Barbara, Uncharted Course Through Borderline Personality Disorder (paperback)

(2 customer reviews)


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The Chickenhouse Chronicles is a series of cross-genre, standalone books that do not need to be read in any order.




“A comprehensive…familial study.”
Kirkus Reviews



Barbara, Uncharted Course Through Borderline Personality Disorder is the culmination of a decade spent researching over one thousand 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 old 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 the author’s search for his biological father as Barbara’s story begins to reveal clues to the man’s identity. With the help of a genealogy wizard and an DNA test, the author is guided through another years-long research journey filled with emotional upheaval that ultimately leads to acceptance and welcome by a newfound family.

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….” and called this book, “…an amazing accomplishment by a lay person.”

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.

2 reviews for Barbara, Uncharted Course Through Borderline Personality Disorder (paperback)

  1. emilyenger

    The depth of the author’s research into his mother’s past is impressive. The fairness and objectivity with which he examines her life, despite their complicated history, was a beautiful testament to forgiveness. Although this is his mother’s story, it is also a story about the author himself as he learns to understand the woman who raised him. The surprise the author receives in Part III of the book was the perfect ending–one that moved me deeply.

    With all the stigma around mental illness, I hope people can read this book and better understand what Borderline Personality Disorder can look like and the impact it has on both the afflicted person and their family. Much of the included research comes from diaries and first-person accounts by the author’s grandmother (Barbara’s mother.) It details family genetic predispositions but also surprising traumatic events in young Barbara’s life–giving readers a continued puzzle to ponder in the unsolvable “nature vs nurture” debate.

  2. Diana Morkassel (verified owner)

    How could this young woman, raised by a wealthy family, educated at the best private schools, a genius on the concert piano, develop a personality disorder which tore apart all her relationships with everyone who loved her?
    Author, Wendell Affield writes the true story of his Mother’s life, analyzing thousands of documents dated back to 1822 found in the Nebish, Minnesota homestead locked Chicken house.
    “Babara ” is so well written, it is difficult to put the book down, once you have started it. You will experience, fear, anger, depression, and hurt beyond belief, and finally some joy, as the third part of the book culminates the author’s story when he finds his biological father’s family.

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