The outpatient psychotherapy of the borderline patient.

Abstract

This paper discussed common problems in the outpatient psychotherapy of borderline patients, especially their rage, seductiveness, and abrupt negative shifts. The definition of "borderline" is not settled. Even DSM-III-R mixes it up with other personality disorders. There are no pathognomonic symptoms, no specific personality constellations, and no compelling evidence for a definitive stage in infant development when this disorder is fixed; all stages are involved, from faulty foundational to oedipal periods. It is a descriptive diagnosis and typical presentations of such patients are reviewed. In the psychotherapeutic approach, limits must be set first, but these must be flexible and reasonable. Medications are used rarely and with care. We attempt to form an alliance by (a) getting the patient to join us in a study of himself or herself, especially a study of when rage and maladaptive behavior emerges, and (b) providing a consistent and reasonable ambience. The ultimate aim is uncovering and interpreting when the patient is ready for it, more and more approximating psychoanalytic treatment as the patient's pathology permits. The special phenomena of the self-object (Kohut), transitional object (Modell), and disruptive extreme erotic or raging (Kernberg) transferences were reviewed, as well as the pitfalls of therapist anxiety and impatience in dealing with them. While archaic transferences predominate, we serve as an auxiliary microscopic ego and appeal to the rational adult part of the patient's ego in a phenomenological investigation. We interpret early only if we cannot get the patient to examine what has led to the explosions and when distortions or projection without insight continues to predominate. The dangers of early transference interpretations are discussed. Therapy is long, tedious, and requires the willingness to patiently catalyze the patient's resumed development and endure the periodic disruptions. Countertransference problems and what to do about them are reviewed.

Cite this paper

@article{Chessick1993TheOP, title={The outpatient psychotherapy of the borderline patient.}, author={Richard D. Chessick}, journal={American journal of psychotherapy}, year={1993}, volume={47 2}, pages={206-27} }