Borderline personality disorder, a mental illness that causes emotional problems and unstable relationships, has a lot of bad press. So hard to find a movie that accurately portrays it. Many people only know about BPD through stereotypes, so it’s easy to wonder if there are any depictions of BPD and its symptoms in pop culture at all.
While it may seem that Hollywood only shows BPD in bad movies or doesn’t show it at all, there are movies that some people think accurately show what people with BPD go through. With the help of people in our BPD community, we looked at the movies below to see how they show borderline personality disorder symptoms. People with BPD or other mental illnesses aren’t shown in all of the movies on this list. Many of them only show common signs of BPD.
Before we get started, we wanted to give a quick overview of the nine classic symptoms of BPD that we used as a guide for our research:
People with Borderline Personality Disorder show signs.
1. Making frantic efforts to avoid real or fictitious leaving.
2. This is also known as “black and white thinking” or “splitting.” It’s when you have a lot of unstable relationships where you either overvalue or undervalue someone.
3. Having a shaky sense of self-image or identity.
4. Doing things that are risky or impulsive.
5. Having a lot of suicidal thoughts or hurting yourself.
6. Feeling intense emotions or having a lot of quick mood changes.
7. Feeling empty all the time.
8. Living with a lot of anger that you can’t control.
9. Feeling like you’re “out of the body,” not connected to yourself, or not being able to feel your own body.
Without any more ado, here are the movies that mostly got the symptoms of BPD right:
1. ‘Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind’
The movie called “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind” is one of the best movies ever made.
What kind of movie is “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind”? It’s a science-fiction romantic comedy/drama about the relationship between introverted Joel Barish (Jim Carrey) and free-spirited Clementine Kruczynski (Claire Danes) (Kate Winslet). The main conflict comes from the fact that a procedure can erase memories. Clementine goes through this procedure to forget about Joel.
It doesn’t say that Clem has a borderline personality disorder or that she’s the antithesis of the “Manic Pixie Dream Girl” (MPDG) trope, but some think she’s a good example of both of these things. As the movie goes on, we learn that some of the “free-spirited” things she does are signs of deeper problems. Alison Herman wrote a blog post on Flavorwire called, “It’s a good thing that I don’t have a lot of money.”
It turns out that pouring booze into her coffee isn’t a cute thing that she does. It’s a sign that she has a drinking problem that caused her to wreck Joel’s car. She’s moody, irresponsible, and resentful of Joel to the point of being mean. Then, of course, she’s been called “impulsive” a lot by herself and by everyone else who knows her.
Because of her impulsivity and addiction problems, it might be a sign that Clem has BPD. Her emotional intensity and idealization/devaluation of Joel could also be signed. However, even if Clem wasn’t written with this specific diagnosis in mind, many people with BPD can connect with her. People in the Mighty community Kayla Z. said she felt like “a mix of the female characters in Silver Linings Playbook and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.”
2. ‘Wreck-It Ralph’
As a character in Wreck-It Ralph, John C. Reilly plays Wreck-It Ralph. He’s tired of always being the bad guy in his game compared to Fix-It Felix, who’s a lot of fun (Jack McBrayer). Wreck-It Ralph wants to be a game hero and get rid of his bad reputation, but instead, he wrecks the arcade.
If you watch the movie Wreck-It Ralph, you’ll see a lot of typical borderline personality disorder (BPD) symptoms, even though the movie doesn’t talk about mental health. One of the things he shows most clearly is his impulsive behaviour.
Wreck-It Ralph is a person who acts quickly. His emotions are always pushing him to make decisions that don’t make any sense. Because he wants to be liked by others and be accepted, he jumps into games and breaks many rules. This eventually puts his life in danger.
In addition to being impulsive, he also tends to let his emotions get the best of him and be afraid of being alone. In the movie’s sequel, “Ralph Breaks the Internet,” @clarence noticed that Wreck-It Ralph’s character was very different from the first one.
“While the movie doesn’t talk about mental health, Ralph has problems with attachment to Venelope,” she said in her review. “I cry every time I watch this movie because it makes me feel so good about myself.” The only media I think has shown how afraid I am of being alone and how dependent I am on one person.
3. ‘Girl, Interrupted’
Teenage Girl, Interrupted is set in the 1960s, and it tells the storey of Susan Kaysen, who was diagnosed with borderline personality disorder (BPD) after she tried to kill herself. Kaysen makes friends with other women who have mental health problems during her stay, including Lisa Rowe (Angelina Jolie).
Susanna has been diagnosed with BPD, but some people don’t think that fits her. Instead, they think Lisa is more like them. Mighty contributor Alea D. wrote of the movie,
On the other hand, Susanna isn’t someone I could relate to at all. I could relate to a few of the other actors’ traits more than I could relate to Susanna. Lisa can be manipulative, think in black and white, and harm herself. It was hard to tell that Susanna had BPD, but her thoughts and mood were mostly clear.
Some people say that the movie goes too far by romanticizing mental illness and comparing it to being “cool but not well-known.” People who work with mental health problems wrote about this on The Radical Idea.
“Girl, Interrupted,” though one of the more well-known books or movies about mental illness, isn’t the only one out there. However, it has resonated with young women more than other books or movies about mental illness. Because there are benefits to that. But if you zoom out and look at how mental illness is shown in books and movies, there’s a problem with that. Is it being romanticized in a way that makes it not seem real? The romanticization of mental illness makes it seem less bad and more appealing, making it seem like a cool thing to have instead of a painful thing to deal with.
4. ‘Welcome to Me
“Welcome to Me” is a 2014 comedy-drama that tells the storey of Alice Klieg, a woman with borderline personality disorder (BPD). She wins the lottery and uses the money to make a talk show about herself.
BPD is mostly known for having unstable relationships with other people, which we see in Alice’s life. Alice has a talk show called “Welcome to Me,” She does skits based on her past experiences, good, bad, and embarrassing. She also talks about what she’s learned. She calls out people in her life in the process of exposing a lot of social wounds that haven’t been healed. People who don’t get help for their BPD may have a hard time with this lack of social awareness and oversharing of personal information.
Overall, the movie does a good job of making BPD seem more human and funny. One of the plot points isn’t entirely true. As soon as Alice gets rich, she stops taking her medicine, which is supposed to “explain” some of her weird behaviour. For clarity’s sake, it’s important to point out that there isn’t a specific medication that can help with BPD on its own. They may be taking medication to treat other mental illnesses, like anxiety and depression, which may help with their BPD symptoms somehow, but this isn’t the only way.
5. The “Silver Linings Playbook.”
A man with bipolar disorder named Pat Solitano (Bradley Cooper) is the main character in the movie “Silver Linings Playbook.” Tiffany Maxwell (Jennifer Lawrence), a woman who many belief has BPD, is also the main character. She is not given a specific diagnosis in the movie. In the movie, Pat and Tiffany deal with the loss of their relationship (Pat’s marriage broke up, and Tiffany was recently widowed). They work through the process together.
6. ‘Star Wars’ Episodes II and III
Movies like “Star Wars” follow the space adventures of a lot of different people, like Yoda, Princess Leia, and Luke Skywalker, “a long time ago in a galaxy that was far, far away.” Anakin Skywalker (Hayden Christiansen), played by Hayden Christiansen in the movie, has a borderline personality disorder. Many people know about the movie, but they may not have thought to link it to borderline personality disorder.
People in the mental health field have used Anakin Skywalker (also known as Darth Vader) to show how BPD works. Kellyann N., a member of the community, told us this.
If you have BPD, I’m going to have to say Anakin Skywalker from “Star Wars.” I can relate to him. He has a lot of thoughts and fears about being abandoned and lost, as well as a lot of intense passion and sensitive, emotional responses. He also has a lot of paranoid ideas about who is on his side, and he has a lot of intense shifts between what he thinks, does, and how he feels about people in his life – like splitting. These are all signs of BPD. The second and parts of the third movie show it all.
Another important thing about this picture of BPD symptoms is that the person who had them was a man. Women are more likely to be diagnosed with BPD than men are, but the truth is that both sexes can be affected by it.
Anakin Skywalker has a lot of “classic” symptoms of BPD, but it’s important to point out that having a lot of BPD symptoms isn’t the same as having a lot of BPD.
“13” is a drama about two troubled teenage girls, Tracy (Evan Rachel Wood) and Evie (Julia Roberts). It looks at how their relationship is affected by their dysfunctional family and how it helps them be close to each other (Nikki Reed). The movie is known for its themes of teenage angst and self-destruction. It was based on Reed’s life from 12 to 13.
People with a borderline personality disorder often have trouble controlling their emotions, and they often use drugs or self-harm to deal with the pain they feel. Tracy cuts herself all over the movie. Evie, who came from a broken home, introduces Tracy to the world of sex, drugs, and crime.
“Borderline Personality Disorder in the Movies” by David M. Allen M.D. says that Evie’s background is a good representation of how many people with BPD have a bad childhood. The most common mental illness with a strong link to childhood trauma is BPD. For people who don’t know, that’s what it is. He wrote:
Evie comes from a borderline abusive home. Because she lies so much, it’s hard to tell what is true and what isn’t about her. Evie says her mother is a “crack whore.” A newspaper article and burn marks show that her uncle abused her and pushed her into a fire. It’s now Brooke’s job to look after Evie. She lets her drink beer and says she can’t go to certain places, but she doesn’t seem to care about what Evie is doing and disappears for days at a time.
Many people find this movie hard to watch, so if you have a hard time with self-harm, substance abuse, or childhood trauma, you might want to avoid it even though it does a good job of showing some untreated BPD symptoms and behaviours.
8. ‘Prozac Nation’
Prozac Nation is based on Elizabeth Wurtzel’s autobiography of the same name. It tells the storey of Lizzie (Christina Ricci) as she goes through her first year at Harvard. The movie talks about divorce, drugs, sex, and mental health, which are all things that young people deal with. Lizzie is depressed, but some people think she also has BPD traits.
Tara O., a member of the Mighty community, said that “Prozac Nation” is the best show to show how BPD is. People who have unstable relationships, fear of being alone, impulsive behaviour, an unstable identity, and substance abuse are all there.
9. ‘Fatal Attraction’
“Fatal Attraction” has long been thought to be the worst movie ever made about borderline personality disorder. Following Dan Gallagher’s relationship with Alex Forrest, Forrest stalked him. She also acts violently, like boiling a rabbit, in the movie about Gallagher and Forrest. When Glenn Close, who now has a family member who has a mental illness, saw the movie, she thought it was too stigmatizing. This is what the actress said during an interview with CBS in 2013. “Fatal Attraction” played a role in the stigma. [Now], I would have a different view of that person.”
It’s not even on the list.
While most people don’t think it gets BPD right, some people can relate to some parts of Alex’s condition, even though it doesn’t. Lauren V., a community member, said that she was very powerful.
‘Fatal Attraction’ shows what it’s like to fall in love while having BPD. It then happens that the main character, who played the “one-night stand,” is completely obsessed and in love with the married man she slept with once. Her thoughts start to go off the rails, and she ends up stalking this person. If you or someone you know has BPD, you’re more likely to fall in love with people who show even the slightest amount of attention to you. I think this movie hit the nail on the head.
10. “New Moon”:
If you read or watch the second book in the Twilight Saga, “New Moon,” you’ve always thought it was the worst one. It is about Bella (Kristen Stewart), a human, and Edward (Robert Pattinson), a vampire. People who have never seen or read “Twilight” are about their star-crossed love.
When Edward and Bella break up in the second movie, he leaves town because he thinks he is too dangerous for her. A lot of the movie is about how much she misses him, making her very depressed. This time has been linked to the BPD symptom of dissociation, a mental state that makes a person forget about their current situation, thoughts and memories, and their own identity.
“I was 100% like Bella in the “Twilight” series. One Mighty BPD member, Jimmy Humphries, said that “Kristen Stewart always looked like she had BPD, and I always thought she did a good job.” “The way she focused on Edward and then drifted away in the woods and her room after he left felt like she had BPD to me,” says the author.
In addition to her possible dissociative state, she is impulsive in this movie. After a while, Bella learns that she can “hear Edward’s voice” when she does dangerous things. Edward is naturally cautious, so she starts to think about him berating her for putting herself in dangerous places. “To hear him,” she learns how to ride a motorcycle and even jumps off the top of an ocean-facing hill.