Exerpts From the Book: "Lost In The Mirror"

"Lost In The Mirror" was written by Dr. Richard A. Moskovitz, M.D. It was published by Taylor Publishing Company, Dallas Texas.

The following exerpts have been made possible by the expressed permission of the author and the publisher of this book.

From the Foreword of the book: "It is a great pleasure and honor to write the foreword for this impressive work, Lost In The Mirror. Dr. Moskovitz is to be commended for producing this very readable book on such an intense psychiatric problem.

Through his many years' practice of psychiatry, he writes with understanding and sympathy for the thought-provoking problems of the patient. He approaches the subject with knowledge and sensitivity and leads his reader, professional and layman alike, to another level of discovery."

Chris Costner Sizemore

From the Preface of the book: " This book is written in response to years of grappling with the treatment of patients with Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD). BPD describes a complex of symptoms and behaviors that share characteristics with, or border upon, other well-defined psychiatric problems such as schizophrenia and depression. Since the term was orginally coined , its own characteristics have been appreciated. The term 'borderline' therefore refers to the derivation of the diagnosis, not to a quality of an individual..." And on page xiii from the foreword; "Lost In The Mirror is written for those who have been touched by BPD."

From Chapter One, entitled Dear Reader, on page one; " If you are a person with Borderline Personality Disorder, this book is written especially for you. If you have spent much of your life unhappy or afraid, unable to sustain long-lasting, satisfying relationships, and have repeatedly engaged in self-defeating or injurious, impulsive behaviors, or even attempted suicide, you may well be borderline and in need of treatment."

"...You are accustomed to dealing with the world through impressions rather than ideas. When you hear a song, you listen to the music, not the words. With this book, I hope to create a living picture of your experience in the world of relationships and feelings..."

From Chapter Two, on page 5, entitled, " Candles In The Wind; If you are a borderline, you may experience your life as fragile and flickering, lacking in substance and permanence. You may, at times, burn brightly and intensely with emotion and, at other times, feel empty and bored. You may dart wildly about, following your impulses in a frantic effort to soothe the pain inside and create a shred of identity."

"To be borderline is to have little sense of who you are or what turns you on. At its extreme, it may mean having to turn to others for cues in order to know when to eat or drink, work or rest, or even laugh or cry. It may mean intensely embracing a person, idea, or thing one day, and having no use at all for it the next. This lack of a constant picture of one's self, one's values, or one's passions is at the heart of the borderline personality. Imagine floating randomly through space without a sense of up or down and without a map to show you either your origin or your destination. To be borderline means to lack grounding emotionally and to exist from moment to moment without any sense of continuity, predicatability, or meaning. Life is experienced in fragments, more like a series of snapshots than a moving picture. It is a series of discrete points of experience that fail to flow together smoothly or to create an integrated whole..."

Continuing from Chapter Two, on page 7, "Elton John's characterization of Marilyn Monroe as a candle in the wind captures the essence of the borderline personality. She is an elusive character lacking in identity, overwhelmed by a barrage of painful emotions, consumed by hunger for love and acceptance, and careening from relationship to relationship and impulse to impulse in a desperate attempt to control these feelings."

"If you are borderline, your desperate search for substance and meaning can end with treatment. With the help of a therapist, you can learn to curb impulses and tolerate painful emotions long enough to explore their origins...You can learn how your fragmented world is like that of an infant who experiences the world moment to moment and who cannot connect memories into a coherent whole..."

From Chapter Four, on page 21, entitled, "A House Divided. 'When it gets too painful to stand, I just go away,' explained Julie. Julie was a young woman who had been horribly abused as a child. She had developed the ability to retreat into a world of fantasy whenever painful things happened to her body. She would also 'go away', when she felt attacked emotionally. Whenever she felt overwhelmed, she would huddle in a corner, virtually unresponsive for hours or days. Julie eventually lost her ability to 'come back' when it was safe again. Others use 'shutting down' or 'numbing out' to describe the extreme emotional and physical detachment that they experience under stress.

These are examples of dissociation, a defense mechanism in which experiences are sorted into compartments that are disconnected from one another."

From page 176, "The diagnosis of Borderline Personality Disorder shares many features in common with Dissociative Identity Disorder... and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. I believe that Dissocaitive Identity Disorder represents an extreme along the spectrum of dissociative experiences that characterize BPD."

From Chapter 8, on page 55, entitled; "In The Looking Glass. If you are borderline, you are in a constant search for clues about who you are. You struggle with a vague feeling of insubstantiality and may feel, at times, that you could suddenly vanish. You may cling to relationships in a desperate attempt to maintain a frame of reference for your own identity."

From page 56 in the same chapter, "Knowing yourself is understanding the boundaries of your experience..."e

Page 57, "Identity is also constantly changing with new experiences...Identity is a blend of enduring features and the growing collage of experience that we accumulate through life."

From Chapter 10, on page 71, entitled, " Rescuing the Angel Within; Understanding Self-Mutilation; Perhaps the most shocking and mysterious of all borderline behaviors is self-mutilation. It is virtually a trademark of BPD although it sometimes occurs in other conditions.

Self-mutiliation may be a simple as superficial scratches on the skin with fingernails or a blunt instrument, or as tragic and complicated as the surgical excision of a body part. Some injuries are visible to all while others are well hidden. Some are inflicted with elaborate ritual, while others convey special meaning that can be diciphered by the knowledgeable observer like the heiroglyphics in an ancient tomb. These injuries are often mistaken for suicide attempts.

Whether burns or cuts or penetrating wounds, these self-inflicted injuries are the products of compulsion. Like other compulsions, a buildup of tension leads to an irresistible urge, and the tension is discharged by the act."

From page 74 in the same Chapter, #10: "Self-Mutiliation As Reenactment; Since most people with BPD have experienced physical or sexual abuse, self-abuse may represent a reenactment of the earlier injury. This compulsion to repeat earlier traumatic events has been recognized since Freud and may represent an unconscious attempt to create a new, happier ending to a painful memory. Repeating painful experiences may also be a way of developing emotional continuity between past and present."

From Chapter 11, on page 77 entitled, "Suicide; Suicide is the ultimate expression of black and white thinking."

From Chapter 12, on page 87, entitled, "Being In Treatment: The principle goal of treatment is to develop a stable sense of identity with an enduring set of values and beliefs."

From Chapter 16, on page 121, entitled, "Healing: Develop Positive Rituals: Ritual is a way to provide predictability and routine as well as an opportunity to work through conflicts and losses. ...Ritual provides a sense of continuity over time in world that often feels chaotic and disconnected. It provides a connectedness with other people and a sense of belonging."

From Chapter 17, on page 131, entitled, "When You Are Angry: Anger is connected strongly with powerlessness." On page 132; "Reclaiming power is the key to taming anger...One type of threat to security is an imbalance between power and responsibility.quot;

From Chapter 18, on page 139, entitled, "Intimacy: If you are a borderline, relationships may feel a lot like this renegade mirror. The other person provides a screen on which you reflect features of your own image as you struggle to define who you are. As you move closer in the relationship the image sharpens, but when you move too close, the image begins to blur and finally engulfs you. When relationships are distant or nonexistent, it is like looking in the mirror and seeing only emptiness." And on page 141 in the same chapter of Intimacy, "...intimacy threatens the delicate balance of your identity. As with the image in the mirror, you develop a fleeting sense of self within a relationship, borrowing and trying on aspects of the other person. With intimacy, however, comes the threat of being engulfed completely and losing any sense of separate identity. There is no simple way to avoid the chaos that relationships hold for you."

And the final experpt from this outstanding book is from Chapter 20, on page 155, entitled, "Beyond Survival" on page 157, "As you leave your black and white existence and learn to appreciate the many-faceted qualities of others, your early impressions will grow more accurate and you will place your trust more wisely. As your boundaries become more clearly defined, you will detect more quickly when others violate them. When the wounds are healed, the sharks will no longer circle."

These exerpts from "Lost In The Mirror", are here for you to read by consent of the author, Dr. Richard A. Moskovitz, M.D., and his publishers. I sought to provide these experpts here for two reasons;

1)To give you a feel for this outstanding and very educational book and to say to anyone who reads this who is borderline that you will do yourself one of the greatest services you may do for yourself, in my humble opinion, if you in fact do purchase and read this book. It is a very valuable resource for Borderlines especially. It is also as educational for those who love someone diagnosed with BPD and for anyone who provides therapy to anyone diagnosed with BPD.

2)In the interest of providing some very insightful knowledge about BPD. Something that in the world of the person with BPD has not been to available but that is now available in the book, "Lost In The Mirror".

A.J. Mahari

  • My Review of this book
  • Borderline Personality Disorder