The followup was this: I was there again, and he admitted that’s what he thought of me. In some ways, he was really immature about it. For example: instead of just telling me when asked  what I thought he thinks, he threw it back at me, “What do you think I think?” and I said borderline, and he assented. But then after that he kept trying to argue, “You said it, not me.” And refused to tell me why because “it would be harmful to me” and he knows best and all that.

I can’t really have therapy from someone who takes a patronizing attitude to me, who isn’t honest, and fully admits it. I think this is a fair enough request. I told him also that I hope never to be that kind of doctor where I know better than other people what is better for them and stuff.

It really stings right now, but I think in the long term I will be better off. I went to him because he sort of gave me hope that I could stop wrecking my writing career. I didn’t want personality analysis. But he isn’t willing to do any kind of therapy that treats a simple problem.

I guessed that if it made me feel really sad (though, to be fair, I was before I went in there too) to be treated like that, there is some truth to it. And that I hope he realizes that he did harm to a patient, and maybe thinks twice next time – which I guess is kind of manipulative and borderliny too.

Jake pointed out to me that from the moment he says that, it CAUSES the borderline type behavior. I learned an important lesson from that. The moment he said it, I lost all control of my anger. But that doesn’t, in and of itself, make me borderline. I learned about how expectations as a doctor actually end up dragging people into roles. I now wonder, some of the patients who have been angry with me, who I assumed had their own issues – maybe I somehow expected them to be angry and caused it? I learned from this, and that isn’t all bad.

And I hope I never ever start seeing people as “borderlines.”  I’ll have a shitload more money. Back to my old technique of buying myself something equal in value to the cost of a session when I feel horrible.

I just need to get back to my life. No more introspection and thinking about myself. It’s funny, since I decided to quit, I immediately went back to enjoying aviation magazines, my partner, and even being a doctor. This is why I hate psychotherapy – it makes you focus on yourself, when what really makes people better is to enjoy and find interest in the world around them: the people, the beauty, even the tragedy. And just ignore the crazy feelings until your life is full of other things.

Of course, being obsessive, as I also am, I went and immediately sat down to read everything ever written, ever, about borderline personality, from the newest “part of the bipolar spectrum” research to the ancient “caused by the fetal conflict between the nurturing womb which later becomes the rejecting womb” psychoanalytic shit.

After about an hour, I had calmed down a lot. It became immediately clear that I’m not. I don’t have the sine qua non features. The impulsivity and mood swings, sure. But identity problems? Nope. I know who I am, and I haven’t changed, well, ever. I don’t have stormy relationships, and I don’t have the panic at abandonment. I don’t split or have any of those other defenses. I don’t have a problem with ambiguity. Even during my rage at the shrink, I didn’t think I hate him. And before that, I definitely didn’t idolize him either.

And most of all, in my gut, I didn’t feel it any more than you feel a vague sense of relatedness when you read about any personality disorder.

When I first was brave enough to read about cyclothymia, light bipolar, it was like getting kicked in the stomach. Repeatedly. The immediate recognition that there had been no mistake, that this was my life in clinical terms. It still can do that to me. Borderline – I read for two hours with interest, then with relief. Three days into the reading, I got bored.

The other thing that pisses me off is the way the term is tossed around to generally mean a young woman who is angry, who turns on a therapist, or both. I mean, I realized that if I were a patient of mine, and had to hand myself off to another doc, and give a one-sentence description, I’d probably use that word. A glimpse into the medical subculture.

So – I am both relieved, and frustrated. Return to the shrink, realizing that he is using shorthand when saying that? I wish I were religious, or lived in a different century, where psychiatry wasn’t the only game in town…



  1. Obviously he’s not treating you right. I doubt he’s keeping to his profesional boundaries and ethics. I’d definately stop seeing him.

  2. Hmmm…this all sounds so very familiar to me. Damn shrinks.

  3. Re “caused by the fetal conflict between the nurturing womb”. Good grief. I personally would not go back. Good luck with whatever you end up doing.

  4. Doesnt sound very proffessional to me and you obviously dont seem to trust him. Maybe it is time to find someone new. Good luck, Hannah X

  5. If it was one of my friends or family, on the basis of that consultation alone (and the concerns in his acumen and approach that the subtexts threw up) I’d be seeking a change of psychiatrist.

  6. Feels like denial when you say you dont need to be introspective. Like theres another identity inside you which needs to be acknowledged and assimilated or it will eat you from the inside out.

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