In the movie, Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith, Anakin Skywalker shows some behaviors of borderline personality disorder. This article will review Anakin’s manifestations of borderline personality disorder and explain how the sociocultural model best explains the cause of Anakin’s behaviors.
Anakin fits into a lot of the criteria needed to fit borderline personality disorder according to the DSM-5. In order for an individual to be diagnosed with borderline personality disorder, they must have at least 5 symptoms of the disorder. Some of the symptoms listed in the DSM-5 include emotional instability, efforts to avoid abandonment, impulsiveness, anger, unstable relationships, self-harm, and paranoia (American Psychiatric Association, 2013). Anakin experiences at least six of the DSM-5 criteria. The first criteria that Anakin fits into is the fear of abandonment and efforts to avoid abandonment. Anakin has a great fear of the future death of his wife Padme. Anakin becomes so concerned for Padme after he has a dream about her dying, that he does everything in his power to make sure that Padme does not die. The second criteria that Anakin fits into is unstable interpersonal relationships by alternating between extremes of idealization and devaluation. Anakin has an unstable relationship with Obi-Wan. Anakin idealizes Obi-Wan because Obi-Wan was his teacher and Jedi master. Anakin thinks of Obi-Wan as his friend. He is also extreme with devaluating Obi-Wan. When Obi-Wan does not want to follow the Sith Lord Palpatine, Anakin claims that Obi-Wan is his enemy. Anakin was so quick to turn on Obi-Wan after they had been friends for years and Obi-Wan did not do anything but try to be Anakin’s friend and help him. The third criteria that Anakin fits into is emotional instability. Anakin shows that he cannot control his emotions. He acts out when the Jedi council does not promote him to become a Jedi master. The fourth criteria that Anakin fits into is impulsiveness in things that are self-damaging. Anakin impulsively gets into lightsaber fights and he also goes pod racing which is very dangerous. The fifth criteria that Anakin fits into is an unstable sense of self. Anakin goes between wanting to turn to the dark side and join the Sith Lord Palpatine, while also wanting to stay in the light side with the other Jedi. The sixth criteria that Anakin fits into is intense anger. Anakin shows intense anger when he believes that Padme has turned against him. He uses the force to choke her and this hurts her really badly. A proper diagnosis of borderline personality disorder is super important because a diagnosis can help with managing the symptoms of the disorder as well as improve the life of the person living with the disorder and improve their overall health (Campbell et al., 2020). If Anakin can get a proper diagnosis because he fits into the criteria of borderline personality disorder he can improve his quality of life. Since Anakin fits into these criteria, it is likely that he is experiencing borderline personality disorder.
The psychological model that best explains the cause of Anakin’s borderline personality disorder symptoms is the psychodynamic model. The psychodynamic model suggests that behavior is fixed based on psychological forces in the subconscious (Comer, 2018). When dynamic forces and psychological forces connect, behavior, thoughts, and emotions are formed. Dysfunction happens when there is a problem within the two forces (Comer, 2018). The psychodynamic model would explain borderline personality disorder as a battle that is going on between dynamic forces and psychological forces in the subconscious (Comer, 2018). In Anakin’s case, the forces he is experiencing would be the childhood event where he was taken away from his mother, which manifests itself later on in life when he becomes so afraid of abandonment that his life falls apart. Psychodynamic therapies are used to help individuals with figuring out their own underlying problems (Comer, 2018). Working through is a therapy where the individual and the therapist examine the issues happening and they work through those issues’ multiple times no matter how long it takes for the individual to move past them (Comer, 2018). Anakin would greatly benefit from working through. If Anakin works through he will be able to find out the underlying cause of why he is acting neurotically, and he will be able to work towards resolving those issues in ways that are healthy. While working through, Anakin will be able to modify his behaviors of anger, impulsiveness, and unstable relationships. He can change his behaviors to reduce his anger while learning to not be so impulsive and fixing his interpersonal relationships.
American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (5th ed.). https://doi.org/10.1176/appi.books.9780890425596
Campbell, K., Clarke, K. A., Massey, D., & Lakeman, R. (2020). Borderline personality disorder: to diagnose or not to diagnose? That is the question. International Journal of Mental Health Nursing, 29(5), 972-981.
Comer, R. J. (2018). Abnormal psychology (10th ed.). Worth Publishers. ISBN-13: 9781319066949.