Joker Movie – Thoughts and Feelings

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First off, I think this is a great film to really make you think about society and some of the true causes of violence and group anger. This movie can be interpreted many different ways and honestly can make you forget that it has anything to do with the superhero universe. It is gritty and realistic. Phoenix gives an amazing performance, just as everyone has been raving.

Now, on to my actual thoughts and feelings. The first 3/4 of the movie or so is just incredibly sad. I was actually relieved when it started turning to senseless violence because it was a break from the sadness, even though you knew the violence stemmed from that abuse and pain shown in the earlier parts of the movie. My heart ached for this man’s mistreatment at the hands of others all his life, partly because I have also experienced abuse and trauma for much of my life.

This movie brought to the surface many questions I have asked myself my entire life about accountability and assigning fault. In the Joker’s case, he has obvious mental health issues, seems to have suffered severe brain damage as a child, and would likely score sky high on the ACE (Adverse Childhood Experiences) test. The brain damage, trauma, and abuse together may have not allowed this man to have any other kind of ending than the tragic one we see.

Think of it this way, we know that trauma can dramatically change an adult’s personality (think of veterans with PTSD). We also know that brain damage as an adult can make a kind, loving person cruel and abusive (think of athletes who have suffered severe brain damage and underwent entire personality shifts). Now, imagine these things happening to the brain of a child while the child’s brain is still developing. Also, imagine that the child doesn’t get medical care for the injury or illness quickly as the athlete or veteran hopefully would, so there is no hope of minimizing damage or healing appropriately. How much damage can that do to the child’s brain and personality?

It also makes me think about family legacies where abuse, malignant personality disorders, and mental illness have reigned for generations (much like my own family and probably Joker’s from what little we can see in the film). I’m fairly positive that most of my “ill” family members developed their personality disorders in very early childhood as is believed to be the case in psychology. From childhood they never developed empathy the way they should have. They never grew out of the petulance of the 2-3 year old attitude. Although they seemed terrifying to me when I was a child, I almost feel sorry for them now because they are permanently stuck in immaturity.

I wish they showed empathy, but I ask myself how I can expect someone to show something that they have never had. How can I realistically ask them to be something they could not be even if they wanted to be? Some might think this way of thinking is defeatist, but I simply see it as realistic. It does help keep my hopes from getting too high only to be dashed yet again.

 

Dysfunctional Family: My Mom Married My High School Friend

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Ok, so in the past I already wrote a more serious post about the trauma I experienced when my mom ended up marrying the first guy I ever brought home (read it here). He was a friend of mine, two years older, going to the same high school. They got married on his 18th birthday, so there I was, 15-16, going to school WITH my new “step-dad”.

Yesterday, while my husband and I were out driving, I talked about how isolated I feel in dealing with the after-effects of this whole ordeal. I can find plenty of people who have experienced other things I have gone through or live with (autism, bipolar, chronic pain/illness, loss of a sibling to suicide, loss of a parent at a young age, physical and emotional abuse, etc.), but I have never ONCE found someone who understands the public humiliation and the just outright fucked-up-ness of their parent MARRYING a friend that they go to high school with (and even considered dating at one time)!

Maybe I would have to visit the Jerry Springer show to find something similar. I feel like no one understands how this whole event derailed my life severely at the time. I went from being a straight A, college bound honor student, to skipping school more than I went, and not caring about much of anything. It was a horrible time in my life. To make matters worse, when my mom’s messed up marriage finally blew up, it was shortly after I got married (at the age of 20), and since she had no resources of her own, I felt like I had to take her in, which was not an easy decision for a newlywed to make, especially given the messed up history between my mom and me.

I’m not sharing all this to look for pity, but more in the hopes that maybe someone, somewhere, has gone through something similar and could make me feel less alone. I think this whole ordeal made me feel like a real freak at the time it happened, and never finding anyone who could relate only reinforced that feeling.

*By the way, if you are looking for online therapy options, BetterHelp is a great place to start!

A Theory About Personality Disorders

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While I was writing yesterday’s post about personality disorders, I kind of came up with a theory of my own. That theory is that all of us likely fall somewhere on the spectrum of personality disorders – ALL of us. Granted, it is definitely to greater or lesser extents depending on your experiences, personality type, and genetic makeup, but all of us fall somewhere on the spectrum of narcissism. We all fall somewhere on the spectrum of avoidance and anxiety. We all fall somewhere on the spectrum of neediness and emotional dysregulation. We all fall somewhere on the spectrum of eccentricity.

This theory is very similar to theories I have heard that claim we are all somewhere on the autistic spectrum. Some of us clearly fall heavily on the side of autistic traits, some of us fall in the middle somewhere, and some of us fall heavily on the other side of the spectrum, but we are all on there somewhere.

For personality disorders though, I feel that most of us probably do more closely fit one (or perhaps even two) of the clusters overall. In case you were unaware, there are 3 clusters of personality disorders:

Cluster A (the “odd” or “eccentric” cluster), with Paranoid, Schizoid, and Schizotypal personality disorders.

Cluster B (the “dramatic”, “emotional”, or “erratic” cluster), with Borderline, Narcissistic, Histrionic, and Antisocial personality disorders.

Cluster C (the “anxious”, “fearful” cluster), with Avoidant, Dependent, and Obsessive-Compulsive personality disorders.

I don’t know about you, but almost everyone I know fits quite nicely at least into one of those groups when I consider their overall personality traits. Either I know a lot of messed up people…or maybe having some personality problems is just part of being human? Of course, some take it to the extreme. I myself am so highly anxious and fearful that I would consider it abnormally so. I believe most of that has to do with early attachment issues in childhood and a history of trauma and abuse.

I guess what I am trying to say is that people with personality disorders are not monsters or rare weirdos like many tend to think of them. They are just normal, somewhat dysfunctional people like the rest of us, but perhaps they have a harder time coping due to negative experiences and traumas they have endured. Sure, some of them are assholes, but so is a significant portion of the human race in general…

Nighttime Dread and “Quiet Borderlines” Thoughts

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I slept in until after 2pm this afternoon. I hate when that happens. I feel like most of the day is already gone by the time I get out of bed. I must have slept at least around 12 hours last night, even though I had a bit of an emotional fest when I actually went to bed. For some reason, all the loneliness of the world seems to settle down on me when I try to go to sleep and all the horrible things that have and could happen come around to haunt me. It is often at these times that I feel absolutely alone and helpless in this world, even though logically I know I’m not…at least not right now. But I could be. I could be all alone very easily and that thought sends me into a kind of despair I can’t explain.

Recently I have been reading a book entitled “Beyond Borderline: True Stories of Recovery from Borderline Personality Disorder”. Reading the book has been insightful and interesting, and made me realize I am definitely NOT a traditional borderline. I simply don’t have the acting out behaviors. I guess I could be what some people call “quiet borderlines”, although sometimes I wonder if they are really borderlines or not?

Perhaps some “quiet borderlines” are actually more along the lines of Avoidant Personality Disorder or another anxiety-related personality disorder? Who knows. I’m not a doctor so I can’t say, but I do find so many commonalities running through various personality disorders, that even if you have one, pinpointing which one might be difficult and many people have traits of more than one. For me personally, I think I definitely fit more into the cluster C “anxious and fearful clusters” than the cluster B “dramatic and overly emotional clusters”. In fact, the only time I am visibly overly emotional is when I am so anxious I pretty much panic. Unfortunately this almost always seems to happen in public, because social interaction in itself can easily set off the panic in me.