Difference Between Borderline Personality Disorder and Narcissistic Personality Disorder

Difference Between Borderline Personality Disorder and Narcissistic Personality Disorder

When people with borderline personality disorder start to feel negative feelings, instead of dealing with then, they may quit their job, take a sudden trip they cannot afford, sign up for college courses, or find a new lover. These new activities rarely lead to anything positive, because their main appeal is that they are distractions from what the person is feeling or a way out of a situation that is not going well.


People with narcissistic personality disorder become grandiose, cruelly devalue others, use other people to help to manage their self-esteem and try to associate only with high-status people or things. They leave situations and people who no longer serve their needs or enhance their self-esteem.

Related: Relationship Stages With A Narcissist Or Borderline And Triangulation




(1) They are unlovable;
(2) They will be abandoned or rejected;
(3) If they self-activate and become a fully adult, independent person, they or their mother will die or go crazy.


(1) They are intrinsically defective and worthless;
and (2) they will be publicly exposed as a fraud.




Borderline individuals bring passion and liveliness into the world. Their clinging is the glue that holds many families together. Many of our greatest love songs and most expressive music are creative expressions of Borderline issues.


Because they have such a strong need for public recognition, Narcissists start many of the organizations, training institutions, and political bodies that make our society possible. They are willing to devote enormous energy to causes as long as their work or their financial contribution puts them in the spotlight. Many of our most beloved entertainers are Narcissists. Many of our hospitals would not have been built without the work and funds of Narcissists.



The Interpersonal Gestalt (or IG for short) is a concept that I developed that looks at what repeatedly becomes figure for the client during one-on-one interactions.

Borderline IG:

People with borderline personality disorder tend to notice interpersonal cues that involve the potential to be loved and nurtured or, conversely, abandoned or engulfed by the needs of the other person.

Narcissistic IG:

They tend to notice those interpersonal details that reinforce or contradict their sense of being special, perfect, unique and entitled. They are also highly sensitive to cues that relate to the possibility of being criticized or humiliated.




It is common to hear stories of abuse and abandonment. Often, the child was not taught the skills necessary for adult life or even encouraged to become independent of their family. Some children were used to serve the emotional needs of a parent, usually the mother, who felt lonely, depressed, and abandoned herself.

Related: Sons Of Narcissistic Mothers and The Damage They Suffer


People were divided into “winners” and “losers.” High achievement and all marks of status were excessively valued. The children were not unconditionally loved, but they were instead valued for the narcissistic supplies that they provided for the parents.


Elinor Greenberg, PhD, CGP

In private practice in NYC and the author of the book: Borderline, Narcissistic, and Schizoid Adaptations: The Pursuit of Love, Admiration, and Safety.

Written by Elinor Greenberg, Ph.D.
Originally appeared in Quora


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