Silver Linings Playbook

March 23, 2014

I saw Silver Linings Playbook yesterday. I know. I’m lagging. Great movie. Superb cast and uplifting storyline. But I’m a little troubled by how the movie deals with mental illness.

I guess I shouldn’t be shocked that Hollywood has airbrushed mental illness. They’ve done it before with movies like One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.

One Harvard professor praised Silver Linings for reducing the stigma attached to mental illness. I give the movie credit for bringing the topic into the public conversation.

(spoiler alert)

Bradley Cooper plays a bipolar man. Jennifer Lawrence plays a woman who is traumatized by her husband’s death. But also shows signs of BPD. Another borderline whose past is filled with tragedy. She is a woman who is known in the neighborhood for being crazy and sleeping around.

Lawrence’s character is clearly unstable and lonely. She deals with her loneliness and rejection the way many borderline women deal with it, they jump in the sack with any guy who is willing. Anything for attention.

When I told my borderline ex that I would not be moving in with her, she proceeded to sleep with every guy in town. Or at least tried. Sex, for her, was a weapon to punish those who would dare reject her. In the absence of love, sex is a convenient substitute. And then she wonders why men take advantage of her.

In the movie, these sexcapades are portrayed in a light-hearted way, which makes for a funny movie. But in real life, it’s not so funny.

Lawrence’s character basically manipulates Cooper’s character, using his estranged wife as bait. She uses the sympathy card (her husband’s death) to lower Cooper’s defenses. Once again, funny in the movie. Not so funny in real life.

Cooper’s character has a restraining order placed on him by his soon-to-be ex-wife, because he beat the snot out of the guy who was sleeping with his wife. Actually, he caught them screwing in the shower. The drama makes me wonder if his wife had borderline tendencies of her own.

But the most troubling part of the movie is the idea that True Love can cure mental illness. The Hollywood notion that codependency is really two damaged people finding their soulmate (two broken people makes a whole) is why there are so many crazy people/addicts in Hollywood.

Removing the stigma is one thing. Promising mental illness paradise is quite another. It’s the illusion that all the meltdowns and panic attacks suddenly disappear once the mentally ill have found the ONE. Perhaps, that is also why divorce is so prevalent in Hollywood.

I also saw Leaving Las Vegas this weekend. I’m really behind. I found that to be a more realistic portrayal of damaged souls. There was no uplifting ending. It was actually really depressing.

Nicholas Cage plays a raging alcoholic who is determined to kill himself with booze. And Elisabeth Shue plays the co-dependent hooker with a heart of gold. Once again, we find the notion that these are two soul mates. And the notion that true love is accepting a person, flaws and all.

Nicholas Cage’s character refuses to give up alcohol and seek help. Shue’s character accepts his bad decisions. That’s real love. Right? I’m sure you can guess how the movie ends.

Am I over-reacting? Or is this the wrong message to be putting out in the world?

98 Responses to “Silver Linings Playbook”

  1. Toughmat said

    I’ve seen Silver Lining and had similar feelings. I will update everyone on my situation: have not seen my ex in almost nine months. We had interaction on her birthday. Then a week and a half ago I got a call from her friend that my exes kindey may be failing (she is sick w lupus and RA, stomach paralysis, migraines, vomiting, etc) and had to rush to er and if I could watch her dog whom we rescued on a great trip to Costa Rica. I agreed to get the dog for her car and take it to her mom as long as I didn’t see her. My ex and I have texted off and on since and she is saying incredibly nice things and so am I but keeping my distance. I’m framing it as a Hoover to protect myself. However she has been very respectful about my desire to keep my boundary and heal. She is still in therapy. She has recently created a link for people to donate to her to go in a tree climbing course and sounds like a victim that because she is so sick this will give her something to live for. People have donated over a thousand dollars so far. To me it means she still uses her past and sickness to elicit sympathy

  2. Marie said

    SD, you are right. Until someone can write something true to life that they will put on the big screen we will always get the fantasy that mental illness can be cured by love alone. Perhaps that is why so many of us feel our love can cure the BP people we have been with. We were raised on fairy tales and Hollywood just continues those tales in adult form. On the other hand movies are supposed to be an escape from reality….pure entertainment.

  3. savorydish said

    Casino is a film that resonates with me. Scorcese did his research.

    • I’ve seen casino, matter of fact one my favorite mob movies, being that all the people involved where in true life from Chicago, but to me now Sharon Stones character was more a gold digger than BPD but maybe I’m not seeing it right SavoryDish, you mind explaining, I kinda see the part with Lester Diamond, having Sex with Nicky, tying the kid up in the bed room, and kidnapping the Kid!

      • savorydish said

        Yes. Sharon Stone is a gold digger but classic BPD comorbid with HPD. Watch the movie again. See how she hoovers and manipulates DeNiro but then runs back to Lester. See how she uses proxies like Nicky to fight her battles. All of this is textbook BPD/HPD. Scorcese is very knowledgeable about human psychology. Everybody associates him with gangster movies. But he is a master at portraying dysfunctional relationships and pathology.

      • She was a master manipulator, so maybe, I answered my own question, No matter what Robert Deniro’s character did for her it was never enough.

      • savorydish said

        Yep. Something we can all relate to. She ran away from intimacy into the arms of an abuser.

      • @ SavoryDish I’m smiling right now cause you are so right, they are all so text book, I think I’ve gone from angry to fucking amazed at how fucked up these people are. Like my BPD ex got involved with known crooks, but let her tell it these people where the Pope himself!!!
        LOL. And that’s why I don’t even whif at the thought of her much anymore, because I know how textbook NPD BPD she is, and a worth while man she could never be with more than 3 four months, or Woman for that part!

      • While we are on this subject matter. I am in my Starbucks this afternoon and it a song that comes on, and I can’t help but relay this because to me its the new Borderline song… .its called” Coffee Stain”. By Sarah Harmer….. in that song she sings very well I might add….. that things in this relationship was going so good and she was afraid something bad might happen!!! …..listen to this song if it was ever a borderline song this is it.

      • savorydish said

        Sounds borderline. BPs make the best song writers.

      • @ SavoryDish, I just noticed that the statement under your SavoryDish title has changed. To when the woman you loves, loves to play the victim, was pressure put on you to change this? I noticed this a few days ago and desided to ask you about it.

      • savorydish said

        No. I change it all the time. It felt appropriate to what was going on in my life right now.

      • Ok great, well I hope all is well in your life and with you health mental and physically, Im very thankful for your site because I not only got pass my troubles here with my BPD ex but I understand what my co dependent nature is all about and where it came from. A lot better now.

        Thank you!

        PS: my thing now is not to allow this to happen again

      • savorydish said

        Me too, Sammy. Be well.

  4. Amy said

    As I remember, it ends with Cage dying. The point of adult-rated films is not to “send a message” IMO. It’s to depict aspects of the human condition in a meaningful way, even if some of them are not very pretty.

    Did Philip Seymour Hoffman “refuse to give up” heroin or seek help? As to the latter, we know that he did seek help. The help he sought failed. As to the former, if you believe, as I do, that addiction basically renders your brain broken (and there is science backing me up on this), can an addict actually make a decision to refuse to give up their addiction?

    Ask yourself this: Who wants to be found dead, half naked, next to a toilet, with a needle in his arm and his glasses still on his head? No one does. I can think of few things more humiliating, and doubt he “chose” to die like that.

    Other issues raised throughout your blog are more complicated than I can address here. Can I get your email address?

    • savorydish said

      The point of all movies is to send a message. Film is art. And art is communication. My point is not to hide the ugliness but to portray it accurately. Because, as Leaving Las Vegas points out, it’s not always a happy ending.

      Sorry. I don’t maintain an email for this blog anymore.

    • savorydish said

      Can an addict make decisions for himself? No. Neither can someone who was severely abused as a child. Both suffer from brain damage. Science also backs this up. I’ve said this from the very beginning.

      I’m not sure what you’re argument is, but I hope it’s not that these people should get a free hall pass. All the more reasons loved ones need to intervene. And not just sit passively by and watch the tragedy unfold. That was the message I got from Leaving Las Vegas. I didn’t see a love story. I saw a tragic tale of codependence.

      Unfortunately, addicts and the mentally ill surround themselves with enablers and expel people who confront them with their illness. Hoffman’s death is a direct result of people choosing not to intervene. That was the message I got from his death.

  5. Amy said

    An addict can make some decisions for himself, depending on his level of functionality. But their brains are not capable of deciding or choosing not to continue to use. What they can do is make a decision to go to rehab, where other people will then be entrusted to make decisions for him and spare him the extreme pain of withdrawal. Hoffman did go to rehab for ten days when he started to relapse. Obviously, it did not work. Why he did not go someplace else after that, we will never know.

    You state that addicts surround themselves with enablers. Yet you also state that in Hoffman’s case no one tried to intervene. I’m not sure how to reconcile the two statements. At any rate, I have not been able to identify any enablers in Hoffman’s case, unless drug dealers count. I think you will disagree, but I did not think Mimi O’Donnell’s decision to throw him out of their home was wise. Yes, the welfare of the children must come first, always. However, heroin happens to be a drug on which people can function quite well, as long as they stay on it. So I do not believe he posed a danger to his children. Obviously, the drugs would have to be kept in a very secure place, but they had a remarkably large home in which to find that secure place.

    By kicking him out, she did three things: 1. Gave him much more privacy in which to fall deeper into addiction; 2. Eliminated his most immediate and important support system, and 3. Caused him to suffer a loss, which probably deepened his depression, which probably drove him further into addiction. She may have been well-intentioned in her tough-love approach, but clearly it did not work. I think a middle path would have been better: allow him to remain in the home while encouraging him to seek more help.

    We agree that a long history of child abuse results in brain damage. But to a different pathway in the brain than you see in cases of drug addiction. I am sure that there are some people who suffered a long history of abuse as a child that cannot make basic, everyday life decisions for themselves. I am equally certain that there are many people who suffered horrific abuse throughout most of their childhood that went on to live rich and meaningful lives. The best example that comes to mind at the moment would be all of the children who survived the Holocaust — who got out as teenagers or young adults, and somehow managed to live a life worth living, including making and executing good decisions.

    I give no one a hall pass, but I am unsure as to who “these people” are for you. What I hear you saying is that the message you took from Leaving Las Vegas was that it was neither honest nor authentic. Instead of depicting two codependents in a gruesome situation of their own making, they dressed it up as a love story that had beautiful qualities.

    Your interpretation of the film is different from mine. And I’ll have to give some more thought to what I actually mean here after a good night’s sleep. Think about it in the morning light, when I can focus and refresh my memory. It was many years ago that I saw that movie. Right now I remember only two things about it clearly. It had an impact on me long after it was over. That, and that when Cage won his Oscar, I thought to myself that he clearly deserved it. This was striking to me as it does not happen that I agree with the academy often. But I did with respect to that decision, and also with respect to Tom Hanks’ performance in Philadelphia. I smiled and thought, “They got that one right. He deserved it.”


    • Marie said

      You said: “You state that addicts surround themselves with enablers. Yet you also state that in Hoffman’s case no one tried to intervene. I’m not sure how to reconcile the two statements.” What is your confusion? Enablers allow the person to continue with whatever they are doing…they enable the addiction and/or behaviour by allowing it to continue. Standing by and watching it happen is also enabling. Mimi and the kids could not have been the only people in his life.
      In Hoffman’s case in real life…was he verbally or physically abusive when he used drugs? If he was then Mimi did the correct thing by getting him out of the house. Children should not be exposed to abuse. Some other family member or close friend should have taken him in to give him a secure place. Did Mimi try to stop the behaviour by throwing him out? Possibly that was part of the reason she had him leave. Only she knows for sure. Even if the house is big they would still cross paths…and how do you explain to kids to stay away from Daddy when he lives in the same house?
      You are absolutely correct that some people can overcome a childhood of abuse. I was abused by both my parents and I am living a rich and full life. I have been making my own decisions for 18 years now. Some people can overcome abusive parents and some can’t.

      • savorydish said

        If you’re an addict, you shouldn’t have children. It’s irresponsible and selfish. Children deserve better than that. I’m a big fan of Hoffman, but I think he made some poor choices behind the screen.

  6. Amy said

    Marie: Caught between back-to-back meetings, but briefly: I do see that it is logically possible for one to be surrounded by enablers while, at the same time, have no one intervening to help them. The two statements made by SavoryDish were not irreconcilable. It was late, and I was wrong on this point. I disagree that standing by and watching is enabling. That is a failure to intervene. Enabling to me implies some form of encouragement or acceptance of continued drug abuse.

    But this is academic in Hoffman’s case, about which I have read extensively. Mimi and his kids were not the only close people in his life, but none of his close friends or family knew that he was using. They knew that he had started to relapse and that he went to rehab. They all said he “seemed fine” and they thought that chapter of his life was over. I do not think they knew at the time that the reason Mimi threw him out was because he was not, in fact, fine. They knew he was separated from his common-law wife, and I am not sure they asked a lot of questions or he offered a lot of information as to the “why”. Many people, especially men, are like that. They tend not to ask questions as to why a marriage is in trouble unless it seems like their friend wants to talk about it. And many men are reluctant to discuss such things for fear that their friends don’t want to hear it. Women tend to be more open to talk and willing to ask questions in this regard, though I do realize I am generalizing here. And sometimes neither men nor women want to talk to their friends as to details concerning why their marriage is on the rocks.

    Hoffman was never abusive in any way to anybody except himself from what I can tell. I have read nothing but account upon account as to how kind and fundamentally decent he was to everybody. Yes, Mimi threw him out to try to get him to stop using. She has stated so. There was no need for another family member or friend to take him in. He had 38 million dollars, so he rented a 10K/month apartment nearby without even blinking. Staying away from Daddy was never an issue. Mimi wanted him to see the kids and he saw them many times each week. He was discovered dead after Mimi called a friend of his to check on him when he failed to show up to pick up the kids on Sunday morning, Feb. 2, as planned.

    Happy to discuss more later, and still need to look again at Leaving Las Vegas.

    Enjoy the day,

    • savorydish said

      The sin of omission is still a sin. Throwing someone out doesn’t make them stop using. It’s a decision one has to make when all other attempts fail. She did the right thing by kicking him out. Being an addict is child abuse. Anything that instills fear in children is abusive. Even if it is the fear that your father will die from an overdose.

    • savorydish said

      So many of the women I’ve loved “seemed fine”. They were high-functioning. They were kind and nice on most days. But people act differently behind closed doors.

      The general public is bad at picking up signs of addiction and mental illness. They just don’t care or they are easily duped. I think we see someone successful and we think they must be fine.

      But that is an illusion. That is why we are shocked any time someone famous dies. The reality is that it happens a lot. Because those who are damaged on the inside work very hard to keep outward appearances. And those who are trained actors are even better at putting on an act. They are literally professionals.

      • Marie said

        SD, EXACTLY. Behind closed doors people are very different.
        Amy, unless you were in Hoffman’s home you will never know if he was abusive or not. Just because people say he was nice does not mean he was all the time to those closest to him. I highly doubt when he was abusing drugs he was always pleasant to be around.
        My mother’s friends were shocked to tears when they discovered (after her death) how verbally and physically abusive she was when she was alive. My father’s friends also had no idea that he was an alcoholic who beat his wife every night and abused his child. Both my parents were BPD but if you asked people outside of our home….oh what nice people they were!

      • savorydish said

        I don’t think I’ve ever heard of a pleasant heroin addict.

  7. Amy said

    Hold on. I want to provide some information, and ask one question only for now. PSH went to rehab at the age of 22 because he was panicked for his life. He remained completely clean until the age of 45.

    With these facts in mind, do you still maintain that it was irresponsible and selfish for PSH to have children during his 30s?

    • savorydish said

      You’re right. I don’t know enough about him to judge him. But if I were struggling with addiction (rehab or no rehab) I wouldn’t add the stress of raising children to the mix. The stress of career was enough for me to choose not to have children. If I had an addiction to heroin, I would be crazy to have kids.

  8. Amy said

    And one more thing, and this is kind of a joke. I’ve never before heard anyone say that PSH worked hard to keep his outward appearance. 🙂

    • savorydish said

      Ha. Yes, he was a bit of a slob. But he was a famous actor. That is an appearance that all is well. Better than well. He worked very hard to achieve that stature. My point being I’ve dated many over-achievers and they were all compensating for something.

  9. Amy said

    Marie: Having never been behind closed doors with PSH, I certainly have personal knowledge that he was not abusive. You, having never been in his home, have no personal knowledge that he was. You point out accurately that everyone is different behind closed doors, but then you speculate that when PSH was using heroin, he was probably unpleasant to be around.

    I mentioned before that heroin is one of very few drugs on which people function well as, as long as they stay on it. The best explanation about heroin I’ve yet to hear is here: I therefore am not persuaded to PSH was unpleasant while on heroin.

    Since neither of us know PSH, nor were we inside his home, all we can do is look at all the evidence and come to the conclusion that seems most likely. Mimi O’Donnell is one tough cookie. This we know. She threw him out because she thought it was best for him, and probably for her and her children. If Mimi O’Donnell thought that PSH was being abusive to the children, I highly doubt she would have actively encouraged and facilitated him to remain in close contact with them throughout the separation. Yet she did. Is it possible that she did not know about the abuse? Anything is possible, but it doesn’t seem likely. Additionally, report upon report is that, until his death, Phil was seen around the neighborhood, treating his kids to ice cream and goofing around with them. These kids seemed happy in the company of their father. Maybe it was an act. Anything is possible. But it does not seem likely.

    I think I will keep reading, but not respond further until I watch LLV again.


    • savorydish said

      Regardless of how well you perform on heroin, heroin and parenting don’t go together. Ice cream or no ice cream. This obviously wasn’t the first time he made a bad choice. Most likely he had a long history of making bad choices. He was obviously out of control, which is always an indicator of abusive tendencies. Always. You can be a nice person 90% of the time, but still be abusive 10% of the time. A person like this will buy you ice cream and a nice life, if you let them stay in your life.

    • savorydish said

      Watch Mommy Dearest while youre at it.

    • Marie said

      Of course the kids seemed happy, they were with their Daddy! No matter how they were treated behind closed doors they are going to love their Daddy and be happy to spend time with him. When you are an abused child you think that is the normal way of life for everyone and society as well as religion teaches us to love and honor our parents no matter what. It’s when they get older and have more exposure to life and non-abusive families that they will realize something was different. Then the process may or may not begin to separate from the parent (depending on the circumstances) partially or completely but this is EXTREMELY difficult due to the guilt associated with a separation of any kind. Family members and many members of society will pressue someone to stay with an abusive parent or in contact in some way especially if they don’t realize or refuse to believe that the parent is abusive.
      And I politely disagree. If people know someone is ill, an addict, an alcoholic or abusive and they just stand by and watch they are enablers. Anyone who knows exactly what is going on and doesn’t lift a finger to help just lets the problem(s) continue. That is one of the reasons why in public education today it is ILLEGAL to not notify the authorities if a teacher or adult in the school building sees signs of abuse. It’s easy to turn the other cheek and pretend you don’t know what’s happening.


      • savorydish said

        Well said. Most of these kids don’t know they were abused until they are adults. And then they are reluctant to talk about it because they are taught to bury the past.

    • savorydish said

      Regardless of whether or not they were abused. Those kids now have trauma from a parent dying from OD. They will require years of treatment. Maybe even a lifetime. May I ask why you have this fascination with PSH?

  10. Amy said

    Meant to say “certainly have no personal knowledge that he was not abusive”

  11. Amy said

    Breaking my promise here. It seems like you both tend to presume PSH was abusive to his kids based on things you’ve seen some other addicts do, not based on anything you know about PSH as an individual. And irrespective of the fact that his mother, who seems very protective of her children, encouraged continued contact with him.

    As for whether someone is an enabler if they do not act. There is only one person I know of who knew PSH was using. Shortly before his death, PSH was at a film festival, looking disheveled. A stranger walked up to him and asked,”Who are you?” He took off his hat so that he would be recognized and said,”I am a heroin addict.” And he walked away.

    What should this stranger have done in this circumstance? What would you have done? Can we really consider this person an enabler??

    No one else other than his wife knew. Not even his children (who therefore could not have held any fears of their father being an addict).

    Have a good night. I have LLV loaded on my IPad. Already seen Mommy Dearest. Once was enough.

  12. Amy said

    OK, since I saw your question I will answer it. I loved his work. I saw in him a man who was enormously talented, while refusing to conform to Hollywood stereotypes. I saw someone intelligent. The way he honored his mother when he won his Oscar impressed me greatly. He stayed clean for so long, and then died too young, and in such a humiliating way. I can only imagine his pain. It just makes me very very sad.

    Yes, his children took a huge hit that will take a long time to heal. But I cannot attribute any malice to the fact that he OD’d. As I said, he was not capable of sitting down and thinking, “If I do this, I may OD and not be there for my kids.” He was not capable of that kind of decision-making with respect to using.

    • savorydish said

      No offense, Amy, but it sounds like you are making excuses for PSH. You’re basically saying because he was so talented and intelligent, he couldn’t possibly have abused his kids. And if he did then he is not responsible because his decision-making ability was impaired by the bags of heroin he consumed.

      What you are demonstrating is the thinking behind enabling. Enablers make excuses for addicts that’s what enables them. So forgive me for getting personal, do you have an addict in your life?

    • savorydish said

      I don’t have malice towards him. I feel pity for him and his kids.

  13. LaSource said

    Marie: I feel compelled to break my silence again. I want you to know that I hear you. I too was severely abused. Like you, I also believed it to the the norm in all families until I was around 10. And yes, I didn’t want anyone to know about it either, for a very long time.

    I know I will never be as good as I could have been had I not had to suffer. But I did get help — a lot of help, and I got better. Maybe not all-the-way better, but much improved. I have a good marriage, two great kids, and I love my job as a lawyer.

    SD: I think the main reason I brought PSH here is because you referenced addicts who refused to get help and chose to keep using. I disagreed with the premise, and I often find that when I want to refute a generalization, it helps to point to an individual.

  14. Amy said

    No, I have never had a problem with addiction. I actually knew nothing about heroin prior to PSH, when I got interested in the subject. As to whether I’ve had any addicts in my life, I think Dad drinks too much scotch and that Mom drinks too much wine. It’s more than I would choose to drink. But I can’t say that they qualify as alcoholics.

    I am not making excuses for PSH. But I am baffled as to why you are saying he could not possibly have abused his children. I have not said that. What I do not understand is why you and Marie started speculating as to whether PSH abused his children. Can I ask how that came into play?

    As I’ve said before, heroin does not diminish the addict’s ability to make a decision as to whether to abuse a child, nor diminish their awareness of being abusive. Using heroin would never excuse child abuse. I said that a heroin addict’s brain is broken in a way that renders him incapable of choosing whether to use or not. His brain was hard-wired to use. That’s not an excuse. It’s just a fact.

    The point of contention is that generalizations sort of suck. Yes, I was abused. Yes my brain was damaged. But it hurt to read you saying that I cannot make decisions for myself, and it also happens not to be the case. Marie was also abused, yet she maintains she can make decisions. I can’t speak to her feelings.

    • Marie said

      Thanks for sharing all that you have and I’m happy that you are living a happy and successful life in spite of being abused. As a kind of fellow survivor I’m proud of you.
      I said PERHAPS Phil was abusive not that he definitely was as another reason why Mimi made him leave. I also feel nothing but sadness for all involved. I have seen many of his movies and the first thing I thought after he died besides feeling sad was we will never see another masterpiece of his again. He could play any role well. I do caution you that we only know what certain celebrities want us to know about their deeply personal lives and what they allow the public eye to see. Perhaps it is as you say and he was normal when he was using. A complete stranger is not an enabler. Mimi may have tried to have him get help and then decided to do a sort of intervention by having him leave. Who knows? She may have told him when he cleaned up his act he could come back…but she didn’t just continue to stand by and watch him destroy himself.
      Savory Dish may seem to generalize that all victims of abuse turn out the same but that is not his intention. He is extremely intelligent and is always open to other opinions (hence this blog). He understands that there are people who can overcome trauma and not damage others in the process. This blog has saved the lives and sanity of many people all over the world. I know because I have been here more than a year now and have interacted with and read about many of the people who have been helped.
      I too have a happy marriage and an 18 yr. career (and counting). As for kids, because of my parents I was always afraid to have them since they were such horrible role models and I was extremely picky about who I would allow the father to be if I did have them. Now I only have a couple of years left to have my own and if I do, then I know I can be a great mother but if I don’t it’s not the end of the world. I feel sympathy, empathy, guilt, love and the full range of emotions dealing with others. Despite being raised by 2 BPD parents I know I am not like them.
      Savory Dish, When A Man Loves A Woman is good too. I think seeing more women with issues is important…and let’s not forget Fatal Attraction and the more modern Obsessed with Beyonce and Ali Larter.

      • savorydish said

        Oh yes, who could forget Fatal Attraction or SWF? But those characters were so psychotic I couldn’t even relate or see them as BPD.

      • savorydish said

        And thank you for always rushing to my defense. You are a sweetie.

      • Marie said

        You are welcome. There are many good people in the world with big hearts, you are one of them. Not everyone realizes that when they are here.
        I did do some research last night on specifically heroin addicts. What I read stated that their behaviour does change once the high rapidly surges in on them. Children of heroin addicts are abused just by being children of addicts as you say. What I read did support that.

      • savorydish said

        Thank you for the kind words. I am blessed to have you here. You are living proof that someone can escape tragedy to become a better person.

        And thanks for the info on heroin addiction. IMO all addictions are detrimental to the families of addicts.

        We have learned about the effects of chaos and instability. I have seen the effects firsthand. The people I’ve known are riddled with insecurity and mistrust. They struggle to keep it together.

    • savorydish said

      Ok. So now we get to the meat of the discussion. Why did you send me off on a wild goose chase? All you had to say was that you were hurt because I said damaged people can’t make decisions for themselves. It would have been a lot easier to have a conversation if you had gotten straight to the point.

    • savorydish said

      I’m sorry if my words hurt you. Truly. Marie is the best case scenario, where we have someone who has risen above her circumstances. But she has taken charge of her condition and therefore her life. She acts with more grace than people who have never seen tragedy. But that is a choice.

      As far as who is and who isn’t capable of making decisions for themselves. I am guilty of generalizing too much, but let’s say it depends on the individual. Do they demonstrate the ability to make sound choices? Or is there a long history of bad choices?

      I, myself, have made bad choices. Many. And I have to live with that and correct that. No one else can change that except me. So the message here is about personal responsibility. That is not a hurtful message. It is one of hope.

      • Marie said

        Savory Dish,
        Thanks for all the nice things you say to me. I think you are sweet too and I also recognize the common pain we have from being treated poorly by those we have loved. Every day I hope you find someone nice and that you will have a happier life with her. I hope you have a happy life now on your own because that is important too.
        I have been thinking for a couple of days about how to respond to everyone here about if all BPD are also children of alcoholics. Both my parents were BPD and while they shared a few of the characteristics of a classic BPD they also had different ones. My point is someone can have a PD or be a child of an alcoholic and only have certain aspects of one or the other or both. My ex- boyfriend with BPD is not an alcoholic and neither is his ex-wife. They have 2 beautiful children. One is showing signs of a PD but the other is not.
        When I read the post about children of alcoholics it hit home in the sense of how the child feels when the parent (in my case my dad was an alcoholic but both parents were BPD so I was yelled at by both parents) is out of control. The child is very much the frightened and frozen fawn in headlights and maybe only has the a safe haven to run to (in this case my bedroom although I could be physically dragged out of there of course if the abuse session was not concluded) in order to calm down if there is no one else to run to for help. As I grew older the frightened fawn became a teen who began to tune out what was going on around her so when they were fighting every night with each other it didn’t matter if I was in my room or even at the dinner table I would just tune them out. I remember my dad asking me if I was taking drugs or if someone was slipping them into my lunch without my knowledge. This was just a result of how good I was at tuning out their bs…which of course I would have been whipped raw if I said that to him. They also commented to each other (and actually laughed about it) once when I was in my room not knowing I could hear them…saying how I would go to one parent or the other but never to both at the same time if I needed something. And they wondered why I spent so much time in my bedroom. Yes, because when one was in a rage you’re not going to approach that one and if they are both raging then if your room is your only option that’s where you go. I’m glad I could amuse them. Also, my dad particularly enjoyed watching my mother physically and verbally abuse me because he could take a break from them abusing each other. That was really sick.
        I never turned to drugs, alcohol or even smoking, I turned inward and soaked in the love (which was also returned in kind to her) from my maternal Grandmother when I got the chance to be with her. I always thought about how I would NOT be when I grew up and how I would NOT treat someone I love. And as an adult I saw how more normal, healthy relationships were supposed to be. I went to counseling for all of this in college and after but, yes, the frightened and frozen fawn is somewhere there….waiting for the change of expression, worrying to be blamed for the traffic or whatever problem happens to the person I love always thinking maybe it was my fault when I know it was not. I have learned to overcome that most of the time but once in a while the feeling comes back. And whenever I have had extreme stress, in any aspect of my life, nightmares about my mother come back every once in a while. My husband has been great about this and I have not treated him badly because of it, that is not my way. He just says she is gone now, I don’t have to hide from her anymore (after 18 years it’s still sinking in, my identity, body, mind, job are all safe from her destruction) and asked me if I forgave them. I told him that I forgave both of them a long time ago because they were both ill. Neither one of them were ever happy the whole time I knew them…I forgave and pitied them. I was also grateful they only had one child. I would not wish my childhood on anyone.
        I don’t place blame where it doesn’t belong in my relationships. I don’t like to hold grudges or yell, although eventually if a loved one yells at me too many times I am capable of yelling back. But no matter how angry or upset I am I am ALWAYS in control of the words that come out of my mouth and I don’t swear or name-call or believe in physical violence….too much like my parents. If anything, I have been told I’m too patient and too nice …that is the problem. I’m fixing that too….sometimes tough love is good (but always emphasis on love).
        Everyone has a deep seated fear of being “diganosed” or told something is wrong with them. Look how many people here have asked for your validation….”am I the crazy one, SD or is she/he?!”. That is almost like a phobia in and of itself. Everyone wants to be normal. I think everyone has “something”. It doesn’t have to be a PD it can be a phobia or some kind of quirk or fetish. There are MANY more good people of both genders out there than bad or sick ones. The trick is to find them and surround yourself with them. As for your significant other I highly doubt the perfect one exists….you have to find one to love with both defects and good qualities…as that person will love you back. The tricky part is making sure you find someone who really deserves you and really loves you for you. The good news is that is it possible. As long as we look inward first and try to fix ourselves I think it will be easier to attract the right kind of person. After having been burned it’s not unreasonable to be a little extra cautious as long as caution is all it is and not something else.
        Some children of people who suffer from BPD and/or were alcoholics can do their very best to overcome their upbringing. You don’t have to run screaming from them if you find out they had a hard childhood BUT you do have to be super vigilant in the beginning to know EXACTLY what you are getting. And as with anyone who may have suffered something traumatic in childhood (death of a parent or close family member) perhaps a little extra love and understanding at times is necessary but it should not be all the time or make YOU feel bad. No one should ever get away with abusing you, life is too short to suffer.

      • savorydish said

        You are proof that people can rise above their past. Your insight provides comfort for people on both sides of the spectrum. I am not a mental health professional but I sense well-being when you speak. Someone who has a good grasp of who they are. I think you are truly the exception to the rule.

      • Marie said

        Thank you, SD. If that is the case then I have my Grandmother, friends, colleagues, students and of course my husband to thank for that too. So many nice people exist. We were not born in this world to be alone 100% of the time, we have to interact with others on a daily basis. And I appreciate you always know where I am coming from.

      • savorydish said

        I also loved my grandmother. So maybe the secret to finding happiness is finding people who can provide us with that nurturing love.

      • Marie said

        I wholeheartedly agree. Nuturing love is very important during childhood and the teen years.

      • savorydish said

        And even adulthood:)

      • Marie said

        Of course! Take all you can get because when it ends….you will miss it.

      • savorydish said

        Your husband is a very lucky man.

      • Marie said

        Thank you. He tells me that all the time. :o) I hope the same happiness for you.

      • savorydish said

        I think where I went wrong was loving women who could not love themselves. All their irrational behavior can be explained when you realize how much they relied on my approval. And if I did not approve they ran away.

      • Marie said

        True. Society in general makes it very hard for a normal woman to love herself…trying to fit into the model type of “beautiful”. Ask any woman if she has physical flaws and even the most physically perfect woman will point out something that the rest of us will say is all in her head….she is perfectly gorgeous. For a normal woman add to that a little extra weight, hair she doesn’t like or a nose or whatever and then ON TOP OF THAT add a PD….you’ve got a ticking time bomb there. A woman has to learn to love and respect herself in order for anyone else to be able to love her.

      • savorydish said

        It’s so funny because so many angry borderline women have come here to claim that we have it all wrong. Mostly through fits of rage. You have shown them that it’s so much more effective to be sweet and kind.

      • Marie said

        It’s because the BPD rage whether male or female is not containable. The primitive part of the brain takes over when they rage.They are hyper-sensitive and scared because they see themselves in what is written and can’t take it. I choose to read it, analyze it and look inside myself. If something is wrong I have to fix it not cover it up. They are afraid of being alone because inside they are always alone and empty. They can have 20 people who love them and STILL feel scared and alone. That is why when they yell (again male or female) no matter what you DO or DON’T say is always the wrong thing and then they end up saying YOU are crazy or are the one with the problem.

    • savorydish said

      Those who have been here for a while know that I have ruffled a lot of feathers. This was never my intent. The purpose of this blog is to set the story straight. I take great efforts to seek out the truth. The truth has nothing to do with my biased opinion or generalizations that I may make. Sometimes they contradict what I want to believe. But I accept them, because science dictates what I hold to be true. And when science dovetails with my own personal experience then I know I have the truth in my hands. There is great liberation in that kind of knowledge.

  15. Gammon Ears said

    “But the most troubling part of the movie is the idea that True Love can cure mental illness.”

    ^The most potent part of the sermon. We are indoctrinated from our earliest years with this caca-doo-doo theory. And that, together with a Non’s own childhood experiences, can ensnare the unwitting Non into a lifetime of heartache/torture.

    “Just love her more” your heart says, “she’ll realize in the end.” And the bpd forums extol: “Be more understanding! Be patient!”

    Nah, that’s a trap. The only way is Up, and Up is getting out immediately.

    On the other foot, these kind of movies encourage the mentally-ill and BPDs to believe that life is one big spectacle of romantic drama and death, where the blood of those who suffer and die marinate the briefly high thrills of violence and infidelity.

    They can’t have sex without knowing someone is hurting. Whether it be the person they cheat on or themselves. Think about that. When do they cheat? – when you start loving them.

  16. Amy said

    Thanks for the apology, SD. I’m glad this blog has been helpful to you and others. I’m glad to see that you recognize that at times you do generalize too much. We agree that lumping individuals into broad categories and then concluding that they are all more or less alike is unwise. Thank you for allowing me the opportunity for this fruitful discussion.

    • savorydish said

      But generalizations and hurt feelings aside, we should recognize that individual choices and personal responsibility override any harm done by generalizations. Yes?
      Policing the internet for generalizations is no match for individuals who shine as examples of how good and decent folk behave. Especially those who are able to rise about horrible circumstances. Would you not agree?

    • savorydish said

      Lumping people together is not unwise. It is human nature. We categorize people all the time. Scientists do it too. It is then up to the individual to prove that they are the exception to the rule. The generalizations made here are based on science and collective experiences. They are meant to be loose guidelines. Not to be taken as gospel.

    • savorydish said

      It is unwise for people to not have a general understanding of PDs and the effects of childhood trauma. Let’s be clear on this. When discussing such topics feelings are bound to be hurt, especially when you are dealing with people who are hyper-sensitive, but that is never my intent. I generalize to give people a basic understanding of their situations so they can make better decisions for themselves. The story behind PDs is not flattering. Feelings will get hurt. I’m sorry your feelings are hurt, but I don’t apologize for this blog’s candor or its approach.

  17. Amy said

    I believe that taking personal responsibility for oneself, which includes recognizing the consequences our choices have on ourselves and others, to be no less or more important than avoiding stereotypical generalizations. Moreover, I do not see anything mutually exclusive about taking personal responsibility and avoiding overly broad generalizations that can be hurtful. I’d even go so far as to say the one should take responsibility to avoid making generalizations that can be inaccurate and hurtful.

    And no. Just because someone makes a choice to throw around scatter-shot stereotypes, the onus of “proving” that s/he does not fit the stereotype certainly does not shift to the individual.

    I am sorry you feel that I have somehow attempted to police the Internet.

    My feelings have not been hurt by anything discussed in this blog with respect to personality disorders. Because it is not my intent to police the internet, I’ll let those who identify as having a personality disorder to speak to any feelings they may have about those discussions.

    My feelings were hurt when you stereotyped all adults who were severely abused as children as suffering from brain damage which renders them incapable of rendering good decisions for themselves. So I tried to speak to that. Obviously I didn’t do so effectively.

    We agree that this is your blog, and you have every right to run it as you see fit. I think it is great that some people find it useful. Those who don’t can choose not to read it. Simple as that.

    • savorydish said

      You’ve brought many concerns to the table and I have tried to answer them all to the best of my ability. But if we wrangle all the topics together, the bottom line is you feel hurt. So let’s put aside the debate about internet morality and address that issue. Because it seems to be the most important one.

      We are not talking about adults who may or may not feel stereotyped. We are talking about your own personal feelings. Speak to that and we can begin to have a meaningful conversation.

      This blog was not specifically created for film criticism or social commentary (though I have been known to indulge in both), it was designed for people to speak openly and honestly about feelings and relationships. Effectiveness is not a priority nor is accuracy. We strive for openess. Once we have that, we can have a more fruitful conversation.

  18. Amy said

    I saw LLV, and had many thoughts about it. But what struck me the hardest was that unendurable rape scene with the college boys.

    It did not appear from the beginning if her meeting them that things would go so horribly awry. No, it wasn’t until Shue suggested that the guy “fuck his friend in the butt” that the boys became uncontrollably triggered. As we know, suggesting that one heterosexual man have anal sex with another heterosexual man, is extremely demeaning, especially so for a young college boys who pride themselves on their masculinity.

    But once triggered by the insult, all horror ensues. I think we have to ask ourselves why. I have a pre-adolescent son and tend to think he probably would not be involved in this kind of situation in the first place. If, somehow, he were in the situation, I am sure he would not appreciate the insult. But would it trigger a rage in him so visceral that he would participate in a brutal gang rape, or even allow it? No way. He is simply far too empathic.

    I have to wonder what mental illness or disorder these boys must have been suffering. What do you think?

    • savorydish said

      Most likely sociopaths. Probably abused by a father so they are constantly looking to prove their masculinity.

      It was definitely a horrific scene. Victims of abuse are often re-victimized.

  19. Amy said

    What surprised me is that almost all of the reviewers failed to mention it at all. Ebert actually said that Sera got herself in that situation as a way to “punish herself” after Ben let her down badly. Another reviewer took exception to that quite strongly, which I was glad to see. However, she was feeling particularly hurt when that happened, which may have made her more vulnerable than she would have been otherwise.

    I also found the taxi driver who picks her up to be incredibly cruel. Which begs another question and brings me to another point, which I’m sure you already know: Cluster Bs do a lot of shitty things, but we also live in a world in which a lot of just plain shitty people do shitty things. And some otherwise good people do shitty things.

    As to the relationship between Ben and Sera: I do not think this was a story of true love, or of finding your soul mate. Ben is hell-bent on suicide, an has simply chosen alcohol as his method. He is not interested in “getting help”. His mind is made up. Sera, obviously, is also very damaged, and has also, for whatever reason, resigned herself to an empty life. She’s very lonely. This relationship has nowhere to go — it’s a non-starter.

    And so these two give each other a small measure of company and acceptance. Ben has a mere four weeks to live; Sera makes them more bearable for him, and in return, she feels a bit less lonely for a few weeks. In my opinion, Ben gets the far better end of their deal. His acceptance of her is more conditional than hers is of him. In the end, you just have two badly damaged people offering each other some respite. Neither changes the other, no one gets help, no one is changed. Do they have a love for each other? Sure. But it’s not a romantic love between soul mates. Ben was going to die with or without Sera, and once Ben is gone, Sera will continue to come home to nothing but a bottle of mouthwash with which to wash the taste of cum out of his mouth.

    Was this better than nothing for two people that have so little?Sure. And is that depressing as hell? You bet.

  20. Amy said

    Of course I do not take offense. I wrote a thoughtful summary of how I interpreted LLV and why. You responded with a one-sentence, unsubstantiated conclusion that I cannot recognize codependent relationships.

    A man set on a mission to die in a few weeks is far past caring about the future or the quality of his relationships. A hooker who decides to keep him company for these four weeks certainly has no illusions of a future relationship. This was an extremely limited relationship between two losers who both saw it for what it was. They helped each other a bit; people so poorly positioned in life are grateful for what respite they can get. There was never any chance that anyone was going to change Ben’s mind. No one. Never. That is not what this movie is about.

    You are, of course, free to see it differently, but you are not free to insult my ability to see things as well as you do simply because my interpretation differs from yours.

    Of course you may ask if I was sexually abused. You may also ask if I have a goldfish; both questions are equally (ir)relevant to our discussion of this film. And the answer to both questions is no.

  21. Amy said

    Diagnosed with what?

  22. Amy said

    May I ask if you’ve been diagnosed? Or would that not be fair? You’ve asked me a number of personal questions based on nothing more than my viewing art and ACOA differently than you do.

  23. Amy said

    Where do you evidence of my having a quick temper? Considering all what you have projected into me (addiction, sexual abuse), I think I have been very patient.

    I will answer your question if you answer one more of mine: Have you ever sought psychotherapy of some kind to deal with the pain you have experienced? Or to help you avoid a problem that you have recognized many times here, which is your repeated attraction to unstable women and their attraction to you?

    You state many times that those who have been abused will likely abuse others if they do not get help. I have gotten help. I do not abuse others. You have been abused and, by your theory, are likely to abuse others if you do not get professional help.

    Did you? Will you?

  24. Amy said

    You know, it’s late. I think I should answer your questions and conclude my participation here, because the last thing I want to do is make an enemy of you.

    Diagnoses: Depression, moderate (severe depression is only diagnosed if you’ve made a suicide attempt).
    Generalized anxiety disorder.
    History of abuse (physical)
    History of abuse (psychological).

    I did a lot of talk therapy. And then my therapist told me that there was a therapy that he was not trained in, that was designed primarily for patients who had a diagnosis I did not have, but that the therapy was essentially a skill set that could help with depression as well as anxiety. He asked if I wanted to try it.

    So I did a course in DBT. I was not prepared for what I saw. I couldn’t articulate it, but I just felt that the people taking the course with me were…not like me. I’m still not sure how to explain it. I was also a bit shocked when I read the “class rules”. “You may never talk about self-mutilating behavior during class.” I was like ?????????. Anyway, the manual for DBT had “borderline personality disorder” all over it. As you may have noticed, I have a thirst for knowledge, and once I become interested in something, I tend to pursue it. I started researching BPD, and during the course of that research, I landed here.

    I have to say that I did find the course helpful. I learned some skills I think just about anyone could benefit from. I also learned that BPD is much, much more varied than you make it sound.

    There was a book discussed in the class that I read and found helpful in dealing with one of my kids, who can get very emotional at times. It’s by Bonn Dobbs, and he has posted here. The book is When Hope is Not Enough. He is a non-BPD, but his wife and one of his children have it. I think it may help you navigate your relationships.

    Finally, there’s this:

    Yes, anyone can put on an act. But this seems pretty genuine to me. Sometimes bad things happen to good people, and I believe that is what happened here. May he RIP.

    And that’s it for me. I wish you the very best.

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