“Am I losing my mind?” is the question in large, bold-red letters on the back of the first edition of Jerold J. Kreisman and Hal Straus’s I Hate You – don’t leave me, a non-fiction book about borderline personality disorder (BPD.) Kreismnan, a medical doctor, and Straus, a “health writer,” “offer much-needed advice, helping victims and their families to understand and cope” with this disorder.
The book was published (copyright 1989) when BPD was not yet well-understood. Therefore, more recent and effective management techniques for families and those with BPD are not available in this edition as they may be in the second edition which was released in 2010.
However, the symptoms and theories behind the causes and/or correlations of the disorder remain similar to what they were twenty years ago. I Hate You- don’t leave me delves into these issues in both an objective and subjective way.
The authors provide statistical facts as well as many case-study examples of the similarities that those with BPD share. Those with the disorder will probably be able to identify with the first three chapters which are:
1. The World of the Borderline
2. Chaos and Emptiness
3. Roots of the Borderline Symptoms
In chapter four, The Borderline Society, many theories attempting to explain the shifts in our culture as possible causes for this disorder are explored with particular attention given to the authors’ own biases, including the breakdown of the nuclear family, an increase in two-wage earning households, and geographical instability. Moreover, the authors state:
“Like the world of the borderline, ours in many ways is a world of massive contradictions. We presume to believe in peace yet our streets, movies, television, and sports are filled with aggression and violence.”
“Ideally we, as individuals and as a society – attempt to achieve a balance between nurturing the body and the mind, between work and leisure, between altruism and self-interest. But in an increasingly materialistic society, it is a small step from assertiveness to aggressiveness, from individualism to alienation, from self-preservation to self-absorption.”
[And finally,] “The price tag of social change has come in the form of stress and stress-related physical disorders, such as heart attacks, strokes, and hypertension. We must now confront the possibility that mental illness has become part of the psychological price.”
The last half of the book addresses those who have contact with individuals with BPD, including family members, friends, and therapists. While these chapters give practical suggestions on ways to communicate with people who have BPD and also, how to cope with their anger explosions, rapid moods swings, suspiciousness, impulsive actions, and inconsistent communications, if someone with BPD were to read these chapters, they may – due to the very nature of their disorder – be offended.
In summary, the authors, by their own admission, try to cover issues affecting both the individual with BPD and those whose lives are affected by someone with BPD, which leaves us with one book that has two halves; the first half being useful to those with the disorder and the second half being useful to families and others. I think two separate books would have been more ideal.
Do you or someone you know have borderline personality disorder? Have you ever read I Hate You – don’t leave me? If you did, was it helpful to you?