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Understanding the Borderline Mother: Helping Her Children Transcend the Intense, Unpredictable, and Volatile Relationship

4.6 out of 5 stars 347 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0765703316
ISBN-10: 0765703319
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Editorial Reviews

Review

This wonderfully readable book is totally devoid of jargon and pedantry. The writing is concise and simple, although the subject is complex and weighty. With picturesque nosology, Dr. Lawson writes about the waif, hermit, queen, and witch mothers. Her unique examination of borderline mothers and how they relate to their children culminates in a discussion of what can be done for both from an interpersonal perspective. Replete with clinical vignettes, this book is entertaining as well as informative. (Peter L. Giovacchini)

This well-researched and beautifully written book presents in graphic, specific, clinical detail overwhelming evidence to resolve any ambiguity about the relationship of the borderline mother to her children. The many faces of the borderline mother are nicely differentiated and described. Dr. Lawson also provides guidelines on how to manage a relationship with a borderline mother constructively. A helpful read for all therapists who work with borderline patients. (James F. Masterson)

Masked by a smile, behind the pinafore of maternal attachment, lurks a borderline mother. Dr. Lawson offers a compelling portrait of mothers who project massive states of confusion and terror into their children. She presents a variety of mothers, including the make-believe mother, the fairy tale mother, the queen and witch mother, along with specific clinical suggestions for dealing with each type. This spellbinding contribution to the literature provides effective treatment procedures for therapists working within the spectrum of borderline phenomenology. (Joan Lachkar)

Childhood lived with a borderline mother results in an unspeakable tragedy. Few of the child's developmental needs are met because the mother cannot be a parent. Consequently, the child is programmed for a lifelong struggle against failure. For over twenty years, people have shared their own agonizing stories with me, looking to my journey for a sense of hope. The compassionate understanding and professional assistance in this book are a road map out of failure. (Christina Crawford)

From the Back Cover

"Childhood lived with a borderline mother results in an unspeakable tragedy, few of the child's developmental needs are met because the mother cannot be a parent. Consequently, the child is programmed for a lifelong struggle against failure. For over twenty years, people have shared their own agonizing stories with me, looking to my journey for a sense of hope. The compassionate understanding and professional assistance in this book are a road map out of failure." -Christina Crawford, M.A. -Author, Mommie Dearest

"This wonderfully readable book is totally devoid of jargon and pedantry. The writing is concise and simple, although the subject is complex and weighty. With picturesque nosology, Dr. Lawson writes about the waif, hermit, queen, and witch mothers. Her unique examination of borderline mothers and how they relate to their children culminates in a discussion of what can be done for both from an interpersonal perspective. Replete with clinical vignettes, this book is entertaining as well as informative." - Peter L. Giovacchini, M.D. - Author, Impact of Narcissism

"This well-researched and beautifully written book presents in graphic, specific, clinical detail overwhelming evidence to resolve any ambiguity about the relationship of the borderline mother to her children. The many faces of the borderline mother are nicely differentiated and described. Dr. Lawson also provides guidelines on how to manage a relationship with a borderline mother constructively. A helpful read for all therapists who work with borderline patients." -James F. Masterson, M.D. - Author, Psychotherapy of the Borderline Adult: A Developmental Approach

"Masked by a smile, behind the pinafore of maternal attachment lurks a borderline mother. Dr. Lawson offers a compelling portrait of mothers who project massive states of confusion and terror into their children. She presents a variety of mothers, including the make-believe mother, the fairy tale mother, the queen and witch mother, along with specific clinical suggestions for dealing with each type. This spellbinding contribution to the literature provides effective treatment procedures for therapists working within the spectrum of borderline phenomenology." -Joan Lachkar, Ph.D. -Author, The Many Faces of Abuse and The Narcissistic/Borderline Couple --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Product Details

  • 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 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (347 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #21,179 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I have to laugh when I survey some of the critical reviews below, which claim this book is "imaginative literature" or is unhelpful because it has a "negative view" of borderline mothers. I can only conclude that anyone who finds this book overly imaginative or negative did not have the pleasure of growing up under the reign of terror inflicted by a mother with a rip-roaring personality disorder.

I don't to this day know if my mother was a pathological narcissist or a high-functioning borderline of the type Lawson describes as "Queen" and "Witch" (despite the detractors, she is very careful to say that these terms describe symptom clusters, not individuals, and that any borderline can veer between all four of her loosely labeled types). It does not matter, as in practice there is almost nothing to choose between the two disorders and (psychiatry being an inexact science) we may learn there is no hard distinction. Like narcissists, the less self-blaming types of borderline - as Lawson points out - are in denial about the notion that they might have a serious defect. They are not going to assume responsibility, or seek treatment unless it is a way to get attention and reinforce victim status without coming to grips with their own conduct.

I spent - wasted - twenty years of my adult life believing that the mother who had made me miserable for the previous twenty could somehow be communicated with, humanized, and redeemed. Why she made her husband and child so miserable - and why no amount of accommodation on the part of either had any helpful effect - remained a mystery until I first read about malignant narcissism and borderline disorder. Complete validation of what we went through had to wait until I read this book.
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Format: Hardcover
This book is a lifeline to sanity for any child of a mother who suffers from borderline personality disorder. The first chapters dissect this complex disease more thoroughly than I've read in any other book, and the final section explains how to cope with the volatile relationships that form between mother and child. Every page contains a wealth of information that is simultaneously therapeutic and proactive. The validation that came with being able to relate to the experiences of other children living with this was priceless (as well as being long overdue). I have read dozens of books about borderline personality disorder, but none (until now) addressed the consequences the disease has on children of mothers suffering from the disorder. The book seems to focus on the relationships daughters have with their borderline mothers, but does deal with the impact it has on sons, as well.
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Format: Paperback
I need to add myself to this growing list of people who are praising this amazing book. If you find yourself questioning your relationship with your mother, or think there "might be something wrong with her, but I just don't know what it is," BUY and READ this book immediately. I found myself at such a crossroads wanting to believe that there was something tangibly wrong with my mom other than she was "just a bit- -." This book exploded my awareness. Furthermore in sharing it with my siblings it created a life-changing awareness shift in all of us. I went back to read something in the book after I had lent it to my brother and was shocked to find that he, like I had underlined and written comments in the book such as "OH MY GOD I CAN'T BELIEVE THIS HAPPENED TO SOMEONE ELSE!" or "HOLY CR- -, MOM SAID THIS SAME EXACT THING." We who have been raised by someone with this mental illness NEED to come to grips that we are NOT alone, we are NOT crazy, it is NOT our fault. This book does this and more.

To some of the "negative" comments or "shortcomings" about this book in previous reviews...no this book is not the end all and does not offer "the answer" to solve the Borderline's or the Children's issues....that is not it's goal. It's goal is to very accurately describe and validate experiences we have been through so that WE and others can appreciate what we've been through. This is necessary before the healing can begin. I recommend this book to people questioning their mother's illness. I recommend this book to people who know and are dealing with the fact that their mother suffers from BPD. I recommend this book to any therapist who is treating someone who has or was raised by a BPD. This is a phenomenal piece of work!
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Format: Paperback
As a child of a bordeline mother and a borderline mother myself, I found this book invaluable. Determined not to make the same mistakes my mother made, although I have been in therapy for nearly 5 years, and making good progress, I was poorly equipped to understand everything that I was doing, and I was able to see in the mirror, so to speak, by reading this book. I have tried to get my 15 year old daughter to read it without success. Perhaps later when she is more receptive to the fact that her mother is flawed and can accept my apologies for my behaviors she will read it. As soon as I was diagnosed I sent her to therapy, which has been invaluable to her.
One of the things I like about this book are the references to Lewis Carrol's "Alice in WOnderland". Carroll (Charles Dodgson) was hypothesized to be a boderline in the book "The Agony of Lewis Carroll", which is an excellent treatment of his work, I believe, although it has been shot down by Caroll scholars.
BPD is a terrible illness. I'd rather have anything else, as the self-loathing, rigidity and delusions are so irrational and so difficult to rid oneself of. The AVERAGE length of therapy for BPD for a patient going twice a week used to be four years. Most insurance plans don't support that type of therapy, and many victims don't have insurance. Many give up because they dont have the community networks to support them.
BPD replicates itself in families and is growing in numbers. It knows no income level, no race or nationality. It has existed for centuries, and its dimensions are just being understood.
Encourage your library to put this book on their shelf as it is a great mental health resource.
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