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Girl in Need of a Tourniquet: Memoir of a Borderline Personality Paperback – June 8, 2010

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Girl in Need of a Tourniquet: Memoir of a Borderline Personality + Loud in the House of Myself: Memoir of a Strange Girl + Get Me Out of Here: My Recovery from Borderline Personality Disorder
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Seal Press; First Printing edition (June 8, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 158005305X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1580053051
  • Product Dimensions: 0.7 x 5.5 x 8.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #214,757 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Merri Lisa Johnson believes in bold lines, strange truths, off rhymes, and the art of the glimpse. She likes kittenish vignettes, ruthless sunsets, and long walks on the hard beach of relentless self-inquiry. Her newest book, GIRL IN NEED OF A TOURNIQUET, is a story about coming of age, coming out, coming to terms with grief, and becoming borderline. Follow her reflections and insatiable research on manic defenses, bizarre symptoms, the obstacle course of emotional recovery, the revision of the DSM-V, and the borderline personality of media and celebrity culture - among other random notes, stories, comments, and newly discovered therapeutic tools - by becoming a fan of GIRL IN NEED OF A TOURNIQUET: A BORDERLINE PERSONALITY MEMOIR on Facebook.

Johnson is currently at work on her next critical memoir, ALTERED, a close look at addiction, disorganized attachment, imago therapy, and the first year of her very own borderline/narcissist marriage. Her essays have also appeared in Sex and Single Girls (ed. Lee Damsky), Herspace: Women, Writing, Solitude (ed. Jo Malin), and Homewrecker (ed. Daphne Gottlieb). She currently lives in South Carolina with the great loves of her life - her partner Stace and two loyal shih tzus, Millie and Lola - in a 1920s-era craftsman bungalow fondly known among family and friends as The Haney-Johnson Halfway House for the Bright but Broken-Hearted.

Customer Reviews

If you know someone with BPD or suspect it in yourself, this is a prescriptive book for borderlines.
Eileen Granfors
In what is an exremely creative and uniquely structured memoir Merri Lisa Johnson offers her readers a window into her experience with Borderline Personality.
AJ Mahari
Starts strong, and ends too soon, with over 100 pages of a lesbian affair (the same one) in the middle.
L. Jennings

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Note: I received a free copy of this book to review for the web site Metapsychology Online Reviews; you can read a more complete version of my review on that site.

In her new memoir, college professor Merri Lisa Johnson provides readers with a chance to vicariously experience the rollercoaster ride of someone living with Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD). Johnson creates this effect through her staccato writing style, which includes short paragraphs of her own text interspersed with quotes from poems and song lyrics, citations from major works in both psychology and the self-help and the self-help literature, various relevant definitions, and graphic black slashes (likely representing self-injury, often a feature of this disorder). Although somewhat disjointed and disorganized (Johnson does not always proceed chronologically), this method certainly does provide an accurate portrayal of the borderline personality.

For the majority of TOURNIQUET, much of the confusion, panic, and chaos in Johnson's life centers around her affair with a married co-worker, Emily. Johnson clearly recognizes this relationship as being CO-DEPENDENT (she often capitalizes words or phrases for emphasis). She is able to see herself as enmeshed with Emily and neurotically attached to her, yet she is unable to perceive a way to break free from this self-destructive path. About two-thirds of the way through the book, Johnson finally makes the connection that her symptoms are consistent with BPD. Not only does this help her to view her relationship with Emily in a new light, but also she is able to better understand her behavior in subsequent relationships--including a brief fling with one of her students--in terms of this diagnosis.
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful By PerpetualStudent on June 9, 2010
Format: Paperback
If you want an intelligent, keen, ornate, and compelling, wonderfully disconcerting story about strands of life untangled by the author through creative and melodic prose- This is the book for you!
But, if you want a straight memoir, the kind that is comfortable, written by Donald Trump or the latest one hit wonder's ghost writers- this isn't the book you want. If you want to know more about the clinical intricacies of borderline personality disorder- this isn't the book you want.
With this memoir, the reader gets a window into a mind full of prisms that refract, one-way glass, and mirrors that reflect before they shatter. It is an amazing book, a fantastic read. I especially enjoyed the variety of other "sourced" material. The only critique I could offer, and it is so minor as to be negligible (not to mention that I am certainly not qualified to critique a personal creative decision), I would have changed the word "of" in the title to the word "with." I can't wait to see what comes next from the mind of this author. I hope it is equally exciting, disquieting, troubling, and true.
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17 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Eileen Granfors TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on July 2, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
You may not know you have a friend or co-worker with Borderline Personality Disorder; you only know that person is difficult, obnoxious, odd. Maybe you have it yourself and wonder why you feel lonely and empty constantly. Maybe you are BPD diagnosed. Maybe you are simply interested in psychological issues. In "Girl in Need of a Tourniquet," Merri Lisa Johnson opens her heart and head to give others a look into both the science and the sociology of the BPD patient.

The book is odd in organization with poetry, song lyrics, charts, scientific quotations, and personal anecdotes somewhat randomly accrued. Each one helps to explain why Johnson was once "a girl in need of a tourniquet." (title from a song lyric) One psychologist said that a Borderline has no emotional skin, and therefore, when emotion is felt, usually rage, the rage will continue until the patient basically bleeds out.

The book recounts Merri's disastrous love affairs with the wrong men and the wrong women. It explains her need to be perfect. She sets a goal to become "the perfect BPD patient,"- an in-joke. BPD patients are notoriously difficult patients due to their incessant and unreasonable demands for attention.

Johnson does not spend a lot of time with finding her parents at fault though she lived a chaotic childhood. She does use her knowledge and research to show the effects of a child's attachment disorders based on that chaotic childhood where the biggest fear is abandonment. The wounded child never overcomes that primal fear, that lack of security.

Johnson luckily found love in her spouse, Stace. She tries to help her sisters, and through these surviving loves, she begins to save herself from self-destruction.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By margieebee on February 9, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
--This is not your typical memoir, where the author progresses chronologically through his or her life. The author focuses on a relatively small slice of her life, recalling tumultuous relationships and her "psychological journey" during this time.
--Her life account is spliced with excerpts from various sources on borderline personality disorder and personality development in general. Sometimes this can be distracting, as it pulls you out of the author's own account, but in some ways I appreciated this- there are experts on personality disorders and they have probably said it better than or more concisely than those of us who are not personality experts.
--The author utilizes a lot of figurative writing- this is a very "artful" memoir in that sense.
--Overall, this was a unique reading experience.
***Finally, there are graphic descriptions of the author's self-injurious behaviors. Anyone who has struggled/struggles with this should proceed with caution when reading this book. I believe it could be very triggering, more so than other memoirs I have read, and may not be the best reading option if you are not "in a safe place" emotionally.
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