Is There A 12 Step Program For BPD?


Dear Dr. Heller,

I have recently come to suspect that my husband may have the BPD and finding you is no less than a miracle!  Your site has helped me gain great insight and I thank you so much.  He displays most of the symptoms you describe (does not self mutilate) and was physically, verbally and emotionally abused as a child.  Unfortunately, he does the same to me.  I have also come to realize that I have codependency traits and feel this is a direct reaction to try and keep “peace.”  We are now separated, (I finally got the courage to do it and he’s not happy) and are both in therapy.  My question is whether there is such a thing as a 12 step program for people with the BPD or people who display these kinds of behavior.  It seems to me that this would be extremely beneficial for people like this.  Thank you so much.


Thank you for your kind words.  Not that I’m aware of, but it certainly makes sense.  Many of the principles of the 12 step programs are built into my approach.  The 6 week treatment programs we did involved a higher power and I use this concept regularly – we’re a 3 legged stool (mind, body, spirit).  The approach I use has worked very well if the individual really wants to get better.  It involves making all the diagnoses and treating them comprehensively, have a formal plan for stress, and retraining the brain.  Zig Ziglar’s “How to Stay Motivated” tape series will likely be of enormous help to both of you right away.  Without the right medication, it is highly unlikely that an individual with the BPD will get well enough to have a great life.  In the talks I’ve given to AA groups, I was repeatedly told the equivalent of “wow, those are the folks who usually fail.” This is because they so desperately need medication.  The BPD is likely a form of epilepsy that needs medication.

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