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Human Nature Review 2002 Volume 2: 391 ( 18 September )
URL of this document http://human-nature.com/nibbs/02/walker.html
The Courtship Dance of the Borderline
By Anthony Walker
Writer's Showcase, San Jose. 2001
Reviewed by Roy Sugarman PhD, Senior Clinical Neuropsychologist, Glenside Campus/RAH, Clinical Lecturer, Dept of Psychiatry, Adelaide University, P O Box 17, Fullarton SA 5063, Australia.
Legend has it that behind every successful man....... My attraction to this little book is twofold: one, Walker is from my old neighbourhood, Johannesburg, South Africa, we went to the same Medical School, the same university, the same hospital wards, the same ward rounds, in different years. I rack my brain to remember who he was, to remember who Jacqueline might have been, did I meet them?
The second is more compelling: we have all, as experts, been defeated by a compelling borderline patient or two. Unlike Dr Walker, we (hopefully) never married them or had sex with them in a ward, under a sprinkler in a park, for Walker did just that shortly after he met Jacqueline, and more.
Walker's memoirs cover a year of his life, before he, overwhelmed by the attraction of her need, leaves her and flees to Boston.
The style is exactly what one would expect to read if any of us sat down to tell our story without embellishment, a kind of hand-held movie book; he is not a writer here, he is telling his story, compelled to by his suffering and dismay at the strength, no, make that the power of her pathology, and its capacity to invade him to the core.
One can live vicariously in his story, and cry vicariously for him, not feel a shred of compassion for her, but, as it is in horror movies, the audience will be on their feet shouting "Run boy run for your life, don't look back", as his parents did, as his friends did, as his colleagues did, before the end.
Poor Jacqueline. I could put her down, but I couldn't put his choreographed passion down until I finished it, finally skipping lines to get to the end.
Dr Walker's openness and his love for her do not fade across the life of the book, and all I could do was respectfully read along and feel for him, and for her, for in some ways he manages to convey both his helplessness and his horror, and, I think, he still mourns, as we all do, the loss of our innocence.
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© Roy Sugarman.
Sugarman, R. (2002). Review of The Courtship Dance of the Borderline by Anthony Walker. Human Nature Review. 2: 391.