Stop Walking on Eggshells Book Summary - Stop Walking on Eggshells Book explained in key points
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Stop Walking on Eggshells summary

Paul T. Mason & Randi Kreger

Taking Your Life Back When Someone You Care about Has Borderline Personality Disorder

4.7 (101 ratings)
18 mins
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    Stop Walking on Eggshells
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    Understanding borderline personality disorder

    As a boy, Ken never knew what to expect from his mother. One day she would be affectionate, drawing him close and remarking how special their bond was. The next, a trivial mistake would trigger a torrent of stinging criticism: he needed a haircut, his shirt was ugly, his manners were poor. His mother’s expectations shifted like sand, impossible to grasp. 

    Years later, Ken recognized his mother likely had borderline personality disorder. And yet this realization was insufficient to heal the wounds he’d received in childhood. He’d developed a suspicion of people and had a hard time forming close relationships. Even minor perceived slights from his wife unleashed an involuntary wave of hurt and anger, as if responding to his mother’s presence. He remained trapped, reliving childhood wounds inflicted by a troubled parent, powerless to break free.

    Borderline personality disorder (BPD) is a complex and often-misunderstood psychiatric condition characterized by difficulties with emotion regulation, impulsivity, and unstable interpersonal relationships. People with BPD struggle to maintain a stable sense of self and frequently alternate between idealizing and devaluing others. Their intense emotions and relationship difficulties make life challenging not only for themselves, but also for their loved ones. 

    Let’s take a closer look at this complex disorder. 

    First, what exactly are “personality disorders?” They’re a class of disorders that reflect not temporary moods or mere episodes of anxiety, but enduring and inflexible patterns – dysfunctional patterns of inner experience and interpersonal behavior that persist over time and across situations. 

    Personality disorders typically arise in adolescence or young adulthood. Although genetic factors may be involved, they’re seen as originating in deeply ingrained, maladaptive attempts to meet emotional needs and navigate the world. 

    So, what about the “borderline” part? This label arose from therapists' sense that patients were perched on the border between neurosis and psychosis. This idea has since been discarded, but the name has stuck. First described in the 1930s, today BPD is recognized as a distinct disorder affecting 1 to 2 percent of adults. 

    BPD is a controversial diagnosis. Notably, women are diagnosed more often than men. Some clinicians argue that it’s over-diagnosed, yet others miss its shifting symptoms entirely. Despite increased awareness in recent years, BPD remains highly stigmatized. Those suffering from it are often labeled as manipulative, attention-seeking, or beyond help. 

    In reality, many are simply trying to cope as best they can with excruciating inner turmoil. At its core, BPD symptoms stem from an unstable sense of self. Without an inner anchor, BPD sufferers desperately seek external sources of identity and self-worth. This manifests in a variety of difficult ways, which we’ll look at next.

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    What is Stop Walking on Eggshells about?

    Stop Walking on Eggshells (1998) offers a lifeline to the beleaguered loved ones of those suffering from borderline personality disorder. It provides techniques grounded in empathy and understanding to establish healthy boundaries without abandoning those in need.

    Who should read Stop Walking on Eggshells?

    • Partners or family members of someone with borderline personality disorder
    • Individuals seeking to understand personality disorders and emotional dysregulation
    • Anyone searching for compassionate approaches to complex psychological issues

    About the Author

    Paul T. Mason is vice president of clinical services at Wheaton Franciscan Healthcare, where he oversees the expansion of mental health and addiction programs for those affected by borderline personality disorder. A published researcher on BPD, Mason's work has appeared in the Journal of Clinical Psychology and the popular press.

    Randi Kreger is a best-selling author and publisher whose expertise lies in borderline personality disorder. She has written and cowritten numerous books on the subject, including The Essential Family Guide to Borderline Personality Disorder. Kreger also offers resources online at

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