This is my review/thoughts on the book ‘I Hate You Don’t Leave Me: Understanding the Borderline Personality’ by Jerold J. Kreisman and Hal Straus.
I recommend NOT reading this book if you have BPD/EUPD. I found it triggering and I can’t understand why so many people suggest this book. If you want to learn about BPD/EUPD there are better resources and this book is not one of them.
This book gives the impression that people are “victims” from those who have BPD, very subtly portraying people with BPD as abusers, and that is not the path to go down here please. If you haven’t heard about BPD stigma this book is the definition of it.
The examples used are very extreme, many with themes of misogyny and racist undertones. There are sections of the book where the issues of gender stereotypes, patriarchy etc. are discussed and reflected upon (which was interesting and probably the only part of the book that was bearable) but I find it odd that the other parts of the book contradict and ignore these reflections. There is also a lot of ableist language with “handicaps” and “retardation” being used a few times.
Throughout the book people with BPD are painted out to be and described as being “manipulative”. At one point it even claims “manipulative patterns” as criteria for a BPD diagnosis which is not true. What makes this laughable is that there is an entire section going through the diagnostic criteria as per the DSM-IV and manipulative patterns is clearly and obviously not part of it. This book is littered with contradictions. The author goes on to state that ‘Borderlines’ lack “true empathy” and so any empathy shown is purely for manipulative purposes. Chapter 5 (communicating with the Borderline) is a great example of this and is full of victim blaming narratives.
TW: suicide. One specific part left me feeling horrible and reminded me of professionals who were insensitive and plain cruel during times of my own mental health crises. Throughout the book it is implied that suicide attempts by people with BPD are simply for attention and manipulative purposes and not because they actually want to die. Suicide was almost always mentioned alongside the word “threat” which shows how disgustingly they think of people with BPD. As if our suicide attempts couldn’t be real, as if we weren’t suffering, as if we couldn’t truly want to die.
What sealed the terror of this book for me was this: an example in which the psychiatrist is describing one of his suicidal patients. “I guiltily fantasized that it would be almost a relief for me if she did.” It was sickening to read. It corroborates the many experiences I’ve heard of from other people with the BPD label and my own experience. I am scared to even think how many mental health ‘professionals’ think this about their BPD patients; they wish we’d just die so they didn’t have to do their job. Let me tell you the problem is not the patients and if you are a professional who thinks this way then you shouldn’t be in this job.
“Accepting treatment as a collaborative alliance is the most important step in maximizing therapy. The borderline frequently loses sight of this primary principle.” Umm no. The reality is often the opposite and it is the therapists/professionals who need to remember this.
This book proves why the BPD and personality disorder construct needs to get in the bin. So much of it is just pathologizing natural human behaviors we all experience. The subjectiveness of how the criteria can be interpreted suggests literally ANYONE could be diagnosed with a personality disorder and just as easily dependent on one change someone may no longer meet the criteria for diagnosis. In fact one section also explains how BPD has been used as a dustbin diagnosis i.e. a label to give to those who have chronic mental health problems you don’t know how to deal with or what ‘professionals’ often like to say “frequent attenders”.
There are also many co-morbidities as BPD is rarely a single diagnosis; we really need to find other ways of treating people who currently ‘fit’ the criteria for BPD. I know there are people with BPD who find the label helpful, I have too. It’s helped me to find the BPD/mental health community on Twitter and helped me understand myself. For some people its helped them access certain treatment which is another positive. At the same time there are so many negatives. The stigma is terrible and rampant across the medical field and within so-called professionals. It’s damaging lives and killing people.