Old habits die hard. With some Borderline clients, their self-sabotaging reflexes can be eliminated, but it's surely not the case with all. Many cling tenaciously to it, for a defective identity feels familiar, and less threatening or scary than forging a wholesome new one. This is actually the defining difference between those who get well, and those who don't.
I've discussed this aspect fairly thoroughly within my BPD Male literature, and a bit of illumination can go a long way toward understanding the Borderline's need to self-destruct~ even within an exemplary treatment protocol. The following is an excerpt:
Neither Borderlines nor Narcissists can tolerate therapeutic mis-attunements. Their desire to distance or cut off therapy, especially when it's getting close to a nerve or breakthrough, is quite common. Some of these individuals try to flood themselves with numerous other self-help venues and ‘therapeutic’ modalities that diffuse their reliance on any singular source for help~ which I’ve coined, ‘The Buckshot Method.’ Such is the extent of their attachment concerns and abandonment terror.
A sound, meaningful therapeutic endeavor helps one experience corrective, authentic interplay leading to conflict resolution, which involves two beings. The client ideally takes this newfound ability into his private world, having learned the critical distinction between two hands clapping, rather than just one, which his narcissism had halted earlier. Naturally, the question begs to be asked: Where else could he learn intimacy skills??
Casanova (the male Borderline) often plays musical chairs with therapists. His needs are profound, but given his inherent trust issues, he feels less threat if he spreads himself thin, and has a stable of professionals to choose from, the minute he's in crisis. The BPD male is a ‘serial’ patient, who's unlikely to spend any more than two years (consecutively) in treatment.
There's a separation/individuation issue that's stirred before this two-year juncture, which activates subtle anxiety involving reliance on anyone, and the risk they might abandon him. These are tragic remnants of developmental struggles with Mother when he was a toddler, attempting to forge an autonomous sense of Self.
If his desire to leave treatment, and the underlying developmental stage that triggers these feelings isn't addressed by the therapist and resolution can’t be gained, the client departs. He generally feels a sense of relief, having convinced himself that his needs can no longer be responded to (beyond the initial crisis-intervention provided). His attachment and dependency fears are thus, mitigated.
Sadly, Casanova's difficulties are characterological, meaning intrinsic or core to how he has choreographed his life and relationships. Inevitably, the same troubling issues resurface in his next catastrophic romantic endeavor, and he begins anew with another therapist. Why won't he resume with the last one who helped? His shame at being back in this same hole in the road prevents it. In short, his fragile ego can't handle failing again, and feeling this vulnerable or exposed.