Wednesday, September 29

The Borderline Personality

Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) is a personality disorder found in approximately 1.6 percent of American adults and can also be found in adolescents. BPD is a serious mental illness characterized by pervasive instability in moods, interpersonal relationships, self-image, and behavior [which] often disrupts family and work life, long-term planning, and the individual's sense of self-identity" (National Institute of Mental Health) and is most commonly found in young women.

Symptoms of BPD include:
• Frantic efforts to to avoid real or imagined abandonment.
• Pattern of difficult relationships caused by alternating between extremes of intense admiration and hatred of others.
• Unstable self-image or being unsure of own identity.
• Self-damaging impulsive behavior (i.e.: unprotected, promiscuous sex, substance abuse, binge eating, etc).
• Recurring suicidal thoughts, repeated suicide attempts, or self-injury through mutilation (i.e.: cutting, burning oneself, etc).
• Frequent emotional overreactions or intense mood swings that usually only last a few hours (sometimes 1-2 days).
• Long-term feelings of emptiness.
• Inappropriate, fierce anger or problems controlling anger.
• Temporary episodes of paranoia or a lost sense of reality.

Movie still from Girl, Interrupted.
Winona Ryder's character, Susanna Kaysen, in Girl, Interrupted (1999) suffered from BPD and was hospitalized after trying to kill herself. Ryder's character is a good example of someone who has BPD and exhibited many of the common characteristics: suicidal thoughts and attempts, difficulty with long-term planning, sexual promiscuity, a pattern of difficult relationships with people in her life, compulsive actions, and extreme ambivalence.

The term "Borderline" is used to describe the disorder because it
lies on the border of neuroses/character disorders and psychoses.
The cause of BPD is unknown but environmental and genetic factors may predispose people to the traits and symptoms of the disorder. For example, 40-70% percent of people with BPD have reported to have been sexually abused, usually by a non-caregiver, leading researchers to "believe that BPD results from a combination or individual vulnerability to environmental stress, neglect or abuse as young children, and a series of events that trigger the onset of the disorder as young adults" (National Institute of Mental Health). Having a first-degree relative with BPD also increases the chance of a person developing the disorder, and since first-degree relatives often share environments, this also reflects a possible environmental cause.

Princess Diana of Wales.
The late Princess Diana of Wales suffered from BPD. She had an eating disorder and was unable to sustain relationships. Diana's childhood was "darkened by divorce and neglect, leaving Diana with deep feelings of unworthiness [and] by the time of her marriage she was [...] not only a bulimic but also a pathological liar" (Smith). Throughout her marriage, Diana engaged in a series of  "tawdry romances, [...] self-mutilation, binge eating, and other erratic behaviors" (Smith) after suspecting that her husband was being unfaithful. The general public had no idea what Diana was truly like, only those close to her did.

BPD is classified a Axis II disorder while disorders such as Bipolar Disorder, a brain disorder that causes unusual shifts in mood, energy, activity levels, and the ability to carry out day-to-day tasks, is classified as an Axis I disorder. I do not agree with BPD being classified as a less severe disorder than Bipolar Disorder.

Both disorders have biological components and both effect individuals and the people around them severely, but many people consider BPD to be just a case of someone behaving badly. BPD is much more serious than a mere character flaw; it is a serious mental and emotional illness in which those suffering with it struggle to adapt to the severe emotional pain they feel inside. Although it is very difficult for many people, especially those who do not suffer from the disorder, to see how serious BPD truly is, it is not right for the disorder to be looked as a character flaw; it should be an Axis I disorder.

BPD is a very downplayed disorder and should be taken more seriously in the psychological and medical field. Considering that it effects 5.4 million Americans, is found in 20% of patients in psychiatric hospitals, and research has shown that 70% of people with BPD will make at least one suicide attempt in their lifetime; I'd say this disorder ought to be more broadly accepted for treatment by clinicians and other relevant professional fields.

Tuesday, September 21

Lady Gaga: 'If You Don't Like It, Go Home!'

Stefani Germanotta, aka Lady Gaga, joined a rally in Portland, Maine, Sept. 20, to urge conservative U.S. senators to repeal the military's controversial 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' policy.

Gaga and supportive crowd protesting the DADT policy.
'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' (DADT) is a seventeen-year-old military law that forbids gays, lesbians, and bisexuals in the United States military from expressing their sexuality in any sort of way.

Wearing a black suit, an American flag tie and large glasses, Gaga spoke to a crowd of 2,000 people in Deering Oaks Park about the discriminatory policy.

People held signs opposing DADT.
She compared the reasoning behind DADT to the defense of Russell Henderson and Aaron McKinney, who tortured and murdered 21-year-old Matthew Sheppard in 1998 because he was a homosexual.

DADT targets a specific group of people and deprives them of an inalienable right; it is pretty much a hate crime in itself. Sheppard's murderers were sentenced to life in prison and, as Gaga pointed out, "laws have since been passed that homophobia cannot be used as defense anymore in hate crimes in our judicial system." So why is DADT an accepted policy by the government twelve years later?

Gaga proposed the idea of swapping 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' for a new law which she called, "If You Don't Like It, Go Home."

'If You Don't Like It, Go Home' would be "a law that sends home the homophobe; a law that sends home the prejudice; a law that doesn't prosecute the gay soldier who fights for equality with no problem, but prosecutes the straight soldier who fights against it [or] it sends home the straight soldier who fights for some freedom, for some equalities, but not for the equalities of the gay," Gaga explained, receiving cheers and applause from the supportive crowd.

Gaga's constitutional proposition would be an excellent alternative to the 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' policy that undermines equality, which Gaga referred to as "the prime rib of America."

Click Read More for a video of Gaga's speech.

Wednesday, September 15

'True Life: Danbury isn't THAT bad'

Three hundred twenty-five years ago, Danbury, Connecticut was born and the town celebrated its birth last weekend wtih the annual Taste of Danbury, a featuring of specialties from restaurants in the area, concerts,  a parade, and other events, topped with free pieces of birthday cake.

Downtown Danbury, CT.
News of the weekend-long celebration caused me to think about the city in which I have grown up in and have come to realize that there is much that I appreciate and take pride in about the town.

I used to always complain about how much I hated Danbury and how "boring" it is, but over the last year, I have come to realize that I actually am in love with this town. Sure, it's no New York City, but compared to many other towns I have visted, it's not so dull. I'm not solely referring to attractions and places to go like the Danbury Fair Mall; I'm talking about the essence of Danbury: its people.

Downtown Danbury, CT.
Danbury is one of the most diverse towns in the area and this is something that has always been emphasized:

"With a population of approximately 70,000 people, we celebrate the diversity of our community.  Diversity is our strength, particularly because of the 75 different ethnic groups that call Danbury home. This appealing aspect of our population [...] adds to the quality of life in our city" ("Welcome to Danbury").

Such diversity is something that cannot be found anywhere, and growing up in a community like Danbury's is something that sets me apart from a lot of other people who have grown up in less diverse places.

Not until I left to go to school in New Haven last fall did I realized how unique the Danbury community is. Although I did not initially mind the change of scenery, I always felt as though there was something missing. Homesickness was not why I came back to my hometown, but once I decided to move back and do a year at Western Connecticut State University, I realized that growing up in Danbury has had a great influence on who I am.

Ethnicity statistics show that Danbury is significantly more diverse
than neighboring towns such as Bethel.
Not to say that I never plan to leave again, but compared to people from other towns who have left and never returned nor wanted to, my hometown is one that I know I can and would gladly fall back to at the end of the day. I could live in California for five years and love it, but I would always  know and take pride in the fact that I am a Danbury girl at heart.

I was given the opportunity to grow up with people of various backgrounds, ethnicities, and cultures, and I fully believe that it has molded me into the open-minded, eclectic person that I am today.

If anyone feels the same way as I do about Danbury, CT, feel free to join the Facebook group: True Life: Danbury isn't THAT bad.

Thursday, September 9

Zombies: Exposing America

Arnold Blumberg is not only an instructor at the University of Baltimore, he is also a fan of zombie stories, so when the university mentioned the addition of a popular culture minor, he took the opportunity to teach a Media Genres about zombies.

Image from Night of the Living Dead (1968)
Blumberg's class is designed to help students analyze American mass media to see what it says about its culture. He "attributes the enduring popularity of zombies to a deep resonance of our culture" (Deconinck) by showing students sixteen zombie movies accompanied by reading.

Blumberg's coursework points out how the portrayal of zombies in our culture has changed over time in accordance to our nation's cultural norms and fundamental fears.

"They [zombies] have always been a reflection of where we are as a country," Blumberg said. "What we're fearing, what we're hoping for, and by taking a look at that, you can learn a lot about who we are as a people" (Deconinck).

When I first heard about Blumberg's zombie course, I did not have any idea what could make it academically acceptable. However, after reading the article on, I realized that zombies in American culture actually do reflect events that pertain to certain time periods such as the concept of nuclear/foreign attacks (reflecting the 1960's and present day) and unstoppable diseases/viruses (like the AIDS epidemic).

George A. Romero, film director and screenwriter known for revolutionizing zombie films, exploited American society  in numerous ways through his movies like Night of the Living Dead (1968) and Land of the Dead (2005).

Night of the Living Dead mirrored the Vietnam War and racism in the United States. Stills at the end of the film closely resembled photojournalism during the Vietnam War, which had greatly impacted American society at the time. The cause of the zombie outbreak in the film was due to radiation from outer space, which played on the fear at the time of the vast and ultimately unknown universe.

I found the most profound symbolism in Night of the Living Dead to be Romero's use of an African-American to play the leading role; it was out of the ordinary for films of the era. When the character was shot and killed, it echoed Martin Luther King's assassination that year, "mocking the pointless destruction of people in a struggle for democracy" (Sn0W1310). When the lead was killed, it was because he had been mistaken for a zombie, reflecting how Americans did not check to see that they were solely killing the enemy in the Vietnam War, resulting in the murders of innocent civilians.

Land of the Dead reflected American foreign policy, government, and civil rights issues. Zombies in the film were used for entertainment and souvenirs and extorted for all they were worth by the rich and living, just like how America treats other countries and situations like the war in Iraq. The character, Kaufman, represents George W. Bush in the way he controls society through citizens' fears and offering protection in exchange for their freedom and money. The matter of gay rights is also portrayed in a scene where two lesbians are being intimate, and then a zombie breaks through a wall and takes one away, showing how gay and lesbian rights are a pressing matter in American society.

The fact that zombie films can expose American society so much yet so subtly is amazing. Blumberg's course has attracted a lot of buzz due to its uniqueness, but he hopes that students do not take it lightly; I do not blame him. A class such as his could teach someone a lot more than they expect to learn through an interesting and fun topic. I would definitely take the course if it were offered at WCSU.

    What is your favorite zombie movie?

Wednesday, September 8

About the author in 191 words

I was born and raised in Danbury, Connecticut. I love to write and I feel that I've become who I am through it, as well as music. I refuse to change for anybody other than myself; I allow others to influence me to an extent, but only so that I can grow off of what I learn from them. Although I have tried, I'm unable to picture myself in the future, so if you were to ask me what I see myself doing days, weeks, months, or years from now, I could not answer that for you, but I'm completely cool with that. I truly do 'live in the now' and whatever happens, happens. I also handle stress exceptionally well. I have a love-hate relationship with everyone and 97% of everything else; I am the most ambivalent person you will probably ever meet. I am a realistic optimist. I probably won't make much sense to you; I don't even make sense to myself sometimes. I probably forgot a lot of important things about myself, but if you get to know me then you can just discover them on your own.

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