for its birth. Primary emotional energy knows no boundaries. Directed by the single desire to give, it bursts forth and flows, performing, without the need for conscious volition, its only function of connection. It’s only purpose is the extension of wholeness it now experiences, given now freely to others. The individual with a full heart begins to sense, and then see, a change take place in those around them. Often without being able to explain why, people are drawn to them, sometimes just to sit and talk, at others to fulfill more specific needs. And in so living, the individual begins to sense more clearly their own unique purpose, meaning and function. They may change occupations, or relationships, or experience their fulfillment where they are. Whichever is the case, it seems as if it’s done with ease. Manipulative patterns quickly fall away, and trust in life replaces tension and anxiety. They soon become aware that they are different now, transformed sometimes beyond all recognition, within the context of their relationships.

7.5 Stage VII. The Light Heart

While release from the bondage of specific intense emotion results in the transformation of relationships, and trust begins to take the place of fear, the need to manipulate the world and self through thought begins to dissipate. At first in fleeting moments, then in longer instances, thoughts drop away. Yet far from experiencing an empty void, one’s space, once occupied with thought, is filled with momentary flashes of a gentle golden light. Surprise replaces fear, followed more and more by peaceful joy. Extension of the self, more and more complete, reaches toward infinity. Limitations drop away. The recognition now: “I am the Light.”


Psychotherapy and the Recovery Process

Psychotherapy within the context of this model is a mix of the traditional, the innovative, and the transpersonal. Each is viewed as having its special function within the whole. Neither one, by itself, is sufficient, I believe, given the recovery goals and processes outlined above. Some specific comments regarding psychotherapy are interspersed throughout the preceding text. However, it may be useful to discuss psychotherapy in terms of some general principles and procedures applicable to working with borderline patients.

8.1 The Traditional Viewpoint

First, nothing is implied by this model to suggest the need for discarding either ones knowledge, training, or experience from a traditional, clinical viewpoint. It is only asked that the therapist be open to the possibility that man, in addition to a bio-psycho- social being, is also an energy-matrix system capable of responding sensitively to awareness, thought and choice. It is also useful to assume that this energy, far from being tightly constrained, has a certain plasticity capable of moving within and extending beyond the boundaries of the physical body. Beyond that, the model, particularly as presented in the original paper, should speak for itself. The question of the model’s validity should rightly be raised. In this regard, it should be noted the model does not assume the validity of objective, external viewer confirmation. At this point, it only hopes for a fair degree of internal consistency, or construct validity, and leaves the idea of content validity open to the reader. What the model does purport, however, is that for many borderline patients, there is a certain subjective validity, in that clinical use has demonstrated a high degree of what we might term “empathic validity. “ This is to say that the earlier version speaks significantly to the patient’s subjective experience of the disorder. The model should

therefore be considered phenomenological in nature, and any tests of validity should take this characteristic largely into account. In terms of actual process, I have found some general procedural guidelines helpful. These are:

Guideline 8.1.1 Allow the patient, from the start, to tell their story as completely as time allows, without unduly exploring personal history beyond the major developmental and social issues of the disorder.

Guideline 8.1.2 Allow opportunities to briefly summarize the patient’s experience, and to help them become aware that their disorder is not only understandable, but that hope exists. I have found it useful to encourage expectation of recovery within certain time limits, leaving room for individual differences. I am beginning to see patients move toward full recovery within three months. However, follow-up observations are lacking at this time, so that my optimism remains guarded. I also believe that those patients who respond immediately to the model should be considered in the high functioning range, and have relatively few tertiary or third order symptom constellations involving depleted interpersonal and economic resources.

Guideline 8.1.3 Being aware of transference issues, and to work with them as they arise, is useful practice. Although I do not encourage transference, I know that it can and does occur, and must be dealt with appropriately and in a timely manner. The borderline patient is prone to splitting, and may view the empathic and caring therapist as a love object. Equally as quickly they can demonize the therapist by projecting upon him/her the painful feelings associated with recovery, viewing the therapist as a new source of pain. This shift in perceptions during early phases of therapy can occur quickly and unexpectedly, not only over time, but in a single session.

Guideline 8.1.4

I have found that therapy is most effective when the patient is made an active

partner in the process. I have found it helpful for them to know where they have been, where they are now, and where we can expect to go in the future.

I have thus found it useful to share with them the model, both in written form and

verbally. The result has been a cognitive map they can utilize both during therapy and also beyond. Many patients have reported that they have referred to the written materials months and years later as a reminder and guide.

8.2 The Transpersonal Viewpoint

The essence of therapy is the return of primary emotional energy, through the vehicle of awareness, to the patient’s Heart Center. My observation, not frequently shared with patients, is that my own internal states and thought/feeling processes are at times coupled synchronistically with theirs, as if an inductance had taken place between one system (mine) and another (theirs). This observation has led me to be particularly careful of my own thought and feeling processes while working with these particularly astute and sensitive patients. This can work both for and against therapy. However, I have found in general the more fully I am returning awareness to my own Heart Center during therapy, the more mutually fulfilling and healing is the therapeutic session and process overall.

8.3 The Innovative Viewpoint

In therapy with borderlines, my own stance is quite eclectic. If it works, use it.

I encourage keeping one principle clearly in mind: The goal is always to return

awareness (eventually at least) to the Heart Center. Whatever helps to accomplish this is

good therapeutic practice. There is much room for innovation, and creative psychotherapy is often needed. Individual differences are more the rule than the exception, and we must ever be alert to respond to an immediate need, take advantage of a strength, or respond sensitively to a weakness. The intuitive approach notwithstanding, following are two innovative techniques

that were developed or utilized in response to an issue of theory, rather than an individual’s uniqueness.


Technological Advances and Recovery:

Hemispheric Synchronization

(Hemi-Sync) as a Partial Treatment Modality for Part-Whole Object Relations in the Borderline Pathology

Object-relations theorists have contributed significantly to our understanding of

the borderline personality. Perhaps their most important contribution is the hypothesis,

generated from theory and clinically substantiated, that the borderline has an all-or-

nothing, “all-good” vs. “all-bad” perception of relationships, which can shift back and

forth quickly, dramatically, and destructively. The “all-good” perception is rewarding,

motivated by desire for oneness and, because it often involves infantile sexuality, is

considered regressive. The “all-bad” perception occurs where the relationship is viewed

as incapable of fulfilling the oneness fantasy, is therefore punitive, and elicits a profound

withdrawal response. The relationship is therefore viewed as existing in two “parts,”

rather than as a “whole.” Each “all-good” part-object percept, and each “all-bad” part-

object percept is emotionally charged and volatile. However, there is virtually no affect

“in-between,” a cognitive-affective state that corresponds to the feeling of emptiness and

void in the Heart Center. Object-relations theorists identify this “in-between” state as

abandonment depression. Missing is a recognition that neither of these two percepts are

accurate representations of the actual psychosocial reality of any relationship.

Furthermore, when the borderline is in one of these two states, there is virtual amnesia of

the other part. When the borderline views you one moment as his savior, capable of

fulfilling his oneness fantasy, he does not have a concurrent memory of his anger and

emotional withdrawal a few hours before, and vice versa.

It is this dynamic that contributes significantly to the cyclical, fluctuating quality of the borderline disorder. It is also the most difficult aspect to manage effectively in therapy. Several years are thought to normally deal with this dynamic from a psychoanalytic orientation, the solution of which lies in gradually confronting first the withdrawal part and then the regressive part, each time dropping the patient existentially into the reality of their abandonment depression. Gradually, the no-affect state is filled with an expanded sense of both external reality and self, leading eventually to the reinforcement of competencies that can be truly supportive of the self. Because of the treatment time ordinarily involved, and the therapeutic complexity of transference issues, I felt that a need existed for a conceptually useful and pragmatically effectual bridge, which could span the void, emptiness and cognitive- affective amnesic state. As serendipity would have it, I discovered this possible bridge in the form of a relatively recent advance (i.e., 1975) in audio technology, discovered and patented by Robert Monroe (author of Journey’s Out of the Body), through the Monroe Institute of Applied Sciences. Basically, the technology, used originally to generate EEG patterns known to correspond to specific altered states of consciousness, consists of listening to “pulses of sound (which) help create simultaneously an identical wave form in both brain hemispheres” (adopted from an Institute publication). This process is called Hemi-Sync, short for hemispheric synchronization. Sound patterns are introduced into both ears stereophonically, each ear receiving a slightly different audio pattern. Because the sounds entering into the right and the left ear “cross over in an “X” pattern to be processed by the opposite hemisphere, and because each audio pattern is slightly different, the two hemispheres of the brain must act in unison to process the discrepancy. The result is an internally generated electrical signal, which is some predictable product of the two

slightly different audio inputs.

For example, if you hear a sound measuring 100 (cps) in one ear and another signal of 125 in the other, the signal your whole brain will “generate” will be 25. It is never an actual sound, but it is an electrical signal that only can be created by both brain hemispheres acting and working together. (Institute publication)

Further, Monroe states “If the ‘25’ signal is one that produces a certain type of consciousness, then the whole brain - both hemispheres - is focused in an identical state of awareness at the same time.” The process has been applied to sleep disturbances, stress-tension reduction, control of pain, accelerated learning, and rapid psychotherapy, among other uses. I had been utilizing a Hemi-Sync tape personally for some time for personal reasons. It was during one of these 30 minute sessions that I began to wonder if the part- whole object-relations split, which is a component of the borderline differential diagnosis, was at least partially a function of asynchronistic left-hemisphere / right- hemisphere information processing. It is a neurological / anatomical pathology in which normal pathways, perhaps involving the corpus collosum, were either inhibited or un- connected developmentally. If so, then appropriate Hemi-Sync sound patterns might be useful in assisting the borderline patient to overcome one of the most difficult and insidious aspects of the disorder. Tentatively, with the utilization of a Hemi-Sync tape 4 , I began to apply this hypothesis in therapy. Clinical observations at this time, with a limited number of patients, have been hopeful and in some instance dramatic. In conjunction with normal psychotherapeutic procedures, in addition to cognitive mapping of the disorder utilizing written materials, the actual recovery process has begun within the first three sessions. One such instance is a 33-year-old female patient, with a severe history of the disorder since age 13, including several suicide attempts and history as a psychiatric inpatient,

4 The tape utilized for this procedure is termed “Concentration,” and was chosen because it has minimal verbal commands that might prove distracting, or might otherwise complicate the results.

multiple marriages and inconsistent career patterns. To date, there have been 20 sessions, two to three times a week. Symptoms have significantly diminished, including pain from five spinal disk operations. She has moved steadily through six of the seven hypothesized stages, with some indications of movement into Stage VII. Although the model predicted the stages of recovery and transformation, it did not predict the speed of her process. Present indications suggest that full recovery and termination will be possible within three months of the crisis that originally brought her to therapy.


Altered States of Consciousness

and Recovery

10.1 The Constricted Self and Expanded Awareness

An important part of the borderline disorder is a severely limited or constricted sense of self. We might symbolically conceptualize this self as a “doughnut” of two concentric spaces, one smaller circle inside a much larger one. The small inner circle contains the borderline’s “self” which is composed of very few good self-aspects. The outer, much larger circle contains all the goodness that he seeks, but which exists outside the self.

The outer circle is in essence the process of projection, i.e., a fantasy of the people existing “out there” who have the resources and capability to provide him with both good feelings and security. The inner circle is in essence the process of denial, in which the true nature of the self has been hidden from awareness. An important part of the recovery process is to assist the patient expand the inner circle. The larger the inner circle, the less projection is required for the patient to maintain equilibrium, thus shrinking the outer circle.

Under normal conditions this is a slow and labored process, met with much resistance if approached directly. There is much invested in the constricted self, for it serves to justify continued projection, as well as the lack of normal developmental competencies. A recent therapeutic innovation is the Expanded Awareness Exercise. In addition to the above theoretical position, developed by object-relations theorists, its usage is based on the “Law of Awareness,” presented in earlier sections of this monograph, which states that primary emotional energy provides the connection necessary in all relationships; and further, that this energy responds to awareness. It does not matter whether the “relationship” connection is with a person, place, or thing. Nor is it necessarily limited by distance, direction, or intervening structures, which would ordinarily, block perception. The exercise, which is presented verbally during a state of physical relaxation, simply provides the rationale (see below) for a step-by-step extension of awareness, via the vehicle of imagination – outward, upward, backward and downward in a gradually expanding sphere of 360 degrees. Having the patient sit comfortably, I usually begin by directing their attention forward, on a horizontal plane, following normal lines of sight, and to simply observe where their own awareness ends or is constrained. Normally they respond by indicating the boundaries of the room, at an angle no greater than 45 o -50 o (25 o to right and left). Using this as the departure point, we extend awareness horizontally sideways to 180 o . This is comfortable for them, not presenting an unusual situation. Their response may be a smile: “Oh, of course, I can see 180 o “. Gradually, we begin to “probe” forward, beyond the walls, asking them to remember or imagine what is beyond. The next step may present some difficulty, accompanied by anxiety. The direction now is to repeat the process, but this time do it

horizontally behind them. It is not unusual for them to have a “goose bump” sensation, or to actually express their paranoia about “not wanting to know what’s behind them.” To counteract this, I direct them to look forward again, remembering what was there, and then either physically or in imagination slowly turn around so that what was “in front” is now “in back,” and they can view directly what was behind them. This they accomplish easily, and often report a “rush” of energy as their horizontal awareness extends to 360 o . Typically, they “have the hang of it” now, and approach the exercise in a playful


Using the same basic procedure, we gradually extend awareness upward (to create a half sphere) and then “below,” toward their feet and into the earth, and beyond, out the other side of the earth. The earth’s surface usually provides an understandable point of resistance, but with gentle coaching is easily overcome. The final result, from a technical point of view, is an infinite sphere of awareness extending outward in all directions from their own “center” toward the stars, and beyond. Subjectively, they report feeling supported by space, at peace, yet uncommonly energized. Using the analogy that their awareness rides on gentle waves of light, and that this light is now a gentle gift for all it touches, they begin to experience first a warmth and then a fullness in their Heart Center. Not uncommonly nor surprisingly, they find, for the first time, a way of “loving” all that is, without risk to their sense of self.

10.2 Expanded Awareness Exercise

Of all the techniques utilized, the following expanded awareness technique, which can be read silently by the patient or aloud by the therapist, also produces some of the most visibly profound and long lasting effects.

There are times when our sense of self becomes constricted, when it may seem there is more goodness or O.K-ness “out there” (i.e., not-me) than there is “in here” (i.e., me-ness). During these

times we may feel small, or weak, or tense, or depressed, or angry, or abandoned, or not very competent, or even ugly.

This is a simple and easily performed exercise to counteract these feelings about our self. But before we describe, and then do, this expanded awareness exercise, let’s discuss what we mean by “awareness” and “expanded.”

Awareness occurs whenever and wherever we focus our attention. Since we can literally “place” our attention anywhere we choose, our awareness has no limits--no limits at all. We can choose to make our attention come in very, very close to us, so that it does not go beyond our own skin. Then our “self,” at that moment, may seem quite small. Or, ~e can choose to allow our attention to “move” out and out and out, all the way to the stars, and beyond. Then our sense of self seems very, very large. It is expanded. Even to infinity. And then something very special can happen.

Before we go on to describe how we can do this, there are some helpful things to know. These helpful things are what we call “paradoxes.” A paradox is something that may seem contrary to common sense but is actually true. What we sometimes think is a mystery of life is often a paradox. An example of a paradox we may already know is “the faster I go, the ‘behinder’ I get.” In other words, the harder I try (and perhaps the more tense I become), the less able I am to accomplish what it is I’m trying to do. The opposite of this is what we sometimes call “effortless effort”-- that when we just let go, and let ourselves “be,” and do whatever it is we’re trying to do in a relaxed way, then it just comes along; it just happens, so to speak.

This expanded awareness exercise has a paradox or two (actually four). The first paradox has to do with ‘‘outer’’ versus ‘‘inner’’ awareness. When we try to increase our awareness in an “outer” way, we will probably use our eyes, or maybe our ears, and try to see a long, long way, or hear a very faint sound. But soon, when we do this, we discover that we have some very definite limits (and remember, we were talking about “infinity”). Perhaps our eyes aren’t that good (maybe we’re near sighted). Or perhaps our eyes are 20/20, but the weather isn’t. Maybe it’s foggy, or rainy, or smoggy or snowing up a blizzard. Then we’ve got a problem. Our awareness is limited. Even on a clear day, with our eyes open, we can’t see forever. Remember the horizon? So what can we do? We can shift from “outer” to “inner” awareness.

So here is the paradox. When our eyes are open, there is just so much we can see. Even on a clear day. But when we close our eyes, we can shift from “seeing” to what we’ll call ‘‘vision.’’ Vision is infinite and, at first, involves using our imagination. We can “imagine” that we can see anywhere we want to. Even to the stars. And beyond.

The second paradox is that when we first close our eyes, we think it is dark. But if we wait a short while, and pay attention, we can begin to see light. (Yes, even in a dark room, at night). This light starts out as tiny little pinpoints. But the more we pay attention to them, the more they will grow, or coalesce, so that more and more of our inner vision is filled with this light.

This light is related to awareness. When we let this light grow, even just a little, we can then imagine that this light is moving, oh so very gently, out beyond us, away from us. And with our imagination, we can let this light go wherever we want it to. It can go all the way to the stars. And beyond. It has no limits. It can travel to infinity. (And you know how far that is). Our awareness, then, if we let it, if we allow it and give it just a little direction, can expand in all directions around us, going outward, beyond all conceivable limits, in an infinitely expanding sphere - above, around, behind, and below us.

It is now that something very, very special can happen--if we let it. Whatever we become aware of, when we use this inner vision, can become a part of us; and we can become a part of it.

When we let this happen, when we allow our awareness to expand, we have actually allowed our own self to expand. We have, all of a sudden, shifted from feeling small, weak, tense, depressed, angry, abandoned, or ugly--to feeling infinitely expanded, strong, relaxed, joyful, loving, supported and very, very beautiful. Can you imagine feeling as beautiful as the Milky Way?

Our awareness, then, and so too our own sense of self, expands -riding gently upon waves of light.

And now, another paradox. Our awareness, riding as it does upon this light, is always going in two directions. It is always going out. And it is always coming back. (That’s really nice to know, just in case we’re afraid of getting lost out there somewhere). But there’s more to it. When it goes “out” first, then it comes back, bringing with it all we need to know. It also brings back a gentle, but very powerful energy. We start to feel buoyant, stronger, and more energetic.

But--and here’s the catch--if we try to bring the light and energy to us first, like we felt we needed it a whole lot, and had to “take it,” it will come to us. But remember it always goes in two directions; so it goes away from us, too. And if we keep this up, if we continue trying to “take it” first, before we “give it,” then we can begin to feel less and less energy, until we feel exhausted. Then we’re not really doing what we started out to do. But don’t worry. If this happens, just stop for awhile, and then start again, this time sending it out first, and simply allowing it to come back, bearing its gentle gifts.

The final paradox involves something very important and dear to us. It is awareness of our “self,” our own Center. This is important to us for several reasons. The most important is balance. In order for us to be healthy, and effective, and happy, we have to be balanced. Being aware of our Center gives us this balance.

We also need to know our own individuality. Sometimes we call this being centered. Well, if we are expanding, even to infinity, what happens to our unique sense of self? Will it get lost “out there” somewhere? No. Not if we remember a very simple rule. We always start the expanded awareness exercise from our physical center. This is usually located in that soft spot just below the sternum (breastbone), but above the stomach. This is our Heart Center. And it is a very special, very loving, very joyful, and very healing place. The paradox is this: When we start by focusing our attention there (instead of between our eyes, for example), and then in an ever expanding sphere -- around, above, behind and below us -- gently allowing our awareness to expand from our Heart Center, it will always (remember, always) come back to that point. When it returns to our Heart, it will increase rather than decrease our sense of self, individuality, and centeredness. But-- that sense of self will now include a new sensitivity and caring for others--something we may not have had before.

And, remember--it is a very gentle, strong, caring, loving, healthy place (and way) to be.


Toward a Psychology of Wholeness Transformational Stages of Psychospiritual Development Robert M. Lewis, Ph.D. Behavioral

Toward a Psychology of Wholeness

Transformational Stages of Psychospiritual Development

Robert M. Lewis, Ph.D.

Stages of Psychospiritual Development Robert M. Lewis, Ph.D. Behavioral Science Applications San Diego, California

Behavioral Science Applications San Diego, California

Lewis, Robert M. Toward a Psychology of Wholeness . San Diego: Behavioral Scien ce Applications,

Lewis, Robert M. Toward a Psychology of Wholeness. San Diego: Behavioral Science Applications, First Edition, 2007

Behavioral Scien ce Applications, First Edition, 2007 Copyright © 1982, 1983, 1984, 1985, 1988, 1990, 1996,

Copyright © 1982, 1983, 1984, 1985, 1988, 1990, 1996, 2000, 2003, 2004, 2007 by Robert M. Lewis All rights reserved. No portion of this work may be reproduced by any medium without the express written permission of the author.


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Cover Art and Graphics by Robert M. Lewis

Illustrations by Vincenzo G. Adragna and Robert M. Lewis

Table of Contents Preface…………………………………………………………………………………

Table of Contents





Introduction………………………………………………………………………………………………. 6

The Soul in Space………………………………………………………………………………………


The Soul in Time………………………………………………………………………………………….


Transformational Stages…………………………………………………………………………………


How to Use the TSPD…………………………………………………………………………………….






Addendum………………………………………………………………………………………………… 48


S hortly after completing a landmark series of papers presented to the Association for Transpersonal Psychology titled collectively The Abandoned Heart (1982, 1983, 1984), which described a unique interpretation of the borderline personality

disorder, it became apparent that additional research was needed, along with a theoretical foundation for the model.

Additional clinical observations were gathered during the course of a private practice in which both the borderline syndrome and co-dependency issues merged theoretically and the framework for a formal model was gradually put into place.

In the process of this work it became increasingly likely to this clinician and researcher that there was much to be gained by hypothesizing an energetic-information processing structure to the human soul that contained at least seven subsystems, two of which—the Spiritual Heart Center and the Solar Plexus—were fundamentally involved in both borderline and co-dependency issues.

This work is the report of that research, which was conducted over an approximately 20 year period, during the course of which were illuminated many surprises not anticipated when the work first began in 1981.

Throughout this report the reader will notice the occasional use of several simple mathematical concepts. These are included out of necessity to show the formal structure and inherent logic of the soul in space and time, but are not needed beyond that to comprehend the psychosocial and psychospiritual implications of the concepts for every day life. If one feels uneasy with information conveyed as mathematical symbols, that portion of the discourse can easily be skipped altogether, or returned to as one feels the need for a greater understanding of the logic behind the model.

It is with these thoughts that I release the reader to explore the concepts further and, perhaps, to experience the many surprises—as I once did—that are contained herein.

Robert M. Lewis March, 2007 San Diego, California

Prologue D uring the early war years of the 1940s a young boy sat cross


D uring the early war years of the 1940s a young boy sat cross legged in the middle of an empty road on a hill overlooking Main Street in Julian, California, once a mining town during the brief gold rush years of Southern California.

The late spring sun shown warmly on his bare back and blue jays chattered endlessly in the live oaks above his head. They were interrupted only by the echoing rat-a-tat-tat of a lone red headed woodpecker drilling holes in a nearby pine tree that served as a vault for its annual stash of acorns.

Wafting lazily from the road was the warm acrid—but to him delectable—aroma of fresh asphalt and road tar laid down earlier that day by a county road crew, whom he had watched with unabashed curiosity and admiration.

There was no place the boy would rather be. His family was at work or school and it was here he came to be alone with his thoughts as he stared aimlessly across the short valley and toward the hills rising 4500 feet above sea level to the west.

Having taken his daily ration of the natural beauty around him the boy leaned back and looked skyward into the pure azure atmosphere that beckoned above the Cuyamaca Mountains and which drew his thoughts, ever expanding like helium in a blue party balloon.

Soon he was thinking, not about the sky, which itself filled his heart with joy, but the inscrutable realms that surely lay beyond, where the night time stars twinkled with the secrets of their enigmatic mysteries. How far did the sky go, he wondered? What lay beyond the stars and where did the sky end, and if it did how could that possibly be—a brain numbing thought that introduced the ideas of infinite impossibilities. He wondered where it all ended but more. He yearned to know how it all began and his young heart ached to know the answers. It was here, on this sunlit hill, that his first thoughts of creation were born, forming preverbal images he could not possibly articulate.

And hence began a life’s journey, unable to rest until the seeds of thought sewn that day sprouted into coherent form that finally made sense to him.

This work is the summary of that journey, which along the way became an insatiable thirst for understanding—not the exquisite mysteries of the physical universe—but rather the sublime secrets of the human soul.

Introduction A s proposed in this work, the term “whol eness” is a hypothesi zed


A s proposed in this work, the term “wholeness” is a hypothesized state of being available to every human from the moment of birth to the moment of physical death—and beyond. The state of wholen