Borderline personality disorder is no longer a secret. Many people who are not therapists know what it is and see it as a fitting description for their personal experience. But what does it mean for someone to be “borderline”? Is it something one is or that one has? Perhaps most importantly, where does it come from? The prevailing view in psychological circles has long been that it stems from traumatic experiences and problematic internal psychological patterns. But is it possible that society actually makes certain people “borderline?” 

These and other questions are taken up in my interview with Željka Matijašević, author of the new book The Borderline Culture: Intensity, Jouissance, and Death (2021, Rowman & Littlefield). She advances a compelling argument that perhaps our fast-paced, capitalist society bears some responsibility for the creation of borderline states, with its proclivity towards intensity and promotion of insatiable consumption, both features with striking resemblance to borderline states. This interview is for anyone wanting to better understand the borderline phenomenon.

Željka Matijašević is full professor of comparative literature at the Department of Comparative Literature, Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences at the University of Zagreb, Croatia. She holds and MPhil and Ph.D. in psychoanalytic studies from the University of Cambridge, UK. Her prior books include Lacan: The Persistence of the Dialectics (2005); Structuring the Unconscious: Freud and Lacan (2006); An Introduction to Psychoanalysis: Oedipus, Hamlet, Jekyll/Hyde (2011); The Century of the Fragile Self: Psychoanalysis, Culture, and Society (2016); and Drama, Drama (2020). She is a member of La Fondation Européenne pour la Psychoanalyse and the Croatian Writers’ Society.

Eugenio Duarte, Ph.D. is a psychoanalyst and clinical psychologist practicing in Miami. He treats individuals and couples, with specialties in gender and sexuality, eating and body image problems, and relationship issues. He is a graduate and faculty of William Alanson White Institute in Psychiatry, Psychoanalysis, and Psychology in New York City and former chair of their LGBTQ Study Group; and faculty at Florida Psychoanalytic Institute in Miami. He is also a contributing author to the book Introduction to Contemporary Psychoanalysis: Defining Terms and Building Bridges (2018, Routledge) and has published on issues of gender, sexuality, and sexual abuse.

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