Top critical review
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Like a Stab in the Heart
on October 18, 2004
This book does provide useful information identifying traits, symptoms and behaviour of the BPD person and this is useful in understanding why they are behaving the way they do. If you are close to a BPD person it is worthwhile discovering that you are not going crazy for finding the ridiculous dramas and scenarios with the BPD confusing and distressing.
Despite this, I found sections of the book hurtful and demoralising. How much more do the loved ones have to be told they should adapt even more to the BPD's behaviour, and that "understanding" them is enough to make it OK, that learning and perfecting the art of "not taking it personally" is going to make life a lot easier. These things do cause a slight improvement but the emphasis placed on them is in denial of the seriousness of the effects of the BPD behaviour, and the intensity and energy and power the BPD person puts into pursuing his/her twisted agenda. What is worse is the tendency of some therapists and authors to focus on the Borderline being accepted (for extremely unacceptable behaviour) and placing unfair expectations on their significant others as a way of empowering them (the BPD).
The author of the review "Save Your Money & Your Mind put it so well - [...... Instead, it asked Borderlines what they thought non-BPD's should do in the face of the Borderlines inappropriate, inexplicable rages. Be good now and don't upset the Borderline, who can't help it. The Borderline's world is painful (as if everyone around the Borderline doesn't routinely pay the price for that), so try to understand. No, the Borderline doesn't need to understand, because Borderlines are like children and can't be expected to behave in any kind of responsible way. It's about their survival, so deal with it. If you suffer because of a Borderline's actions, you will suffer more from the underlying message of this book: a Borderline is in pain, so whatever he/she does must be understood and on some level (or all levels) excused. Borderline behavior (manipulation, lying, pitting people against one another, suicidal gestures, unpredictable, intense rages, etc.) is abusive and destructive to everyone around him/her. The fact that the people around him/her are expected to put up with it because it's motivated by fear or shame only speaks to the amazing ability of the Borderline to turn the tables and make a situation sound like something it's not. You do not ask someone with Anti-social Personality Disorder how you can avoid provoking his anger. It's understood that the problem is with him, not you. Why is this not clear with BPD? ....]
As if the loved ones of BPD's aren't already doing everything they can humanly think of to accomodate and please the BPD! Most people who are partnering a Borderline sufferer have already worked out, for survival purposes, every possible way of avoiding triggering their worst behaviour. Adapting, keeping quiet about serious problems, pretending to accept distorted views of reality to avoid arguments, letting things go of great concern and never being able to discuss them, the list goes on, you become an expert in not provoking to the point your own reality becomes distorted and "you" becomes buried, and then you find a book that tells you do to do more of this and asks the BPD person to prescribe your ideal behaviour, so they don't feel so bad! I spent years with my BPD partner trying to see his twisted side of everything, and take into account and keep up with feelings he had about certain things that changed daily or even hourly. This has to stop - as with any other dysfunctional behaviour that involves abuse (either psychological, emotional, verbal or physical) the perpetrator, no matter what the reason for his/her behaviour, has to start taking total responsibility for the behaviour. The therapists have to start working out how to achieve this with their patients, without others having to twist themselves into knots to adapt to the inappropriate behaviour of the BPD not changing. It's time therapists and authors stop believing and falling for the BPD's obsession with discrediting their partner. You can tie yourself in knots to ensure you don't upset a BPD, and they will still find something to twist onto you in order to justify an oncoming rage or tirade, or drawn out session of twisted ramblings and accusations. Even if you have behaved impeccably close to perfection in terms of what they have indicated they require, if the urge to rage or painful feelings overtake them they will just invent something in order to shift blame onto you. You can be accused of not giving any credence to the BPD's feelings, which are so important, even though they don't know what they are from one minute to the next. Where is the therapist/author who doesn't buy into this and focuses only on what the patient should do? The fact that it is so hard to treat the BPD should not mean that more and more onus is placed on those close to them - this approach has gone too far to the point where it has become a case of expecting the loved ones to behave dysfunctionally so that the BPD feels better and happier and their reality is more accepted.