An intimate, compassionate, and expansive portrait of Borderline Personality Disorder that rejects the conventional wisdom that the condition is untreatable and those diagnosed with it are “difficult,” told by a psychologist who specializes in BPD

Product Code: 9335
ISBN: 9780807007815
Format: Hardback
Publisher: Beacon Press
Pages: 304
Published Date: 04/30/2024
Availability:In stock
Price: $29.95

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.

Bookmark and Share

Collective Psychosis

Prehistory: The First Session
Splits, Hysteria, and the Invention of Psychotherapy: Fifth Century BCE–1885 CE
Psychic Death: Sessions, Weeks 2–19
Seduction and Fantasy: 1896–1923
Fears: Sessions, Months 6–10
Confusion of the Tongues: 1908–1933
Love: Sessions, Months 10–12
Identity Crises: 1939–1980
Self-Discovery: Sessions, Year 2
Diffusion: 1973–2011
Normality: Sessions, Year 3
Integration: 1980–2023
Borderline: Sessions, Year 6


“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

“In a world where we now diagnose ourselves on TikTok, rare is the occasion to actually see what these diagnoses really mean. Beyond labels, beyond any idea of sickness or psychopathology, 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

“Alexander Kriss’s Borderline: The Biography of a Disorder is a dialectical treat, with alternating chapters that provide original musings on the history of psychoanalysis and that present a six-year case study of his work with a patient. The two strands come together in Kriss’s feminist reading of the borderline construct, where he appreciates past and present efforts to understand it as a form of psychopathology but encourages us to face underlying sexist assumptions and to question the boundaries of ‘normal’ human life. Kriss deftly shows us why some patients require and benefit from long-term treatment. 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

Be the first to submit a review on this product!
Review and Rate this Item

You might also be interested in: