ALEX FORREST


(Fatal Attraction)

What’s the Matter with Her?
To the untrained eye, Alex is a little unstable (Just ask the bunny). She throws tantrums, stalks Dan, and becomes violent after a weekend love fest doesn’t turn into anything more substantial. Alex’s behavior can be explained by a personality disorder that specifically focuses on interpersonal relationships.

Borderline Personality Disorder
Despite its name, the border implied by this diagnosis is not explained (It probably doesn’t relate to the Madonna song, but who could say?) This particular personality problem is marked by impulsive behavior and teeter-totter interactions with others. Alex’s symptoms that support this diagnosis include the following:

*Frantic efforts to avoid real or imagined abandonment

*A pattern of unstable and intense interpersonal relationships
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This one isn’t clear. The only relationship we get to witness is the one between Alex and Dan, so whether she has a pattern of this is not well-known. One could argue that the only reason an attractive, successful woman is single and alone is because she is crazy (Those people are called ignorant). It is obvious that merely a few days’ fling with a married man puts Alex in an unusual frame of mind. She doesn’t ever discuss friends or family or exes and none of them make appearances. The presence of a pattern can’t be determined, but she is certainly unstable and intense with Dan.

*Impulsivity in at least two areas that are self-damaging
This one is also a little sketchy (Not unlike Alex). She both kidnaps Dan’s child and sleeps with a married man she works with, so both of these could be constituted as potentially self-damaging. Alex also mutilates herself in an effort to keep Dan around.

*Suicidal behavior

That one explains itself.

*Chronic feelings of emptiness

That one also explains itself (Although the electric company probably has a few questions).

*Inappropriate, intense anger
Anyone could argue that being tossed around by a married guy might make somebody angry. However, Alex knows from the get-go that Dan is taken. She seems to acknowledge what she’s getting herself into, but does not want to let go. Instead, her behavior escalates to the point of violence in the name of a relationship between her and Dan that essentially lasted for three days. She inflicts emotional distress on him and his family, as well as physical harm on one of their beloved pets.

Is Alex a Liar?
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It’s hard to say (Let’s just go with probably). She tells Dan that she is pregnant, but does not actually show any pregnancy symptoms after the fact. Alex even offers alcohol to Dan when he unexpectedly comes over, though she is not drinking it herself.
Dan tells his friend at work that he called the gynecologist himself and the doctor confirmed the results and he finds a pregnancy test among Alex’s possessions.
Not definitive symptoms of BPD, lying and manipulation sometimes accompany this disorder. In this case, Alex does not appear to be lying about her health state, but she may have intentionally not used protection as a means of manipulating Dan into something more permanent later. Regardless, not insisting on use of birth control definitely constitutes impulsivity on both their parts (The moral of this story is always use protection, ladies and gentlemen).

What Do You Think?
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Fatal Attraction


1987, Rated R

When married man Dan (Michael Douglas) meets Alex Forrest (Glenn Close) at a party, his world gets turned upside-down. They begin a relationship that seems like fun at first, but soon things take a disturbing turn. Alex becomes obsessive and hostile, going so far as to disrupt Dan’s life at home with his wife (Anne Archer) and their young daughter (Ellen Latzen). No matter what Dan does, he cannot seem to get Alex to leave him alone. Unfortunately, his efforts may lead to horrifying consequences.

CONRAD JARRETT


(Ordinary People)

What’s the Matter with Him?
Conrad’s brother recently died in a boating accident (in the middle of Illinois somehow). Since Conrad was there when older brother, Buck met his demise, he struggles with overwhelming guilt and sadness following the accident.
His emotional state led Conrad to try and kill himself, but fortunately his father and mother were home and were able to save him. Finally deciding to go to a therapist once he is released from the hospital, Conrad is trying to understand himself and to feel better.

Posttraumatic Stress Disorder
A disorder that receives a lot of attention is commonly called PTSD – Posttraumatic Stress Disorder. Military veterans returning from combat sometimes go through this, but anyone recovering from a traumatic experience can suffer the same condition. Some indications Conrad may have PTSD include the following symptoms:

*Exposure to Actual or Threatened Death
Obviously, Conrad experienced both when Buck (Seriously, who named these children?) died and Conrad almost died.

*Recurrent Distressing Dreams in Which the Content of the Dream is Related to the Traumatic Event
When we first meet Conrad, he wakes up from a disturbing dream about the accident. He continues to have them throughout the movie.

*Avoidance of or Efforts to Avoid People that Arouse Distressing Memories, Thoughts, or Feelings About or Closely Associated with the Traumatic Event
In a conversation with his friend, Joe, Conrad tells him that he doesn’t want to hang around with Joe anymore because it hurts too much. This is after Joe reveals that he, Conrad, and Buck were all close friends.

*Negative Alterations in Cognitions and Mood
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…This one seems obvious.

*Irritable Behavior and Angry Outbursts (with Little or No Provocation)
This one doesn’t happen a lot in the movie, but it is there. (Mary Tyler Moore brings out the rage).

*Reckless or Self-Destructive Behavior
This one is self-explanatory. Other than his suicide attempt however, Conrad is a pretty careful guy (When he’s not yelling at his mom, of course).

What About Beth?

That’s a tricky one.
She definitely had a hard time with Buck’s death and it’s even implied that he may have been her favorite (Parents aren’t supposed to have favorites, but even parents are not perfect. I know. I was shocked too). Although her husband does go to see Conrad’s therapist in an effort to help out their remaining son, Beth refuses to go and becomes angry when husband Calvin (One of those kids should have been named Hobbes) tells a friend of theirs about Conrad’s therapy.
Since the focus of the film is on Conrad, it’s not clear what Beth is thinking (Ever), but it may be that her cold demeanor and avoidance of getting in touch with her own mentality are products of her own, normal grieving process. It’s hard to say for sure since she is so closed off from Conrad, but grief does strange things to us all.

Is There Hope for Conrad?

Yes! Going to therapy and opening up to his father (And trying with his mom, but she’s hopeless) are good signs that Conrad is going to be okay. He even gets a second chance with Jeannine. Anxiety disorders like PTSD are not touted as curable, but they can be managed if the person with them makes an effort to do so. It looks as though Conrad is finally willing to make the effort and forgive himself.

What Do You Think?
Conrad 2
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Ordinary People


1980, Rated R

Conrad (Timothy Hutton) has a hard time relating to his mother (Mary Tyler Moore) and father (Donald Sutherland) after the accidental death of his older brother. Coping with the tragedy forced Conrad close to suicide and he has since been going to a therapist (Judd Hirsch). As the family tries to reconnect with one another following their loss, they struggle to regain a sense of normalcy. They begin to wonder if normal and ordinary might not be as easy as they look.
~This film won the 1980 Academy Award for Best Picture.