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Building a Life Worth Living: A Memoir

4.13  ·  Rating details ·  193 ratings  ·  38 reviews
Marsha Linehan tells the story of her journey from suicidal teenager to world-renowned developer of the life-saving behavioral therapy DBT, using her own struggle to develop life skills for others.

"This book is a victory on both sides of the page."--Gloria Steinem

"Are you one of us?" a patient once asked Marsha Linehan, the world-renowned psychologist who developed
Hardcover, 384 pages
Published January 7th 2020 by Random House
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Jan 10, 2020 rated it really liked it
It’s a fine autobiography of and by Marsha Linehan, one of my personal heroes in the field of psychology/psychotherapy. I’m a psychologist who once worked with patients diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder (and I grew up with a mother with BPD), so I have much experience with the suffering that these individuals live with and, often, inflict on others.

Marsha survived the kind of descent into hell that is characteristic of these patients, but/and she found her way out and vowed to use
Bethany Vaughn
Nov 03, 2019 rated it really liked it
As a teen, Marsha Linehan experienced suicidal ideation and was sent to an institution for the mentally unwell. Toward the end of her time there, she made a vow to God that once she got herself out of hell, she would do everything she could to get others out, too. DBT (dialectical behavior therapy), is what Marsha created as her best effort to keep her vow and help patients with suicidal behavior. She is so intelligent and dedicated to helping others! I thought this book has such a powerful ...more
Jan 20, 2020 rated it really liked it
A perfect book to be published in January. I remember the first time I heard Borderline Personality Disorder was from the movie, "Girl Interrupted" and I thought to myself that sounds like me. And I think when that book and movie came out I was still in high school. Well last year I heard the phrase again when a psychiatrist diagnosed me with Borderline Personality Disorder on top of my depression and anxiety. I was fortunate enough to attend a program that used Marsha's development of DBT ...more
Ruth Gibian
Jan 19, 2020 rated it it was ok
Shelves: abandoned
Marsha Linehan single-handedly changed how psychotherapy approached people with traits known as "borderline," a group of people considered not likely to benefit from therapy. In the 1990s brought in an approach that combined cognitive-behavioral therapy, feminism, and mindfulness practice. I got trained in this approach and loved it - I loved how usable the skills were, how it broke down the separation between "us" and "them" (as many of "us" therapists began integrating these skills into our ...more
Kimberly Simpson
Jan 12, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This memoir shows the beauty and power of the wounded healer. Not only did she use her pain to singlehandedly advance mental health treatment, but she bravely risked all of that to inspire others through this same story. I was especially moved by the parts about her spiritual path. The quote, “I eventually learned that when it comes to spirituality, the more you actively want it, the less likely it is to happen. You have to throw yourself into your life as it is, and be open to whatever might be ...more
Lisa Wiegand
Dec 30, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: giveaways
A goodreads giveaway win that I was actually looking forward to reading.

The book is an interesting one detailing the development of DBT thereapy for suicidal people who have borderline personality disorder. I enjoyed reading about the development of the most effective treatment for these conditions - especially since it is the true life story of someone who actually struggled with the disorder that developed the protocol. Her writing is a bit scattered - but the description of the process was
Ridgewood Public
Jan 29, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: kerri
**Kerri's Review**

I thought Marsha Linehan's memoir was touching and she gave a clear concrete examples of how her experience as a patient (which involved heavy medication, isolation and shock treatment) at the Institute for Living led her better her life so that she could help others with self-harm and sucidal ideations. Her research and studies helped her to create Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) in the 80's and is being renowned and used in more of today's therapy programs. Very inspiring
Dec 11, 2019 rated it really liked it
This was a good memoir about Marsha and how she created DBT therapy. It helped me learn more about DBT overall as well as how the author used her own experiences to create it and help a lot of people. I would reccomend this book to anyone who is considering DBT therapy or just beginning it.

I would like to thank Netgalley and the publisher for providing me with a copy free of charge. This is my honest and unbiased opinion of it.
Jan 12, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I have been a DBT therapist for about 15 years. One of my former coworkers was sent this book by the publisher to read and review. I sent the publisher an email and asked for a copy as well, citing trainings I had done as a participant and facilitator, reviews of books pertaining to DBT which I had read, and even included a photo of me with Marsha from a training in Seattle. The book came yesterday, I read it in one sitting and immediately purchased a copy through Amazon so I could loan it out.

Alison Hastings
Jan 22, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This is definitely one of the best books I have ever read. I wish I could give it an extra star. The reader goes on a journey, a very reflective, honest and educational journey. I loved the sharing of imperfections, disappointments and rejections in addition to the expected and unexpected successes. It is not a regular journey. It is a very unique journey that combines scientific and spiritual observations, a discussion of what makes a difference and the things that can and cannot be measured. ...more
Jan 26, 2020 rated it it was ok
This book was not an enjoyable read; I'm baffled by all the 4 and 5 star reviews of this book. Labeling this book as a "memoir" is very misleading. I don't feel like I know that much more about Marsha Linehan than before I started reading the book. It started off interesting with Marsha talking a bit about her family of origin dynamics and her time at the Institute of Living, however, there was very little depth and substance to her writing after that.

The writing is very disjointed throughout.
Nickie Coby
Feb 12, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The DBT book I always wanted to read

About 10 years ago, during a particularly dark time in my life, I was a DBT participant. I found DBT to be a life-saving and life-building experience. I have always wondered about the story behind DBT and the therapist who created it. I really enjoyed this story, it integrated both Marsha's story and so many of the skills that I found useful over the years. It was very cool to hear her story, and to see ways in which she uses the skills.
If you've ever wanted
Emily Michelle
Feb 15, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Marsha Linehan embodies the true meaning of a hero. When living through the exruciating hell of suicidal mental illness as a young adult in a psychaitric institution, she made a vow to get out of hell and then to figure out a way to get other people out too. She kept that vow with the brilliant creation of Dialectical Behavior Therapy. Learning about her personal, academic, and faith journey that led to the creation of such a ground breaking treatment for highly suicidal individuals was beyond ...more
Jan 30, 2020 rated it really liked it
Incredible memoir! I can't imagine the courage and vulnerability it must have taken her to write this book. I picked it up because my own therapist mentioned "Dialectical Behavior Therapy" to me and when I looked it up, the whole thing spoke to me. "Its main goals are to teach people how to live in the moment, cope healthily with stress, regulate emotions, and improve relationships with others."
Mindfulness and spirituality - wrapped up in Cognitive Behavior Therapy. Makes so much sense.
Jarrod Job
Jan 20, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Thankful for This

Few Sentence Learning:
Without this book, the DBT would be monotone and statuesque. With this book, the DBT approach gains color and vibrancy.

Books Target Audience:
I fee as if it is written for Therapists, DBT Students, and People interested in learning more about DBT/BPD solves. Not really a book for anybody outside of the interest.

Reveals details that help solidify concepts and their origins in DBT.

Writing was redundant at
Luiza Martin
Feb 03, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Marsha Linehan shares her life story and how DBT came to be. I can't put this book down it's written so well. The story Marsha portrays is raw, emotional and inspiring. It's a good read if you want to know about DBT and how it came about. Marsha's story is one of great turmoil but despite her hardships, she creates a therapy that helps others get out of the hell of a life they are in. This book is a pick me up again kind of book in my opinion and one I'd gladly read over and over again. What I ...more
Feb 08, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This book was an honest and powerful memoir. I wish I could give it a thousand gold stars. It took great courage and vulnerability for her to be so honest in sharing what she did, and this book was written for the clear purpose of providing hope for those struggling with mental health issues to know that the person who has made the greatest contribution to the field of clinical psychology in current times came from such a place of mental health struggles and incredible pain. The tone of this ...more
Cindy Bokma
Oct 23, 2019 rated it really liked it
If you have not heard of DBT, look it up immediately. This is a form of therapy that has the potential to benefit everyone. I have been through it and use the skills all the time. Marsha created this particular therapy to help suicidal patients.

I've read a lot about dialectical behavior therapy but didn't know about the woman behind it.
Marsha is so intelligent and dedicated to helping others, this book was a fascinating look at how she came up with this therapy plus her own past and struggles.
Joan Kleinmann
Jan 25, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Wow. This book gets all the stars. I am a sucker for memoirs, especially mental health ones since I work in the field. Marsha Linehan is the creator of DBT and in her memoir goes into detail about her own struggles and why she created DBT. If you work in mental health this is a must read. Even if you don't DBT skills are amazing life skills for anyone to know. She ties in all the skills and defines them as well which was a great reminder for me. I highlighted and stuck sticky notes all through ...more
Jeffrey Bishop
Feb 04, 2020 rated it it was ok
It’s certainly a decent book, but it likely will not interest anyone who doesn’t already have an interest in the founder of dialectical behavior therapy. The writing is pleasant enough, but the disorganized hops across time muddle the clarity of the story’s chronology. Linehan’s life is remarkable even as her gaps in memory leave us with more questions than answers about some of the early events in her life. Overall, I’d recommend this for anyone who has a prior interest in Linehan, but it is ...more
Jan 21, 2020 rated it liked it
Marsha Linehan saved my life. Well, the DIalectical Behavioral therapy she developed saved my life, and has made an enormous difference in how I, and countless others, cope with emotions gone haywire. Her memoir details her own experience with mental illness, which inspired her to create the DBT method. Some of this was of interest to me (her strong devotion to Roman Catholicism — I had no idea!) some did not (her love life. Blah blah blah.) Worth a read for anyone interested in DabT.
Feb 17, 2020 rated it it was amazing
As a psychologist and DBT practitioner, but also a great memoir fan, I give this book a resounding 5++ stars! Marsha’s story in beyond inspirational and I am floored at how she was able to integrate her meaningful life experiences into a scientifically effective treatment. Her story gives me hope and will help me to instill hope in the clients I treat. No one else could’ve created this therapy. We are lucky to have Marsha.
Jan 26, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Wow. This book is a treat. I rarely buy books, and as soon as I learned she was releasing a memoir, I pre-ordered and had to wait. I am not disappointed. Maybe it's already obvious, I am a huge fan of Linehan and her therapy teachings, I imagine most people who pick up this book will be. This book is really well constructed, edited and her sense of humor comes out. I have truly enjoyed learning more about Marsha the the origins of DBT.
Sep 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing
What an excellent book. I didn’t know about DBT prior to reading it, but the moment I mentioned it to my therapist, she lit up. “So Linehan is a big deal?” I asked, prompting strong nods from her. It’s personal, helpful, informative, and moving. A woman who found herself in hell and vowed to get out and then help others find the way out too.
Heather Bennett
Dec 07, 2019 rated it really liked it
Building a Life Worth Living is a interesting and informative book. DBT therapy is a great therapy that has helped thousands of people. This is a well written book and it would to give those interested in DBT.
Feb 17, 2020 added it
I would have given this 2 or 3 stars for the writing (repetitive, jumpy, disorganized), but really loved reading this, so it gets an extra star or 2 for that. I don't think this would interest anyone who isn't in the field or a potential DBT patient.
Audrey Whittenberg
Wonderful Memoir

"Even if you are not a fan of Marsha, you will be when you are done" is something I believe a lot of people would say.
Florin Grigoriu
Feb 10, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Aside from many stories on BPD and DBT the book is filled with stories about a life worth living even if hard.

After reading the book I really want to see with my eyes, experience Shasta Abbey
Feb 04, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Edifying. Inspirational. Marsha Linehan is a force.
Nov 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: good-reads
It was a good read.
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Marsha Linehan, PhD, ABPP, is a Professor of Psychology and adjunct Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at the University of Washington in Seattle and is Director of the Behavioral Research and Therapy Clinics, a research consortium that develops and evaluates treatments for multi-diagnostic, severely disordered, and suicidal populations. Her primary research is in the application of ...more