should we take more care when titling books?

Hello, lovelies! Apologies for not posting much recently – I was very busy moving house! But I am now back, and ready to talk more about mental health and books.

I recently joined my local library, and naturally I started looking at books about mental health, and in particular, borderline personality disorder. And…I was a little concerned about what I found. First of all, there weren’t a lot of books about this mental health condition (but that’s a discussion for another time). Secondly, some of the titles of the books made me pause.

The first book the library offered was ‘Stop Walking on Eggshells: taking your life back when someone you care about has borderline personality disorder’.

Screenshot 2019-07-31 12.44.58

Now. I have a lot of thoughts here. First of all, I think that it’s a great idea to have a book for family and friends of people with conditions such as BPD. I get a lot of questions from people asking how they can help their loved ones with mental health conditions. This book will (hopefully!) answer some of their questions. BUT. I really do think that the title of this book is doing more harm than good.

According to the Cambridge Dictionary, the phrase ‘walking on eggshells’ means:

…you are being very careful not to offend someone or do anything wrong

In the context of BPD, which already has an unfounded association with manipulation and violence, I believe that using this phrase can lead to harmful connotations, especially when paired with the idea of ‘taking your life back’ from the person with BPD. I don’t know whether it’s just me, but I feel like the title of this book is almost framing the reader as being in an abusive situation – as if their loved one with BPD has snatched their life away from them.

(Interestingly, when I googled the phrase ‘walking on eggshells’, the first page came up with this related search:

Screenshot 2019-07-31 12.52.46

This might be because of my general interest in BPD, but I do find it interesting that this phrase might be closely associated with the condition.)


The second book offered was ‘Sometimes I act crazy: living with borderline personality disorder’.

Screenshot 2019-07-31 12.44.38

Again, I have a lot of mixed feelings about this title. In general, I am not a fan of titles that use words such as ‘crazy’, ‘mad’ or ‘insane’. I feel like they have a long history of violence and stigma attached to them, and I believe that they are bandied about far too freely. However, I don’t deny the fact that some people with mental health conditions might want to reclaim these words. This book might be a bit like the TV show Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, which unpacks the idea of being ‘crazy’ in the:

evolution of the show’s theme song, which has gone from spoofing the way Rebecca is “crazy in love” in the first two seasons, to looking at the ways that “crazy girls” are both fetishized and maligned in season three, to showing how Rebecca is more than just a “crazy ex-girlfriend” in the final season.

But again, I feel like this book might be playing on the stereotypes associated with BPD, and doing very little, on the offset, to explain or dismiss them.

Of course, these are just the titles of the books. I would need to read them carefully to see whether the contents do actually perpetuate these beliefs about BPD. However, I think it is important to note that should a casual reader come across these books, they would not get a good impression of this mental health condition.

What do you think? Should a book’s title use words such as ‘crazy’?

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