“I’m your number one fan.” 

Reputable author Paul Sheldon (James Caan) is rescued from a snowstorm by former nurse, Annie Wilkes (Kathy Bates). Paul has a slow recovery ahead of him, but notices bizarre changes in Annie’s behavior toward him the longer he stays in her home. Paul has to confront Annie’s infatuation with the fictional world he wrote and face the very real monster keeping him captive.

Annie’s Problem
Let’s take a moment to appreciate Kathy Bates’ Academy Award winning performance here.

Annie at first is a little odd; she’s over-zealous about having a famous writer in her house, but she takes care of the guy. She did save his life, after all. The trouble is that Annie is one minute sweet and the next minute hostile. Her actions point to a permanent issue that is deep-rooted in her interactions with others.

Borderline Personality Disorder
A hot topic in psychiatry nowadays, borderline personality disorder means that people are emotionally dysregulated. The hardest part about this disorder is figuring out what it has to do with Madonna; what are they on the borderline of, exactly?!

No one really knows.

Anyway, Borderline Personality Disorders has a smattering of traits associated with it (as many mental health problems do). Here are a few that seem to fit the bill attributed to Annie.

  • Hostility
    I would have to say that breaking a man’s ankles so that he doesn’t leave you is  a hostile action. While Annie justifies her choices out of love, a person without a personality disorder can see that there is a lot of anger – definitely not love – motivating her decisions.
  • Depression
    It’s a quick scene, but Annie tells Paul in the middle of a rainstorm that the rain “gives her the blues.” Then, she makes a cryptic suggestion about loading a gun with bullets. Is she threatening to kill Paul, or threatening suicide? Now would be a good time to mention that not everyone with personality disorders is murderous; however, suicidal ideation or manipulation of others with suggestions of suicide is a Borderline characteristic. Unfortunately, these troubled souls sometimes complete suicides, so threats should always be taken seriously.
  • Impaired Social Relationships
    Fucking duh. Annie does not have ONE friend. If she did, they would come to the house, notice Paul, and be like, “Bitch, you crazy.” Note to all of us: Get yourself a friend that will tell you when you are acting like a lunatic about a love interest. Never, EVER worth it.
    Without a human friend (she does have a pig named Misery because of course she does), Annie solely interacts with Paul, and we all know how that relationship is going. Plus, there’s her scrapbook of what we can only assume are her murder victims…

Angel of Death
A specific type of serial killer, Angel of Death is the name bestowed upon nurses who kill. As a nurse, I want to note two quick things: 1. That’s a pretty flattering name for a maniac and 2. YIKES!

An angel of death sometimes achieves sexual gratification from killing their victims; mainly females, these nurses are usually caught when someone crunches the numbers and goes, “Wow, A LOT of patients die on Nurse Annie’s shift…That’s pretty weird considering this is an orthopedic office.” It can take a long time for these nurses to get caught since many of them choose work environments like Intensive Care Units, where a patient dying might be expected on a given shift.

Let’s be clear, though: A diagnosis of Borderline Personality Disorder does not sentence you to a life of crime or serial killing. As I’ve discussed before, personality disorders are tough nuts to crack (even though they are to a great degree, already cracked). They are difficult to treat because the patients often are inconsistent about prescribed treatments; people with these disorders tend to blame others for their behaviors; and personality disorders are common. For another take on a personality disorder, check out James Caan as a gambler in Honeymoon in Vegas. That will hopefully cheer you up after this dark cloud of Misery.

One comment

  1. Pingback: Psychology in Film


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.