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Personality Disorder Found in Fatal Attraction

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Several years ago the movie “Fatal Attraction” brought public attention to a specific personality disorder termed Borderline Personality Disorder

The following are facts regarding the film "Fatal Attraction":

  1. The film stars Glenn Close and Michael Douglas
  2. The female character played by Glenn Close suffers from Borderline Personality Disorder
  3. The basic plot of the movie begins with Alex Forest (Glenn Close) and Dan Gallagher (Michael Douglas) having a weekend affair while Mrs. Gallagher is out of town.  When Dan leaves Alex’s apartment at the end of the weekend the first display of Borderline Personality Disorder is revealed. 

Alex kicks him out in a sudden rage then returns to the doorway completely calm and almost sweet with her wrists cut.  Completely consistent with a symptom of Borderline Personality Disorder, fear of abandonment, the afflicted individual will often make desperate attempts to maintain a relationship.  By attempting suicide, Alex is able to keep Dan at her place another night.

Personality Disorder Found in Fatal Attraction

Personality Disorder and Sudden Impulses

This episode is congruent with another symptom, which is the inability to control sudden impulses. When a situation appears out of control for the sufferer they will attempt an act of self-destruction such as  Alex cutting her wrists. This first episode of Borderline Personality Disorder in the movie also presents unstable emotions, which is another significant symptom.  In a matter of minutes, hours or days the sufferer can change emotions from complete euphoria to sudden rage.  This was evident in Alex’s fit of anger when Dan said he must leave.

Unfortunately, in the film “Fatal Attraction”, Borderline Personality Disorder is shown to the extreme. For instance, when Dan Gallagher tells Alex Forest that they are through, she begins to stalk and harass Dan by calling him at all hours of the day and at work and home.  When she finds out she is pregnant and that Dan wants no part of the baby, her disorder begins to get violent.  Individuals suffering form Borderline Personality Disorder rarely go to the violent extremes as portrayed in the movie.  Alex kills the Gallagher’s pet rabbit and boils it in a pot in their kitchen.  She also attempts to kill Mrs. Gallagher in the final scenes of the movie.  Although some sufferers can become violent to themselves or others, the majority of Borderline Personality Disorder patients do not display this extreme behavior.  Borderline Personality Disorder is the most common of the Personality Disorders, afflicting at least 2% of the total population.  Statistics would point to out of control violence if every Borderline Personality Disorder patient was as violent as Alex Forest in the movie “Fatal Attraction”.  In reality most sufferers do not go to this extreme.

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