Borderline Personality Disorder,  Boundaries,  Odds and Ends,  WHINE Book

A brief note about a new book

Recently, Randi Kreger published her new book “The Essential Family Guide to Borderline Personality Disorder.” I read it and have to give thanks to Randi for providing it to me gratis. Thanks Randi!

At the same time, I have a problem with this book. While it is MUCH better than “Stop Walking on Eggshells” (SWOE), her previous book about NON-BPs, I agree with her prescription about 40%. Her sections on “Communicating to be heard” and “Reinforcing right behavior” are agreeable, the rest is NOT agreeable to me. I will soon offer a true book review of this new book; however, I believe (humbly) that my book WHINE is a MUCH better book for understanding and dealing with a person with BPD than either SWOE or “The Essential Guide…” by Randi. While I know where she is coming from, she misses an essential thing about BPD – that thing is IAAHF (“it’s all about his/her feelings”), a concept in WHINE. She still seems to think that you can make it (at first) about YOUR feelings, which, with BPD, is impossible at first. This is both my opinion and the opinions of the members of my group. I am a bit miffed that  SWOE sold something like 300,00 copies and WHINE 300, because I think (as do my almost 400) group members that WHINE is a MUCH better book to understand the BPD/NON-BPD dynamic than either SWOE or “The Essential Family Guide…”

I know that Randi will see this via her Google alerts and I welcome her comments. I have no argument or disagreement with Randi. I respect her and feel she is contributing to the community the best she can. At that same time, I feel her publishing efforts fall short of what is effective in the NON-BP area.


  • Randi Kreger

    Thanks for your review. But I’m not sure I understand your objections, because in the two chapters and what it’s like to have BPD I give an exercise about what it’s like to have BPD, I talk about what it’s like to have BPD by letting people with the disorder speak for themselves, and in fact each tool is based upon respecting and understanding what people with BPD go through.

    I think what matters most is that several people with BPD love the book and have posted great reviews about it or blurbs for the book (see or my page on Amazon.) These people include Kiera Van Gelder, founder of Middle Path.; AJ Mahari; Amanda Smith of the Florida BPD Association; Psychiatrist Blaise Aguirre, direction of an inpatient Unit for adolescents with BPD; John Gunderson, a leading psychiatrist and the person large responsible for adding BPD to the DSM; two DBT clinicians; and many, many more.

    I just did a presentation for the New England Personality Disorders Association in Boston and 90 people shoed up and the 30 books I had were snapped up, a more than one mental health people who attended inquired about group discounts. And, of course, the book is selling well.

    Not only that, the first half of the book contains great updated material about causes and treatments using up-to-date studies and a great chapter on getting a therapist.

    I also have several 5 five star reviews on Amazon.

    That said, I think there is plenty of room for many books for family members: both WHINE, the Essential Guide to Borderline ersinality disorder: New Tips and Tools for Stop Walking on Eggshells; Get Me Out of Here; Sstop Walking on Eggshells and the SWOE Workbook; and mnay others. Each book has its own point of view and some. I write from the point of all different kinds.

    All that said, each person will have teo

  • Bon Dobbs

    Randi Kreger,

    Like I said before I respect you and your efforts. My main problem with your new book (which I like MUCH more than SWOE) is about the concept in WHINE of IAAHF. While you may have endorsements by Gunderson (who’ve I have met) et. al. My endorsement is there about 40%. I like your book and have recommended it above SWOE and to my constituency – as small (about 400 people) as it is.

    When read it I was just being honest. I support those two sections fully, and I found my self flipping through the rest. Why? Limits with love (or with or without love) are a nice tool for the non-BP (who is your audience) but completely screw up a real BP/NON-BP relationship. I was decidedly disappointed on your take about validation, because I think the validation is the most important skill a non can have. Even DBT therapists – of which you take DEAR and other skills – would say this.

    Randi (and I like you a lot so don’t freak out), not to be self promoting, but I feel you need yet another reiteration of a book to figure it all out. You’re still stuck in the “taking your life back” stage and don’t realize the reality of the situation phase. It is NOT ABOUT YOU. That’s what you don’ t understand and that’s what you (unfortunately) can’t communicate properly to your readers.


  • John Lucas

    I have read each book and I was a member of each support group for about the same amount of time. It seems to me that the main difference between Bon’s approach and Randi’s approach is in the use of validation. Validation isn’t listed as one of the 5 “power tools” that Randi recommended, while, for Bon, it is the one essential skill for building trust with a borderline. I agree with this. Validation has really saved my own relationship. Trust is building with my wife–slowly, and not in a linear way, but overall it is building.

    Prior to understanding the importance of validation, I tried setting boundaries, I tried communicating using the DEAR technique, and I tried positive reinforcement. I didn’t really see any improvement in my relationship with my wife. Boundaries, in particular, seemed to make things worse because my wife felt threatened and insecure. I could sometimes communicate in a way that that reduced her taking boundaries too personally, but it was pretty inconsistent. I realize now that I need to learn good communication skills first and foremost. In my opinion validation is THE most important of these, followed by the DEAR MAN techniques for making my own feelings heard.

    I also take issue with the concept of “detachment”, including the idea of “detaching with love”. I presume it’s borrowed from AA and Al-Anon (and I guess similar groups). My problem with it is that there is a certain ambiguity in the concept of detachment. Given the level of anger and dismissive language in the WTO sites (in which I was a very active participant for about 8 months), detachment seems to be interpreted there as emotional withdrawal, which makes interacting with a BP so much worse.

    I prefer the concept of “depersonalizing”. With this concept, I recognize that the extreme emotional flucutations of a BP, the resulting impulsive behaviors, and the frequent manifestations of shame, all have nothing to do with me. I’m just in the way, as it were–I am in an intimate relationship with somebody with BPD, and as a result I am so close to her that she is terrified that I will discover her “true self”, which further results in emotional dysregulation and related impulsive behaviors. Once I understand this, I can learn to depersonalize the actual behaviors.

    It’s hard, and we do have to protect ourselves from destructive behaviors, and in this sense sometimes boundaries are useful, among other things. But I no longer wonder why my wife “hates me” or is “so selfish”, etc. I can empathize and validate her emotional pain. And this is what has primarily made our lives better–not boundaries, not me learning how to insert my feelings.

    In order to get to this point, I truly did have to take care of myself and understand what kept me stuck (anger, hopelessness, and confusion)–but truly understanding my wife’s situation helped enormously with this. Learning effective validation skills helped much more.

    Even if I decide to leave her at some point, I will do so without hating her, thanks to Bon’s book. Randi, I honestly can’t say the same after reading your books and participating in your web groups, and I haven’t seen anyone in that camp who can say the same, in my opinion.

    Sorry to be so frank with my opinion, and I certainly don’t want to be intentionally mean or anything, but I truly believe that your lack of focus on validation is a large gap in your approach. When I flip through WTOCentral and I read the 5 power tools, and especially when I participate in the support groups, I primarily see advice on how to protect ourselves, how to distance ourselves, how to communicate our needs–all important things, to be sure, but there is an overwhleming focus on our selves and little sense of how to build a relationship with somebody with BPD. I suspect you don’t think it’s really ultimately possible. I might be wrong, I know. I just don’t see it in your writings, your web sites, or your support groups.

  • Randi Kreger

    I agree very strongly that validation is crucial, which is why it plays a prominent section in tool three–Communicate to Be Heard. In that section, I say that the tool I talk about–empathetic acknowledging–is another term for validation. This is from the book:

    “Acknowledge What You Hear
    Acknowledging, or more properly “empathic acknowledging,” is the most powerful communications technique in this chapter; it is similar to the term validation. Lawrence J. Bookbinder coined the phrase on his Web site, “Touch Another Heart.” It is a blend of empathy, listening skills, and acknowledging.

  • Bon Dobbs


    I felt like the “communicate to be heard” section was the best part of your new book. I agree that validation can go by many names, I just prefer validation. I noticed you refer to “I don’t have to make everything all better”, which IMO is a pretty solid book on emotional validation. In my book, as you know, I spent about 35 pages on validation as a multi-step process. I have developed the I-AM-MAD communication skill as a summary of how validation can be done properly. Unfortunately, this skill was developed after I published my book. I actually am working on a revision, because I realized that I left out some important skills, and I have started to learn about mentalization, which contains a nice set of skills as well.


  • John Lucas

    I probably should have been clearer–I see a lack of priority given to validation in your book. My view is that any attempt to interact with a BP requires a strong understanding of validation as the highest priority. I think this statement is hard to digest for loved ones of borderlines, because it has nothing to do with their own pain–so, I think the concept of validation, its value, and how to validate all need thorough discussion. But yes, my apologies, you do talk about it in that section.

  • A borderline

    I just stumbled into this conversation. From my experience with my mother (a Non) and myself (a BP) the environment of invalidation was so pervasive that until she could accept and handle her own emotions, and not feel like she was drowning, she really couldn’t grasp the concept because she lived with it herself so deeply. The dialectic in the relationship is not that she “does something” to me and I get better, or vice versa. It’s not an either/or situation– I know people who have used the validation skills for years and the relationship does not get better. The problem with manuals, skills, magic acronyms is that we slip into believing that there is a special trick that will work and whoever had the goods wins the game. But in my experience, the factors that go into BPD recovery, and what allow for a non and a BP to create a loving supportive relationship, cannot be boiled down to any one thing, validation included. That said, I deeply appreciate and honor all the work you both do. In the larger picture, everyone benefits from all these approaches, but i will never believe one approach or perspective is the ultimate one. That type of thinking is exactly what we are all trying to transcend 😉

  • Bon Dobbs

    Hi, A Borderline….

    I agree that a particular skill, even when mastered, can not necessarily “fix” a relationship. In my book I do explain certain tools that can help a relationship with someone with BPD – however, the best part of the book is probably the “attitude” section, because the most important element for a non seems to be the “stance” that one takes toward another person – whether it is someone with BPD or with any other person. I think if your mother could adopt certain attitudes, things would get less “invalid” toward you (and probably everyone else), regardless of whether she masters validation or any other skill.


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