Movies about Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) might seem like an odd topic for a film to some people, but for those who live with the condition, these BPD movies show them they are not alone.
The stigma associated with poor mental health in the United States and other societies around the world, is all too often a reason people suffering from these issues don’t seek help. One of the ways society learns more about mental illness, its symptoms and consequences, is through storytelling. That lens, in modern society, is often film.
Movies are particularly well-suited to showing how people, their family, friends and colleagues, deal with difficult mental health problems, how their lives sometime unravel, and what it takes to recover.
According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) is a very serious condition. It’s characterized by unstable moods, and behavior, self-image concerns, or day-to-day functioning issues.
There are intense periods of depression, anxiety and anger that a person is unable to control.
Research suggests that about 1.4 percent of adults in the U.S. – just under 5 million people – coped with BPD in the last year. So BPD movies will not only help them understand more about the disorder, but also their family and friends too.
9 Movies About Borderline Personality Disorder
Here are nine movies about Borderline Personality Disorder that were hits on the big screen as well as the rental and streaming market…
1. Silver Linings Playbook (2012)
In the film Silver Linings Playbook, Pat Solitano (Bradley Cooper) suffers from bipolar disorder. Tiffany Maxwell (Jennifer Lawrence) is thought by many in the film to have BPD. Her diagnosis is not explicit, but Lawrence’s character displays many borderline personality symptoms.
The pair find themselves in a relationship and are criticized, at least for a time, by their friends and family while they battle their own illnesses and try to create a life together.
Silver Linings Playbook is consistently chosen by fans as one of their favorite BPD movies about many types of mental health issues.
2. Fatal Attraction (1987)
Fatal Attraction is a thriller that follows the experience of Dan Gallagher (Michael Douglas) after he has an adulterous one-night-stand with Alex Forrest (Glen Close).
Forrest feels put off by Gallagher’s refusal to continue the affair and has a mental break, stalking him, threatening, being violent in one moment and desperately depressed in another.
Some observers believe Forrest’s behavior in the film are indicative of BPD.
3. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004)
In Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Clementine Kruczynski (Kate Winslet) opts to have her memories of her boyfriend Joel Barish (Jim Carrey) erased by a medical procedure after they have a difficult breakup.
Barish does the same and the film unravels as the pair, tragically, begin to forget about each other.
Clementine’s character is considered a free-spirit in the film, though mental health advocates have written that much of her “free-spirited behavior” is consistent with symptoms of BPD.
4. Girl, Interrupted (1999)
Girl, Interrupted is a period film set in the 1960s that follows Susana Kaysen (Winona Ryder) who is hospitalized for BPD, after attempting suicide.
While in the hospital, Kaysen meets Lisa Rowe (Angelina Jolie), another patient who portrays more of the violent and dangerous aspects of BPD.
In the film, Kaysen must decide whether or not to try and heal or, perhaps like Rowe, give in to her mental disorder.
5. Prozac Nation (2001)
Based on a bestselling novel of the same name, the film Prozac Nation follows young Elizabeth Wurtzel (Christina Ricci) to her first year at Harvard, and her ensuing struggle with mental illness.
Though Wurtzel’s diagnosis is depression, her unstable identity, troubled relationships, impulsive behavior, fear of abandonment and substance abuse are all indicative of BPD.
6. Single White Female (1992)
In the thriller film, Single White Female, Allison Jones (Bridget Fonda) takes on a new roommate, Hedra Carlson (Jennifer Jason Leigh).
The new roommates quickly develop a relationship, but with the return of Jones’s ex-boyfriend, Carlson begins exhibiting BPD symptoms: fear of abandonment, impulsiveness and attempting, sometimes violently, to take over her roommate’s persona.
7. Monster (2003)
The film Monster is based on the real life story of Aileen Wournos (Charlize Theron), a former prostitute who is diagnosed with BPD and turns into a serial killer, killing seven men between 1989 and 1990.
Her diagnosis is thought to have contributed to her unstable, destructive and violent behavior.
8. One Hour Photo (2002)
After years of developing photos for community members, Sy Parrish (Robin Williams) grows obsessed with the potential infidelity of one of his customer’s husbands in the movie, One Hour Photo.
Parrish’s fragile mental health breaks as he starts to believe he must do something about the situation.
The thriller follows this character’s unpredictable, unstable and violent actions – much like a BPD break – throughout the entire film.
9. American Psycho (2000)
Set in 1987 New York City, Patrick Bateman (Christian Bale) is young, handsome and a success in the world of finance in American Psycho.
His second life, however, is that of a gruesome serial killer. Many of Bateman’s behaviors point to BPD, but the film is also a metaphor for the shallow, money-grubbing hedonism that was often celebrated in what is sometimes called “the decade of greed.”
Movies About BPD and Mental Health
Borderline personality disorder can be caused by genetic or environmental factors, although cognitive and dialectical behavioral therapies have shown success for treatment.
The stigma associated with this mental health issue prevents many people from seeking help. Hopefully the portrayal of BPD in movies and films will motivate some people to look for help and find ways to cope with their illness. There’s no shame in getting much needed medical assistance.
Mental illness in general affects a staggering number of people in the United States and many go undiagnosed and are not treated until the symptoms become unbearable. It’s never too soon to get a diagnosis, and the earlier the better.
The month of May is recognized as Borderline Personality Disorder Awareness Month to help bring attention and awareness to this mental health issue.
But any month is a good time to watch many of these outstanding movies about borderline personality disorder.