Hollywood's finest?
February 11, 2008 9:55 PM   Subscribe

Famous examples of personality disorders?

I'm working on presentation of personality disorders for a graduate class, and I want it to be slightly more interesting than the book reports I've spent the last 4 weeks listening to. I remember my undergraduate professor having some awesome pop culture examples of the different personality disorders, but I'm coming up short on several of the disorders (and yes, I know I could email him, and yes, I've tried Google).

So far, I've got examples for Schizoid, Antisocial, and Histrionic Personality Disorders. So....what are your awesome/entertaining examples of:

-Paranoid Personality Disorder
-Schizotypal Personality D/o
-Borderline Personality D/o
-Narcissistic Personality D/o
-Avoidant Personality D/o
-Dependent Personality D/o
-Obsessive Compulsive Personality D/o

Actual famous people, movie/tv characters, whatever, are all great.
posted by messylissa to Grab Bag (33 answers total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
Paranoid Personality Disorder - Hitler

(sorry, couldn't resist Godwining you at first post. He's a pretty good example though, and you get to play Downfall clips if you choose.)
posted by Artw at 10:02 PM on February 11, 2008

David Sedaris has OCD, and has written hilariously and movingly about it - you might want check out his piece "A Plague of Tics" for passages to share with your class.
posted by moxiedoll at 10:08 PM on February 11, 2008

Response by poster: moxiedoll - Thanks for the tip, but OCD and Obsessive Compulsive Personality Disorder are actually a little different.

Jasper - That is the most awesome thing I've seen all day (it's been a long midterm-y day). Thanks for that!
posted by messylissa at 10:15 PM on February 11, 2008


Sorry, carry on.

posted by MadamM at 10:16 PM on February 11, 2008

And here the OP took care of it already. :)
posted by MadamM at 10:16 PM on February 11, 2008

You might also want to take a look at this very long list of movies featuring mental illness. You have to scroll down quite a bit to get to the movies about personality disorders.
posted by Jasper Friendly Bear at 10:19 PM on February 11, 2008

Did Chuck Berris have paranoid personality disorder?
posted by clh at 10:31 PM on February 11, 2008

__Living in the Dead Zone__, a book by Gerald Faris, purports that Jim Morrison and Janis Joplin suffered Borderline Personality Disorder. Mind you, that doesn't make it true....just remembered seeing that book when I was into the Doors. I know Morrison was considered a narcissistic personality and was preoccupied with death...other than that, I don't know.
posted by snap_dragon at 10:33 PM on February 11, 2008

Margot At The Wedding -- is Margot an example of BPD? There seemed to be a couple hints about that in the movie.
posted by salvia at 11:18 PM on February 11, 2008

Bree Van de Camp from TV show "Desperate Housewives" for obsessive-compulsive personality disorder? And I propose Batman as a possibility for borderline personality disorder, and Willy Wonka for schizotypal personality disorder.
posted by taz at 1:21 AM on February 12, 2008

Howard Hughes
posted by Coventry at 1:30 AM on February 12, 2008

Glenn Close in Fatal Attraction = borderline.
posted by futility closet at 1:37 AM on February 12, 2008

Borderline: Diana Spencer, Courtney Love, Samantha Morton
posted by dydecker at 1:41 AM on February 12, 2008

This site claims Princess Di and Marylin Monroe had BPD.

You know who else it says had it?

Yep. That's right. Hitler.
posted by Effigy2000 at 3:01 AM on February 12, 2008

I've heard it said that OJ Simpson has BPD. One person who was a classic case was Brynn Hartman, Phil Hartman's wife -- the one who shot him in his sleep, then killed herself.
posted by ROTFL at 4:03 AM on February 12, 2008

Idi Amin.

I've heard ispeculation that he had narcissistic personality disorder, antisocial personality disorder, multiple personality disorder...and he reminds me of my bordeline ex (especially the paranoid ideation, the painting people white/black, fear of abandonment, etc).
posted by Pax at 6:03 AM on February 12, 2008

Best answer: The character in Keane has a condition which is not named but he's probably bipolar. The character in Clean, Shaven is a paranoid schizophrenic. Both parts are brilliantly played (by Damien Lewis and Peter Green respectively) and both films are directed by Lodge Kerrigan. When I saw Clean, Shaven the Canadian Schizophrenic Society (or whatever it's called) had reps in the theatre who claimed the film the most accurate portrayal they'd seen of the condition and they were there handing out flyers and answering questions.

I believe the Nic Cage character in Matchstick Men has OCPD.

I think Buster in Arrested Development is a good example of Dependent Personality D/o.
posted by dobbs at 6:21 AM on February 12, 2008

Best answer: Michael from "The Office" is a pretty clear case of Narcissistic Personality Disorder.
posted by availablelight at 6:27 AM on February 12, 2008

Best answer: Hannibal Lecter?
posted by Guy_Inamonkeysuit at 6:58 AM on February 12, 2008

Don't know what the diagnoses would be, but Roald Dahl is chock full of heroes and villains with definite screws loose.
posted by nax at 7:12 AM on February 12, 2008

Seems to me you could have a field day with Tom Cruise, too.
posted by nax at 7:13 AM on February 12, 2008

Not on your list, but how about Karl May and Dissociative Identity Disorder.
posted by tellurian at 7:22 AM on February 12, 2008

The problem you're going to have here is that a lot of famous people either a) lived and died before a lot of the modern definitions of personality disorders were defined in their modern forms, b) have good reason to hide any diagnoses they may have gotten now or in the past, or c) are fictional, making any diagnoses an amusing but easily dispusted intellectual exercise.

That said, you may be interested in this paper on PubMed. Here's a paper from BMJ diagnosing Gollum.

Wikipedia also has a lot of fictional examples under Antisocial Personality Disorder, most of which I haven't seen and so can't judge for you (I have seen Dexter, but I don't know enough about the various personality disorders to vouch - obviously, he's a serial killer and must be a tad off, but IANAAP [I'm not an abnormal psychologist]). Another Wikipedia-cited character with Narcissistic personality disorder is Norma Desmond from Sunset Boulevard, but the article claims she has "acquired situational narcissism," if that matters.
posted by bettafish at 7:31 AM on February 12, 2008

John Nash (A Beautiful Mind) Schizophrenic
Johnny Bravo (the cartoon) Narcissist, well kind of anyway ;-)
Liva Soprano (The Sopranos, probably get a ton from the Sopranos) Borderline Personality Disorder,
Donnie Darko, Schizophrenic
Hawkeye Pierce (MASH) PTSD
The Narrator (Fight Club) Schizo
van Gogh had several diagnosis attached to him
Nietzsche had mental health issues

That is all I can think of off the top of my head.
posted by Silvertree at 8:04 AM on February 12, 2008

Response by poster: Thanks for all the great stuff already!

Just to clarify, I'm looking for Axis II disorders, the persistent personality disorders. While they might have the same word roots or similar terminology, things like Schizophrenia, Bipolar Disorder and Multiple Personality/Dissociative Identity Disorder are Axis I diagnoses and vary quite differently from Axis II Personality Disorders.

That being said, I'm not particularly concerned with being able to give an accurate diagnosis (esp. since any diagnosis involves some level of subjectivity). I just want to provide examples of people and/or characters who display enough of the characteristics to get the point across. Examples like Michael from The Office and Buster from Arrested Development are great because while they might be an exaggeration, it gives people a frame of reference.
posted by messylissa at 8:15 AM on February 12, 2008

doesn't Howie Mandell have some ocd about touching germs and his hands or something like that?
posted by meeshell at 8:19 AM on February 12, 2008

Nietzsche had mental health issues

Yes, but mostly as a result of syphilis.
posted by dagnyscott at 9:20 AM on February 12, 2008

Yes, but mostly as a result of syphilis.

I am not a Nietzsche expert but I believe there is a debate about that.
posted by Silvertree at 3:25 PM on February 12, 2008

Jahweh. Jesus. Mohammed. Allah.

I would be interested in hearing a diagnosis of their personality disorders.
posted by Tixylix at 5:22 PM on February 12, 2008

Nikola Tesla had what could only have been a scorching case of OCD.
posted by Afroblanco at 10:49 AM on February 13, 2008

Best answer: All My Children's Erica Kane --Histrionic Personality Disorder
posted by mynameismandab at 1:49 PM on February 13, 2008

Hamlet. Schizo?
posted by Tixylix at 9:39 PM on February 13, 2008

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