Dr. Linehan has been an inspiration to many, including me, in trying to figure out how to deal with borderline personality disorder. I count myself among the fortunate few who have had an opportunity to be trained by Dr. Linehan and her "children" during my own training to be a DBT therapist. Does this revelation that she, herself, has struggled with borderline personality disorder change the way I think of her? Yes, but only in the most positive ways: I knew that she talked the talk, but now I know that she walks the walk. When I teach skills to my clients, I often use personal examples as illustrative. I don't have any illusions that my own personal struggles match in intensity their own, but I do think it's helpful to share how the skills I'm teaching have helped me. The stigma associated with chronic mental illness is real and difficult to deal with. Even more for those who already struggle with emotion regulation.
The NYT reports:
“That did it,” said Dr. Linehan, 68, who told her story in public for the first time last week before an audience of friends, family and doctors at the Institute of Living, the Hartford clinic where she was first treated for extreme social withdrawal at age 17. “So many people have begged me to come forward, and I just thought — well, I have to do this. I owe it to them. I cannot die a coward.”
You are no coward, Marsha. Thank you for your courage and your story.