Posts Tagged ‘copying’

The Chameleon Effect and BPD

The chameleon effect is also described as mirroring. Whilst in everyday life mimicking/mirroring can be a healthy behaviour, interviewees can mimic the interviewer copying body language etc is one example.

With BPD the person has a distorted sense of self; they don’t know who they are. They are so scared of rejection and abandonment that they will take on the characteristics of another person being chameleon like with their goal to be liked. They will change themselves depending on the situation and the person(s) they are with.

Many people diagnosed with BPD are impressionable and will follow the lead of another to fit in and to ensure that they are not rejected and will portray themselves to be like the people they want to be liked/loved by.

Ever had a friend who copied you? It’s flattering for the person being mirrored and usually it’s just minor copying sometime subtle. But when a person diagnosed with BPD mirrors they mirror everything from clothing and music taste to the way you speak and laugh, your mannerisms become theirs. When you are around them it is like you are looking in a mirror at yourself.

How the Chameleon Effect has played a part with my BPD

I personally have dressed the same, so wearing the same theme of clothing, dying hair to be same colour, listening to the same music, but only when these friends were around, in my own space I would listen to my own personal taste in music which did include some of their music but mainly music I had discovered on my own.

In the past I have gone from wearing typical jeans and t shirts to wearing gothic clothing and having that style to wearing combat trousers and t shirts all the time. I am now I’m back to jeans and t shirts/leggings and tops more fashionable clothing still trying to find my style. I have no idea about fashion, I look at some of the clothing combos that fashion magazines put together and tell us we can go and buy from the high street and I know I haven’t got the confidence to buy the clothes and pull of the same style. My weight issues play a part in that and to some degree I’m sure many women actually feel the same way I do.

Depending on the friend, depends on how I was around them. But I had let the chameleon slip with some friends after I had gotten comfortable with the friendship and trust the friend, I tested the waters to see if I can get away with wearing jeans and t shirts and sometimes it’s ok and the friends where supportive of my “new” style change others haven’t and I did revert back to the chameleon as the rejection fear becomes very strong at one point.

I struggled with friendships and being liked for many years. The earliest memory of the chameleon is when I moved junior schools and wanted to fit in with a group of lads (the girls rejected me so I tried to make friends with the boys) they wanted me to be initiated into their group and that required doing tasks I just wasn’t comfortable doing but I persevered for a few weeks before giving up, the school I went to welcomed deaf children and I became friends with one girl and wanted to be like her I tried to damage my ears so that I could be deaf like her, thankfully I didn’t do any lasting damage.

I found me whilst working on getting rid of the chameleon. I have my own tastes in music, clothing, and hairstyles/colour. I have my own likes and dislikes of celebs, TV shows, films, and hobbies. Being able to recognise that these are mine gives me great sense of self and gives me hope that I am finding myself and that I will no longer meet the criteria for the identity disturbance symptom of the BPD diagnosis.


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