Mahler’s idea is that the Borderline pathology is linked to the subphase of reconnecting in the process of breaking ties and individuation. This idea is in line with my conviction that the problem in the case of borderline patients is not the lack of differentiation between self and non-self, the problem is the inability to integrate “good” and “bad” images which one has about oneself.

Otto Kernberg, (translated here from German, as I have no access to the English original)
Mahlers Gedanke dass die Borderline-Pathologie an die Wieder-Annaeherungs-Subphase des Trennungs-Individuations-Prozesses gebunden ist stimmt mit meiner Ueberzeugung ueberein dass das Problem bei Borderlinepatienten nicht die fehlende Differenz zwischen Selbst und Nichtselbst ist sondern eine fehlende Integration von guten und boesen Selbstvorstellungen


Mainly, the problem with borderline personalities is that a loving relationship does not evolve with an object of love. With all their aggressivity, they need to learn to trust the beloved and … to be able to rely on the beloved while also being aware of the deficits and frustrations which come with it.

Otto Kernberg, Schwere Persönlichkeitsstörungen, S. 363 (my translation)

One is felt to be “possessed of a devil” inside… Anything “not oneself” and alien inside us must be bad and dangerous. Our loving and hating of others relates as much to their aspects inside us as to those outside us. In our earliest days, but later in life too, when the self within feels full of ruthless egoism or hate, destructive and painful, intense anxiety arises, both for ourselves and for the endangered objects; the violence of the fierce greed and hate raging within, and felt to be uncontrollable, is unutterably terrifying. it is then omnipotently denied and dissociated from the self, but is attributed instead to the persons inside who are the objects of the hate or greed, and are then felt to have provoked hate by their hate. It is they who are felt as bad; envious, robbing, ruthless, murderous. Thus it happens that a good helping person or part of a person, who was needed and craved, changes shape and turns into a terrifying and dangerous enemy inside one

Joan Rivere,

Katherine was making superficial cuts on her stomach and/or her arms … to prompt others into providing her with attention and concern. … Katherine reported that during her “suicidal” episodes she would feel “out of control.” Her gestures – which suggested serious deficits in frustration tolerance and impulse control emerged at times of intense rage

The idea that only “borderlines” are split, broken and divided is according to, Lacan’s way of thinking, predicated on the ego-psychological (and common) illusion that there is a normal state of “wholeness” and “unity.” The belief in an integrated self, according to Lacan, is a function of our taking our “specular image” for the real subject. Another of the effects of the mirror stage is the illusion of autonomy. Any adult who is questioned about himself will insist that he knows that he is free, knows what he wants and he has to do, etc. because he is his own person..

Liliana Rusansky Drob,

Advocates of ego-psychology retort that not all identifications are as self-alienating as Lacanians would suggest; even for Lacan there is a period of education/identification that must take place in order for an individual to become a psychoanalytic patient. It would also seem that the analyst/therapist cannot help but be an identificatory object for the patient, as the patient must learn to identify and ultimately assume the analyst’s curiosity about himself. The question nevertheless remains, as to whether the psychotherapeutic process with borderlines should strip away identifications or create new ones

Borderline Personality Disorder – A Lacanian Perspective