Book Review: Managing Intense Emotions and Overcoming Self Destructive Habits: Lorraine Bell

Hobson, J., 2004. Book Review: Managing Intense Emotions and Overcoming Self Destructive Habits: Lorraine Bell. Reformulation, Spring, p.32.


It was with some trepidation that I picked up Lorraine Bell’s book to review as a layperson who had only known of her B.P.D. diagnosis for about seven months.

I read the book straight through over a couple of days. I found it very readable and not full of ‘medical jargon’ that I was unable to understand. I think that I originally went through a whole gamut of emotions whilst reading the book. I felt initial disappointment that it left me in no doubt about the validity of my diagnosis. Relief and even surprise that obviously many other people had the same sort of problems which appeared to stem from the same root-causes as my own. I then went on to feel almost overwhelmed by the enormity of having so many difficulties to surmount staring me in the face in black and white. So many diaries to keep, so many strategies I would have to learn from the programme. How would I be able to cope – would I ever get better? However, despite all this I was struck by the very positive way in which the book was written, with the constant feeling it gave the reader that the work you put in will be proportional to the benefits you reap and it could be possible to see real progress. So as I really wanted to try and get better I was fired by this to try and improve my life and decided I would re-read the book – but in more manageable sections so as not to overload my mind with too much at a time!

This strategy has paid off for me and I felt much more relaxed on the second reading. I immediately, but more calmly, felt able to identify with the ‘Pros and Cons’ of having a B.P.D. diagnosis detailed in chapter one. I think it sums up exactly how people feel about being ‘stigmatised’ by the personality disorder label and being confused with other far more severe personality disorders and judged accordingly. This appears often to be by people with little or no knowledge of the condition and even appears to be quite rife around certain parts of the Health Profession itself.

I found the ‘step-by-step guide to understanding the problems of B.P.D. and the first steps to altering them’ very interesting. I recognised the ‘different states’ section as work I had done in CAT sessions which encouraged me! I felt that the section on ‘mindfulness’ could be a very useful tool in the long term but obviously could take a lot of practice over a period of time to achieve good results.

I even ventured into doing the ‘Cognitive Schema’ section which threw most of my ‘States’ from CAT up again which gave me more confidence as I suppose I must have done the exercise correctly!

I also found the section on ‘Thinking Patterns which Contribute to your Problems’ very good – black and white thinking with no middle ground – I hope to benefit a lot from this section and found it relatively easy to rationalise from the book, even by myself.

Lastly I ventured into ‘overcoming depression and managing mood states’ I feel that I actually benefited from trying to cultivate opposite states of mind almost first time – I definitely intend to try this strategy again!
Other chapters I did not feel able even to attempt at this time on my own but hope I may be able to do so in the future, however, I did read them.

I have now completed this book for the second time and feel it has been time well spent – I have learnt a great deal and now realise that there are lots of tools available. However, I am also aware that it will take a lot of time, a great deal of help and perseverance to gain good results from the programme.

Summing up, and of course I can only speak personally, I found that Lorraine Bell’s book was excellent and very informative and I would recommend it to other people with B.P.D and professionals alike as a very positive, informative yet readable book. I especially hope that a great many other people with B.P.D diagnosis will read this book and be fired with the knowledge that we may all be able to get so much better and have a better quality of life if we are resolute and determined enough to try!

Jenny Hobson

Full Reference

Hobson, J., 2004. Book Review: Managing Intense Emotions and Overcoming Self Destructive Habits: Lorraine Bell. Reformulation, Spring, p.32.

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