"Borderline" Provocations: How NOT to Respond

Patients who have the traits of borderline personality disorder often are experts at inducing in those closest to them feelings of anxious helplessness, anxious guilt, or overt hostility. If you want to continue to feel that way, here is a list of the best ways to help them help you to do so.

Where Psychoanalysts Went Wrong

All schools of psychotherapy consist of multiple theories connected by common threads. Some of these can be correct while others completely wrong. Psychoanalysis was once the dominent treatment. One thing they got right was the importance of parental influences on psychological development. One thing they got wrong was thinking this influence stops by the time you are 5.

Responding to “Borderline” Provocations—Part I

Being in a relationship, by blood or romantically, with someone with traits of borderline personality disorder is incredibly challenging. While they may seem irrational, there is in fact a method to their madness. In Part I of this series, I introduce some important considerations before going on to describe in future posts specific countermeasures to their provocations.

Don't Ask, Don't Tell

Do you trust a complete stranger with your most embarassing deep dark secrets? Me neither. Do you know all about every psychiatric disorder in the book so you can give a clinically relevant answer to every inquiry about a symptom a psychiatrist makes? If doctors do not ask the right questions, including follow-up questions, patients will often not tell.

Invalidation in Families: What Are The Hidden Aspects?

Invalidation of children, a characteristic of family dysfunction, is thought to be a major cause of personality problems, particularly within the families of patients with borderline personality disorder. However, the process of invalidation in a family involves a lot more than meets the eye. This post discusses two important but highly covert aspects of the phenomenon.

Logical Fallacies and Games Without End: Countermoves

When people try to talk about problematic family dynamics and become defensive, they often confuse the picture and invalidate other participants in the conversation by using fallacious arguments. This post discusses two last fallacies, and goes on to describe a strategy for countering all logical fallacies, as well as a strategy for undoing the "game without end."

Arguments About Race: A Giant Mind Boggling Game Without End

When Blacks and Whites try to discuss the extent of racism in America today, it seems to get nowhere. Anything either side says seems to be automatically reframed as just another manifestation of the Black belief in the incorrigible racism of all Whites, or of the White belief in the presence of innate Black pathology and inferiority. No wonder we are stuck!

Borderline Personality Disorder in the Movies

Movie scriptwriters often are clueless about the mental disorders they wish their characters to portray. Putting the right family dynamics with the right disorder is even rarer. However, sometimes a movie can get things so right it is scary. Such was the case with two movies about borderline personality disorder, "Frances" and, especially, "Thirteen."

Circular Reasoning in Intimate Conversations

When people try to discuss problematic family dynamics with one another and become defensive, they often choose to confuse the picture and invalidate the other participants in the conversation by using fallacious arguments.

How and When Can a Parent Stop Parenting?

When one's children reach the age of eighteen, does their need for parental advice suddenly evaporate? This question is the source of many battles between adult children and their parents. The parents may think they are just expressing an opinion, not realizing that the way they are doing it sounds to the adult children more like a directive on how they should behave.

Hitting Denial on the Head

When a victim of parental child abuse tries to talk to the abusers about what happened, the abusive parents will often lie, and deny that any of the abuse even took place. If the adult child is able to finally get them to admit what happened, there are often three additional layers of denial which may follow, one after another.

Debating Tricks in Intimate Conversations

When people try to talk about problematic family dynamics with one another and become defensive, they often choose to confuse the picture and invalidate the other participants in the conversation by using fallacious arguments. One of the most common fallacies used is the allegation that one event caused another merely because it occurred right afterwards.

Your Spouse's Secret Mission

A newlywed hates to visit his or her parents because of family discord. A recently divorced and remarried man avoids his children because he can't deal with his ex. Neither has the guts to tell the truth about his or her feelings. Spouses of such folks may come to the rescue by acting as if they are villains who keep them away from their family.

You Can't Change the Past - Why Talk About it?

This post is the 4th in a series of posts describing strategies for overcoming family avoidance strategies in order to persist in fruitful efforts to stop repetitive dysfunctional interactions. Part IV shows how family members use hopelessness and logical fallacies as reasons to stop talking to each other about solving family problems..

Mad, Bad, Blind, or Stupid?

Members of dysfunctional families are often mystified by the self-destructive or hostile behavior that they exhibit to one another, and try to make sense out of it. Usually, such explanations are that the other person is just crazy, incredibly stupid, inherently evil, or just oblivious to their effects on others. But are any of these answers correct?

Family Communication Part III: The Blame Game

This post is the third in a long series of posts describing strategies for overcoming family avoidance strategies in order to persist in fruitful efforts to stop repetitive dysfunctional interactions. Part III shows how family members use the issue of who's to blame for a problem to initimate potential problem solvers,and what they can do to counter this maneuver.

How Children Read Mixed Messages From Parents

Parents who are confused over their own roles in life often give out mixed messages to their children about what is expected from them. If children try to point out the contradictions, they are often faced with very negative reactions, so they have to figure this out for themselves I find that they use three rules to heirarchically rank the elements of a double message.

Why Psychotherapy Efficacy Studies Are Nearly Impossible

Unlike drug studies, studies of the outcomes of various psychotherapy techniques face a unique problem: human beings can choose how they will respond to any technique a therapist uses to try to change their behavior. There are also a nearly infinite number of variables which cannot be controlled. The many unique issues facing therapy researchers are described

Leave Me Alone – I’m Lonely

Many parents seem to go out of their way to annoy, irritate, and/or verbally abuse their adult children on a regular basis. This post describes some of the reasons for this bizarre behavior.

Win-Win Strategies in Family Communication: Part 2

When discussing and changing repetitive dysfunctional family communication and behavior patterns, the use of illustrative examples can be a minefield. Here's how to maneuver around them.

Why Don't Child Sex Abuse Victims Tell?

Only 30 percent of incest victims reveal their situations, and in almost half of these cases, the revelation is accidental.
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How to Talk to Relatives about Family Dysfunction

How to recognize and counter the traps that derail constructive problem solving with recalcitrant relatives.

Disease Mongering in a Top Psychiatry Journal

Counting symptoms that don't count for fun and profit.

Why Do Some Siblings From Troubled Families Turn Out Fine, While Others Flounder?

Siblings Are Affected Differently in Dysfunctional Families

Stop Running Away From Your Family Problems!

It's time to learn how to stop dysfunctional family interactions.

Why Is It So Hard for Families to Change Repetitive Dysfunctional Patterns?

Why is it so damn difficult for family members to stop engaging in repetitive behavior that is clearly driving them all nuts?

Borderline Personality Disorder: Meet the Parents, Part II

How parents become conflicted about their own children.

Borderline Personality Disorder: Meet the Parents, Part I

What Parental Behavior May Lead Children to Develop Borderline Traits?

Finding a Good Psychotherapist

How to find the best psychotherapist for you.

Does One Need to Forgive Abusive Parents to Heal?

One of the most frequent questions I get when I start working with patients with previously abusive parents or other primary caretakers is, "Do I have to forgive them?"