Silver Linings Playbook

Silver Linings Playbook" is a 2012 romantic comedy-drama starring Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence, and Robert DeNiro.

Pat Solitano (Bradley Cooper), is a charming and volatile young man with bipolar disorder who has been released from eight months in a psychiatric hospital.

Pat meets his match in the sister of his best friend's wife, Tiffany (Jennifer Lawrence). Tiffany has a history of extreme emotional reactions, unstable interpersonal relationships, compulsive and impulsive sexual activity, difficulty controlling anger, and self-harm - hallmarks of borderline personality disorder.

Pat's father, Pat Sr.,  (Robert DeNiro), suffers from obsessive-compulsive disorder, and engages in rigid and irrational thinking marked by superstition and unrealistic evaluations. He has difficulty relating to his son and feels guilt for how Pat Jr. turned out.

 

Trailer: Silver Linings Playbook

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.

The Movie was based on the book, Mommie Dearest, written by Christina Crawford, Joan Crawford's adopted daughter. The film was a commercial success but was poorly critically reviewed and ridiculed for overacting.

You can watch the iconic "No Wire Hangers" scene from the movie here:

Scene from "Mommie Dearest"

Kick the Ball Charlie Brown

CharlieBrown.jpg

Charlie Brown is the lead character in Charles M. Schulz's classic "Peanuts" cartoons who is generally portrayed as feeling insecure and seeking acceptance. Charlie Brown's character contrasts with the somewhat narcissistic character of Lucy and their relationship is sometimes used to illustrate the relationship between personality-disordered and non-personality-disordered people.

Perhaps no popular cultural character illustrates the plight of the Non-PD as brilliantly and humorously as Charlie Brown. Uncomplicated, transparent, trusting and ever-hopeful, seeking acceptance, yet hopelessly naive.

There is a classic scene which recurs throughout the Peanuts cartoons where Lucy persuades Charlie to try to kick a football, promising to hold it. Charlie knows that every time in the past when Lucy has promised to hold the ball, she has pulled it away at the last second, causing him to fall and make a fool of himself, but she always manages to project enough fear, obligation and guilt to persuade him to try it again.

  "Peanuts" by Charles M. Schulz

Black Swan

Black Swan is a 2010 psychological thriller about a ballet dancer, played by Natalie Portman, who discovers a dark side to herself as she struggles to please her overbearing narcissitic mother, played by Barbara Hershey.

Nina Sayers is a successful ballet dancer who lives with her controlling narcissitic mother Erica, who herself was an unsuccessful dancer.

Nina is competing to perform the Swan Queen part in Swan Lake. To do so she must be able to play both the innocent White Swan and the darker Black Swan. During her preparations, she struggles with hallucinations, with her rival, Lily and with her mother's manipulations.

Black Swan was nominated for several Academy Awards.

You can watch the movie trailer here:

"Black Swan", 2010, Fox Searchlight Pictures

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.

A Streetcar Named Desire tells the story of Blanche DuBois, an attractive, flirtatious but troubled young woman, who moves to New Orleans to live with her sister, Stella and her husband, Stanley Kowalski after the death of her husband.

Blanche is less than honest about herself. She attempts to use her charms to manipulate people and cover up details about her past, including her husband's suicide, her transient relationships with men, her alcoholism, the loss of her home and that she was fired as a teacher for having had an affair with a student.

Stella's husband, Stanley, plays the role of a abusive narcissist, whose dominance and control is challenged by the arrival of Blanche. Blanche tries to expose, confront and exploit his vulnerabilities. Enraged by this and ultimately finding his opportunity, Stanley brutally attacks Blanche, first on an emotional level, then on a physical one. Ultimately, he dispenses of her coldly to a psychiatric facility, thus returning himself to a position of dominance.

Blanche's sister, Stella, plays the role of a codependent enabler, trying to appease Stanley and Blanche.

Blanche's character exhibits some of the traits of Histrionic Personality Disorder (HPD) and of Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD). Stanley's character exhibits some of the traits of Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD). Stella's character exhibits some of the traits of a codependent - or enabling Non-PD.

A Streetcar Named Desire earned Tennessee Williams a Pulitzer Prize for drama in 1947. Vivien Leigh's performance as Blanche in the 1951 movie adaptation earned her an Academy Award for best actress and Marlon Brando received an Academy Award Nomination as best actor. The movie also received oscars for best supporting actor and actress and best Art Direction. Alec Baldwin's performance as Stanley in a 1992 version of the play earned him a Tony award.

You can watch the trailer for the movie here :

"A Streetcar Named Desire", 1951

Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde

The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde is an 1886 book written by Robert Louis Stevenson which has been adapted into numerous movies and stage productions. The story portrays the mild-mannered Doctor Henry Jekyll, who unleashes his monstrous alternate identity, Edward Hyde, by taking a chemical potion.

The story of Dr. Jekyll and Mr Hyde has become something of a cultural icon to describe people who exhibit contrasting and inconsistent moods or behaviors - known in psychological terms as dissociation. Dissociation is the principal attribute of people who suffer from dissociative identity disorder, which is more commonly known as multiple personality disorder or split personality disorder. Disassociation is also common in cases of borderline personality disorder. 

Numerous adaptations of the Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde story have been portrayed on stage and film.

You can see some scenes from the 1932 classic "Dr Jekyll an Mr. Hyde" compiled here:

"The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde"

Fatal Attraction

Fatal Attraction is a 1987 Movie Thriller starring Glenn Close & Michael Douglas about Dan Gallagher, a New York Lawyer (played by Michael Douglas) who is stalked by Alex Forrest (played by Glenn Close) with whom he has had an affair. The story portrays Alex's increasingly unstable behavior as a result of having Borderline Personality Disorder and feeling abandoned by Dan.

When Dan tries to end the affair with Alex, she attempts suicide, stalks him and his family, vandalizes his his car, abducts one of his children and even kills the family pet.

The original script for "Fatal Attraction" portrayed Alex committing suicide, which would have been far more consistent with Alex's BPD character, but after screen testing the original ending, the producers gave in to commercial pressure to change the conclusion of the movie to a more crowd-pleasing "hollywood shoot-out" kind of ending.

Nevertheless, "Fatal Attraction" provided one of the most striking and convincing portrayals of a person with borderline personality disorder - including Fear of AbandonmentStalking, Child Abduction, Destruction of Property and Suicidal Ideation.

Bunny Boiling is a reference to an iconic scene in the movie "Fatal Attraction" in which the main character Alex, who suffers from Borderline Personality Disorder, kills the family's pet rabbit and boils it on the stove. Bunny Boiling has become a popular reference to how people sometimes exhibit their rage by behaving destructively towards symbolic, important or treasured possessions or representations of those whom they wish to hurt, control or intimidate.

"Fatal Attraction" was nominated for 6 Academy Awards including Best Picture and Best Actress (Glenn Close).

You can watch the movie trailer here : 

"Fatal Attraction" 1987 Paramount Trailer

Gaslight

Gaslight is a 1944 MGM suspense thriller set in 19th Century London in which the villain, Gregory Anton (Charles Boyer), in an attempt to cover up his crimes, actively tries to convince his new wife Paula (Ingrid Bergman) that she is losing her mind. Gaslight gave it's name to the practice known as Gaslighting.

Gaslight is a classic suspense thriller set in nineteenth-century London. In the movie, Paula (Ingrid Bergman) marries the villainous Gregory Anton (Charles Boyer), not realizing that he is the one who murdered her aunt and is now searching for her missing jewels.

To cover up his treachery, he tries to persuade Paula that she is going mad, so he can search the attic for the jewels without her interference.. He plants missing objects on her person in order to make her believe that she has no recollection of reality. He tries to isolate her, not allowing her to have visitors or to leave the house. However, she uncovers the truth when she notices the dimming of the gaslight.

From the movie, the term "Gaslighting" has come to mean any form of manipulating a person into believing something other than the truth.

Examples of Gaslighting:

  • A family member who steals something from you tries to convince you that it belongs to them.
  • A person acts threateningly, then accuses you of abuse when you react in self-defense.
  • A spouse tries to persuade you that you said or did something that you know is inaccurate.

You can watch the trailer from the 1944 MGM Movie "Gaslight" Starring Charles Boyer & Ingrid Bergman here:


"Gaslight" - 1944 MGM Trailer

Girl, Interrupted

Girl, Interrupted is a 1999 Columbia Pictures movie which chronicles the experiences of a teenage girl with Borderline Personality Disorder, who is admitted to a mental health institution after attempting suicide.

The movie is set in the 1960's in a mental health institution. Susana Kaysen, a young girl who suffers from Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD), is admitted into the facility after a failed suicide attempt. On her arrival, she forms friendships with the other patients who suffer from various other mental health disorders. In particular, Lisa Rowe (played by Angelina Jolie), who suffers from Antisocial Personality Disorder, becomes a strong influence on the group, discouraging the others from taking their medications, participating in therapy or co-operating with the staff.

As the plot develops the girls' rebellion leads to tragedy and the movie explores the contrasting choices the characters make in response to the tragedy.

Girl, Interrupted is a stunning movie, vividly and tenderly portraying the humanity and depth of people who suffer from personality disorders, their decisions and the consequences of those decisions. Angelina Jolie won an Academy Award for her memorable portrayal of Lisa Rowe.

However, the movie only portrays a handful of characters in one specific situation - a mental health clinic - and is told through the eyes of the BPD sufferer, Susana. As such, the movie only begins to crack the lid off the surface of personality disorders. In particular, the movie does little to explore the feelings or experiences of her family members or of those who come closest to her, whose characters are presented as somewhat shallow and stereotyped. The emotional vacancy this creates is, therefore, unlikely to resonate with most Non-PD's who live with a personality disordered individual.

You can watch the movie trailer here :

"Girl, Interrupted" 1999 Columbia Pictures Trailer

Gone With The Wind

Gone With The Wind is a 1939 romantic epic starring Vivien Leigh and Clark Gable, set in the American Civil War portraying the story of Scarlett O'Hara, a southern woman who manifests symptoms of Histrionic Personality Disorder (HPD).

In Gone With The WInd, Scarlett O'Hara is a privileged southern woman who uses her attractiveness to manipulate men. Scarlett flirts and chases after another woman's husband, but concludes that she is no longer interested in him as soon as his wife dies.

You can watch the classic ending scene from the movie here:

"Gone With The WInd", 1939, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer

Obedience - The Stanley Milgram Experiment

Stanley Milgram's fake "Shock Machine"

Stanley Milgram's fake "Shock Machine"

In 1961 and 1962, Yale University psychologist Stanley Milgram performed a famous series of experiments which demonstrated that about 2 out of 3 people will perform a cruel action towards another person if instructed to do so by someone whom they regard as an authority figure. This demonstrated that most people are prone to doing something they do not want to do, even something they would normally regard as "wrong", just because they are told to do it by an assertive or authoritative person.

In the Milgram experiment, participants responding to an advertisement were asked to participate in what was described as an experiment about learning and punishment. They were told that one person would be the "teacher" and the other person would be the "learner'" and drew lots decide who would be who. In reality, the "learner" was an actor following a script and the draw was rigged so that the real participant was always "randomly" chosen to be the "teacher".

The participant "teacher" was then seated in front of a fake "electrical shock machine" which had switches labeled in 15-volt increments, from 15 to 450 volts. The "learner was seated out of sight in an adjacent room but could communicate verbally with the teacher. The teacher was given a list of word-pairs to read to the learner. Then the learner would be asked to remember the pairings and communicate his answer by the correct button out of four. The teacher was instructed to administer progressively higher levels of electrical shock each time the learner made a mistake.

The learner intentionally made mistakes to put the teacher in the position of having to administer increasing shock levels. As progressively higher "shocks" were administered, the "learner" reacted audibly by screaming, shouting for it to stop and complaining about his heart condition. At even higher levels the "learner" refused to answer then fell silent. The teacher was instructed to continue by delivering shocks if no correct answer was given within a few seconds.

As the experiments progressed, most of the participants became visibly uncomfortable and began to question the wisdom of continuing and expressing concern for the wellbeing of the "learner". Whenever this happened, the experimenter would calmly instruct the participant to continue with a series of responses such as:

  • "Please continue teacher."
  • "The shocks may be painful but they're not dangerous"
  • "The experiment requires that you continue."
  • "whether the learner likes it or not, we must go on until he learns all the word pairs."
  • "It is absolutely essential that you continue."
  • "I'm responsible for anything that happens to him."
  • "You have no other choice, you must go on."

If the participant absolutely refused, the experiment was stopped. If not, it continued until the maximum 450-volt shock had been administered 3 times.

Milgram found that 26 out of 40 participants (65%) went all the way to the highest shock level.

Milgram set up the experiment as a way of investigating why extreme acts of cruelty were committed by so many people during World War II and hypothesized that people will obediently do things they would otherwise consider wrong if they feel that they will not be held responsible for what happens happening and if they instructed to do so by an authority figure.

Milgram's experiment is also an illustration of Learned Helplessness, where a person is influenced to relinquish their power to someone they perceive to be an authority figure.

Connection between Stanley Milgram's Experiment and Personality Disorders

Stanley Milgram's experiments illustrate what can happen when an otherwise ethical person finds themselves under the influence of an authority figure who instructs them to behave in an unethical way.

An example of this is when an abusive parent influences the other parent or siblings to join in the mistreatment of one child. The other family members may not have acted abusively without this influence, but within the family system abusive acts may become “normal” and they become "Abusers by Proxy".

Abusive parents may also recruit proxies from outside the home. Many people regard a parent as an authority figure over their children's lives and consider that the "parents know best". Using this social trust, abusive parents sometimes successfully recruit people from outside the family including teachers, doctors, pastors, counselors, friends and acquaintances to participate in the abuse of a child. A famous example of this is Munchausen by Proxy Syndrome in which a parent persuades medical staff to overmedicate or mistreat a child by claiming the child has illness or symptoms of an illness.

Another example of this is when someone in a relationship with a personality-disordered individual begins to reject people whom they would otherwise consider as friends, steal or break laws in order to please or placate the demands of their partner or spouse.

You can watch Stanley Milgram's Movie "Obedience" which documents the experiments here:

"Obedience" by Stanley Milgram

Rachel Getting Married

Rachel Getting Married is a 2008 Sony Pictures Classics Release starring Anne Hathaway which chronicles the events surrounding the appearance of a young woman who suffers from Antisocial Personality Disorder at her sister's wedding.

The movie follows the return home of Kym (Anne Hathaway) from a rehab clinic to attend the wedding of her sister Rachel (Rosemarie DeWitt). Kym suffers from Antisocial Personality Disorder (ASPD) and her return home and her behaviors cause a number of family conflicts to rise to the surface.

Anne Hathaway's performance as Kym in Rachel Getting Married earned her a nomination for an Academy Award as best actress.

You can watch the movie trailer here :

"Rachel Getting Married", 2008, Sony Pictures Classics

Schindler's List

Schindler's List is a 1993 drama which chronicles the suffering of Jews in Nazi-occupied Poland during World War II and Oskar Schindler, a German businessman who rescued over a thousand of them by employing them in his factories. The movie includes a striking portrayal of Amon Göth, a narcissistic SS officer and camp director, played by Ralph Fiennes.

In Schindler's list, Oskar Schindler is a German businessman and opportunist who bribes and manipulates his way into German officer's graces so he can grow his business using free slave Jewish labor. As the movie begins he is seen as a pragmatic opportunist but as the movie develops he develops a concern for the well being of the jewish workers in his factory, ultimately risking his status and wealth to rescue them from the Auschwitz concentration camp.

The movie presents a convincing portrayal of Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) through the character of Amon Göth, a narcissistic SS officer and camp director, played by Ralph Fiennes. In the movie we see the narcissist as having feelings and occasionally being vulnerable, while at the same time unable to empathize or ascribe humane concern for his subjects. He develops an attraction to Helen Hirsch, a young Jewish prisoner who is his housekeeper and we see a powerful scene where he struggles to reconcile his attraction to her with his emotional need to reassert his authority over her. Schindler tries to appeals to the pragmatic side of his vanity in an attempt to get him to treat the prisoners more humanely and we see him briefly admire himself in a mirror as he entertains the idea of himself as a benevolent figure. However, moments later, he murders a young boy with his rifle.

You can watch the trailer from Schindler's List here:

"Schindler's List", 1993, Universal Pictures

Single White Female

Single White Female is a 1992 Columbia Pictures Release starring Bridget Fonda and Jennifer Jason Leigh which portrays the events after a young woman takes in a roommate who exhibits some of the symptoms of Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) and Dependent Personality Disorder (DPD) including mirroring, impulsivity and fear of abandonment.

Allie Jones (Bridget Fonda) runs a newspaper ad for a room mate to replace her boyfriend who has moved out" "Wanted, Single White Female. She receives a response from Hedra Carlson (Jennifer Jason Leigh) who moves in and initially looks to be the ideal roommate.

However, as time goes by, Allie begins to notice all is not as it should be. Hedra begins to imitate Allie in the way she looks, dresses and behaves, imitating her haircut, wearing her clothes and ultimately seducing Allie's boyfriend.

The character development portions of the film, convincingly portray some of the characteristics of Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) and Dependent Personality Disorder (DPD) - in particular mirroring, impulsivity and fear of abandonment. However, as with most popular movies, in order to appeal to a broad audience, the characters revert to melodramatic stereotypes as the movie progresses.

You can watch the movie trailer below :

"Single White Female", 1992, Columbia Pictures

Sybil

Sybil is a 1976 movie which portrays the life of a woman who claims to suffer from Multiple Personality Disorder (MPD) / Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID).

Sybil tells the story of Sybil Dorsett (played by Sally Field), a woman who as been severely abused by her mother and who suffers from Multiple Personality Disorder (MPD) / Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID). In the movie she recounts with her psychologist Dr. Wilbur (played by Joanne Woodward) her experiences as a child and the different personalities she has developed. Sybil was based on a book of the same name by Flora Rheta Schreiber.

The authenticity of the MPD diagnosis and the character portrayed in Sybil was later called into question when it came to light that the patient who the movie was based on claimed she was faking.The book "Sybil Exposed: The Extraordinary Story Behind the Famous Multiple Personality Case" by Debbie Nathan seeks to debunk the portrayal of the book and movie See NPR Article on "Sybil Exposed". Today, a character like Sybil would more likely be diagnosed with Histrionic or Borderline Personality Disorder.

Sybil was originally broadcast as a 2-part miniseries on NBC in 1976 and later, due to public demand, released as a video/DVD.

Sally Field earned an Emmy award for her portrayal of Sybil.

You can watch a clip from the movie below:

"Sybil", 1976 Lorimar Productions

The Apostle

The Apostle is a 1997 drama written, directed and starring Robert Duvall, about an evangelical itinerant preacher with schizotypal trailts who commits a violent crime then moves to Louisiana in an attempt to build a new life.

Robert Duvall was nominated for a Best Actor Academy Award for his performance in The Apostle.

You can watch the movie trailer below:

"The Apostle" 1997 October Films