I talk honestly and openly about my experiences with mental illness, fibromyalgia, and chronic fatigue syndrome through the lens of feminism, fat acceptance and process theology. I also do recipe and book reviews. My mission is to spread the message that hope is always real for a better life, despite living in a world that is often very harsh.

Friday, November 18, 2011

October Books


I Hate You-Don’t Leave Me: Understanding the Borderline Personality by Jerome J. Kreisman and Hal Straus – I recently underwent psychological testing and while it did NOT say I have BorderlinePersonality Disorder (BPD), it did say that I have a lot of BPD traits.  And I mean a lot, so I decided to read up on it.  This book is considered the leading reference for helping people understand BPD.  Although full of much useful information, it is very easy to read.  While reading it, I resonated with much that was said about being Borderline, especially this line:
A borderline suffers from a kind of ‘emotional hemophilia’; she lacks the clotting mechanism needed to moderate her spurts of feeling.  Prick the delicate ‘skin’ of a borderline, and she will emotionally bleed to death. (p. 12)
I thoroughly recommend this book to anyone who wants to know more about the diagnosis of BPD either from the viewpoint of the patient, a family member or friend, or a clinician.  And I would give this book five stars except for one very key point: the book is extremely offensive towards homosexuality.  Several times when talking about rates of homosexual or bisexuality among people with Borderline, it lists them as a “sexual perversion.”  The book is also not very friendly towards those who are into the kink lifestyle, as it also lists kink as a sexual perversion.  I did not mind so much the kink stereotype, as it is a typical reaction, but the authors really should know better when it comes to homo- and bi-sexuality.  Sexuality is not a perversion, even if it is not between a man and a woman and I am disappointed that the days of mental health professionals thinking that they are not long past.  Unfortunately, I am forced to overlook the book’s homophobia, as the book really does contain a lot of very useful information.

Mermaid by Carolyn Turgeon – This is one of those rare books where after reading it, you still cannot put it down, because you’re so wrapped up in the emotion and wonder of the story.  This is the story of Hans Christian Anderson’s classic story, The Little Mermaid, only adapted and fleshed out for adults.  This is a truly beautiful story and I almost wept when it was over.  The story does differ slightly from the original, but I am not going to ruin the ending by telling you in what way.  Turgeon’s imagery is mesmerizing and I especially love the grisly shipwreck scene in the beginning.  Except for the music, I have always detested the message behind Disney’s version of the story and I had forgotten that the original Anderson version has a more philosophical bent.  In it, the mermaid is fascinated with humans, because she is intrigued by the fact that humans possess immortal souls and that in marriage, the two human souls intertwine and become whole.  She does not win humanity by merely kissing her human lover, but by getting married, because it is then she will gain her soul-otherwise, she loses her humanity and instead becomes sea foam.  What is especially intriguing about this book, is that Turgeon adds an adult twist by incorporating politics into the story, complicating the relationships between the two princesses and the prince.  She adds moral dilemmas, drama, and issues of justice and war.  Both women are characters to look up to, reminding us that life is much more complicated than the oversimplified Disney version.

2 comments:

  1. i wrote a very passionate comment about how much i disagree that i hate you don't leave me is a good book about borderline. however, amazon says they have updated it so i will reserve judgement until i read the revised version. however, the original version was VERY bad for people living with borderline personality disorder. not quite AS bad as "stop walking on eggshells" but right up there. it was very biased and outdated. made me feel completely hopeless and has done a lot toward perpetuating the stigma associated with borderline with psych professionals. how many docs wouldn't even consider working with me once they heard that diagnosis...or how many actual issues were overlooked/ignored because "oh, you are just being borderline!"...how many years i was told that there really was no healing that i could hope for, only management of symptoms...i would not recommend the unrevised version of this book at all, let alone as the first one someone reads about borderline. but i know that a lot of general therapists, who don't specialize in bpd treatment, this is the one they read because someone recommended it because it is the only one they've heard of and so on and so forth....

    i promise my snark isn't at you, i just really hate most of the literature out there about bpd.

    But yes, BPD is marked by emotional dysregulation, which is something I struggle with. We tend to get more upset more quickly and it take longer to get back to baseline. I would recommend DBT classes if that is something you also struggle with. You could read/work through the workbook by yourself but I think at least one round of the class with other people is helpful. Also, in the UK the go-to treatment for BPD is called schema therapy and studies have actually shown that after three years of schema therapy many patients actually no longer fit the diagnostic criteria for borderline. So, for all intents and purposes: cured! I can't tell you how amazing that was to hear the first time. Less awesome when I discovered there were NO schema therapists in network for my insurance but still, a possible light at the end of the tunnel for folks with BPD.

    I also read most of Get Me Out Of Here and I don't remember a whole bunch about it but I do remember it being a lot more relatable than this book. i believe the author is diagnosed as having BPD.

    as hard as it is for people to live with people with borderline personality disorder i ask that people consider how much it sucks to be the one living IT.

    i guess i should have mentioned that i lived with a bpd diagnosis and the subsequent stigma/discrimination that came with it for many years.

    i promise my snark isn't directed at you. but the book can suck it. lol. i really will try to give the revised version a chance but it will be hard.

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  2. Well, I definitely wouldn't say that someone should just read the book and stop there. I actually read the first book, but with the knowledge that things have changed and that we now have DBT and other therapies that really help people with Borderline-when the book was first written, DBT hadn't even been designed yet. Perhaps I should have cautioned my readers a little better in that they need to know that there is now more hope than is implied in the book. Sometimes I forget that I often come at a mental health book with more information than many others do. I basically came to the book wanting to know about the characteristics of the disorder. Thanks for your critique-your opinion is valuable to me.

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