Pioneering family therapist, Salvador Minuchin, defines psychological boundaries as "the invisible barriers that protect the integrity and rights of the individual." On first discovering this interpretation of the dynamics of interpersonal relationships, I was intrigued with the possibilities for change that such a concept might bring to my life and the lives of others. For we deal with violations of the self or boundary invasions daily--overt and covert attacks on our self-esteem, our sexuality, our bodies; intrusions on our privacy, our possessions.
I believe that in recognizing and respecting our boundaries we affirm ourselves, our rights in all our relationships, and the rights of others. When we fail to defend ourselves, when we fail to stand up for ourselves under attack, we lose some treasured part of ourselves-- our integrity, belief in ourselves, the real "I" at the core of the inner self, and each time this is a little death. And when we fail to respect the rights of others, we inflict losses, large and small, that may shake the core of lives of all we touch.
I have written this book for women because, first of all, being a woman, I speak from a woman's perspective, I see and hear as a woman, I feel as a woman. And although psychological boundaries are just as important to men in building healthy flexible relationships, I write for women because we, traditionally and culturally, have held positions of diminished power in our society.
A great influence in our skewed heritage as women, I believe, is in our history and tradition. For up until the twentieth century women enjoyed few rights, and even now, with the growing momentum of the women's movement, we still suffer from the image that a patriarchal society has instilled in us--our role as submissive, self-sacrificing