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BPD and geekiness among women

“recourse to “mental illness” depoliticizes and personalizes every act of violence against women.’

I think feminists need to be aware that this is actually occurring on a broad institutional level – in the justice system, the psych industry and the media. It is a new strategy in the patriarchal backlash against the truth exposed by second-wave feminists, when they identified male violence against women and children as not merely an issue of criminality, but a core feature of patriarchy and the bedrock of male political control of women as a class.

Once MVAW was barely acknowledged as a significant issue at all, now that it has been named by feminists, it is being recast as matter of mental illness, and men are frequently seen as victims of their own violence (for instance, in the claim that men who beat their wives and children need to ‘seek help’ for their behaviour).

When Australian actor Matthew Newton seriously assaulted two of his girlfriends, resulting in one conviction and another incident caught on CCTV when he fractured one girlfriend’s skull by repeatedly slamming it into a hotel floor, he got a sympathetic hearing by a current affairs show in which he talked about how the ‘incidents’ were triggered by his bipolar disorder. The show ended with a plea for anyone affected by mental illness to seek help, and a number on which they could do so. No mention of domestic violence or where victims of same could get help.

When Hey Dad star Robert Hughes was recently convicted by an Australian court of molesting a number of young girls over many years, some of his co stars expressed regret that he ‘hadn’t been helped sooner’ by receiving psychiatric treatment. Not that he hadn’t been stopped, but that he hadn’t been helped.

Similarly, when Victorian man Greg Anderson beat his 10-year-old son Luke Batty to death at a junior cricket match this year (before being shot dead by police), the media focused on ‘mental illness’ as the catalyst behind the murder and referred to him as a ‘loving father’ who was ‘troubled’. You had to read the details of the case to see what was really behind it: Anderson had a long history of violence against Luke and his mother Rosie, including stalking and death threats against both of them, and Rosie Batty had multiple restraining orders against him.

There is a pattern in the way male violence is being presented here, and this pattern is not random. It is a deliberate attempt to obscure the nature and meaning of male violence against women and children, so that men are never ultimately responsible for it. This ensures the patriarchal order effectively resists the challenge posed by the feminist exposure of male violence, and can carry on replicating itself undisturbed.

N.B. The book quoted by Amongster, ‘Why Does He Do That? Inside the Minds of Angry and Controlling Men by Lundy Bancroft, provides an excellent dissection of the dynamics of this.”

—DonkeySkin @ Feminist Current (via chocolate-lantern)


I think the best part about this was when I learned that abusive men have a problem of values, not of psychology. This is backed up by their open misogyny and mass shootings of women, as well as by statistics showing that mentally ill people tend to be the victims of violence, not the perpetrators. It wasn’t just ‘mentally ill women’ or ‘female creatives’ who were forcefully interned and given lobotomies, clitoridectomies, and electroshock therapy; psychiatrists and sexologists were not interested in actually treating mental illness or helping females with their sexuality, they were putting their misogynistic views into practice in order to silence them under any excuse when they did not conform to heterosexuality/femininity. Women have also been brainwashed in asylums; it wasn’t always the intent to keep them there until they died, but to make sure they conformed to the status quo when they were released.


BPD – aka Borderline personality syndrome – is a classic example of the sexism on which the psychiatric industry is founded.

The vast majority of those diagnosed with BPD are women.

The social stigma surrounding those diagnosed with BPD is HUGE – although there is no evidence people with BPD are any more violent than any other person with their other social defining characteristics, they are spoken of as though they are horrific time bombs about to go off at any time on a horrific rampage. In fact, the only person a woman diagnosed with BPD typically harms is herself. MEN who are infrequently diagnosed with BPD can be violent, as men are violent in all times, places, cultures and creeds.

Virtually all women diagnosed with BPD are survivors of childhood abuse and are also dual-diagnosed with PTSD. DO they not then, in fact, simply have PTSD and display gender-specific ways of displaying these symptoms? I am not the first to note this dynamic:



The article also brings up another problematic point with the BPD diagnosis – “frantic attempts to avoid abandoment”. Women are the ones who become pregnant, women still make less money than men, men are well-known to run out on women leaving them as destitute single mothers, despite this fact women are STILL pressured by society and religious groups to stay at home jobless and be a “good mom” and a “good wife”. One of my jobs once placed me next door to a government office dedicated to finding a place in life for such women who had been abandoned. It’s called the “office for displaced homemakers”. No one will hire old women who have never had a job. Most men won’t date a single mom because they don’t want to deal with someone who has kids around to spoil their fun going-out-drinking fun-sexy-times. Disabled women, physically or mentally, have greater difficulties than most in being self-supporting and in finding a partner to help them avoid homelessness (the government is not as helpful with this as you may imagine). It’s uncool to talk about abandonment as a feminist issue these days, but it still exists because we still live in a world designed to keep women dependent on men. Women diagnosed with BPD may often be helpless in other ways and anxious to avoid being summarily dumped by an inattentive male partner. This perfectly logical fear is then labelled an illness symptom.

And as was so brilliantly illustrated in Girl, Interrupted, so much of what is diagnosed as symptomatic for BPD is simply unfeminine or “bad” behavior on the part of women that would be unremarkable or even praised in men. Sleeping around? Being loud? Standing up for a cause? In psychiatric terms, for a woman that’s wanton promiscuity, poor social skills, and inappropriate anger toward authority figures. Shit, we’re all crazy. How dare we stand up for anything? Better get back to our knitting!

Yes, yes, yes.

These are among the same women who are accused of being “antisocial” and “not smiling enough” (to men).

The “antisocial” accusation does not apply to men – it’s considered normal for them to not smile, to not talk – or even to be emotional or have empathy. That’s because women are expected to keep men under control, to not “provoke” their anger, and to service all their needs and desires on a whim so they can get to Really Important Business like ruling the world and exploiting women, minorities, other countries and their resources.




BPD – aka Borderline personality syndrome – is a classic example of the sexism on which the psychiatric industry is founded.

The vast majority of those diagnosed with BPD are women.

The social stigma surrounding those diagnosed with…

From a geekfeminist perspective: this happens A LOT within psychiatry. Geeks and nerds get almost an automatic autism spectrum disorder label, just like women get BPD.
I’ve seen doctors pathologise female puberty under patriarchy as BPD. Talking about fucked up!

Good point, thanks!

That reminds me:

Making it past the lobby of the meritocracy

The curious contradiction of the poor social skills of the boy geek

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