How Marsha Linehan Developed the Central Feature of Dialectical Behavior Therapy

A descent into despair led to the birth of dialectical behavior therapy.

By Marsha M Linehan Ph.D., published December 30, 2019 – last reviewed on January 12, 2020

I have done many hard things in my life. But the most devastating was coming to terms with a totally unexpected complete breakdown—the dissolution of the person I had always been.

I had been a happy-go-lucky, confident high school girl, popular among my classmates, often the one to initiate activities—organizing concerts, for example, or simply gathering a group for ice cream at the drugstore. I was always careful to make sure everyone’s needs were met, that no one was left out. I was elected and nominated to important class roles in junior year and senior year. I was the kind of girl who might be voted “most popular” or “most likely to succeed.” (Read the complete article here: