In this blog, we will discuss cartoon characters with borderline personality disorder (BPD) and also talk about what borderline personality disorder is its causes, symptoms, and treatment. We will then go on to talk about which cartoon characters have been portrayed to be suffering from symptoms similar to that of borderline personality disorder.
Which Cartoon Characters Show Signs Of Borderline personality disorder (BPD)?
Cartoon characters like BoJack Horseman, Rapunzel, Elsa, Daria Morgendorffer are famous characters who display signs of borderline personality disorder.
We will explore the personality traits of these cartoon characters in the later sections but before that, we should understand a little about borderline personality disorder.
What is borderline personality disorder (BPD)?
A person having a borderline personality disorder (BPD) shows a pattern of behavior that is characterized by impulsivity and instability in how they view themselves, their emotions, and in their interpersonal relationships. A central attribute is affective instability.
Before getting further into the details regarding the characteristics of people with BPD, let us know what personality disorders are;
Personality and Personality Disorders
Characteristics of a person, coping styles, and forms of interaction in the social environment emerge in childhood and usually materialize into established patterns in late adolescence or early adulthood.
These patterns form the personality of the individual which is defined as the set of unique traits and behaviors that define the person, individually. For a personality disorder to be diagnosed, the person’s enduring pattern of behavior must be pervasive and inflexible, as well as stable in terms of manifestation and long-lasting.
It must also produce clinically significant distress or impairment in at least two of the areas of impulse control, cognition, interpersonal functioning, and affect.
Borderline Personality Disorder
Now let’s come back to BPD, the American Psychological Association explains BPD as follows; People with a borderline personality disorder display great instability, including major shifts in mood, an unstable self-image, and impulsivity (APA, 2013).
These characteristics become the main reasons for the instability in their relationships. Their emotions always seem to be the exact opposite of what others might be feeling, leading to conflicts. They are prone to outbursts of anger, which may sometimes result in physical harm or even violence towards others.
They also, however, misdirect their anger towards themselves impulsively and inflict physical harm on themselves. They often are very troubled over their constant feelings of emptiness over long periods.
Alcohol and substance misuse, as well as criminality, risky sex, and dangerous driving, are examples of their impulsive, self-destructive actions. Many resorts to self-mutilation or self-harming behaviors, such as cutting themselves or burning themselves, or hitting their heads. Suicidal threats and actions are common among people with BPD.
Causes of BPD
There is no single known cause of BPD, rather a several factors together might lead to BPD.
Genetics, environmental factors, problems with brain chemicals, and development.
There is no known gene responsible for causing BPD, however, from a hereditary and genetic point of view, people with parents suffering from personality disorders or any serious mental health disorders are more susceptible.
Problems with neurotransmitters such as serotonin and their altered levels have been linked to depression and personality disorders such as BPD.
Environmental factors also play a major role, being a victim of sexual, emotional, or physical abuse, neglected childhood, etc., are some examples.
Signs and symptoms of BDP
- Going to extreme measures to avoid imagined or real separation or rejection because of an intense fear of abandonment.
- Instability in relationships can be quite intense such as one moment they may be idealizing someone and then the next moment, believing that the person does not care enough or is rude.
- They undergo rapid changes in self-image and self-identity that include shifting of goals and values, and feeling as if they are bad or that they do not exist at all.
- Stress-induced paranoia along with loss of contact with reality that can last from a few minutes to a few hours.
- Engaging in risky behaviors impulsively, such as reckless driving, spending sprees, unsafe sex, gambling, binge eating or abusing drugs, sabotaging stability by impulsively abandoning responsibilities ending a healthy relationship, etc.
- Self-harming behaviors and Suicidal threats are common often in response to the fear of rejection and/or separation.
- Extreme mood swings can last from a few hours to a few days, including feelings of intense happiness, shame or anxiety, and irritability.
- Mostly constant or recurring feelings of emptiness.
- They are short-tempered and have a sense of Inappropriate and intense anger issues, leading to a frequent loss of temper, behaving aloof or being sarcastic, and occasionally they also get into physical fights.
If you’re facing this, it may be a good idea to seek the help of a therapist or other mental health professional. You can find a therapist at BetterHelp who can help you learn how to cope and address it.
Treatment and management
BPD (borderline personality disorder) is treatable. Many persons with this ailment are able to manage their symptoms and live happy lives. However, time, patience, and commitment are required for the treatment to take effect.
Psychotherapy, often known as talk therapy, and drugs, as well as both, may be used as treatment options.
If you are very distressed or at risk of harming yourself or others, you may be asked to stay at the hospital for a short period of time, during which a treatment plan can be worked out. Treatment for BPD can include;
Therapy and Counselling
Many types of psychotherapy are practiced and can help you manage BPD. You may try dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) or cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT).
The professional works with you over several sessions and helps you learn emotional management, recognize and change unwanted behaviors and gain a better level of awareness.
The therapy may be group therapy or one-on-one talk therapy with a specially trained counselor.
No specific medication is available that treats the disorder itself, but you may be recommended some medications to help you manage the symptoms of BPD.
Medications can help control anxiety and depression, manage mood swings or keep impulsive behavior in check. Antipsychotic drugs can also help some people with BPD.
Cartoon characters with BPD-like symptoms
The sitcom BoJack Horseman explores a variety of subjects through its various characters, but BoJack’s character is mostly concerned with his own judgment (mostly self-criticism).
Throughout the show, it is seen that it becomes increasingly apparent that his character was living with borderline personality disorder and that the things people told him were very suggestive of the way people with BPD are treated like unsolvable problems.
Even if we understand and meet all of the criteria for a BPD diagnosis, persons with BPD often receive biassed treatment or are even denied treatment completely, as the character BoJack reminds us.
Rapunzel from Tangled has intense emotions at once which makes her character feel relatable to people with BPD.
Rapunzel’s journey, from blindly believing and trusting all her mother has to say, to doubting and questioning it, to self-doubt and then self-loathing, to finally breaking free when she sees a way out, everything resembles similar to BPD when we think of her journey and her characteristics.
Elsa from Frozen is also an example of someone restricted. How she is told not to be herself is very typical of what people with borderline personality disorder are told. Her emotions often go out of control because she has never been able to express herself to people.
When her emotions do burst out, there are several consequences around her. She ends up hurting herself and also the people around her.
Daria’s character is shown as a social outcast. She adopts an ‘I do not care’ personality. She is intelligent, insightful but a very sensitive teenager who does not get close to anyone.
She always seems aloof, feels alone, tries to avoid people, and keeps a low profile. She gets annoyed by people easily and is seen as miserable and gloomy.
Other characters which seem to have characteristics similar to that of BPD
- Berry from Foster’s Home for Imaginary Friends
- Eustace Bagge from the Courage the Cowardly Dog
- Grumpy from the Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs
- Wendy Testaburger from the South Park
- Meg Griffin from the Family Guy
- May Kanker from the Ed, Edd, n Eddy
- Jimmy from the Ed, Edd n Eddy
We talked about what personality disorders are, what BPD is, causes of BPD, signs, and symptoms of BPD, and cartoon characters with BPD.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs): Which Cartoon Characters Show Signs Of Borderline personality disorder (BPD)?
What are some cartoon characters with mental health disorders?
Some examples of cartoon characters with mental health issues are Elsa from Frozen, Spongebob Squarepants, Ariel, Belle from Beauty and the Beast, etc.
Name some famous people suffering from BPD.
Pete Davidson, Brandon Marshall, Marsha M, Vincent van Gogh are some famous people with BPD.
How do you know if you have a quiet BPD?
Quiet BPD would mean that you direct any mood swings and behaviors inward that is keep it within yourself, rather than expressing or directing them toward others. People with ‘quiet’ BPD tend to have a lot of self-doubts and feel a lot of anger and resentment towards themselves.
What does high functioning BPD look like?
High-functioning BPD would mean frequent risky and impulsive behavior. The symptoms can be noticed very prominently and people put themselves in harm’s way and also hurt others.
What triggers a person with a borderline personality disorder?
Being under constant stress for long periods of time, being a victim of emotional, physical, and sexual abuse can all be triggers for the manifestation of BPD. It should be mentioned that the exact triggers of the manifestation of BPD are not scientifically established.
How do you help someone with BPD in life?
Try to learn more about BPD and how it works, try to understand and listen to them even if it might tire you, try and encourage them to take help but do not force them. Try not to break their trust as this might devastate them.
American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (5th ed.).
Hooley, J., Cole, S., & Gironde, S. (2012). Borderline personality disorder. In T. Widiger (Ed.), The Oxford Handbook of personality disorders (pp. 409–36). Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press.