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Treating Borderline States in Marriage

Treating Borderline States In Marriage: Dealing With Oppositionalism, Ruthless Aggression, And Severe Resistance


If one is bold enough to attempt couples' therapy one lesson soon emerges: there are couples, and there are couples. The normal/neurotic couple incorporates communicative-interactive tips and interventions directed towards effective communication, conflict resolution, problem-solving and enhanced intimacy. The personality-disordered marriage, even when managed with strategic skill and therapeutic acumen, too often seems impervious to change. The therapist is frequently left floundering and "at a loss." Charles McCormack navigates the reader around the reefs and through the doldrums that typically wreck or stall therapy with these couples. In doing so he also sheds light on the soft human underbelly of ALL marriages, reflecting, as they do, some degree of early trauma or impingement - now well-met in a partner. McCormack starts with the therapist's capacity to play and takes us on a journey of vigilance and courage to the recognition that, in working with borderline states in marital therapy, it is likely to be the THERAPIST'S resistance to understanding which may forestall - and then foreclose - the therapeutic process. McCormack uses exquisitely drawn vignettes which render the words as well as the "music" of sessions with these couples, transmitting the "feel" AND the "sense" of the sessions. In these couples we hear the echoes of their dreams and see the omnipresence of their nightmares wedded in their coupling. Each individual unabashedly - ruthlessly - uses the other as a self-object. Through resistance and oppositionalism the couple works to use the therapist as a self-object, too. McCormack makes the confusion in working with these couples clear. Using concepts derived from object relations, psychodynamics, self psychology and Ogden's theories of modes of human experience, McCormack sheds light on a unique treatment approach for working with borderline and other personality-disordered marriages. This light dawns gradually and not in a rushing flash of epiphany. What is unknown might not be unknowable; there may be a psycho-logic underlying what seems so "irrational." Therapy begins in the mind of the therapist. Through separate individual interactions within the dyadic context, Mr. McCormack works first to change each partner's relationship with the therapist, and THEN their relationship with one another. Sequential interactions with each member of the couple provide not only "role modeling," but create psychological space in the treatment room, allowing for the development of "thirdness," where the "Other" and "We" can come more fully into being. McCormack offers a myriad of techniques - such as the "deniable interpretation," the challenge to certainty, and teasing out and surfacing inconsistencies in narrative - all of which add to the therapist's armamentarium in this difficult but potentially rewarding process. A world that may seem unintelligible at the beginning of this book, the scorned world of the personality-disordered marriage, is made knowable by the end. Interventions rooted in "being" a therapist with a couple of Beings supplant the panicked urgency of "doing something, anything" about the couple's plight. McCormack's techniques create a pathway towards repair instead of annihilation, all the while reassuring us that "therapists are human, too." McCormack's book helps to bridge the obstacles impeding therapeutic work with these troubled and troubling couples. He lets us know, when we find ourselves "at wit's end," that this is a very good place to begin our work. Ronald E. Zuskin, MSW, DCSW



  • Condition: --
    HPB condition ratings
    • New: Item is brand new, unused and unmarked, in flawless condition.
    • Fine/Like New (F): No defects, little usage. May show remainder marks. Older books may show minor flaws.
    • Very Good (VG): Shows some signs of wear and is no longer fresh. Attractive. Used textbooks do not come with supplemental materials.
    • Good (G): Average used book with all pages present. Possible loose bindings, highlighting, cocked spine or torn dust jackets. Used textbooks do not come with supplemental materials.
    • Fair (FR): Obviously well-worn, but no text pages missing. May be without endpapers or title page. Markings do not interfere with readability. Used textbooks do not come with supplemental materials.
    • Poor (P): All text is legible but may be soiled and have binding defects. Reading copies and binding copies fall into this category. Used textbooks do not come with supplemental materials.
    Conditions Guide
  • Format: Paperback
  • Sold by: --
  • Language: English
  • Publisher: Createspace Independent Pub
  • ISBN-13: 9781541065734
  • ISBN: 1541065735
  • Publication Year: 2000
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HPB condition ratings
  • New: Item is brand new, unused and unmarked, in flawless condition.
  • Fine/Like New (F): No defects, little usage. May show remainder marks. Older books may show minor flaws.
  • Very Good (VG): Shows some signs of wear and is no longer fresh. Attractive. Used textbooks do not come with supplemental materials.
  • Good (G): Average used book with all pages present. Possible loose bindings, highlighting, cocked spine or torn dust jackets. Used textbooks do not come with supplemental materials.
  • Fair (FR): Obviously well-worn, but no text pages missing. May be without endpapers or title page. Markings do not interfere with readability. Used textbooks do not come with supplemental materials.
  • Poor (P): All text is legible but may be soiled and have binding defects. Reading copies and binding copies fall into this category. Used textbooks do not come with supplemental materials.
Conditions Guide
HPB condition ratings
  • New: Mint condition or still sealed (SS). Absolutely perfect in every way. New.
  • Fine/Like New (EX): No defects, little sign of use, well cared for. Plays perfectly. Close to new. Not necessarily sealed or unused, but close. Could be an unopened promotional or cut item. Sometimes called: mint-minus.
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  • Good (G): Attractive and well cared for, but no longer fresh. Minor signs of wear, scuffing or scratching, but will play almost perfectly. For vinyl: barely detectable crackles or pops.
  • Fair (FR): This item is in okay condition. For vinyl: good is not so good and the record may have low level crackles or pops when playing. CD: one or more tracks may skip.
  • Poor (P): Obviously well-worn and handled. Most vinyl collectors will not buy good or below, but some tracks on CD or vinyl will play.
Conditions Guide
HPB condition ratings
  • New: This movie is unopened and brand new.
  • Fine/Like New (EX): Near new. No defects, little sign of use. Plays perfectly. Not necessarily sealed or unused, but close. No skipping; no fuzzy or snowy frames in VHS.
  • Very Good (VG): Attractive and well cared for but no longer fresh. Minor signs of wear, but will play almost perfectly. For VHS: barely detectable distortion or very few fuzzy or snowy frames.
  • Good (G): This item is in okay condition and basically works well. There may be some minor distortion on VHS tape; slight scratching or wear on DVD.
  • Fair (FR): Basically plays, but may be obviously well-worn with some scratching or tape distortion.
  • Poor (P): Disc or tape is intact, but may be scratched or stretched. There may be skips or distortion or product defects.
Conditions Guide
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