- Paperback: 330 pages
- Publisher: Rowan & Littlefield (2004)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0765703319
- ISBN-13: 978-0765703316
- Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 1 x 9.1 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 399 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #22,404 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Understanding the Borderline Mother: Helping Her Children Transcend the Intense, Unpredictable, and Volatile Relationship
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The first love in our lives is our mother. Recognizing her face, her voice, the meaning of her moods, and her facial expressions is crucial to survival. Dr. Christine Ann Lawson vividly describes how mothers who suffer from borderline personality disorder produce children who may flounder in life even as adults, futilely struggling to reach the safety of a parental harbor, unable to recognize that their borderline parent lacks a pier, or even a discernible shore.
Four character profiles describe different symptom clusters that include the waif mother, the hermit mother, the queen mother, and the witch. Children of borderlines are at risk for developing this complex and devastating personality disorder themselves. Dr. Lawson's recommendations for prevention include empathic understanding of the borderline mother and early intervention with her children to ground them in reality and counteract the often dangerous effects of living with a "make-believe" mother.
Some readers may recognize their mothers as well as themselves in this book. They will also find specific suggestions for creating healthier relationships. Addressing the adult children of borderlines and the therapists who work with them, Dr. Lawson shows how to care for the waif without rescuing her, to attend to the hermit without feeding her fear, to love the queen without becoming her subject, and to live with the witch without becoming her victim.
A Jason Aronson Book
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Learning to love and trust after growing up in a BPD household is not that different.
It's easy for the armchair quarterbacks to suggest that those traumatized by BPD parents should just quit their dang whining, snap out of it and get with the program, but those traumatized by a BPD parent have a very different definition of love (and a painful one at that) than those reared in more authentically and altruistically loving households. I would wager that 100 out of 100 BPD-traumatized people would trade a kidney for the capacity to just "snap out of it," as the internal work that needs to be done is arduous and sometimes even more painful than what happened as a child.
Stopping the cycles of abuse requires recognition of the problem and modifications to behavior. This book is a good beginning.
My copy of the book was published in 2000, when bookshelves were not as well stocked for quality personal psychology books but were certainly rife with plenty of flim-flam pop psychology. In the sixteen years since, the decreasing stigma for mental health issues as well as ever-expanding media resources have increased the public vocabulary in the area of psychology. There has been additional research on BPD since 2000 with many publications for patients taking a more clinical tone than this book, but considering this book in context, it is a smart, well-written volume for the 2000 audience, utilizing archetypes to illustrate different types of BPD in mothers.
Some reviewers claim the archetypes seem a bit harsh, but if the title was "Understanding the Borderline Co-Worker" instead of "Understanding the Borderline Mother," I suspect there would be fewer complaints of that nature. The concept of motherhood has been sanctified for so long that it's difficult to take mothers (even those that have inflicted harm) down from the pedestal to analyze behavior in a constructive way. The celebrity examples do seem a bit out of context, both in 2000 and in 2016, and seem a bit exaggerated relative to the other examples of behavior.
If you're dealing with, or suspect you're dealing with BPD in your family, the best case scenario is to have a good therapist as your Sherpa as you navigate those waters. At the very least, you'll have an objective voice of reason in your exploration; ideally, your experienced therapist has helped others through all stages of healing and will have insight to expedite your path to health. BPD is heavy stuff, and even if you've dealt with other major issues in therapy in the past, BPD weighs in so much more exponentially.
This book will likely validate your childhood experiences that previously did not make sense. There are passages that will help you identify what's missing in your early childhood development and will clarify what you can do as an adult to rectify that lack of early development and move toward a life of love and trust. I would not attempt to use this book as my sole source in healing myself and/or my relationships with those who have BPD, but it will help as a complementary part of education and therapy.
The book is NOT meant to nit-pick the parenting of the majority of the population.
For those affected by BPD, this book is not "just another excuse to whine," and it's highly insensitive and demonstrates ignorance (or perhaps denial?) of the diagnosis to suggest it is.
Ironically, it's the very absence of a lifetime "whining" or even uttering a single complaint for most BPD-traumatized individuals that has ultimately produced the most dysfunction in their own lives. Many have suffered in silence from their abuse, assuming the definition of "love" they were given in childhood required them to accommodate abuse from others. There's no retirement plan for martyrs, and this book will let you know you're not alone if that was your history. I hope it helps and hope there are brighter days full of love ahead for you.
I bought this book years ago on here on a whim and it changed everything for me. My mother had mentioned that a doctor told her she needed therapy for her Borderline and I had no idea what that meant. When I got and read this book it transformed my brain and understanding of Borderline. I was a budding Psychology student at the time, and I was also just getting into the process of healing years of trauma. Because of this book I understand why I have so many of the issues I do, I understand my mother and why she had the issues she did (without the need to feel sorry for her--I simply just understand it), and I feel so much less crazy. I still have a long way to go but this book was, and still is, key in my recovery and development of my own identity, separate from my mothers. I recommend it for anyone and everyone who grew up with a Borderline mother.
But happy to share this insight with others in the same nightmare of borderline land. My mom, 'the Queen' has much less power over me after reading, understanding and putting some better tools in my bag!
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