“Welcome to Me”–a darkly humorous look at borderline personality disorder


I’ve been wanting to post a movie review (which I haven’t done in a while), and also something about borderline personality disorder. How serendipitous that the “chick flick” my daughter and I decided to see this afternoon is a movie about a woman who has borderline personality disorder! I had no idea! It’s a good movie (and it’s directed by Will Farrell, who I love).
Here is my review of it.

Alice Klieg (Kristen Wiig) is a 40ish divorced woman who lives off the disability benefits she gets for her severe case of borderline personality disorder, which keeps her nearly unable to function normally due to severe depressions, self-destructive behavior, and general inability to regulate her emotions. Alice is quirky–obsessed with Oprah, hasn’t turned off her television in 11 years, and she’s addicted to buying lottery tickets. Her psychiatrist, Dr. Moffatt (Tim Robbins), is nearly at his wit’s end with Alice’s erratic mood swings, uncooperative behavior, and refusal to take her medications (prescribed to help regulate her moods). She has stopped taking her Abilify, and right after that the impossible happens–she wins 86 million dollars in the California State Lottery.

That’s when things get really crazy. A series of events leads up to Alice demanding her own show in the same vein as her idol Oprah. She acts crazy enough the television producers don’t take her seriously, until she writes them a check for 15 million dollars. The show, “Welcome to Me,” is on, and of course it’s all about Alice.

On her show, she demands a swan float to transport her onstage at the beginning of each episode, diva treatment, and she throws tantrums when things don’t go her way. She drives everyone around her crazy. But people are watching because they never know what poor crazy Alice will do next, and the show’s bringing the studio money so they can’t cancel it.

Alice decides she wants to re-enact scenes from her own life, using sets that are exact replicas of the places where they occurred. Actors are hired to play the roles, but Alice is never satisfied. She screams, yells, verbally attacks everyone (and then wonders why they pull away), and constantly cries on set. No one knows what to do with this apparently insane woman who can’t seem to control her impulses and emotions.

On the live show, Alice dresses in ridiculous, over the top attire, insists on singing the theme song herself (she can’t carry a note), bakes a meat cake with sweet potato frosting and spends most of the show sitting there eating it, neuters dogs onset (she used to work as a vet nurse), and throws a lot of temper tantrums. She’s also sexually promiscuous.

Things keep getting worse, and she alienates her long-time friend Gina (Linda Cardellini) by depicting her as fat in one of the sketches. Other people from Alice’s past who were insulted by the re-enactments (where even their real names were used) decide to sue the television studio.

Alice’s unpredictable, out of control and untrustworthy behaviors also anger Dr. Moffatt, who fires her as his patient and tells her point blank, “I think you’re dangerous.” In typical Borderline fashion, Alice cries and pleads with him, “don’t leave me!”

It takes a near-disaster for Alice to realize her out of control behaviors are eclipsing any ability she has to care about others and be a true friend to others. She’ll have a lot of amend-making to do if her broken relationships are ever to be repaired. Will it be possible for her to fix what she has destroyed or to ever really care about others? I won’t answer that here: you’ll have to see the movie for yourself.

I noticed some interesting parallels between BPD and NPD in this movie. Alice is quite narcissistic, grandiose, completely self-centered, and totally oblivious to the needs of others. But there’s something charming and quirky about her too. She’s never deliberately malicious–she’s impulsive and selfish and her obliviousness keeps getting her into all kinds of trouble. What keeps Alice from being a narcissist is that she actually has a conscience and the ability to feel badly when she realizes she has hurt so many people.

Kirsten Wiig is convincing as a severely Borderline patient, but while she can be funny, her insane behavior made me squirm in embarrassment. She’s uncomfortable and awkward to watch, but that can be the case in a BPD patient who’s completely out of control of their impulses and emotions.

I recommend this movie to anyone interested in Cluster B disorders, especially BPD, and how it can create disaster not only for the people their lives touch, but for themselves. Unlike NPD, there is nothing adaptive about borderline personality disorder to its sufferers.


15 thoughts on ““Welcome to Me”–a darkly humorous look at borderline personality disorder

  1. Thanks for the recommendation. You said you were diagnosed with BPD? I have a lot of trouble believing the dx is correct because of the interaction I’ve had with people who have BPD. Admittedly I don’t know you personally but from your online presence I see you more as a (former) co-dependent who is recovering from YEARS of horrible narcissistic abuse. My dad has BPD and he deleted his FB account and disowned my brother and I over something my brother said in response to my dad inappropriately ranting at my brother and bringing up personal stuff on his public FB wall. It’s really ridiculous but classical my dad. He sees rejection…everywhere! In a couple of months he will come back and quasi-apologize when he misses us. Anyway, I guess I’d have expected you to be incredibly snarky or baby-ish to those bloggers who attacked you if you had BPD. I thought your response was totally appropriate. I don’t see you throwing borderline fits, but maybe I just have a misunderstanding of the disorder? Anyway, the movie looks really good and I’m really interesting in seeing it. BPD is fascinating to me primarily bc my dad and his affect on me. It’s been a maddening ride and I’ve had to set up some really good boundaries and understand he’s coming from a place of being afraid of constant abandonment. Unfortunately his behavior makes me back away due to how psychologically sick it makes me when he’s in my life.

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    • Quixie, I’m glad I don’t come off like a borderline. I was diagnosed with it (when hospitalized with major depression in 1996) but that wsa a long time ago, and the dx could have been wrong. That being said, when I was younger, I acted a LOT more like the woman in the movie and did have a lot of trouble regulating my reactions to things. Being Aspie could have had something to do with that too.
      I was given a training manual in DBT which I learned while in the hospital and continued to use after, and found very helpful. I’m a LOT better than I was, and being so shy makes it difficult for people to see the “borderline” in me. I also wonder if midlife/menopause could lessen symptoms of BPD or even cure it. I don’t even have to consciously “watch” my behavior anymore–I don’t tend to fly off the handle too easily the way I used to, but there are some times I do. Ugh, it’s so confusing!
      If I can afford to go to therapy again, I want to be re-dx’d and see what they come up with. Maybe I’m not borderline at all. I’m just going by that 1996 dx and the way I used to act.

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      • Yep, 1996 was a while ago! 😊 I heard that DBT is a very helpful treatment but I’ll admit I don’t know much about it. What kind of techniques does it use?

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        • Dialectical Behavioral Training. It’s similar to CBT. It focuses on changing behaviors by becoming aware of them before acting. For me, it’s almost second nature now. Doesn’t mean I’m cured (it’s almost as hard to cure BPD as NPD), but that it’s under my control. I slip up though when emotions overwhelm me. I still experience a lot of conflicting emotions (the classic borderline “I hate you/please love me” split) and this confuses a lot of people, and confuses me too! We tend to idealize and devalue people. Narcs do this too, but for them they devalue when someone else fails to be a good source of supply; for borderlines, it’s because they fear abandonment and push others away to avoid the possibility.

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          • My BFF is a psych NP (nurse practitioner) and she highly recommend DBT. She says she’s seen a lot of success in it. I’m glad it has helped you. In rare moments in my life I’ve had that split but I think I was going through major depression with mania, which I know sometimes can look to outsiders like borderline behaviors (and vice versa).

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  2. This looks good. I saw the trailer before and forgot about it. I guess if she had you squirming in your seat, she did her job. lol

    I watched the video you posted and when I saw Jennifer Jason Leigh I couldn’t figure out who she was. It made me nuts and I had to google the cast of the movie. She looks so different from when she did Single White Female. 🙂

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    • IKR? I couldn’t even believe it was her. She still looks good though.
      I really need to watch SIngle White Female again–that was a seriously creepy movie about a woman with malignant narcissism who tried to BECOME the person she envied. Gah.

      Another good movie about a woman with BPD is Girl, Interrupted.

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