Through The Looking Glass

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To what extent is borderline personality disorder (BPD) a truly “female” affliction given how women are socialized? This and other questions are addressed within the context of the historical relationship between women and madness, as well as women’s often-strained relationship with the psychiatric profession.In a refreshing look at the facts behind why a preponderance of women are diagnosed with BPD, Dana Becker provides evidence that the struggles of these “borderline” women are extreme versions of the day-to-day struggles many women face. Examining the relationship between gender, psychological distress, and the classification of BPD as a psychiatric disorder, the author offers a new emphasis on elements of female socialization as keys to understanding the development of borderline symptoms.The book should appeal to psychotherapists in all professional groups—psychologists, psychiatrists, social workers, and other mental health professionals—as well as graduate students in these disciplines. It should also be valuable to those involved in the fields of women’s studies, psychology of women, sociology, and the history of medicine.
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What People Are Saying

Rachel T. Hare-Mustin
An innovative contribution to a crucial debate, Dana Becker turns a compassionate eye towards those women oft moligned and traditional theory and clinical practice.... recasts responses to the limits placed upon girls and women in a culture of gender inequality. The accounts of familiar fictional and fairy tale characters that Becker weaves through the text broaden our understanding and bring to life theoretical innovations and comprehensive investigations.
— Rachel T. Hare-Mustin, American Board of Professional Psychology
Sharon Lamb
With precision and deliberation, leaving no stone unturned, Dana Becker lays out the history of borderline personality disorder and the sorted history of the psychiatric professions diagnosing of women. She pitifully argues that the way girls are raised makes them proned to character traits that are closely related to what we now call borderline symptoms.
— Sharon Lamb, author of The Trouble with Blame
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Product Details

Meet the Author

Dana Becker is clinical supervisor of family therapy at the Center for Research on Adolescent Drug Abuse at Temple University. She maintains a private practice in both Philadelphia and Rosemont, Pennsylvania, specializing in the treatment of women and families.
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Table of Contents

Prologue: "Borderline" Women Among the Mentally Ill
1 From Witchcraft to Hysteria to BPD: A Brief History of Female Insanity 1
2 Taxonomy as Destiny? The Birth of Labels 27
3 The Rise and Fall of the Borderline Concept 49
4 Toward an Etiology of Borderline Symptomatology 60
5 Through the Looking Glass: Female Socialization and Personality Disorder 87
6 Anger, Dependency, and Fear: Women at the Border 110
7 "Borderline" Self-Destructiveness and Therapeutic Breakdown 132
Notes 161
References 168
About the Book and Author 192
Index 193
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