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A. C. Corbett

Western NY
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  • I Hate You - Don't Leave Me

  • Understanding the Borderline Personality
  • By: Jerold J. Kreisman MD, Hal Straus
  • Narrated by: Mel Foster
  • Length: 7 hrs and 57 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 681
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 591
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 584

People with borderline personality disorder (BPD) experience such violent and frightening mood swings that they often fear for their sanity. They can be euphoric one moment, despairing and depressed the next. For years BPD was difficult to describe, diagnose, and treat. But with this classic guide, Dr. Jerold J. Kreisman and health writer Hal Straus offer much-needed professional advice, helping victims and their families understand and cope with this troubling, shockingly widespread affliction.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • great book

  • By randy on 12-28-14

Tainted by politics

Overall
2 out of 5 stars
Performance
4 out of 5 stars
Story
2 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 09-16-15

I listened to this because I saw it quoted many times in useful contexts, so I thought I'd go to the source. I knew it was dated, but that didn't trouble me-- I'm familiar with the more recent work done on the subject of BPD. But midway through, the book went off the rails completely into reactionary social politics and abuse apologetics.

I should have expected this, when the very first case study was of a woman whose symptoms of Borderline Personality Disorder included "provoking her husband into hitting her." I gave the book a second chance it didn't deserve, and it did seem to improve was was even useful for a bit. However, the author devotes two chapters to the way that the breakdown of the nuclear family, changing gender roles, and liberalizing sexual mores cause Borderline Personality Disorder, apparently by leaving people without a solid connection to the past or strong standards for behavior. I can see what he's getting at, especially considering that BPD is demonstrably more common in women and sexual minorities. However it's also more common in people of lower socioeconomic status and in oppressed racial minorities. And forgive me if I don't think it likely that women were happier being treated as chattel, or LGBT folks were healthier living in a socially mandated closet. Maybe, just maybe, the connection between the increased visibility of BPD, its disparate impact, and the social changes of the 20th century, is that it's more common in people who experience structural violence, and society is finally starting to care about the troubles of the oppressed?

If you're able to screen out the politics, if that doesn't matter to you, or if you agree with the author, you may find this book valuable. But be aware that Kreisman will subject you to the assertion that women have BPD because they've lost their role as wives and mothers, BPD folks are more likely to be LGBT because they have no sense of personal identity, people with BPD are abused because they deliberately provoke it (even as children), people who practice BDSM have BPD because their emotional dysregulation makes them masochistic, and women with BPD are more likely to be prostitutes, because they seek the validation of being paid by multiple sexual partners. If you can stomach that, then listen and enjoy.

I found that, knowing that the author was completely off-base in his basic understanding of the biopsychosocial underpinnings of personality and violence, I couldn't trust the observations I lacked the knowledge to critique.

58 of 71 people found this review helpful