Posted by: carolg1849 | February 26, 2009

The Essential Family Guide to Borderline Personality Disorder

book-coverThe Essential Family Guide to Borderline Personality Disorder

By Randi  Kreger

This is an excerpt from chapter 1, “Welcome to Oz”.

Key Principles of this book

Keep these principles in mind as you read this book. These thoughts need to become a permanent part of your mind-set when dealing with someone with BPD.

To Help Your Family Member, You Must Help Yourself First

Your intuition may tell you that it should be the other way around—that the health of your relationship is dependent on your family member’s willingness to get help, and your job is to ignore your own needs and concentrate on fixing the other person. Wrong.

People spend years trying to please their borderline family member by twisting themselves into a pretzel to avoid conflict. Even if it works, the price is high. Family members suffer from depression, isolation, helplessness, low self-esteem, sleep deprivation, and even physical illnesses (especially adult children of people with BPD). Predictably, the relationship begins to degrade, which is exactly what family members are trying to avoid.

This means that paradoxically, the long-term health of your relationship partly depends upon your willingness to look after your own needs, such as taking time away, setting limits with love, and having a hearty life of your own separate from your borderline family member.

This curious paradox is many family members’ undoing. They may hear it but not believe it; they may have lost the ability to take care of themselves (or never had it to begin with), or they may be unwilling to accept that giving, giving, and giving some more is just not helping the situation. Of course, that doesn’t have to happen to you.

BPD Thoughts, Feelings, and Behaviors Are Not Different, Just Exaggerated

We all have traits associated with borderline personality disorder. At times, we all let our feelings overcome logic, blow things out of proportion, and act impulsively in ways we later regret. If we didn’t, we wouldn’t be human.

Two key differences between what is “normal” and what veers into personality disorder territory are extremity and frequency. When these traits, thoughts, feelings, and behaviors become so intense and so frequent they greatly interfere with jobs, relationships, and other aspects of daily life, one or more personality disorders may be present.

You Can Improve Your Life Even If Your Family Member Doesn’t Change

Right now, you probably feel trapped, confused, and powerless. But it doesn’t have to be this way—at least to the extent it is right now. It may seem hard to imagine, but by the time you’re finished with this book, you’ll have learned tools and techniques that will enable you to feel better and more in control of your life regardless of what your loved one does or doesn’t do. You control your own destiny much more than you think you do, though it takes learning, planning, and practicing.

It Takes Only One Person to Fundamentally Change a Relationship

It takes two to have a relationship. But each person is in charge of 50 percent. Right now, you may think that your family member has power over you and can “make” you do and feel things you don’t want to do and feel. This is false. When you take more control of your own reactions and make decisions true to yourself, the dynamic of your relationship will change.

This is an excerpt from chapter 9, “Communicate To Be Heard.”




Reconsider Your Family Member’s “Authority”

The more authority someone has, the more likely his criticism and/or blame can hurt us. So it’s worthwhile to examine who has authority over us, and where they’re getting it from.

The word authority is defined as, “The power to influence or command thought, opinion, or behavior.” Some people have authority because of their position, such as a supervisor or an elected official. Others have authority because of their expertise, such as a doctor or professor. Some have both.

Our family members, partners, and friends have a different kind of authority: “authority by relationship.” They may not know more than we do. Very few can control us against our will (unless we’re a minor) Rather, we give them authority because we love them, respect them, and want to please them. Consider these examples:

  • Miranda wants to please her parents. So she chooses a mate and career based on what they would like. Miranda thinks her parents have authority over her behavior, when in fact, she has unconsciously given the authority to them (perhaps because it was easier than going against their wishes).
  • Henry thinks his wife, June, has no talent for financial matters. So he pays the bills, does the checkbook, and calculates their taxes. June always thought she was good at fiscal matters, but she defers to Henry. June has given Henry the authority to determine her feelings about her financial skills—perhaps because she’s not confident.

Reconsidering a family member’s authority means taking a close look at the way she influences your thoughts, opinions, and behavior and asking yourself some pointed questions such as:

  • Where does the authority come from? If your parent has BPD, remind your adult self that she no longer has power over you unless you give it to her.
  • Does your family member have the expertise to determine your qualities and traits? Could some of his perceptions about you be influenced by his disorder? (Hint: the answer to the second question is “You bet!”)
  • Are you trying to please someone who just will not be pleased?
  • Is it possible to show you care about someone without giving that person the authority to determine what you think, how you feel, and what you do?

Letting others determine your worth is always a dicey proposition. Letting someone determine your worth who has a disorder that, by definition, causes distorted perceptions of self and others, makes no more sense than some of your family member’s strangest accusations.

It’s key to sort this out in your mind before an interaction and then to come up with a way to remind yourself of this during the interaction. Following are some of the methods you might try:

  • Beforehand, seek a higher authority (or more authorities). If your family member thinks you’re selfish, ask others if they hold the same opinion. If your self-esteem has taken a beating, or if you are an adult child, consider therapy.
  • As you converse with your family member, use affirming self-talk to remind yourself that he not as authoritative as he might seem. Think, “She’s talking like this because she’s scared. This isn’t really about me.” “He may have a problem with such and such, but no one else seems to.” “She may have a high IQ, but her emotional intelligence is low.” Give the authority to your inner voice, and it will become stronger.
  • If you feel intimidated, picture the childlike aspects of your BP’s personality by imagining him dressed like a child, perhaps holding a toy. Right now, is he acting the part of the “vulnerable child,” the “angry child,” or the “impulsive child.” Humor works wonders. If picturing your loved one with a lollipop or baby bottle works for you, go ahead, feel free. There 
  • Power Tools

    The second half of the book introduces readers to five Power Tools that will empower them to organize their thinking, focus on what they need to do instead of becoming overwhelmed, and take steps to improve the quality of their lives.

    The tools are grounded in the latest research, including a three-year survey of scientific studies, interviews with more than two-dozen top mental health clinicians and researchers, and the collective experiences of more than 50,000 family members from Kreger’s Welcome to Oz online support community.

    The Power Tools are:

    Power Tool 1: Take Care of Yourself 
    Power Tool 2: Uncover What Keeps You Feeling Stuck 
    Power Tool 3: Communicate to be Heard 
    Power Tool 4: Set Limits with Love
    Power Tool 5: Reinforce the Right Behaviors 

    These tools are broad enough to embrace what readers have learned from other resources (such as books and skills training). Each Power Tool builds on the previous one, and readers build on the strengths and resources they already have to gain an inner sense of mastery and increase self-confidence.

    this book can be purchased from amazon click here




  1. Thanks for talking about my new book. People can find more info about it–short lists of what else you will find–at

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