A big castle that looks forbidding and imprenetrable.

Hi, I’m Laura. I have had borderline all my life, but I found a way out. I am very happy I got there, all symptoms of borderline have disappeared and my life has been easier and much happier.

I started writing about borderline in 1995, via this webpage at first, because I want to share what I learned about borderline, but which I could not find anywhere else. All my writing eventually lead to my book:

An Empty Castle

The structure of Borderline Personality Disorder

The Dutch version of the book has been published! You can order it via the publisher:
Uitgeverij de Graaff
and via Boekenroute:

The translation into English is almost done, then I can start looking for an English publisher.

How it all began

In 1984, 19 years old, I started therapy. I’d been unhappy my whole life without being able to give a good reason for that. It seemed I had everything going for me, but my life didn’t show that at all. At the instance of others I started several therapies, but they didn’t help. I remained unhappy and I wasn’t able to find out why.

In 1990 I started therapy with a psychiatrist and he is the one who gave me the diagnosis borderline personality disorder. I took it at face value. I didn’t know what it was, but it was apparently very serious and it couldn’t be dealt with regular methods. The only thing I could do was to learn to live with it and for four years I tried that very hard.

But in 1994 I became very depressed and I wanted to start therapy again. This time however I started therapy because I wanted to. I was tired of not understanding myself, to be unhappy, to feel closed off from even my own husband and my circle of friends, to not know how to live. Regular methods wouldn’t help me, so I went looking for non-regular methods and found it in psychomotor therapy, with Mirjam Sigling.

Then the diagnosis of borderline got confirmed. And because I didn’t know anything about it and wanted to be active in my therapy, I went to look for an answer on the question: what is borderline?


Answering this question seemed pretty easy at first. Version 4 of the official handbook of the psychiatrist: the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM, now up to the fifth edition) stated the following: Borderline is a pervasive pattern of instability of interpersonal relationships, self-image, and affects, and marked impulsivity, beginning in early adulthood and present in a variety of contexts, as indicated by five (or more) of the following:

  1. Frantic efforts to avoid real or imagined abandonment.
    Note: Does not include suicidal or self-mutilating behavior covered in criterion 5.
  2. A pattern of unstable and intense interpersonal relationships characterized by alternating between extremes of idealization and devaluation.
  3. Identity disturbance: markedly and persistently unstable self-image or sense of self.
  4. Impulsivity in at least two areas that are potentially self-damaging (e.g., spending, sex, Substance Abuse, reckless driving, binge eating).
    Note: does not include suicidal or self-mutilating behavior covered in criterion 5.
  5. Recurrent suicidal behavior, gestures, or threats, or self-mutilating behavior.
  6. Affective instability due to a marked reactivity of mood (e.g., intense episodic dysphoria, irritability, or anxiety usually lasting a few hours and only rarely more than a few days).
  7. Chronic feelings of emptiness.
  8. Inadequate, intense anger or difficulty controlling anger (e.g., frequent displays of temper, constant anger, recurrent physical fights).
  9. Transient, stress-related paranoid ideation or severe dissociative symptoms.

But I did not find it as easy as it seemed. All my misery was comprehensively reduced to 9 symptoms, but did that make clear to me what borderline was? The chaos in my head, the emptiness in my heart, were they explained by this list or by the diagnosis? I did not think so.

The answer to ’what is borderline’ can’t be just a list of symptoms; symptoms are outward appearances but what lies under that is not bared by giving this list. Even the name borderline itself is saying nothing. Literally it means border, they gave it this name because the disorder is on the border of neurotic and psychotic; some symptoms are neurotic and some symptoms are psychotic. So even the name is about the symptoms and not what’s under that.

If the underlying problems aren’t determined, how can you work on healing? What good does the diagnosis borderline actually do then?

Loose sand

I felt like loose sand when I had borderline, and when I read this list in the DSM, I remained that. That what I found on the just started internet only confirmed that image. I borrowed study books from the university library: thick books from psychologists, psychiatrists, researchers. They settled on loose symptoms and wrote about how difficult and bothersome those borderlines were.

Reading about all that I became very angry, because not only was the image they gave of borderlines very negative and without perspective but also without giving an answer to the question ’Why?’. How does a person become so extreme? That can’t come out of nothing? I refused to believe that my symptoms, my problems, came out of thin air, that the one symptom had nothing to do with the other, that it was coincidence or bad luck that I had them at the same time. I saw other people living according to patterns, saw that they had a structure. And that structure would be absent in me in such a way that I had developed a set of very serious complaints without interdependence? I may be a borderline, but I was still human wasn’t I? And when it was so unclear what borderline was, how could I hope for healing or even just for a better life?

Reason of my book

My search and my therapies together lead to me eventually conquering borderline. In 1996 my therapist declared me healed of borderline.

I started writing about borderline for the same reason as why I started my search. It’s no wonder so few borderlines get better, if you only have a list of symptoms to work with. Then getting the symptoms under control is really the only goal you can reach. My therapy and healing shows that borderlines can get better and that it’s much more logically constructed than people think so far.

The loose sand I always felt, I haven’t felt for a long time. Even when I still had borderline but already working on the borderline structure, it gave me a huge hold. My symptoms were explainable, my problems were identifiable and my borderline was solvable.

This book is the result of my search. I hope it will help others, as it helped me, the people around me and my therapist.

Dutch version

Introduction to the book

Overview of the book

enhancer system

Date last content change: March 2nd, 2017