Barbara, Uncharted Course Through Borderline Personality Disorder is the culmination of a decade researching over one thousand pages of primary source documents and interviewing mental health professionals as Affield learns to understand and appreciate the woman who haunted his childhood.
After Affield’s mother, Barbara, dies in 2010, Affield unlocks the chickenhouse door on the farm he grew up on in northern Minnesota and discovers 200 years of family history, including clues to the riddle of who his father is. Over the next ten years, Affield studies thousands of primary source documents and discovers the story behind the eccentric woman he had been forced, as a child, to call Mommy Darling.
Barbara, Uncharted Course is the startling journey of one woman’s struggle to navigate a maelstrom of rage, impulsiveness, broken relationships, and a skewed sense of abandonment. Born into affluence and privilege in 1920, Barbara attends private schools in California and Connecticut, but as a teenager, borderline personality disorder (BPD) symptoms begin to manifest.
Taught by the famous pianist, Emile Bosquet at Institut Droissard, Brussels, Belgium, Barbara’s natural talent blossoms. Mouse-gnawed 1939 documents reveal Barbara’s impulsive engagement (and possible marriage) in Poland, and her narrow escape from the Nazi invasion. Upon her return to New York, after dropping out of Juilliard School, Barbara begins a decade of running from her problems, leaving a wake of failed marriages and rendezvous resulting in four children. Feeling abandoned by her family and searching for a new start, she posts an advertisement in Cupid’s Columns that is answered by a bachelor farmer in northern Minnesota.
The first two sections of the book explore Barbara’s childhood and young adulthood. Part three chronicles Affield’s search for his biological father and the labyrinth leading to a breakthrough. Acceptance by his new-found family is an incredible testament to the power of love.
In the foreword, William M. Petersen, MD, said “I likely have never observed a more difficult and severely perplexing patient with Borderline Personality Disorder than Wendell’s mother, Barbara….”
Barbara, Uncharted Course is an insightful resource for anyone wanting to better understand BPD. It is also a moving picture of forgiveness as the author humanizes his mother despite their complicated relationship.