Welcome, readers. This article will replace the usual Thoughtful Thursday post this week only.
In case you missed it, here is a link to Part 1 of this post.
BPD stands for Borderline Personality Disorder, a mental disorder marked by specific pathological behaviors and thought patterns. Many describe having BPD as, “feeling too much.” Evidence suggests that people with BPD have hyperactive limbic systems, the parts of the brain activated by intense emotions. There are nine symptoms or criteria, and if five or more are met, a BPD diagnosis is likely. Of course, only a psychologist or psychiatrist can decide that for sure. On that note, as an FYI, DSM stands for Diagonostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, which is the book used by psychiatrists to diagnose all officially recognized psych disorders.
The critera are emotional instability, inappropriate anger, feeling empty, suicidal behavior or self-injury, dangerous impulsivity, unstable sense of identity, paranoia or dissociation, abandonment issues, and extremely intense relationships. In Part 1, we covered the first four of those, using an example of an anime character who exhibits that behavior. Now we’ll look at the other five.
Dangerous Impulsivity: Misa Amane
According to the DSM-IV, one of the criteria for BPD is “Impulsivity in at least two areas that are potentially self-damaging (e.g., spending, sex, substance abuse, reckless driving, binge eating).” The nine symptoms are divided into 4 domains of behaviors, and this form of damaging impulsivity is in the same domain as suicidal behavior and self-injury. That seems only fitting for Misa Amane from Death Note.
Misa would insist that what she does isn’t impulsive, because she’s thought it through and decided to do whatever Light wants. However, the fact is she’s completely unprepared for what she gets herself into. Misa may not engage in many of the examples given in the DSM, but she still exhibits the behavior of putting her life and health at risk. She released the tape of the 2nd Kira, which ended up having evidence that led back to her. She approached Light on the street at night without knowing him. Light only uses Misa; she knows that, but stays with him. Later in the series, Light cheats on her and hits her, but Misa remains dedicated to him. She sometimes binge-eats, and in a later episode, she gets piss drunk and tries to attack Light’s “other woman.” Twice, Misa makes the Shinigami Eye deal, and cuts her lifespan in half. 😦
Unstable sense of Self: Lain Iwakura
Maybe the most common manifestations of this symptom are negative, false beliefs about yourself, and/or inflated, self-righteous views about yourself. But other manifestations exist as well. Take me. I feel like I have no core identity, and nothing to define me. I often have no idea why I do the things I do, or I can’t remember what my thinking was for doing them. Who I am is reset every day. And on some days, mood swings make me feel like a different person every few hours! I’m something ghostlike, just floating around in a dream. There are no absolutely true or false facts about me. Everything I know about myself breaks down if I think about it. I’m confused, and sometimes too easily swayed by the opinions of others. This is what is feels like to have an unstable sense of self.
Lain Iwakura from Serial Experiments Lain is the perfect choice. Her whole story is about finding an identity– or perhaps, acknowledging that she transcends the concept of a single identity. Either way, Lain spends most of the show becoming increasingly confused about who and what she is. A human girl? God? A being born in the Wired World? Is she a quiet girl, or a tough, loud girl? Is she a being meant to merge with the Wired World? Lain seems like the best fit I can think of for an unstable sense of self.
Paranoia and/or Dissociation: Tatsuhiro Satou
The DSM-IV describes this criterion as “Transient, stress-related paranoid ideation or severe dissociative symptoms.” That’s two different symptoms in one item. Episodes of dissociation from reality are, for me, separate from episodes of paranoia or unfounded suspicions. I don’t know why the DSM-IV didn’t just make them separate criteria. I rarely have to deal with these problems anymore, but occasionally, I still dissociate and confuse reality with what’s in my head. Also, I can still remember when I used to be paranoid and delusional about nonexistent demons.
However you look at it, Satou from Welcome to the NHK experiences both dissociation and paranoia. In this man’s mind, everyone in the world is against him and out to get him, trying to rope him into their schemes. He’s so scared and suspicious of everyone that he became a truly pathological hikkikomori. His thoughts get caught up in conspiracy theories and delusions, and he even has hallucinations, sometimes. Though he manages to make friends and acquaintances over the course of the anime, Satou is always suspicious of them, and slow to forgive anyone for hiding anything. The poor guy is the perfect example of paranoid ideation.
Abandonment Issues: Yuno Gasai
A person with BPD may engage in, “Frantic efforts to avoid real or imagined abandonment,” according to the DSM-IV. I’m high-functioning BPD now, and I’ve worked out this symptom with therapy, for the most part. But I was once the obsessive, possessive, and creepy yandere, and it’s not a pleasant recollection. Everyone else I’ve ever talked to with BPD or BPD-like tendencies has these issues, too. Stalking or cyberstalking are frighteningly common. So is intense jealousy. Toxic tendencies like these all boil down to the fear that your lover or friend will leave you, so you must do everything to prevent that. It’s not like every person with BPD is a psychopathic Yuno Gasai. At the same time, that BPD stereotype is there for a reason.
Anyway, Yuno Gasai is the main female character in Mirai Nikki (The Future Diary.) She’s obsessed with Yukiteru, the lead male character. If you watch even the first two or three episodes of Mirai Nikki, you’ll understand: Yuno is mentally ill and unstable. Abandonment issues are just some of her numerous mental hangups. She is extremely possessive and controlling of Yukiteru, to the point of locking him up and keeping him in restraints for a week or more. She’s jealous to the point of threatening the lives of his new friends. She can’t function without Yuki. I don’t want to give spoilers so I won’t say why she fears abandonment and neglect so much.
Intense, Unstable Relationships: Satou Matsuzaka
The last symptom is, “A pattern of unstable and intense interpersonal relationships characterized by alternating between extremes of idealization and devaluation.” Thank the Flying Spaghetti Monster I no longer have to deal with this symptom. In my friendships, I stay much more detached. And these days, I don’t have romantic relationships at all. Which is perfectly ok. In the past, though, I’ve definitely had my share of intense relationships. In these chaotic connections, people with BPD are often only capable of either powerful love or powerful hate. Sometimes, we move between them rapidly. You might adore your best friend one day, and hate them enough to want them dead the next. Satou from Happy Sugar Life seems like a good choice for this one.
Satou does unforgiveable things, and she’s definitely a sociopath with Antisocial Personality Disorder rather than the tame-by-comparison BPD. It’s only this one trait of hers that reminds me of Borderline: her dramatic relationships. It’s hinted very strongly that Satou had many short, sexual relationships with different guys, despite being in highschool. So many unstable relationships, and dumping all of the guys when she was done with them, must have been intense. Then, Satou found (and kidnapped) Shio, entering a non-sexual but still extremely wrong romantic relationship with the little girl. The story of their intense and unstable relationship makes up the bulk of the ironically titled Happy Sugar Life.
We’ve covered all nine of the criteria for BPD according to the DSM-IV, and now it’s time for some big disclaimers. First, if you think a lot of this sounds like you, please don’t try to self-diagnose. Only psychologists and psychiatrists can say for sure if you have any kind of psych disorder/ mental illness. Secondly, these nine criteria I’ve been using are from the DSM-IV, which is not the current model used for diagnosing BPD. What’s up with that?
Well, every few years (or decades), the DSM is revised. The fifth and newest version was published in 2013, and contains major changes to the way some disorders are diagnosed and organized. I was diagnosed using the DSM-IV criteria, and it’s much easier to use than the newer version, so I chose it for these posts. It’s still mostly accurate. Only small changes were made for Borderline Personality Disorder. Below is a link to excerpts from both the DSM IV and V, for the purposes of comparison.
* All images were found by searching the internet, and I don’t own any of them.
* Follow this link for the online excerpts from the DSM-IV and DSM-V.
* American Psychiatric Association. (2000). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (4th ed.). Washington, DC: Author.
That completes the posts focused on learning about BPD through anime characters. What did you think? Did you know about BPD before? Do the characters fit the symptom I listed for them? Can you think of anime characters like Sayaka Miki from Madoka Magica who are examples of having five or more of the nine criteria? I’d love to hear your thoughts. I also just love it that you read my post. Thank you, and have a great day!