Girl in Need of a Tourniquet: Memoir of a Borderline Personality
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Girl in Need of a Tourniquet: Memoir of a Borderline Personality

3.52 of 5 stars 3.52  ·  rating details  ·  282 ratings  ·  32 reviews
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 fac...more
Paperback, 256 pages
Published June 8th 2010 by Seal Press (first published 2010)
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Eileen Granfors

Whether you know someone with Borderline Personality Disorder, have it yourself, or are simply interested in psychological issues, Merri Lisa Johnson provides a look into both the science and the sociology of the BPD patient.

Johnson uses poetry, song lyrics, charts, scientific quotations, and personal anecdotes to explain why she was once "a girl in need of a tourniquet." A Borderline has been said to have no emotional skin, and therefore, when an emotion is felt, such as rage, the emotion will...more
Ren
I really wanted to love this book. It's the first BPD memoir I read after my own diagnosis, but I have to say...I hated it. If I'd been in group with Merri Lisa Johnson, I'd have had to write a repair.

I realize that the prose was meant to reflect her mental state at the time of the events described. She has a lot of feelings!!! Her poor (former) partner. However, it made me understand why we people with BPD are so infuriating and exhausting to others at times. Which, I guess, was part of the poi...more
Julia Miele Rodas
Merri Lisa Johnson's fabulous autobiographical Girl in Need of a Tourniquet (2010) was the beginning of my lapse. Since I met her at a conference at George Washington University, and I thought it possible that she might see my thoughts, I wanted to write something worthy. The result: Absolute avoidance. Which is a shame because this is a lovely, thoughtful, thought-provoking book. It details Johnson's emergence into borderline identity and explorarion of the meaning of "borderline personality di...more
Amelia
I wanted to love this book and to identify with it on a deep level. I wanted to see myself in the book. I didn't, which I guess is evidence of the extreme amount of variation within mental health issues. I couldn't see myself in the author's behaviour. But I could see myself in her emotions. This was an incredibly brave book to publish. Writing can be very cathartic but actually publishing something so deeply personal - Merri Lisa Johnson deserves a medal for her courage in exposing her struggle...more
Sharon
Girl in need of a Tourniquet is the personal memoirs of Merri Lisa Johnson, or Lisa as she refers to herself within the pages, and how she came to discover and live with having Borderline Personality Disorder.


It’s funny how getting a diagnosis of Borderline Personality Disorder leads to an intense heavy duty research fest. Maybe it is something to do with the lack of support following the diagnosis, I don’t really know but I had always suspected I was not alone in running out and buying every bo...more
Casey Kiser
This book is dramatic and brave. The author really peels back her skin to show everything and even goes into detail about how the five years of writing the book almost tore her apart. I loved the incorporation of song lyrics. The soundtrack to one's life is a fun plus for a memoir. I enjoyed this book.
Autumn Christian
A memoir of one woman's experience with borderline personality disorder - focused mostly on her affair with a woman named Emily. I found the prose compelling, but sometimes suffocating - it was "literary", but often shrouded facts and skipped over what seemed to be important information. A short, incomplete, but sometimes beautiful mess - memoirs aren't supposed to be guidebooks on how to live one's life, and it's important to show that people don't always get better. Sometimes there's just a tu...more
Stacy Pershall
Breathtakingly gorgeous writing! This is my *other* favorite BPD memoir, and a must-read for LGBT folks battling the illness.
Tiffany
Absolutely beautiful and moving. My favorite BPD specific memoir so far. An awesome book written by and amazing woman.
Kelly
An excellent, extremely psychologically informative memoir.
Jenifer Rune
This is an alright book for what it is - a "mental health memoir." I usually have no patience for those narratives of folks who become good patients, accept their diagnoses, take the pills, and so on.

I picked this book up a while ago because I recognized Merri Lisa Johnson's name from an anthology of sex-positive feminist essays. Jane Sexes It Up, I believe -- I read it in my early 20's. Johnson talked about sex work and her sexuality in ways that I had never really heard before. I figured I'd...more
Destiny
I've been looking for memoirs and biographies that focus on borderline for awhile. I finally decided to buy one and this was it.

And I'm glad I bought it. I received this book today and I have just finished reading it. I actually sat down and read the whole thing with a brief break to tell my mother "This book is it. This book is everything."

I liked the way it was structured with anecdotes and brief excerpts from psych literature and sometimes normal literature. I immediately connected to the aut...more
Meghan C
May 04, 2014 Meghan C rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Psychology students, Women and Gender Studies students, Disability Studies students
Recommended to Meghan by: Read for a gender and disability course
This book is an interesting look at what it's like to be a person living with Borderline Personality Disorder and the family traumas that can contribute to it's development. However, the author takes such a long time to get to the point (as in, her diagnosis with BPD and her reactions and coping skills learned) that it's easy to mistake this book to, initially, just be about a really bad break up.
Sarah Mccracken
I read a sample of this book and it was tough to get through. Hard to follow. I don't know if it gets better but I don't want to give it a chance. Just written funny.
Jannekb
Naturally, being the memoir of a Borderline Personality, this book attracts and repels in equal measures, but it contains a plenitude of useful nuggets about Borderline Personality Disorder. Makes me want to dig out my DBT material and give it a good once-over. Some good, solid clinical information and compelling (and appropriate) quotations and song lyrics, scattered among the eye-popping recounting of MLJ’s sexual exploits and cutting practices. Wouldn’t read it again, but I’m glad I read it o...more
Amelia
The writing style of this book made it nearly impossible for me to read.
Robin
Nov 30, 2012 Robin rated it 3 of 5 stars
Shelves: i-own
This book was strange to read given the format, but I actually found I liked it as I got further in. It was a little disjointed in the telling, but I think it worked for what the author was trying to do. Definitely an interesting memoir of a woman with Borderline Personality and I would recommend it to anyone interested in understand more about the disorder and someone's experience with it.
Leabelle
I enjoyed this book written by an intelligent woman who lives with borderline personality disorder. It gives the reader insight into the mind of one person with borderline personality particularly in the area of relationships. I particularly enjoyed travelling with the author to her understanding of why one of her relationships did not work although the two seemed initially quite compatible.
Pam
What was up with all the different fonts and spacing? You can't be a designer via Microsoft Word (just my own pet peeve). She was kind of all over the place regarding her own life and song lyrics and celebrity stories. The reader never knows what happens to her family, either! I'm guessing her first book.
Kim
I have read many books on BP and other similar disorders and assumed this would be right up there with my favourites but for some reason I just couldn't follow the more abstract aspects and disjointedness. Without being able to follow a common thread, I found myself not willing to pick it back up.
Dj
Feb 09, 2013 Dj rated it 5 of 5 stars
Shelves: top-10
If you are unlucky enough for this poetic hurricane to seriously resonate with you, it will rip you to pieces and spit out journal entries of your past like ticker tape while you read it. If you don't actually relate, I imagine its going to hit you like watching a thriller horror movie. Top 10.
Angela
I liked the last half of the book more than the first half, which I couldn't really relate to. However, this author's writing style is totally unique and kept me interested the entire way through. I recommend the book, if only to analyze her awesome way of writing!
Karli
As a long time Aimee Mann fan, this book had me at the title. Overall, I really enjoyed the writing style -- a bit skittish, experimental in form, fast-paced, intensely personal stories/confessions peppered with interesting research on BPD. Good, fast read.
Marianne Pita
The writer tells the story so intensely that I was able to feel her pain and confusion. Very raw, dark, honest and inspiring! The poetry and lyrics were beautiful. Plus you got to love the title. Wow! Left me thinking for days after...
Jen
Reads like a teen's Livejournal entries w/ dizzy, self-involved stream of consciousness, 4 different typefaces, arty slash marks and way too many song lyrics -- couldn't get past page 40.
Linda
You feel like you are in the first class seat of her life. Very fast moving narrative. I read this for a book club at school and enjoyed it.
Lindsey Bradford
I suppose the only way to describe such a book is this:

You'll either hate it, or hate it less.

Either way, it's going to make you think.
Blackcatno9
Well-written, like a poem. My only qualm is I can't get through it because it just goes too dark and I'm not like visiting the more visceral topics.
Amy Hassig
I was hoping to gain more insight into BPD, but I wasn't a fan of her writing style. It was hard to follow in some areas.
Iraina
I really wanted to like this book. It was too unorganized and very much "everywhere". I couldn't finish reading it.
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“My life story is structured by reckless reenactments of panic and flight.” 1 likes
“I longed to stabilize my core identity and to withstand the pressure of other people's words, behaviors, moods, and perceptions. I wanted to be less easily thrown.” 1 likes
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