Self-Help
Resources

 email page    print page

All Topic Reviews
100 Things Guys Need to Know1001 Solution-Focused Questions101 Ways to Meditate17 Lies That Are Holding You Back29 Gifts8 Keys to Stress ManagementA Layman's Guide to Managing FearA Parent's Guide to Asperger Syndrome and High-Functioning AutismA User Guide to the GF/CF Diet for Autism, Asperger Syndrome and AD/HDADD-Friendly Ways to Organize Your LifeAddiction and ChangeAddiction Recovery ToolsADHD Grown UpAdolescent DepressionAdvanced Sexual TechniquesAfter SuicideAfter the Ecstasy, the LaundryAge-Proof Your MindAnswers for AristotleAnxiety, Phobias, and PanicAre You Fully Charged?Authentic HappinessAwakening Self-EsteemBe Honest--You're Not That Into Him EitherBeating the BluesBecoming OrgasmicBeen There, Done That? DO THIS!Better Sex Through YogaBetter Than EverBeyond AddictionBibliotherapyBinge No MoreBipolar DisorderBlinkBoomers Really Can Put Old On HoldBrain LongevityBrainstormBread Upon the WatersBreak Through PainBreathingBringing Up ParentsBuddhist Boot CampBullyBut I Love HimCalm EnergyCalm Focus JoyCan't Eat, Won't EatCancer on $5 a Day* *(chemo not included)Caring in Remembered WaysChained to the DeskChange Your AgeChange Your Brain, Change Your LifeChange Your ThinkingChildren of the Aging Self-AbsorbedChildren of the Self-AbsorbedConceptual BlockbustingConquer Your Critical Inner VoiceConquering Postpartum DepressionConquering Shame and CodependencyCoping With Difficult PeopleCoping with Infuriating, Mean, Critical PeopleCoping With TraumaCreative Writing In Health And Social CareCrossing the Unknown SeaDance the Chakras Yoga WorkoutDaydreamingDe-Stress Your Life in 7 Easy StepsDealing with a NarcissistDefying DementiaDelivered from DistractionDematerializingDepression FalloutDepression-Free for LifeDivorce PoisonDoing ItDone With The CryingDown and Dirty Sex SecretsDr. Andrew Weil's Guide to Optimum HealthDr. Weisinger's Anger Work-Out BookDying to Be ThinEasy YogaEmbarrassing Medical ProblemsEmbracing UncertaintyEmotional Chaos to ClarityEmotional ClaustrophobiaEmotional Fitness for IntimacyEmotional IntelligenceEnjoying Guilty PleasuresEssays on Philosophical CounselingEvamarie Pilipuf's Yoga Express DVDEvery Day Yoga for Every Body DVDEveryday GreensExercise for Mood and AnxietyFailureFamily Desk Reference to Psychology Family FirstFast Food for the SoulFat and FuriousFatal FlawsFear and Other Uninvited GuestsFeeding Your ChildFinding Meaning in the Second Half of LifeFlow: The Psychology of Optimal ExperienceFluid Power Vinyasa Flow YogaFlying ColorsForgive Your Parents, Heal YourselfFreaks, Geeks and Asperger SyndromeFrom Sabotage to SuccessFull Steam Ahead!Getting a Good Night's SleepGetting ControlGetting over Getting MadGetting the Love You WantGetting the Love You Want Audio CompanionGetting Your Life BackGirl StuffGirlWiseGod Never BlinksGoddess WorshipGoing DownGoing Home without Going CrazyGood MedicineGoodbye, ThingsGrieving Mental IllnessGuilt, Shame, and AnxietyHalf Empty, Half FullHe's Just Not That Into YouHeal & Forgive IIHealing ADDHealing through ExerciseHealthy AgingHonoring GriefHooking UpHot ButtonsHow Full Is Your Bucket?How I Stayed Alive When My Brain Was Trying to Kill MeHow Philosophy Can Save Your LifeHow Proust Can Change Your LifeHow Successful People ThinkHow to Change Someone You LoveHow to Give Her Absolute PleasureHow to Handle a Hard-To-Handle KidHow to Have Magnificent SexHow to Keep Your Teenager Out of Trouble and What to Do If You Can'tHow to Live Well Without Owning a CarHow to Make Great Love to a ManHow to Make Great Love to a WomanHow to Stay SaneHypnography for MenHypnography for WomenI AMI am PotentialI Saw It HappenI Wasn't Ready to Say GoodbyeI'd Rather LaughI'm OK, You're My ParentsIllness and the Art of Creative Self-ExpressionIn the Mood, AgainIntroduction to Qi YogaIt's Called a Breakup Because It's BrokenIt's Not as Bad as It SeemsJudo with WordsKripalu YogaKripalu Yoga Dynamic DVDKripalu Yoga Gentle DVDKundalini Yoga MeditationKundalini Yoga to Detox and Destress DVDLearn to RelaxLearned OptimismLearning Outside the Lines Letting Go of AngerLies! Lies! Lies!Life MakeoversLife StrategiesLife's WorkLifting DepressionLiving the TruthLiving Well with Pain and IllnessLiving with AnxietyLiving Your Best LifeLiving Your DreamLost in the MirrorLove & SurvivalLove Your Body, Love Your LifeLoving Someone With Bipolar DisorderLunar Flow YogaMadhur Jaffrey's World VegetarianMake It CountMaking a Good Brain GreatMaking ADD WorkMaking Your Mind MatterManaging Your MindManic DepressionMastering Anger and AggressionMastering the Power of Self-hypnosisMaui PilatesMeditation for Optimum HealthMeditation in a New York MinuteMind MappingMind-Body Workbook for AnxietyMindfulness for BeginnersMindfulness for Urban Depression: Tools for Relief from Stressful City LivingModerate DrinkingMotherstylesMozart's Brain and the Fighter PilotNapkin NotesNatural Healing for DepressionNew Hope for People with DepressionNo Enemies WithinNo More AnxietyNot Your Mother's LifeObsessive-Compulsive Disorder DemystifiedOne Last Hug Before I GoOrgasmOrgasmsOutsmarting DepressionOutsmarting OvereatingOver 100 Truly Astonishing Sex TipsOvercoming Compulsive CheckingOvercoming Compulsive HoardingOvercoming DepressionOvercoming Obsessive ThoughtsOvercoming the Fear of FearPain Free for LifePain Free for WomenParanoia of Everyday LifeParenting Children With ADHDPassionate VegetarianPlan BPlanning for UncertaintyPlato, Not Prozac!Position Of The Day PlaybookPositivityPotatoes Not ProzacPower Yoga: Fat BurnerPowerfully Recovered!PredatorsPreventing Misbehavior in ChildrenProcrastinationProcrastinationProtecting the GiftPsychology Moment by MomentQiGong IllustratedQuantum Memory PowerRaising a Self-StarterRaising Kids in an Age of TerrorRaising Resilient ChildrenReady for AnythingReal Solutions for Overcoming Internet AddictionsRecovery from AddictionRelationship RescueRespect-Me RulesRitalin is Not the Answer Action GuideRomantic IntelligenceSabbathSecrets of a Passionate MarriageSelf MattersSelf-CoachingSelf-CompassionSelf-Help NationSelf-Help Stuff That WorksSelf-Help Without the HypeSelf-NurtureSeven Life Lessons from Noah's ArkSex and SpiritSex DetoxSex PositionsSex Q & ASextasySexual PleasureSleep BetterSolar Flow Yoga DVDSoulmatesSpiritually Healing the Indigo Children (and Adult Indigos, Too!)Spontaneous HealingStanding at Water's EdgeStaying Connected to Your TeenagerStaying Sane When Your Family Comes to VisitStop Arguing with Your KidsStop Caretaking the Borderline or NarcissistStop Me Because I Can't Stop Myself Stop OverreactingStop Smoking and Chewing Tobacco for Life ChangesStop Walking on EggshellsStraight Talk about Your Child's Mental HealthStress ReliefStrong, Smart, & BoldSun SalutationsSunbathing in the RainSurviving a Borderline ParentSurviving Manic DepressionSurviving Sexual ViolenceTaking Charge of ADHD, Revised EditionTaking Charge of AngerTaking Charge of Anger: Six Steps to Asserting Yourself without Losing ControlTaming Your Inner BratTeen Angst? NaaahTen Minutes to RelaxThank You for Being Such a PainThe 10 Best Anxiety BustersThe 5 Reasons Why We OvereatThe 7 Secrets of the ProlificThe Anger WorkbookThe Antidepressant Survival ProgramThe Art of Becoming HumanThe Art of Exceptional LivingThe Beginner's Guide to Healthy EatingThe Better Sex Guide to the Kama SutraThe Betty Ford Center Book of AnswersThe Bipolar Disorder Survival GuideThe Breakout PrincipleThe Bully, the Bullied, and the BystanderThe Chronic Pain SolutionThe Complete Vegetarian HandbookThe Consolations of PhilosophyThe Core Question: Who Am I?The Crowdsourced Performance ReviewThe Emotional Eater's Repair ManualThe Emotional RevolutionThe End-of-Life HandbookThe Essential Guide to Prescription Drugs 2005The Essential KamasutraThe Feeling Good HandbookThe Five Things We Cannot Change ...The Game of TruthThe Gift of FearThe Gift of ShynessThe Good Vibrations Guide to SexThe Guide for International Intercultural Couples and Families Intercultural MarriageThe Happy Hook-UpThe Healing JourneyThe Healing Journey for CouplesThe Healing Journey Through GriefThe Healing Power of PetsThe Identity CodeThe Illustrated Guide to Extended Massive OrgasmThe Inside Story on Teen GirlsThe Introvert AdvantageThe Intuitive WriterThe Irritable Male SyndromeThe Jewel Tree of TibetThe Joy of MeditatingThe Last Self-Help Book You'll Ever NeedThe Light of DiscoveryThe Little Book of Healthy TeasThe Little Yoga BookThe Magic of Thinking BigThe Making of Dr. PhilThe Male Stress Survival GuideThe Money WorkbookThe Mood CureThe Mozart EffectThe Myth of Self-EsteemThe New Cancer SurvivorsThe New Rational TherapyThe OASIS Guide to Asperger SyndromeThe OCD WorkbookThe Passion PlanThe Pilates Workout JournalThe Pill Book Guide to Natural MedicinesThe Places That Scare YouThe Pocket Life CoachThe Porn TrapThe Power of FocusThe Power of Full EngagementThe Power of Negative ThinkingThe Power of PlayThe Power of Self-CoachingThe Pursuit of PerfectThe Quest for Peace, Love, and a 24'' WaistThe Real Rules for GirlsThe Secret of LifeThe Secret Strength of DepressionThe Self ImprovedThe Self-Compassion Skills WorkbookThe Self-Help SourcebookThe Sex Addiction WorkbookThe Spa DeckThe Stoic Art of LivingThe Stress CureThe Stress Less WorkbookThe Stress Owner's ManualThe Stress Reduction Workbook for TeensThe SuperStress SolutionThe Ten Minute Sexual SolutionThe Therapy for the SaneThe Truth About Chronic PainThe Ultimate Guide to Sex and DisabilityThe Van Gogh BluesThe Way of StretchingThe Way of the JournalThe Way of TransitionThe Weblog HandbookThe Why CaféThe Worst-Case Scenario Survival HandbookThere's a Spiritual Solution to Every ProblemThings Might Go Terribly, Horribly WrongThink Confident, Be ConfidentThink NakedThink SmartThinking for a ChangeThis Is HowTotal PilatesTrain Your Brain to Get HappyTrain Your Brain to Get RichTransformation Trauma in the Lives of ChildrenUltimate SexUnderstanding the Borderline MotherUndoing DepressionUnhappy TeenagersUnlock the Genius WithinUntangling the WebVirtual AddictionWaking Up to What You DoWay to Be!What We Say MattersWhat Women WantWhat's Happening to My Body? Book for BoysWhat's Holding You Back? When a Family Member Has DementiaWhen a Parent is DepressedWhen in Doubt, Make BeliefWhen Perfect Isn't Good EnoughWhen Someone You Love Is DepressedWhen Things Fall ApartWhen Words Are Not EnoughWhen Your Body Gets the BluesWhen Your Child Has an Eating DisorderWherever You Go, There You AreWhy Can't I Change?Why Is It Always About You?Why Smart Executives FailWorried All the TimeWoulda, Coulda, ShouldaWriting as a Sacred PathWriting in FlowWriting to HealYes, Your Teen Is Crazy!Yoga 4 TeensYoga as MedicineYoga for EveryoneYoga for MeditatorsYoga for OsteoporosisYoga for Pain ReliefYoga for Regular Guys DVDYoga for the Young at HeartYoga on DemandYoga Weight Loss for DummiesYou Are Not AloneYou Are Not Your IllnessYou Can Think Yourself ThinYou'll See It When You Believe ItYour Body Speaks Your MindYour Brain on FoodYour Child, Bully or Victim?Zen Sex

Related Topics
Surviving a Borderline ParentReview - Surviving a Borderline Parent
How to Heal Your Childhood Wounds & Build Trust, Boundaries, and Self-Esteem
by Kimberlee Roth and Freda B. Friedman
New Harbinger, 2003
Review by Nancy Nyquist Potter, Ph.D.
Aug 12th 2004 (Volume 8, Issue 33)

People diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder have a reputation for being extremely difficult, impulsive, explosive, and angry people. It makes sense that growing up with a parent who exhibits symptoms of BPD would also be difficult. This book explains how BPD is experienced from the child's point of view, discusses short- and long-term effects on the developing child and adult, and sets out ways to heal from a chaotic, confusing, and frightening childhood.

As a general self-help book, it has some redeeming qualities. The purpose of this book, according to the authors, is to help readers "identify patterns that affect your life today" (p. 27). To this end, the book has sections called "Stop and Think" and numerous exercises that can be useful to readers. For example, one exercise asks readers to think about characteristics they had as a child that helped them build resilience. The authors say, "If what you read resonates with your experience, and the exercises get you thinking about new ways to handle vexing belief systems and behaviors, we think you'll benefit, regardless of a formal diagnosis (or lack of one)" (p. 6). This claim is especially relevant to the second half of the book, which offers some practical suggestions for change that apply fairly generally to problems in living.

But it is the very generality that is its weakness and, in fact, presents a serious problem. A significant percentage of the population in the Western world has been diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD). Ten percent of the patients seen in outpatient mental health facilities and twenty percent of those seen as psychiatric inpatients are diagnosed with BPD.[1] John Gunderson reports that "[I]t is easily the most widely and commonly used diagnosis for personality disorders in modern clinical practice"[2]. So widespread is this diagnosis that Theodore Millon has characterized Borderline Personality Disorder as an epidemic.[3] (An epidemic, according to the Center for Disease Control, is the widespread occurrence of more cases in a place and time than expected.) Medical epidemics are quantitatively measured but, as we know, when a new illness proliferates, the public can start seeing symptoms inaccurately. For this reason, it is crucial that authors who want to discuss a widespread mental illness be very careful to be precise about their subject. Readers must be reigned in from a tendency to diagnose others.

In the preface, the authors do warn readers that diagnosis should be left to professionals. However, they proceed to present a list of thirty-two characteristics for readers to ask themselves "Does this found familiar," after which they declare "If you relate to many of these experiences, chances are you may been raised by a parent with BPD or BPD-like traits" (p. 3). Chapter One is entitled "I Never Knew It Had a Name." The authors discuss each criterion, give examples, and set out what they call "take-aways"--the messages that children receive as a result of behavior associated with that criterion.

The problem with this chapter and the rest is that much of what the authors claim about BPD parents is not unique to them—in other words, their remarks are so general that far too many readers could conclude that they were raised by a BPD parent. They say, "Parents with BPD may not accept responsibility for their behavior" (p. 19), but this is true for a number of parents. Likewise, when they give a list of "lessons" children may learn, most items on the list can be found in any dysfunctional family. For example, "It's unsafe to express your true feelings," "You can't trust yourself, since your perceptions are usually corrected," and "People manipulate; gifts come with strings attached," are rules learned in many, many families. Parents, whether mentally ill or not, can be narcissistic, demanding, insensitive, critical, and quite sure they are right.

Claims are overly general in other ways as well. In a chapter on guilt, the authors write that "People with emotional challenges may induce feelings of guilt in others through their attempts to control their own environment and minimize unknowns, illicit a desired result from others or a desired outcome to a situation, or avoid taking responsibility for their actions, accepting their own feelings, or facing their own thoughts" (p. 69). This is also true of drug addicts. Internalized but irrational guilt, which the authors say is "common for adult children of a parent with BPD," is common for thousands of others as well, most of whom are not mentally ill. A readiness to blame others or think ill of them is true for alcoholics as well as BPD parents. Chaos in families can be caused by several different things, not only having a BPD parent. Projection, to some extent, is just a human problem, as it is a primary defense mechanism that people sometimes revert to. The authors never acknowledge any of the ways their statements apply to other conditions, which gives readers room to make inferential leaps about BPD in their own family that may be unwarranted.

Even though Surviving a Borderline Parent is a self-help book and not an academic treatise, it could have used some rigor.  "Revealing the Truth" suggests that the reader "write a letter to your parent telling your truth" and to "write your truth" (p. 51; emphasis added). Is truth subjective then? It certainly sounds like it here—but if that's the case, how can an argument be persuasively made that BPD parents have done so much wrong? Aren't they living "their" truths as well? This theme comes up again in a chapter on "Grieving a Lost Childhood," where authors discuss "Telling Your Truth to Family and Friends." Readers would have benefited from an explanation of what "your truth" means in the context of experiences like abuse or neglect. Are there no facts of the matter about what happens in families? 

A section on forgiveness is not very nuanced or sensitive to the wide range of moral wrongs possible for people to commit. The authors say "forgiveness does not entail expressions of remorse, regret, or contrition on the part of the person who hurt you." This rather astounding statement goes against a significant body of literature on forgiveness that grapples with these questions rather than merely asserting that remorse is irrelevant to forgiveness.[4]

Another concept left unexplained is central to this book, and that is the concept of trust. If self-trust is such an important tool for healing, it deserves at least a definition. The authors suggest that the way to learn to trust oneself is to "follow your feelings," which amounts to saying that you learn to trust yourself by trusting yourself. Furthermore, if one's childhood was really as awful as the authors are trying to portray, it doesn't seem like one's intuition would be a very firm foundation on which to rely. The authors do suggest that readers also check things out with their friends, but doing so will require that readers know what being trustworthy is and how to identify trustworthy others. No discussion of this thorny problem is offered.

Good books exist that discuss how loved ones can cope with a mentally ill person. An example of a family support book for a mental illness that is successful, helpful, and specific to the illness is Mondimore's book on bipolar disorder.[5] Others who want to write in this genre should draw on a model like his. As I say, there is helpful information in Surviving a Borderline Parent, but it is misleading in so many ways that its usefulness is undermined. I fear it will contribute to the already-much-maligned patients who are diagnosed with BPD and will foster armchair diagnosing that undeservedly constructs others as personality-disordered.

© 2004 Nancy Nyquist Potter

Nancy Nyquist Potter is the author of How Can I Be Trusted? A Virtue Theory of Trustworthiness (Rowman-Littlefield Press 2002) and is currently writing a book on a philosophical analysis of Borderline Personality Disorder, to be published by Oxford University Press.



[1] American Psychiatric Association. 2000. Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition, Text Revision. Washington D.C.: American Psychiatric Association.

[2] Gunderson, John. 2001. Borderline Personality Disorder: A Clinical Guide. American Psychiatric Publishing, p. 1.

[3] Millon, Theodore. Sociocultural Conceptions of the Borderline Personality. The Psychiatric Clinics of North America 2002;  Vol 23(1): 123-136.

[4] Cf. Before Forgiving: Cautionary Views of Forgiveness in Psychotherapy. Ed. Sharon Lamb and Jeffrie Murphy. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002.

[5] Mondimore, F., M.D. 1999. Bipolar disorder: A guide for patients and families. Baltimore and London: Johns Hopkins Press.


Randi Kreger sent the following response to Nancy Nyquist Potter's review on December 30, 2008. It was published on January 8, 2009.

I am writing in regards to Nancy Nyquist Potter's review of Surviving a Borderline Parent by Kimberlee Roth and Freda B. Friedman, Ph.D., LCSW.  I wrote the foreword to the book. I am also the author or coauthor of three other books about borderline personality disorder: The Essential Family Guide to Borderline Personality Disorder (Hazelden Publishing, 2008), The Stop Walking on Eggshells Workbook (New Harbinger, 2002), and Stop Walking on Eggshells (New Harbinger, 1998).

Potter's primary objection to the book, which she believes in minimally helpful and even harmful, is that readers will falsely conclude they were raised by a borderline parent because what much of what the authors claim about BPD parents is not unique to them.

For example, the authors point out that people with BPD may not accept responsibility for their behavior without pointing out that people with other diagnoses may do that too. Or, the authors say that people with BPD use projection without mentioning that people with other diagnoses do this as well.  This will lead, she says, to "armchair diagnosing."

However, the authors (one of whom is a clinician trained in Marsha M. Linehan's Dialectical Behavior Therapy) examine the DSM-IV very carefully for eight pages using a variety of examples and take away points. The authors also explain that five of the nine criteria must be present to make a diagnosis. In addition, as Ms. Potter points out, the authors have a disclaimer, warning that a diagnosis should be made by a professional. Given these two elements, there is little chance that readers will be mislead.

In fact, most of the nine traits that are characteristic of BPD can also apply to other disorders, including rages, identity disturbance. suicidal ideation, cutting, impulsivity,  dissociation, and disturbed relationships.

What is most ironic is that foremost problem facing people with BPD and their family members is that the vast majority of clinicians have no recent training in BPD and are unable to make a correct diagnosis or provide the appropriate treatment.

Surviving a Borderline Parent is one of only two books currently available just for people with a borderline parent. It has been used without any confusion by hundreds of adult children in my own Welcome to Oz online support community. Let's put it back on the bookshelf where it belongs.

Randi Kreger

Randi@BPDCentral.com

www.BPDCentral.com


Share

Welcome to MHN's unique book review site Metapsychology. We feature over 7800 in-depth reviews of a wide range of books and DVDs written by our reviewers from many backgrounds and perspectives. We update our front page weekly and add more than thirty new reviews each month. Our editor is Christian Perring, PhD. To contact him, use one of the forms available here.

Can't remember our URL? Access our reviews directly via 'metapsychology.net'


Metapsychology Online reviewers normally receive gratis review copies of the items they review.
Metapsychology Online receives a commission from Amazon.com for purchases through this site, which helps us send review copies to reviewers. Please support us by making your Amazon.com purchases through our Amazon links. We thank you for your support!


Join our e-mail list!: Metapsychology New Review Announcements: Sent out monthly, these announcements list our recent reviews. To subscribe, click here.

Interested in becoming a book reviewer for Metapsychology? Currently, we especially need thoughtful reviewers for books in fiction, self-help and popular psychology. To apply, write to our editor.

Metapsychology Online Reviews

Promote your Page too

Metapsychology Online Reviews
ISSN 1931-5716