Monday, October 31, 2011

It's ALIVE!!!! - Borderline Personality Disorder in Movies and Cinema

Happy Halloween! This has been a very mellow season for me. Decided not to hit any major parties or do the costume thing. I’ve been too uncomfortable in my own skin to go out in crowds. I have, however, been watching Horror movies like they’re going out of style. Which as any die hard horror movie buff knows, will never actually happen. Horror movies are good year round. I’m pretty desensitized to the actually scary factor but that doesn’t stop me from loving them. I also have a bizarre fascination with campy bad B horror movies. Over the past few weeks I’ve watched Friday the 13th, Silence of the Lambs, Hannibal,
Red Dragon, Night of the Living Dead (the original), Poltergeist, documentaries on the making of American Horror films, had a Nightmare on Elm Street marathon, and approximately a million more. You name it, I probably own it. Friday Tech Boy and I went to see the remake of The Thing.
The Thing (remake): SPOILER: Do yourself a favor… rent the original. The original is truly terrifying. The remake was an abomination of CGI craptasticism. The only horror inducing aspects of this film was that it was remade in the first place. Shame on you Hollywood. Seriously. I’m offended. Fortunately Tech Boy was equally as uninterested in the film and we didn’t end up watching a whole lot of it ::wink::
Saturday Friend and I went and saw Paranormal Activity 3. (NO Spoilers). If you have any belief, even a mild suspicion or doubt about what else might be out there…. These will shock your socks off. I freaking love this series of movies. Rent them. Watch them. Be prepared to never sleep again. Throw Insidious into the mix while you’re at it.

That’s great Haven, but what does any of this have to do with Borderline Personality Disorder, other than you’re particular case of nuttery? The movies listed above = not much. However, it got me to thinking about movies depicting Borderline Personality Disorder and they have a tendency to be pretty scary in their own way.
A couple of them like Girl, Interrupted and the film Borderline (based on the book by Marie-Sissi Labreche) take more of a genuine look at what it is to have Borderline Personality Disorder. I have to say the film version of Girl, Interrupted didn’t portray the disorder quite as well as the book did – which was actually quite different. Still, they’re honest attempts at some understanding.

Here are some of the most notable movies with characters with Borderline Personality Disorder:
Fatal Attraction (1987) - In “Fatal Attraction,” the infamous femme fatale character played by Glenn Close displays the emotional instability and fear of abandonment that are symptomatic of someone with Borderline Personality Disorder. Her character also exhibits the BPD symptoms of self-harm, intense anger, and manipulation as she stalks her former lover and his family.
Single White Female (1992) - Jennifer Jason Leigh’s character in “Single White Female” exhibits the Borderline Personality Disorder symptoms of fear of abandonment, impulsivity, and mirroring as she attempts to take over the persona and life of her roommate (Bridget Fonda).
The Hours (2002) - The three main characters in “The Hours,” which include author Virginia Woolf, all struggle with Borderline Personality Disorder, depression, and suicide. The movie, which links women from different generations to Woolf’s book “Mrs. Dalloway,” stars Nicole Kidman, Meryl Streep, and Julianne Moore.
Monster (2003) - Charlize Theron transformed into the role of female serial killer Aileen Wuornos in “Monster.” Wuornos was diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder, which may have contributed to the unstable and angry behaviors that led to her killing at least six men.
My Super Ex-Girlfriend (2006) - One of the few comedy movies that features a character with Borderline Personality Disorder is “My Super Ex-Girlfriend.” In this movie, Uma Thurman portrays a woman with superpowers and a secret identity who also displays the BPD symptoms of impulsivity, unstable interpersonal relationships, and poor self-image.
Margot at the Wedding (2007)- Two alums of movies with Borderline Personality Disorder – Jennifer Jason Leigh and Nicole Kidman – pair up in “Margot at the Wedding.” Kidman’s character, who is the sister of Leigh’s, is said to be diagnosed with BPD and exhibits the BPD symptoms of impulsivity and lack of boundaries.
A Streetcar Named Desire - A Streetcar Named Desire is a is a 1947 play written by Tennessee Williams, later adapted for film, which tells the story of a woman who displays histrionic and borderline traits, who goes to live with her codependent sister and her narcissistic husband.
Mommie Dearest - Mommie Dearest is a 1981 biography of Hollywood Actress Joan Crawford, played by Faye Dunaway, who, according to the account in the movie, exhibited Obsessive Compulsive, Borderline and Narcissistic Traits.
Gia: Too Beautiful to Die, Too Wild to Live (1998) - Directed by Michael Christofer, starring Angelina Jolie as the tragic supermodel Gia Marie Carangi.
For my money, this biographical movie is the very best screen representation of a female Borderline, vastly more emotionally insightful than Fatal Attraction. Jolie is uncannily brilliant in this Golden-Globe-winning role (and has written about her own personal experience with self-injury).

And some more…..
The Fountainhead (1949)
Play Misty for Me (1971)
Poison Ivy (1992)
The Crush (1993)
Mad Love (1995)
The Cable Guy (1996)
Allein (Germany, 2004)
Swimming Pool (2003)
Chloe (2009)
Notes on a Scandal (2006)
Black Swan (2010)  <~~~~~ Here’s another must see movie if you haven’t already. I over-identified with this film. The emotion pressure felt by the main character is portrayed in a very intense and accurate manner.

I also found a note about one more movie displaying Borderline characteristics. The Wizard of Oz. Now, I’m not sure I agree with it. I think it’s more likely that some psychologist decided to overanalyze a work of fiction. But this is what it said.
The Wizard of Oz - The Wizard of Oz is a 1944 movie starring Judy Garland which is sometimes used as a metaphor to describe the disconnect between the dissociated reality of the personality-disordered individual (Oz) and the real world experienced by the Non-PD (Kansas). The metaphor is based on the iconic phrase: "Toto - I've a feeling we're not in Kansas any more".

Those are what I've found so far. Do you know any others that might involve BPD?

It all just got me thinking about how entrenched the stigma of Borderline Personality Disorder is. A few of these movies take an honest approach to the disorder or even a comedic one… but in general, the character with BPD is often the villain, and not one you’re able to sympathize with. These movies capitalize on the stigma and spotlight the worst characteristics. I guess that’s what makes money though. I suppose having emotionally conflicted villains is too grey area for the good guys wear white, bad guys wear black mentality that often splits the silver screen. I find that a bit ironic.

So what are you favorite scary movies?

10 comments:

  1. Wow. No kidding! I just declared to a friend this morning that this was the first year in a very, very long time that I have not gone ahead with the full blown Halloween celebrations. (That half foot of snow dumped on us yesterday certainly did not help the mood of festivity!)

    I too have been watching horror flicks up the wazoo!! Last night i watched a movie that you can definitely add to your Borderline Personality DisOrder movie list - The Ward. It's about a girl that gets checked into a haunted psycho ward. It comes with quite an unexpected twisted ending. (I won't spoil it for you if you decide to rent it from Netflix)

    Any boo! Happy Halloweenie!!

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  2. I have to sy I've seen just about all of those and totally did not realize they were based upon BPD.. shows you how attentive I am.. and I know I've been absent.. I'm still reading in between jobs.. just super busy.. and people keep pissing me off..so I'm here.. reading..lurking..but not much else..

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  3. happy halloween!although our version of halloween isn't due for a few months(i live in greece)
    as for movies that depict mental disorders,
    hm...i have watched -and loved- the land of neverwas,the fight club,the red draagon.

    and yes,you're right about the stigma concerning mental disorders.It's because people want to believe that people that suffer from disorders are weak,or faulty-so they can convince themselves they themselves could never go through a mental illness.It gives them a sense of control over their lives...a false one may i add..

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  4. Love this post and I also like watching films that contain borderline characters, even though I am one!

    Black Swan was fantastic and like you I can relate alot to her, and I also managed to catch Fatal Attraction the other day and it was surprisingly good.

    Take Care

    Emma x

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  5. Not a movie, but the short anime series Mobile Suit Gundam: The 08th MS Team has a character who IMHO is a fairly textbook borderline. Unsurprisingly he's the villain, and both his Japanese and English voice actors give pretty chilling/creepy performances. I think it's interesting that he's a male character with borderline characteristics and abandonment issues (a major, underlying driving force behind his actions), even if we're not "supposed" to like him. BPD is so stereotypically associated with women, as are abandonment issues, so IMHO it's good to see some change there even if the character isn't positive.

    Villain or not I also think he's the most sympathetic character in the show. You're mileage will vary.

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  6. Neat. Thanks. A.r.! I talked about the 'female disorder' stereotype a while back. You're so right, it's not aften portrayed as a male disorder and it's kind of neat that they would do so. I'll have to check this out.

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  7. Thanks! Admittedly you never get much of a real backstory for him and the distinctly BPD stuff doesn't come until the last episode (until then he comes off as kind of a stereotypical ruthless mad scientist). That's when we find out he has severe abandonment issues that are the real driving force of his actions, not just your typical egotism or greed as per the norm for that archetype (I think he's kind of a subtle deconstruction of the mad scientist archetype that gives a reason *why* he's hyper dedicated to his projects and mentally unsound).

    While it's refreshing to see a male character with borderline traits, I should note he is fairly effeminate (which gets into other ugly stereotypes). So I guess the series doesn't completely subvert that trope. On an unrelated note, I do think it's interesting seeing a mad scientist who obviously puts effort into his appearance and presumably enjoys doing so. Stereotypically they don't really care.

    He's also codependent with his sister, which is a good thing to keep in mind while watching it. At least, that's how I see their relationship. We all know that comes with borderline like nobodies business, and lets just say he doesn't react well when his sister shows the slightest disinterest in him.

    Overall the series does fall into a lot of unfortunate tropes that aren't really nice to people with mental illness, though I think it's worth checking if you're into that kind of thing. It's only 11 episodes + a movie and and epilogue that don't have the borderline, and it's pretty common on streaming sites. Miiiight be triggering for abandonment issues though, especially since the series doesn't end well for him.

    Oh lord, sorry about the wall of text. I really need a life :X

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  8. Prozac Nation, although the title is misleading does a really awesome job with Christina Ricci starring as a character withBPD.

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  9. What about American Psycho (2000)? A PhD psychology student wrote a nice psychological profile of Patrick Bateman - ultimately diagnosing him with borderline personality disorder with schizotypal features.

    Another one is, Shame (2011). It is about a sex addict named Brandon played by Michael Fassbender, who also seems to suffer from BPD.

    Original Sin (2001), Angelina Jolie's character has been labelled a BPD.

    Then there's the film Dahmer (2002), based on the life of Jeffrey Dahmer, who was repeatedly diagnosed with BPD.

    Also, Cruel Intentions (1999) - the main character, Kathryn Merteuil is definitely a borderline personality with narcissistic traits.

    Fear (1996), the character Mark Wahlberg plays seems to have BPD.

    Truth (2013) a gay thriller about a guy with BPD and his lover (a non-BPD). It stars Sean Paul Lockhart, Blanche Baker, and Rob Moretti.

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  10. What about Basic Instincts (1992)...the female character is either a BPD or a NPD. She has traits of both. I'd say co-morbid.

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Leave me a comment! It makes me feel good and less paranoid about talking to myself =)

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