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I'd be happy to have this posted on UU wiki. The new UU accessibility organization Equual Access will be carrying this forward within the denomination.

I don't know if this proposed accessibility statement is going to answer your questions about the specifics of handling people with personality disorders. The document is oriented to making churches accessible to people with mental disorders. It does not have a set of specific behavioral guidelines for personality disorders, just saying that a congregation should have "guidelines for appropriate behavior in church which apply to all church members and visitors."

I would like to say that any discussion about how to set boundaries for people who cause should apply to all church members, not those who are "mentally ill." I have witnessed very discourteous behavior by "sane" people toward people who have mental health difficulties. In fact, this can be a trigger for undesirable behavior. I have also heard of situations where a person who merely disagrees with something that the church is doing is labeled disruptive and becomes an ostracized persona non grata. I think our first principle serves us well here. I appreciate that you are looking for ways to handle these situations that are caring.

To my knowledge, there is no one way that these issues are addressed within a congregation. I have heard from some ministers who have taken the lead in handling these problems, sometimes with good offices and/or district help. I'm sure that there are probably instances where lay leaders handle the situation. I haven't seen or heard of any one recommended way. The closest thing to a rule of thumb that I know is when there is a choice as to whether or not to keep a destructively disruptive member, the needs of the congregation should have top priority, especially if it is obvious that the person won't change.

More recently, I have written something else that I think is more helpful in these situations. It is in a document intended for ministers, telling them ideas on how to approach compassionate handling parishioners who have a number of different mental disorders: depression, bipolar disorder, anxiety disorders, schizophrenia, and borderline, histrionic, narcissistic and paranoid personality disorders. The document is now being reviewed by a number of ministers and I will be presenting it at a UUMA gathering at our district assembly this weekend. The intended audience is parish ministers. I'll ask my colleagues if they think it would make sense to make it more widely available.

This newer document points at references that are helpful in setting boundaries. In hopes that these might be helpful to you, here are the references I cite:

Resources for Personality Disorders


   * Haugk, Kenneth C. Antagonists in the Church – How to Identify and Deal with Destructive Conflict, Minneapolis: Augsburg, 1988. Not about Borderline personality disorder per se, but good practical hard-nosed advice for dealing with people who might destroy a church.
   * Horowitz, Mardi, ed. Hysterical Personality Style and Histrionic Personality Disorder, Jason Aronson, 1991. Updated version of classic work on histrionic personality disorder.
   * Kantor, Martin. Understanding Paranoia: A Guide for Professionals, Families, and Sufferers, Praeger Paperback, 2008. Combines good insight into paranoid thinking with practical advice.
   * Kraeger, Randi, and Mason, Paul T.  Stop Walking on Eggshells – Taking your life back when someone you care about has borderline personality disorder.  Oakland, CA: New Harbinger Publications, Inc, 1998. This book has excellent advice about setting boundaries, and about what helps for the families of those with Borderline personality disorder. 
   * Kreisman, Jerold and Straus, Hal. I Hate You, Don’t Leave Me – Understanding Borderline Personality Disorder, New York: Avon, 1991. Describes how the person with Borderline personality disorder sees the world. 
   * Millon, Millon, Meagher, Grossman and Ramnath, Personality Disorders in Modern Life, New York: Wiley, 2004. Update of the leading textbook on personality disorders.
   * Vaknin, Sam. Malignant Self Love: Narcissism Revisited, Czech Republic: Narcissus Publications, 2001. Highly rated, practical look at how narcissists think and behave.


   * Borderline Personality Disorder Resource Center  Geared for friends/family/loved ones of those with Borderline personality disorder.
   * Borderline Personality Disorder Sanctuary  Education, communities, support, books, and resources for borderline personality disorder.
   * Description of Personality Disorders  Mayo Clinic information about personality disorders, their symptoms, treatments, coping, and prevention.
   * Treatment and Research Advancements Association for Personality Disorders.  Supports research, education, and advocacy for personality disorders

Let me know if you have any questions.


Rev. Barbara F. Meyers Community Minister Mission Peak Unitarian Universalist Congregation 38132 Kimbro Street, Fremont, CA 94536 510-796-5722