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Gordon, R. (1982). Kwawer, J. S.; Lerner, N. D.; Lerner, P. M.; Sugarman, A. (Eds). Borderline Phenomena and the Rorschach Test. New York, International Universities Press, 1980. Pp. xvii+505. $30.00.. J. Anal. Psychol., 27(2):196-198.

(1982). Journal of Analytical Psychology, 27(2):196-198

Kwawer, J. S.; Lerner, N. D.; Lerner, P. M.; Sugarman, A. (Eds). Borderline Phenomena and the Rorschach Test. New York, International Universities Press, 1980. Pp. xvii+505. $30.00.

Review by:
Rosemary Gordon

The great advantage of any attempt to relate clinical work to more empirical research is that concepts and diagnostic categories must be subjected to ever clearer definitions and descriptions if the researcher is to be of any use to the clinician.

This book has grown out of papers given at the annual meeting of the Society for Personality Assessment in 1978. It is divided into four main sections: an overview of the theoretical and diagnostic considerations concerning borderline phenomena; treatment implications; research; and the last part deals with children and adolescents.

For analysts the most valuable chapter in this book is, I think, the first one, written by A. Sugarman and H. D. Lerner, entitled Reflections on the current state of the borderline concept. This chapter gives a very comprehensive and interesting survey of the history and the use of the term ‘borderline’. The authors argue right at the beginning of the chapter that one of the most basic and fundamental issues concerns the problem of whether this concept refers to a special personality organisation or to a psychopathological syndrome. If the latter is assumed, the further question arises whether such a syndrome constitutes a special mental illness with its own characteristic features, or whether it is a purely descriptive term, meaning exactly what its name implies; that is, a psychological state intermediate between any of the neuroses and any of the psychoses. The authors also raise the further question whether borderline states can be traced back to some particular point of fixation in personal development, or whether it serves a predominantly defensive function.

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