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Bright Beautiful, and Deeply Troubled

Several years ago, LEADERSHIP editors conducted an interview with Jim Smith, executive director of the Highland Park Presbyterian Church Family Life Counseling Center in Dallas, and his colleague Victoria Martin. Jim and Victoria were concerned about helping church leaders understand borderline personality disorder. In churches, people with this malady can often cause confusion or turmoil for pastors.

Sadly, shortly after our conversation with them, Jim died from cancer. But we felt the insights he and Victoria shared that day deserved to be published.

Linda was the divorced wife of a Presbyterian pastor. She was bright, articulate, and charming. Inwardly, though, she was filled with a paralyzing sense of confusion, emptiness, and need. Having dallied in a number of promiscuous relationships, she had yet to sate her emotional hunger.

One morning after Sunday school, she approached Jim Smith, a counselor in our church-related center, about her problem. That week they met for an initial psychological ...

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