Borderline: The Biography of a Personality Disorder (Hardcover)

Borderline: The Biography of a Personality Disorder By Alexander Kriss, PhD Cover Image

Borderline: The Biography of a Personality Disorder (Hardcover)


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An intimate, compassionate, and expansive portrait of Borderline Personality Disorder that rejects the conventional wisdom that this condition is untreatable, told by a psychologist who specializes in BPD

Mental illness is heavily stigmatized within our society, and within this already marginalized group, folks with BPD are deemed especially untreatable and hopeless. When, as a graduate student, Alex Kriss first began working as a therapist in the field, his supervisors warned him that borderline patients were manipulative, difficult, and had a tendancy to drop out of treatment. Yet, years later, when Kriss was establishing his private practice and a borderline patient known as Ana came to his office, he felt compelled to try to help her, despite all of the warnings he’d heard.

Borderline is the story of his work with Ana—how his successes with her led him to open his doors to other BPD patients and advocate for them. Borderline is also the story of the disorder itself: Kriss traces accounts of the condition going back to antiquity, showing how this disease has been known by many names over the millennia, most of them gendered: possession, hysteria, witchcraft, moral insanity. All referred to a person—usually a woman—whose behavior and personality were seen as fractured, unstable, unpredictable, and uncontrollable. Kriss guides us through this history up through the emergence of psychotherapy, the development of the modern diagnosis, and attitudes toward treatment today.
Alexander Kriss, PhD, is an assistant clinical professor of psychology at Fordham University, director of the Fordham Community Mental Health Clinic, and author of The Gaming Mind. His private psychotherapy practice is based in Sleepy Hollow, NY.
Product Details ISBN: 9780807007815
ISBN-10: 0807007811
Publisher: Beacon Press
Publication Date: April 30th, 2024
Pages: 304
Language: English
“Insightfully and plausibly rendered . . . an illuminating survey of the prominence of the disorder in the history of psychology and psychiatry . . . A revealing exploration of borderline personality disorder and the future of therapies addressing it.”
Kirkus Reviews

“[A] stimulating study . . . this is an enterprising and in-depth exploration of who decides what it means to be ill, how mental illness is framed in cultural narratives, and who gets shut out of those narratives. It’s an ambitious reassessment of an understudied condition.”
Publishers Weekly

“A well-researched and compelling account of an often baffling condition.”
Wall Street Journal

“His book is eerie, lyrical, and erudite—fitting for a man who, as we learn, switched to clinical psychology from playwriting, and who seems more interested in Freudian theories than in modern psychiatric constructs.”
The New Yorker

“A thoughtful corrective for a thin and grim extant literature . . . Borderline illuminates [its subject] by interspersing Kriss’s historical, clinical, and critical analyses with his patients’ intimate insights and experiences.”
Los Angeles Review of Books

“A gripping, humane, brilliantly prismatic inquiry into the peculiarities of the mind, at once a case study, an intellectual history, and a reckoning with the education of a therapist.”
—Adam Ehrlich Sachs, author of Inherited Disorders

“Alexander Kriss’s Borderline is nothing short of a revelation. In lucid and intensely readable prose, Kriss brings us into the world of his patients who live ‘on the borderline,’ illuminating a profoundly misunderstood condition with rigor and humanity in equal measure. . . . Perhaps most importantly, he provides clear reasons why there is hope for such patients going forward.”
—Marin Sardy, author of The Edge of Every Day: Sketches of Schizophrenia

“In a world where we now diagnose ourselves on TikTok, rare is the occasion to actually see what these diagnoses really mean. . . . Diagnosis is the starting point for a long conversation between a therapist and a patient about what makes for a life. Kriss’s book is not only beautiful; it demystifies and educates.”
—Jamieson Webster, author of Conversion Disorder: Listening to the Body in Psychoanalysis

“A dialectical treat, with alternating chapters that provide original musings on the history of psychoanalysis and that present a six-year case study of Kriss’s work with a patient. . . . His book is strikingly successful in underscoring the relevance of a contemporary psychoanalytic approach to psychotherapy but will be of interest to anyone who is curious about what happens in psychotherapy.”
—Elliot Jurist, PhD, author of Minding Emotions: Cultivating Mentalization in Psychotherapy

“One would be hard-pressed to find a more intimate account of a practiced clinician’s experience of working with patients with a diagnosis of borderline personality disorder than what Dr. Alexander Kriss so generously offers us.”
—Christopher Christian, PhD, editor in chief, Psychoanalytic Psychology