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Girl In Need Of A Tourniquet [Paperback]

Dr Lisa Johnson
1.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
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Book Description

10 Jun 2010
An honest and compelling memoir, Girl in Need of a Tourniquet is Merri Lisa Johnson's account of her borderline personality disorder and how it has affected her life and relationships. Johnson describes the feeling of "bleeding out" -- unable to tell where she stopped and where her partner began. A self-confessed "psycho girlfriend," she was influenced by many emotional factors from her past. She recalls her path through a dysfunctional, destructive relationship, while recounting the experiences that brought her to her breaking point. In recognizing her struggle with borderline personality disorder, Johnson is ultimately able to seek help, embarking on a soul-searching healing process. It's a path that is painful, difficult, and at times heart-wrenching, but ultimately makes her more able to love and coexist in healthy relationships.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Seal Press (10 Jun 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 158005305X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1580053051
  • Product Dimensions: 1.8 x 14 x 20.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 1.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 473,677 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Really hard to read- couldn't relate 6 Nov 2012
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Hated this book. I have a diagnosis of BPD and am currently doing MBT. I've read A LOT of books on what it's like to be borderline and I have to say I found this the least accessible of them all. I just couldn't relate to it at all. It felt really false and 'crafted', like a novelist trying to imagine what it's like to be borderline and show off their writing skills, rather than someone's actual lived experience - it just didn't feel genuine at all and when you're writing about something like this, it needs to be. This book seemed so 'constructed' and contrived which made it very hard to engage with the narrator or relate to their experience. At times it felt like a caricature of people like me - I found it really irritating and frustrating. Plus the book lurches all over the place, it's very 'bitty' and disjointed, not helped by the Emily Dickinson style punctuation. I just hated it. Sorry.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 3.7 out of 5 stars  21 reviews
14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A look into the disorienting, disorganized world of Bordeline Personality Disorder 16 Nov 2010
By doctor_beth - Published on
Note: I received a free copy of this book to review for the web site Metapsychology Online Reviews; you can read a more complete version of my review on that site.

In her new memoir, college professor Merri Lisa Johnson provides readers with a chance to vicariously experience the rollercoaster ride of someone living with Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD). Johnson creates this effect through her staccato writing style, which includes short paragraphs of her own text interspersed with quotes from poems and song lyrics, citations from major works in both psychology and the self-help and the self-help literature, various relevant definitions, and graphic black slashes (likely representing self-injury, often a feature of this disorder). Although somewhat disjointed and disorganized (Johnson does not always proceed chronologically), this method certainly does provide an accurate portrayal of the borderline personality.

For the majority of TOURNIQUET, much of the confusion, panic, and chaos in Johnson's life centers around her affair with a married co-worker, Emily. Johnson clearly recognizes this relationship as being CO-DEPENDENT (she often capitalizes words or phrases for emphasis). She is able to see herself as enmeshed with Emily and neurotically attached to her, yet she is unable to perceive a way to break free from this self-destructive path. About two-thirds of the way through the book, Johnson finally makes the connection that her symptoms are consistent with BPD. Not only does this help her to view her relationship with Emily in a new light, but also she is able to better understand her behavior in subsequent relationships--including a brief fling with one of her students--in terms of this diagnosis.

At this point, the book shifts, and Johnson starts to delve into her family background. She has already mentioned how her father left her mother--alluding to her mother's careless, selfish behavior--and how she grew up with a series of stepmothers. Now, she focuses more on her two younger sisters, who had the misfortune to be raised by their negligent mother after Johnson and her father left the household. In what feels like a bit of a departure from the rest of the book, Johnson launches into a somewhat clinical discussion of BPD, using this as a springboard to reveal that her sisters both share this diagnosis; she goes on to describe how the disorder has manifested itself slightly different for each sibling.

Johnson ends her book rather abruptly: in one chapter, she is in the midst of detailing her efforts to free herself from Emily, and in the next, she is settled down with a new spouse, with no indication whatsoever of how she made the transition from Point A to Point B. Although Johnson clearly makes the point that even in a stable relationship, she will always struggle with the instability that comes with being borderline, unlike her sisters, she seems to have learned how to live with her diagnosis--I think her readers would have liked to have known more about how she reached this point of resolution. Overall, Johnson's story is definitely an engrossing one. This book is likely to be particularly of interest to those living with BPD, but it may also appeal to general readers who would like a glimpse into this disorienting, disorganized disorder.
12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Intense, unique.... in need of a sequel . 9 Jun 2010
By PerpetualStudent - Published on
If you want an intelligent, keen, ornate, and compelling, wonderfully disconcerting story about strands of life untangled by the author through creative and melodic prose- This is the book for you!
But, if you want a straight memoir, the kind that is comfortable, written by Donald Trump or the latest one hit wonder's ghost writers- this isn't the book you want. If you want to know more about the clinical intricacies of borderline personality disorder- this isn't the book you want.
With this memoir, the reader gets a window into a mind full of prisms that refract, one-way glass, and mirrors that reflect before they shatter. It is an amazing book, a fantastic read. I especially enjoyed the variety of other "sourced" material. The only critique I could offer, and it is so minor as to be negligible (not to mention that I am certainly not qualified to critique a personal creative decision), I would have changed the word "of" in the title to the word "with." I can't wait to see what comes next from the mind of this author. I hope it is equally exciting, disquieting, troubling, and true.
17 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Loop of Feelings 2 July 2010
By Eileen Granfors - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
You may not know you have a friend or co-worker with Borderline Personality Disorder; you only know that person is difficult, obnoxious, odd. Maybe you have it yourself and wonder why you feel lonely and empty constantly. Maybe you are BPD diagnosed. Maybe you are simply interested in psychological issues. In "Girl in Need of a Tourniquet," Merri Lisa Johnson opens her heart and head to give others a look into both the science and the sociology of the BPD patient.

The book is odd in organization with poetry, song lyrics, charts, scientific quotations, and personal anecdotes somewhat randomly accrued. Each one helps to explain why Johnson was once "a girl in need of a tourniquet." (title from a song lyric) One psychologist said that a Borderline has no emotional skin, and therefore, when emotion is felt, usually rage, the rage will continue until the patient basically bleeds out.

The book recounts Merri's disastrous love affairs with the wrong men and the wrong women. It explains her need to be perfect. She sets a goal to become "the perfect BPD patient,"- an in-joke. BPD patients are notoriously difficult patients due to their incessant and unreasonable demands for attention.

Johnson does not spend a lot of time with finding her parents at fault though she lived a chaotic childhood. She does use her knowledge and research to show the effects of a child's attachment disorders based on that chaotic childhood where the biggest fear is abandonment. The wounded child never overcomes that primal fear, that lack of security.

Johnson luckily found love in her spouse, Stace. She tries to help her sisters, and through these surviving loves, she begins to save herself from self-destruction. She began to face the challenge of learning to live beyond her BPD through acknowledging that she is not perfect. A number of chapters assess her sexuality.

This is not a fully clinical study of BPD, but it is a guide into the mind of someone who has spent her life trying to understand why her rages and tantrums threaten to extinguish her life through drugs, alcohol, and cutting. "I Hate You, Don't Leave Me" is quoted often. If you know someone with BPD or suspect it in yourself, this is a prescriptive book for borderlines.

"Girl in Need of a Tourniquet" matches "Girl, Interrupted" as an excellent guide into the mind of the borderline.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not a typical memoir, may be triggering for some 9 Feb 2012
By margieebee - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
--This is not your typical memoir, where the author progresses chronologically through his or her life. The author focuses on a relatively small slice of her life, recalling tumultuous relationships and her "psychological journey" during this time.
--Her life account is spliced with excerpts from various sources on borderline personality disorder and personality development in general. Sometimes this can be distracting, as it pulls you out of the author's own account, but in some ways I appreciated this- there are experts on personality disorders and they have probably said it better than or more concisely than those of us who are not personality experts.
--The author utilizes a lot of figurative writing- this is a very "artful" memoir in that sense.
--Overall, this was a unique reading experience.
***Finally, there are graphic descriptions of the author's self-injurious behaviors. Anyone who has struggled/struggles with this should proceed with caution when reading this book. I believe it could be very triggering, more so than other memoirs I have read, and may not be the best reading option if you are not "in a safe place" emotionally.
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Brilliant and Seminal Offering to Anyone Interested in or Effected by Borderline Personality 30 Jun 2010
By AJ Mahari - Published on
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
In what is an exremely creative and uniquely structured memoir Merri Lisa Johnson offers her readers a window into her experience with Borderline Personality. She educates, tells her story, and challenges readers to re-examine their thinking about Borderline Personality Disorder.

A very courageous and brilliant book with a very artistic presentation.

I would encourage anyone interested in Borderline Personality Disorder or who has been diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder, knows of loves someone who has BPD, or is someone who works in the mental health field to read this most intelligent, unique, and really one-of-a-kind memoir.

You can listen to the author speak about her experience and her memoir in an interview I did with her on blogtalkradio at [...]

As you listen to Merri Lisa Johnson speak and read execerpts from her memoir you will, no doubt, decide that this a book worth reading.
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