People with Borderline or Narcissistic Personality Disorders have a serious mental illness that primarily affects their intimate, personal, and family relationships. Often they appear to be normally functioning at work and in public interactions, and Narcissists may even be highly effective, in the short term, in some work or social situations. However, in intimate relationships, they can be emotional, aggressive, demeaning, illogical, paranoid, accusing, and controlling—in the extreme. Their ability to function normally or pleasantly can suddenly change in an instant, like flipping a switch. These negative behaviors don’t happen once in a while, they happen almost continuously in their intimate relationships and most often, and especially with their Caretaker family member.
Here, Margalis Fjelstad describes how people get into a Caretaker role with a Borderline or Narcissist, and how they can get out. Caretakers give up their sense of self to become who and what the Borderline or Narcissist needs them to be. This compromises the Caretaker’s self-esteem, distorts their thinking processes, and locks them into a Victim-Persecutor-Rescuer pattern with the Borderline or Narcissist. The book looks at the underlying rules and expectations in these relationships and shows Caretaker’s how to move themselves out of these rigid interactions and into a healthier, more productive, and positive lifestyle—with or without the Borderline/Narcissistic partner or family member. It describes how to get out of destructive interactions with the Borderline or Narcissist and how to take new, more effective actions to focus on personal wants, needs, and life goals while allowing the Borderline or Narcissist to take care of themselves. It presents a realistic, yet compassionate, attitude toward the self-destructive nature of these relationships, and gives real life examples of how individuals have let go of their Caretaker behaviors with creative and effective solutions.
While the title of this book may confuse some, its contents demonstrate a solid understanding of dysfunctional relationships between borderline (BP) or narcissistic (NP) patients and their loved ones. Psychotherapist Fjelstad uses the word “caretaker” to identify partners and family members who enable typical BP/NP behavior at the expense of achieving their own goals and preserving their own sanity. The author begins with an excess of questions to assist caretakers in identifying destructive behaviors. As the text progresses, the writing becomes more fluid and accessible. Fjelstad outlines the pros and cons of staying with vs. leaving a BP/NP partner, and suggests therapy and self-coaching strategies to help caretakers regain confidence. The book includes case studies, though they focus on the negative and make little mention of the addictive, intoxicating lure of these relationships. VERDICT Despite the cryptic title and occasionally awkward writing, Fjelstad delivers a thorough self-help guide for caretakers of BP/NP patients. Recommended for psychology collections.
— Library Journal
If your borderline or narcissistic family member won’t or can’t get help, this book will help you get over your fear, obligation and guilt and get on with your own wonderful life.
— Randi Kreger, borderline personality disorder expert and advocate, the author/coauthor of Stop Walking on Eggshells and The Essential Family Guide to Borderline Personality Disorder
Margalis Fjelstad 's Stop Caretaking the Borderline or Narcissist is a must-have tool for disentangling from Borderline/Narcissistic Personality family patterns. I especially appreciate the important distinction made between codependency and caretaking. This book makes a complicated subject easy to read and understand. Fjelstad skillfully puts things in perspective by giving thorough attention to Rescuer/Victim/Persecutor dynamics in the 'Drama Triangle.’
— Elayne Savage, PhD, practicing psychotherapist, workplace coach and author of Don’t Take It Personally! The Art of Dealing with Rejection
Indispensable insight and advice for anyone who feels a loss of control due to his or her relationship with a toxic person. This book offers hope that control and confidence can be regained, while offering understanding that allows for prevention of such psychologically damaging relationships in the future.
— Scott Barry Kaufman, Ph.D., adjunct asssistant professor of psychology, New York University
Stop Caretaking the Borderline or Nacissist is a well written book which highlights in straight forward language how people get caught in pathological caretaking roles. The author provides a self-assessment test which itself will help people recognize just how they have allowed themselves to be manipulated into being self-defeating, pathologically altruistic and how they unwittingly may collude with their borderline or narcissistic partner. She also offers clinical insights and advice on how to progress from being in a negative " drama triangle" to a more autonomous person in a "caring triangle" based on mutuality and reciprocity. This book is a self-help manual for identifying and changing maladaptive behavior.
— Stefan A. Pasternack, M.D. DLFAPA, affiliate clinical professor of psychiatry, Florida Atlantic
PART I: UNDERSTANDING THE CARETAKER ROLE
INTRODUCTION: HOW CAN I TELL IF I’M A CARETAKER?
1: IS MY PARTNER REALLY A BORDERLINE OR NARCISSIST?
2: WHY THE BORDERLINE/NARCISSIST NEEDS A CARETAKER
3: LEARNING TO BE A CARETAKER
4: CARETAKING INVOLVEMENT LEVELS
5: EMOTIONAL DISTORTIONS OF CARETAKERS
6: THOUGHT DISTORTIONS OF CARETAKERS
7: BEHAVIORAL DISTORTIONS OF CARETAKERS
8: DISTORTIONS IN THE SENSE OF SELF
9: RELATIONSHIP DISTORTIONS OF CARETAKERS
PART II: LETTING GO OF CARETAKING
INTRODUCTION: HOW DO I MAKE CHANGES?
10: STAGES OF HEALING
11: CHALLENGING THE BP/NP FAMILY RULES
12: BEGINNING TO HEAL: EMBRACING NEW BELIEFS AND BEHAVIORS
13: INCREASING YOUR SELF-CONFIDENCE
14: NURTURING AND CARING FOR YOURSELF
15: ANXIETY REDUCING SKILLS WITH THE BP/NP
16: CHANGE CREATING SKILLS WITH THE BP/NP
17: LEAVING OR STAYING
PART III – REBUILDING
INTRODUCTION: HOW DOES IT LOOK TO NOT BE A CARETAKER?
18: MOVING FORWARD IN A HEALTHY WAY
19: REACHING OUT TO OTHERS
20: THE NEW YOU
APPENDIX I: CARETAKER TEST
About the Author:
Margalis Fjelstad, PhD, LMFT, has a private psychotherapy practice in Ft. Collins, CO, specializing in work with clients who are in relationship to someone who has borderline or narcissistic personality disorder, and she facilitates groups on Caretaker recovery. She has previously been an Adjunct Faculty member at Regis University in Colorado Springs and at California State University in Sacramento.