I was going to write something about my first book
I was going to write something about my first bookStop Walking on Eggshells (SWOE) on the book's 10th anniversary. That was in 2008. Now I can say I'm writing this in celebration of the recently published second edition.
Whatever you think of Stop Walking on Eggshells (SWOE), you can't deny its influence.
SWOE has sold 500,000 copies in English and an unknown number of copies in Spanish, Croatian, Japanese, French, Chinese, Slovenian, Dutch, German, and Korean. SWOE helped bring borderline personality disorder (BPD) and the concerns of family members into an international forefront. Its success sparked the publication of many other books on the topic. It's rare for me to find a therapist who hasn't heard of it. The potential ramifications in people's lives (readers and their families), is beyond anything I can imagine.
I hope it's been a force for good. But I've learned that when you birth a book and send it off into the world, you lose track of how people use it or interpret it. This is especially true when you write about polarizing topics. One person called it a "singular, indispensable, life-saving contribution on BPD." Another said it was a "treatise on the evil of borderlines and an instruction manual for taking control of the indomitable witch for her own good in order to preserve the family unit."
Most reviews are very complementary: on Amazon, 182 reviewers out of 212 total have given it four or five stars. It's been called, "A brilliant analysis of a tragic disorder."
But it's the 17 one-star ones that I find myself drawn to because it's disliked for completely opposite reasons: about half the one-star reviewers say it's too insensitive to the needs of family members; the other half say it's too insensitive to people with BPD. For example, (edited for space and grammar):
Is Stop Walking on Eggshells insensitive to family members....
...Or Is Eggshells too insensitive to people with BPD?
In fact, just today my husband forwarded me two new reviews:
This reminds me of two rejection letters my agent received about SWOE in 1996 from potential publishers. One said, "No thanks, no one has ever written about borderline personality disorder." The other said, "No thanks, too many books about BPD already exist."
Today there's so much info about BPD out there that it's hard to imagine a time when there wasn't. In 1997, without other books to guide us, my coauthor Paul Mason and I did our best to strike the right tone: compassionate toward people with BPD and their suffering, yet honest about the effect of BPD behavior on others.
Nowhere in the book do we tell people to be doormats; nowhere do we say limits are the primary way to handle BPD relationships (in fact, the pages on limit setting takes up less than 5% of the book). Nowhere do we tell people to leave the BP in their life: In fact, we have an entire chapter about how people can make that decision for themselves. (That's one problem with the bad reviews: none of them quote the actual book. It's always someone's perception of it, not the thing itself.)
Of course, it's understandable that a book about splitting would be, in itself, split. The fact that it's split about half one way and half the other way tells me we did a pretty good job.