Kelly Koerner is the creative director and CEO of Evidence-Based Practice Institute, a space through which therapists, clinical leaders, trainers and researchers can more easily work together to improve clients’ outcomes and discover more effective training and treatment methods. Here, Kelly provides guidance on what can be done to curb the stigma of mental illness in the media and provides resources on mental health.
How Borderline Personality Disorder Has Been Portrayed in the Media
Borderline Personality Disorder is a serious mental disorder in which people struggle to manage their emotions. Those who meet criteria for BPD are hard wired to be exquisitely sensitive to emotion–like the sensitivity of a burn victim, normal movement through life can set off intense pain.
In some ways, Glenn Close’s character in Fatal Attraction portrays well the intense emotions, mood swings, fears of abandonment, and problems with anger, that people with BPD may experience, that create conflict and chaos in relationships, and the desperation that can lead to extreme behaviors such as intentional self-injury.
However, the bunny-boiling maniacal violence portrayed, that has become the lasting image of the film, is not characteristic of BPD. Portraying those with mental illness as maniacal knife wielding predators perpetuates stigma for decades.
Two steps could undo this harmful stereotype:
- Writers and those in the media should work closely with patient advocates and professional experts to create accurate, not sensationalized, portrayals of Borderline Personality Disorder.
- Prominent people who have the disorder should come out and publicly discuss borderline personality disorder and the way the disorder impacts their lives.
For information and resources on borderline personality disorder and other mental health disorders, take a look at the resources below:
The mission of the National Education Alliance for Borderline Personality Disorder is to raise public awareness, provide education, promote research on borderline personality disorder, and enhance the quality of life of those affected by this serious mental illness.
The mission of NIMH is to transform the understanding and treatment of mental illnesses through basic and clinical research, paving the way for prevention, recovery, and cure.
Society of Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology (SCCAP) is a division of the American Psychological Association (APA). Its mission is to encourage the development and advancement of clinical child and adolescent psychology through integration of its scientific and professional aspects.
MHF is committed to reducing the suffering caused by mental ill health and to help everyone lead mentally healthier lives.