Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Self Help book on Borderline Personality Disorder

I am in the middle of reading an excellent new book by Randi Kreger entitled, The Essential Family Guide to Borderline Personality Disorder: New Tools and Techniques to Stop Walking on Eggshells. Kreger is also co-author of the very popular Stop Walking on Eggshells: Taking Your Life Back When Someone You Care About Has Borderline Personality Disorder and The Stop Walking on Eggshells Workbook. These books are a must for those of you dealing with someone with BPD.

The new book for family members of those with BPD has some great strategies for coping with the disorder as well as good descriptions of the dynamics of the relationship between the person with BPD and the non-BPD. This is important as the dance between the person with BPD and the one without can contribute to an increase in symptoms and problems.

Although Kreger points out that many men have BPD (the DSM-IV says 75% women, 25% men--though some experts think the number of men is higher), I believe that men need coping strategies as they are the ones who are often involved with BPD women and do not know where to turn for help. Women have more access to, and are willing to get more help from the mental health profession and they get more help from society in general. There are many reasons for this that we have discussed on this blog.

I am scheduled to have Ms. Kreger on my PJTV show next week to give advice to men who are coping with a significant other who has BPD (she points out that women dealing with a BPD family member can learn much from her work also). Hopefully, she can shed some light on this disorder and how men can cope.

Update: Ms. Kreger lets us know in the comments that if people want to know more about BPD, they can go to her website at There is also a support community if you have a family member with BPD here.

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Blogger Chuck Pelto said...

TO: Dr. Helen, et al.
RE: Cripes!

Is EVERYBODY 'sick'? Or what?

This reminds me of the item from the Instapundit the other day where everyone in the US is now, technically, a 'felon'. Something to do with 'over-criminalization'.

Here we have 'over-psychoanalyzing', instead.


[Look upon it as full-time employment for psychologists and psychiatrists.]

9:32 AM, September 02, 2009  
Blogger Cham said...

It's unfortunate these types of books weren't around when I was growing up. Our family could have used some help. Instead we are left with a whole bunch of people that refuse to talk to each other.

Eggshells, never again.

9:37 AM, September 02, 2009  
Blogger Adrian said...

I don't look at these disorders as disorders, anymore, so much as personality types. I just recently discovered "schizoid" and I am pretty sure I am schizoid or at least was as a child and adolescent. So is my brother and my father (possibly even schizotypal). Apparently it is consistent with the profile to not think the disorder is a disorder, but after years of essentially trying to compensate for its shortcomings, I am coming to realize that I really just don't like this.

I don't want to change my personality. That's who I am. And, even if I can figure out how to lead a "normal" life, I just don't like it.

10:24 AM, September 02, 2009  
Blogger Bill said...

I've always wondered about the term "Borderline." What are BPD people on the border OF? What's on the OTHER SIDE of the border.

11:37 AM, September 02, 2009  
Blogger Dr.Alistair said...

to differentiate between criminality and psychological disorders, it is clear that small percentages of people of people in society have symptoms of bpt, whereas everyone is considered a "citizen", and as such, is exposed to the law.

to elaborate, most people exhibit few characterisitics of instability significant enough to warrant diagnosis (well, nothing that a holiday wouldn`t help.) but during a routine traffic stop almost everyone is liable to be ticketed, if the officer is so inclined.

the highway traffic act is so written that, at any one time, a driver is in contravention of at least one law....whether it be an improper lane change, failure to completely stop where requested, or something more serious such as speeding or driving without a licence or insurance.

thankfully, we aren`t behaving criminally by ehibiting behaviours that could find us running risk of a diagnosis under the new dsm 5, or possibly 6 for things like (excessive) blogging, or non-normative facial responses to requests for identification during a routine traffic stop.

in some environments it`s already a crime to smile or laugh.

thankfully orwell was too early in his predictions.

11:45 AM, September 02, 2009  
Blogger Dr.Alistair said...

just in case you thought i was exaggerating.

11:47 AM, September 02, 2009  
Blogger Magson said...

Bill -- it's so named since it was initially thought to be "borderline schizophrenia." It's not, but the name stuck.

My ex-wife (I believe) has BPD, and it was a significant factor leading to our divorce. I read the Eggshells book and workbook once I found out about the disorder, but the divorce was well underway by then and it was too late for me to try their strategies to save the marriage, but they've been a big help in establishing boundaries and how the relationship currently is. As it is, if the new book has additional insight, I think it'll be worth it to read, so I'll pick it up.

12:17 PM, September 02, 2009  
Blogger Helen said...


Mental health experts used to think that people were either neurotic or psychotic and borderline personality disorder existed in the middle, on the border. Today, according to Kreger's book, mental health professionals categorize mental illness differently and there is no "middle" or "border." But the name borderline stuck and has yet to be changed.

12:30 PM, September 02, 2009  
Blogger BarryD said...

I just read a blurb about BPD and what it is (I never understood, except that Winona Ryder seemed to play the part of a sufferer very well in Girl, Interrupted).

My question after reading about the disorder: are there American women, at least under 40, who DON'T fit most of the criteria for BPD?

1:20 PM, September 02, 2009  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"My question after reading about the disorder: are there American women, at least under 40, who DON'T fit most of the criteria for BPD?"


You're thinking of the closely related OES (Over-Entitlement Syndrome).

1:26 PM, September 02, 2009  
Blogger Dr.Alistair said...

you mean like wally kowalski`s grand-daughter in the movie, grand torino?

the type of entitlement i see in "some" women is clearly a conditioned response to being convinvced they are a little princess, replete with tiara, silk gown and a magic wand to wave whenever they need a manicure, drink, trip to the caribbian or a new house.....

so, who does this conditioning?

mothers, fathers, media and some suitors.

so, this bpd may be a stress response due to reality finally catching up with them.

maybe a form of post-traumatic stress disorder?

oh, and men go through it also...when we discover we aren`t going to be an astronaut, movie star, robot warrior, star trek captain, professional athlete, etc.
and then we have to deal with "the princess" well before we regain our composure over the afore-mentioned personal crisis.

and not all women are like that at all.

and the thing about professional athletes...i went through about two years of a trance after realising my knee wasn`t going to comply with my desire to play professional soccer. i had a full scolarship to syracuse university and clubs in england were offering me trials...but my left anterior cruciate ligament said no.

so you suck it up. i still play twice a week....thirty years later and four acl surgeries later. the conditioning was purely mine. i trained, played and dreamed of where i wanted to go with a clear target in mind built on real talent and work-rate that i displayed with every fibre of my being.

but the princess dream/fraud pulled on modern women is a cruel joke.

i see the mothers and fathers and media doing it to a new generation of girls right my girlfriend takes her 18 year old daughter to orientation for university she can drink until she drops for days and days surrounded by hundreds of other teens finally free of the oppression of home life.

god help us all.

1:54 PM, September 02, 2009  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The character Glenn Close played in "Fatal Attraction" was of a woman with BPD. If you've ever seen that movie, yes, it can be that bad. Been there. Finally got my kids, and hauled ass. That was 13 years ago. No relationships since, though I've thought about it. I just can't do it.

2:28 PM, September 02, 2009  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think the real problem men have in dealing with a BPD woman is getting anybody to believe what they're saying. Once there they can get the help they need, but it's tough getting others past the idea that women can do no evil.

2:39 PM, September 02, 2009  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

How is BPD different than just bad behavior?

3:08 PM, September 02, 2009  
Blogger Cham said...


I agree, there are some people that really enjoy their BPD and have no intention of changing their ways. In the last conversation I had with my mother she proudly proclaimed that she has the uncanny knack of being able to worry herself sick over just about anything. You would think that after 75 years of BPD she'd be tired of it by now. Not so.

3:12 PM, September 02, 2009  
Blogger J. Bowen said...

An easy way to deal with this problem is to not let them into your lives. Have sex with them, date them, but don't them into your life in any significant way. It's just not worth it. I refuse to get involved with any [American] woman. It's just not worth it. I don't want to have to adjust my own lifestyle because women are mentally ill. They can be miserable and alone by themselves.

3:44 PM, September 02, 2009  
Blogger Dr.Alistair said...

my ex`s mother would call her when she heard bad news on the radio or t.v. just to see if we were ok.... got to the point where the old girl`s mouth was trembling as if she was muttering to herself all the time.

my ex is begining to manifest the same physical symptoms.

i spent 15 years with her, watching her mood swings and worry and yelling outbursts.

i would be out of the house for a few minutes. a bike ride or drive to the shops...and the phone would ring.

she wanted to know when i was coming back.

it got to the point where i left the phone on the fridge and made a joke about knowing that when it rang, she would hear it ring behind her in the kitchen.

it`s not so funny now after realising how constantly troubled she is.

i`m glad i live 20 miles away now, but worry abuot my boys as they get older and more independant.

4:51 PM, September 02, 2009  
Blogger Dave Cornutt said...

Professor Hale, I think the difference is that ordinary kids-behaving-badly can be corrected through the appropriate combination of punishment and reward. BPD can't, because the person who has BPD has zero impluse control. A person with BPD will proceed with some bad act, knowing full well that they will wind up suffering for it, but they'll do it anyway just because they feel like it. If they take in their heads to do some bad thing, even the threat of certain and severe punishment will not deter them. The other problem is that BPD people have zero attention span, so getting across concepts like social norms to them is very difficult -- if the explanation takes more than a sentence or two, they stop listening.

4:55 PM, September 02, 2009  
Blogger Cham said...


Your exwife is a bit of a lightweight. The proper course of action when someone fails to answer their cell phone is to call the local police, state police, EMTs and all the neighbors. This should be followed by a full scale meltdown to be performed on the front yard, complete with sobbing and yelling.

And now you know why I no longer carry a cell phone.

5:08 PM, September 02, 2009  
Blogger BarryD said...

Dave Cornutt-

Thanks. Now I'm beginning to see the line between "disorder" and "immature bitch."

Still, aren't life skills like making the right choices based on the anticipation of future consequences, or paying attention for more than ten seconds, also learned?

Seriously, without practice, who doesn't get bored of another's talking? How many of us haven't learned to keep to a budget without getting into debt that we regret, first? I wouldn't call most of the people who call in to the Dave Ramsey Show "disordered", for example.

Are you saying that someone with BPD simply CAN'T learn these life skills? And if someone CAN learn them, but simply hasn't, then how is he/she different from everyone else with something to learn?

11:24 AM, September 03, 2009  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Someone correct me if I am wrong, but it is my understanding BPD is close to impossile to treat effectively, and most therapists would rather eat worms than treat someone with this disorder. I would rather wade through a river of horseshit walking on my hands, than be exposed to someone with the disorder. Randian touched on a very valid point. If you try to explain to someone what can go on in a relationship with one of these folks, they think you are lying, or crazy yourself. To a logical brain, or somewhere near that, the behavior never makes a particle of sense, can be hurtful, mind boggling, even dangerous to those around the person. You definitely can't sleep in the same house with one. I do realize life is as painful, if not more so, to one suffering the disorder. And maybe I'm a wuss, but after years of putting up with it, I can't be around it, and have learned a family certainly can't have anything resembling a normal life if a family member is BPD. It is the disorder, to be sure, not the person. But it gets hard as hell to separate the two after a while.

11:49 AM, September 03, 2009  
Blogger Randi Kreger said...

It's great to see so much interest in the topic. I'll be looking through your questions and answering as many as I can during the show.

I want to point out one thing: there is a fundamental difference--a monumental one--between normal human behavior (male or female)and personality disordered (PD) behavior.

The criteria for all PDs is that they are "enduring patterns" that "deviate markedly," are "pervasive and inflexible (unlikely to change)" and, biggest of all, "lead to distress or impairment in interpersonal relationships."

So what we're talking about is jaw-dropping behavior that a reasonable person would consider over the line.

Lower-functioning people with BPD are known heavy users of the mental health system (inpatient and outpatient), and there are four or more therapies designed just for that population in the US and internationally.

You might want to take a look at my web site,, for now.

Randi Kreger

12:45 PM, September 03, 2009  
Blogger BarryD said...

I'm definitely interested and looking forward to the show.

While some here (and obviously our gracious host Dr. Helen) are mental health practitioners and/or researchers, for the rest of us laypeople, the most difficult thing to understand can be what is "disordered" and what is "just life."

There are so many personality types that are normal but different, and humans are dynamic, constantly-learning creatures. We can recognize that someone who stands on the corner having a passionate argument with the air is disordered. However, disorders that manifest themselves as exaggerated forms of behaviors that fall within "normal" can be far more difficult for most of us to recognize, understand, or cope with.

Thanks again.

1:19 PM, September 03, 2009  
Blogger Chuck Pelto said...

TO: Dr. Helen
RE: Could You Please....

....explain the difference between Borderline Personality Disorder and Bi-Polar Disorder? They both have the same acronym and they sound very similar in nature to me, i.e., mood swings of an above-average order.


[I've studied abnormal behavior for years. And I STILL don't understand women. -- Sigmund Freud]

6:56 PM, September 03, 2009  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bi polar is an emotional disorder. Borderline is a personality disorder.

Emotional disorders are what you
have. Personality disorders are who you are.

That's how I see it anyway, Chuck. Even if you didn't ask me.

7:28 PM, September 03, 2009  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My ex has both. When a psychotic episode from mania meets with BPD and they join up and look at you, watch your ass bubba!

7:36 PM, September 03, 2009  
Blogger Unknown said...


Two years ago this month my wife died of cancer. From time to time I miss the smart, fun, clever person that she was when she wasn't too busy being crazy. The rest of the time I am just delighted with the calm peace of knowing that I don't have to worry when something (or nothing)was going to set her off again.

Some time after she died, Dr.Helen mentioned the book Stop Walking on Eggshells so I read it. Every other page or so was another "Wow that is exactly it" experience.

I don't know if I will ever want to be in another relationship given how totally consuming awful it can be and given how my judgment is obviously so bad that I can clearly not be trusted to avoid crazy women.

My feeling towards people with BPD oscillates between sympathy for very, very unhappy people and a feeling that they should be hunted down with dogs and stakes driven through their hearts so that they don't fuck up anybody else's lives.

10:26 PM, September 04, 2009  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sadly, I too have been on both sides of the feelings you stated in your last paragraph,Mark. I know it sure pushes my buttons and I go off the deep end with this particular subject. It hits me like an electric jolt when it comes up, and I regret my response to it probably within 5 seconds of writing about it.

Regardless, I am sorry for your wife's passing.

My ex got slowly worse, changing into an unidentifiable individual after her own parents died back to back, within 6 months of each other. There was a nuclear explosion one day, and boom, I had no idea who this person was, except that she wanted me dead or in prison if not dead.

Too many sleepless nights with me between her and the kids making sure they were safe. Stupid laws left me powerless to force her into a hospital. I finally convinced her to go to a doctor and he committed her immediately. The whole story is as long as War and Peace.

Yeah, I freaked. I'm a wuss. But I finally got the kids (not an easy task) and hauled ass. That's what matters. Sometimes it's just all about survival.

12:53 PM, September 05, 2009  
Blogger Auto5guy said...

Stopped by and couldn't believe the posting here. I just last month finalized my divorce from my wife of 18 years. I didn't find out until 2 years ago that she has BPD.

Thank you Randi. Stop Walking on Eggshells was a Godsend to me.

BPD is not just bad behavior. It is a disordered mind. I can't explain it but once you get into their world it's just... like a nightmare you can't understand or make any rational sense of. They can create their own reality. A frequent analogy used by nons is that of the Wizard of Ozz. A borderlines reality is just different than yours. They have a black hole inside of them they are constantly trying to fill up and they will suck you dry trying.

BPD can coexist with Bi-Polar as well as a host of other mental ailments. The term is co morbid.

Like Mark I am terrified at the possibility of letting another BPD into my life. Never having another serious relationship is a much safer bet. My BPD ex wife almost destroyed me. I could not survive it again.

4:51 AM, September 06, 2009  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Do you have kids autoguy? Get them if you don't have them already. If it takes every single penny you earn for the next 100 years, get those kids out of there.

9:36 AM, September 06, 2009  
Blogger Randi Kreger said...

This is in regards to the question about Bipolar vs BPD.

The following is from my new book The Essential Family Guide to Borderline Personality Disorder” New Tools and Techniques to Stop Walking on Eggshells (2008 Hazelden Publishing)

Bipolar Disorder vs Borderline Personality Disorder

Because both people with BPD and those with bipolar disorder experience dramatic mood swings, the disorders are often mistaken for one another.

The situation gets even more confusing when someone has both disorders.

Bipolar disorder causes dramatic mood swings—from overly “high” and/or irritable to sad and hopeless, and then back again, often with periods of normal mood in between.

Severe changes in energy and behavior go along with these changes in mood. The periods of highs and lows are called episodes of mania and depression.

A cycle is the period of time it takes for a person to go through one episode of mania and one of depression.

The frequency and duration of these cycles vary from person to person, from once every five years to once every three months.

People with a subtype of bipolar, rapid-cycling bipolar, may cycle more quickly, but much less quickly than people with BPD.

There are two main differences between BPD and bipolar:

1. People with BPD cycle much more quickly, often several times a day.

2. The moods in people with BPD are more dependent, either positively or negatively, on what’s going on in their life at the moment.

Marcia Linehan, professor of psychology at the University of Washington, says that while people with bipolar disorder swing between all-encompassing periods of mania and major depression, the mood swings typical in BPD are more specific.

She says, “You have fear going up and down, sadness going up and down, anger up and down, disgust up and down, and love up and down.”

Randi Kreger

9:48 AM, September 06, 2009  
Blogger Dr.Alistair said...

my ex was just ker-anky all the time.

now she just screams at the kids and works until she drops.

thnkfully, i live 20 miles away, but i worry for my kids.

the oldest one punched her as hard as he could two years ago because she tried to rip the guitar out of his hand while he was playing in the basement.

she seems to be in some sort of daze most of the time, not noticing the children`s behaviours (like drinking five redbulls) and then expecting me to parent them when she discovers what they are doing.

she has sole legal custody, though i spend more time with them when they are visiting on week-ends.

i`m not sure if she is fullblown bpd, but she is one mimserable person on a hair-trigger.

7:57 PM, September 06, 2009  
Blogger Unknown said...

Barbara Oakley's book seems to suggest that BPD is the result of some sort of very specific brain damage which may well be congenital. That would seem to suggest that there is no cure for the condition.

There is the example of people who have sustained brain damage from car crashes, strokes and war wounds who have learned to walk or to talk again using other parts of their brain than the parts that were damaged but I don't know what sort of success rate they have achieved. If it is possible to rewire people's brains around the damage in order to cure BPD with therapy, that would suggest that it is also possible to rewire people's brains with sexual reassignment therapy yet the consensus among psychologists seems to be that such a thing is impossible and that it is immoral to suggest otherwise.

In any event, my primary interest in BPD is learning how to recognize it so that I can run away as fast as possible.

3:05 PM, September 07, 2009  
Blogger Michael Lee said...


If you're in a relationship with someone with BPD, get out now. If you have kids, get out now emotionally and strategize to take the kids.

I really don't know what BPD people are--helpless, naturally vicious or evil. Trying to figure it out is like trying to figure out what the nature is of felines while a cougar is attacking you.

Yes, they can get better, somewhat. Don't waste your life on it. Just because their lives might be tragic doesn't mean yours has to be tragic too.

10:17 PM, September 07, 2009  
Blogger Michael Lee said...

Oh, and a few more things....

BPD women are hot and seductive. They really do love you. And hate you. And cheat on you. They trash your house. And drain your bank account. And run up your credit cards. And seduce your friends. And hate themselves. And try to fix themselves. And get fired over and over again and get better jobs immediately over and over again. Because seducing you was as easy as it was to seduce everyone else. And they go through friends like paper underwear. They abuse their children, and not just emotionally. They abuse you, and not just emotionally. And they get you involved with scary people you'd never otherwise let into your house. They take in strays, mostly stray monsters. They crave chaos, and they will drag you into their maelstrom.

They're better in bed than anyone you've ever been with, or you wouldn't have been vulnerable to them.

That really gets down to the heart of the matter. Inexperienced men are their natural prey.

I'm looking back at this a decade later, and while I appreciate Randy Kreger's compassion and mission, I don't suggest you sign up and use her work as a reason to stay with a borderline.

All borderlines must be abandoned, even if it kills them. It won't, by the way. They'll find fresh meat. If you love yourself, if you love your children, get the fuck out.

10:35 PM, September 07, 2009  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

And don't forget the fact you will need a lawyer meaner than a junk yard dog. The system, rather than have to pay for a money sponge with BPD, will still award the kids to them so that you get drained forever. Even if it destroys your children emotionally. Even if it exposes them to the possibility, if not probability, of physical harm. It's not about the kids. Say what it wants, the system doesn't give a shit about the kids, or every divorce would be a case by case, not a pre - ordained conclusion. It goes without saying it will destroy you financially. It's meant to. The only way around it is right straight through it. Get it over with, and rebuild.

Although I admire what Randi Kreger is doing (I have a copy of Eggshells, and the "workbook") there are some things in life I just don't need to understand. It can remain one of the "mysteries of life". Any human being requiring a "workbook" to understand and survive a relationship with is more positive proof (to me) that you will never have a consistent, fruitful life with one of them. It is just not possible. The frog and the scorpion forever come to mind.

6:37 AM, September 08, 2009  

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