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Is Anakin Skywalker suffering from borderline personality disorder?
Eric Buia,⁎, Rachel Rodgersb, Henri Chabrolb, Philippe Birmesa, Laurent Schmitta
aLaboratoire du Stress Traumatique (JE2511), Toulouse University Hospital, Casselardit Hospital, France
bCentre d’Etudes et de Recherche en Psychopathologie, France
a b s t r a c ta r t i c l e i n f o
Received 27 October 2008
Received in revised form 20 January 2009
Accepted 24 March 2009
Borderline personality disorder
Anakin Skywalker, one of the main characters in the "Star Wars" films, meets the criteria for borderline
personality disorder (BPD). This finding is interesting for it may partly explain the commercial success of
these movies among adolescents and be useful in educating the general public and medical students about
© 2009 Elsevier Ireland Ltd. All rights reserved.
The “Star Wars” films have all been unquestionable commercial
successes. The only recurrent main character in the six episodes is the
“Jedi Knight” Anakin Skywalker, who later becomes the villain “Darth
Vader”. Although some authors have suggested that the universal
success of this saga may result from the mythological and religious
themes within the storyline (Lyden, 2003), another explanation could
involve the principal character's personality.
A psychodynamically orientated exploration of his life history
would emphasise elements associated with borderline personality:
(Bandelow et al., 2005) and the use of defense mechanisms such as
splitting, projection, and infantile illusions of omnipotence (Gabbard,
1994). Further elements are to be found in the young Anakin's dif-
ficulties in emotional and impulse regulation, and dysfunctional expe-
riences of self and others.
Reference to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental
Disorders, fourth edition (DSM-IV), reveals that the character
fulfilled sixof the nine borderline personality disorder (BPD) criteria.
He presented impulsivity and difficulty controlling his anger and
alternated between idealisation and devaluation (of his Jedi
mentors). Permanently afraid of losing his wife, he made frantic
efforts to avoid her abandonment and went as far as betraying his
former Jedi companions. He also experienced two dissociative
episodes secondary to stressful events. One occurred after his
mother's death, when he exterminated a whole tribe of Tuskan
people, while the otherone took place just afterhe turned tothe dark
side. He slaughtered all the Jedi younglings before voicing paranoid
depictedhisquesttofind himself, andhis uncertainties aboutwhohe
was. Turning to the dark side and changing his name could be
interpreted as a sign of identity disturbance.
Thus, even if developmental issues in a gifted child as he struggled
with adolescence and young adulthood could also be discussed, Anakin
Skywalker presents both psychodynamic and criteriological features
suggesting BPD. In our opinion, the relevance of this observation is
First, there is some evidence suggesting that adolescents present
often identify themselves with others (Porcerelli et al.,1998). The films'
success among this age group may therefore be related to the main
character's personality. Second, psychiatric patients often suffer from
the stigmatisation related to mental illness (Ritsher and Phelan, 2004),
and a famous character recognised to be suffering from BPD could be
in teaching the criteria of BPD to medical students and residents.
Bandelow, B., Krause, J., Wedekind, D., Broocks, A., Hajak, G., Ruther, E., 2005. Early
traumatic life events, parental attitudes, family history, and birth risk factors in
patients with borderline personality disorder and healthy controls. Psychiatry
Research 134 (2), 169–179.
Chabrol, H., Montovany, A., Chouicha, K., Callahan, S., Mullet, E., 2001. Frequency of
borderline personality disorder in a sample of French high school students.
Canadian Journal of Psychiatry 46 (9), 847–849.
in Clinical Practice. American Psychiatric Press, Washington, DC, pp. 449–496.
Lyden, J., 2003. Film As Religion: Myths, Morals, Rituals. NewYorkUniversity Press, New
children, adolescents, and late adolescents. Journal of Personality Assessment 71 (3),
Ritsher, J.B., Phelan, J.C., 2004. Internalized stigma predicts erosion of morale among
psychiatric outpatients. Psychiatry Research 129 (3), 257–265.
Psychiatry Research 185 (2011) 299
⁎ Corresponding author. Laboratoire du Stress Traumatique, Toulouse University
Hospital, Casselardit Hospital,170, av. de Casselardit, TSA 40031, 31059 Toulouse CEDEX
9, France. Tel.: +33 5 61 77 22 13; fax: +33 5 61 77 76 89.
E-mail address: firstname.lastname@example.org (E. Bui).
0165-1781/$ – see front matter © 2009 Elsevier Ireland Ltd. All rights reserved.
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