Movie, "Welcome to Me": An Offensive Depiction of Borderline
The new movie, Welcome to Me, definitely offers an offensive depiction of borderline. Borderline personality disorder (BPD) is a complex and challenging illness for those with expertise; so I wasn't entirely surprised that Welcome to Me failed miserably in representing BPD. If my sentiment wasn't already clear, I hated this film. The TV caricature with a borderline label contained traits uncharacteristic of BPD. The movie, Welcome to Me, is offensive and reckless; this movie transmits misinformation to the public, further stigmatizing borderline personality disorder.
"Welcome to Me" Synopsis
Welcome to Me is a story about a very eccentric woman, who is obsessed with Oprah, goes off her meds, wins the lottery, and funds her very own TV show about nothing but herself. To be clear, it's not a story about someone who just happens to have BPD. The filmmakers very deliberately make it a story about (what they are calling) BPD. They focus on her diagnosis, thereby implying that all her unusual behavior is tied to it. BPD is given as the explanation for why she is the way she is.
The Offensive Depiction of BPD in "Welcome to Me"
The therapist's main concern is that the borderline character has gone off her medication, which not only reinforces mental illness as the culprit for her behavior but misinforms the viewer about the nature of BPD. While some people with BPD are on medications for the treatment of comorbid disorders or the alleviation of specific symptoms, BPD is not an illness that is solved with medications. As a personality disorder, recovery (or more accurately, management) requires intensive therapy, but certainly not the kind depicted in this movie.
The only semi-accurate depiction of anything in this movie is the portrayal of the therapist as sarcastic and condescending, which some borderlines experience due to the stigma around BPD. Most therapists aren't this bad, or this rich, though. (Seriously, if BPD therapists lived in mansions, there would be a lot more incentive and a lot more help.) Regardless, the filmmakers don't make the therapist out to be the bad guy with his uncaring behavior. Instead, the borderline comes across as the utterly ridiculous one.
Most problematically, the filmmakers portray the borderline character as being this narcissistic and/or histrionic, self-centered person without the capacity to feel for other people (specifically, for her friend who loses a job). I was so hurt by such a wildly inaccurate and offensive depiction of borderlines, people who feel deeply for others. While egocentricity may be a part of BPD, as with most mental illnesses, it is due to being confined to oneself by one's own suffering; it is not a self-love, "look at me" kind of exhibitionism. The only reason we'd become self-involved in a scenario similar to that of the movie is in thinking ourselves to blame for the friend's job loss, and we'd hate ourselves for it. The character's compromised ability to recognize the feelings of others is not the result of such a hypersensitivity. Even beyond this scene, most borderlines are too self-loathing and anxious for the entire premise of the film.
The Stigmatizing Catch-All Term, Borderline
On screen, BPD is often a caricature with traits cherry-picked from all the mental disorders to shape the most entertaining character possible. Not only is this Welcome to Me borderline depicted as a histrionic narcissist (two other separate personality disorders in themselves), she's portrayed wearing manic makeup (characteristic of bipolar mania) and as being very eccentric with strange beliefs, behavior, and appearance (she has certain schizotypal traits). Most of the time the character's affect is constricted and she speaks in an awkward monotone. While she's impulsive, hypersexual, and somewhat emotionally reactive, she's also not depressed, self-loathing, or self-harming. It's like the filmmakers read a diagnostic manual and selected a few of the most superficial traits of BPD while excluding the traits that give depth and meaning to the illness of borderline personality disorder.
"Welcome to Me" is an Offensive Depiction of Borderline
Misrepresenting mental illness in the movies is dangerous. Welcome to Me downplayed the seriousness of BPD by portraying it as a charming and endearing personality quirk. The movie also completely misrepresented the disorder, channeling false information into a world already fumbling with the idea of mental illness. A quote from an interview of the creator/screenwriter, Eliot Laurence, exposes his agenda: "I’m kind of fascinated by troubled women."
Go take your fascination elsewhere, Eliot, and stop appropriating our stories, misrepresenting BPD, and exploiting the borderline.
Hofert, M. (2015, May 11). Movie, "Welcome to Me": An Offensive Depiction of Borderline, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2020, November 26 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/borderline/2015/05/new-movie-welcome-to-me-a-reckless-and-offensive-depiction-of-bpd
Author: Mary Hofert Flaherty
I don’t think BPD is an appropriate diagnosis for someone behaving like Alice in this film. Asperger’s syndrome on the autism spectrum seems WAY more likely to me. I always thought that she was a high functioning autistic with BPD.
I found this while trying to decide whether to watch. Thanks for the review. I have to say I'm partway in and super confused by your take on the therapist who didn't seem at all condescending or sarcastic to me.
I agree that the "on her meds / off her meds / on her meds" is a very harmful narrative that media always uses when it comes to mental illness and that is especially unscientific when it comes to BPD. When I saw the movie, I brushed that aside, but this article convinced that it is a very very big problem and something that Hollywood needs to fix.
That aside, I really loved the portrayal. I recognized myself a lot in the character of Alice. So alone, in so much pain... it was hard to watch because it was so accurate. :/
The movie makes mistakes (also there's a fat shaming side comment and a mistake about intersexualism) but it did a couple of things right about BPD:
1. It's about the BPD patient and not about some guy or other relative to the BPD patient.
2. Contrary to some reviews, it doesn't depict her as unempathic. Rather it's clear that she cares about Gina and her family. But she has a hard time expressing it because she is suffering so much.
It's not that we don't care about people in our lives -- it's that we don't express it as well, that we don't validate them as much. Alice cares that her friend lost her job, but the friend needs her to SAY it even though Alice is in the burn ward -- that's the lesson we have to learn (it's one of the skills, "GIVE", in DBT).
3. From group therapy I've learned how very very different every BPD patient is but Alice is a lot like me.
Hi, Sandra. Thanks so much for your comment. I haven't seen the movie yet. I want to, and plan to do so soon. You have encouraged me with your review.
Keeley, I see you asked for help, but I’m not sure what you need. If you’re looking for a crisis line, you can find phone numbers and information here:
I hope this helps.
Just to comment on the idea of people with BPD lacking empathy (which is a common misconception), I completely understand why people may believe that about people with the illness. It's a very complicated illness to understand, and there are so many myths and stigmas out there on this illness that it is how to sort out what is fact and fiction.
Of course this does not go for everyone with the illness, as I mentioned before there are many different traits a person can have with this illness.
However, the subject of empathy is a tricky one. I think people are confusing lack of empathy for lack of emotional management skills. There is a huge difference. A person with the illness may not seem to care or listen to what you are saying when they have been triggered and are at a very high intensity. There is some truth to this. Think about when you are at your maddest, your saddest, etc, are you easy to talk to? Doubt it. People with BPD are the same, just they tend to feel the emotions more and it's easier to trigger them - they may seem to go off for nothing at all. During an "episode" they may seem to be doing anything they can to get what they want - they probably are. It's not personal, it's because they are overwhelmed by what they are feeling and what it to stop, actually desperation comes to mind in how bad they want the feeling inside them to stop and they may feel you have the solution to making their pain go away. It's not lack of empathy driving them. Again though, everyone who has this illness is different in how they handle the emotional roller coaster that they feel.
There was also a comment made that the therapeutic community does not feel that people with BPD have empathy, this is also not fact. BDP has been an ongoing education for the therapeutic community, what was once thought of as an incurable illness is now seen as very hopeful with the right treatment. Mental health centers all over are now being educated on the subject and offer programs like the highly successful "Stepps" program.
I think a lot of people diagnose other people with illnesses, which is extremely dangerous and does not make it true. I notice that if someone has a more "difficult" partner then suddenly they are bipolar, borderline, narcissistic, etc. You can not diagnose someone unless you are a psychiatrist, plain and simple. And, even then borderline and bipolar are misdiagnosed constantly.
People are making giant blanket statements as per usual. There are over 200 combinations of traits someone with BPD can have, so I'm not really sure how any of the traits can describe a person with BPD. For example, everyone says that people with BPD harm themselves or have fear of abandonment, that would be incorrect. I have BPD and have never self-harmed but do have a fear of abandonment. There are always outward and inward people with the illness. Many people you will NEVER know have the illness. Almost all my friends are not aware that I have the illness and the couple that I have shared with were fairly shocked that I did since they had preconceived ideas of it as well. Not everyone has strained relationships, acts out publicly, has anger issues, is highly manipulative, etc.. I also find that people tend to diagnose their partners - if they had a partner that had any behavior issues that seem like they might fit the description then they get referred to as that. If someone has not been diagnosed by a psychiatrist then you are just assuming things and you know how that saying goes.
I can not speak for everyone that has BPD, as I mentioned there are many cases and many traits, but lack of empathy is not something I have witnessed with the illness and I know many people with the illness. Most of the time, it seems, like people with BPD have too much empathy and emotions for that matter, they just have no skills on how to deal with the intensity of their emotions. I can see how it can come off as manipulative or as lacking empathy, but that still does not make it truth.
Keep in mind when watching and reading on BPD that so much of the information out there has been debunked and is dated. That is why DBT and programs like Stepps are actually working for people with BPD because they are not going on a lot of that very damaging and inaccurate information.
I guess it easy to pick derogatory representations of BPD when you've been taught its narrow in definition.
This too me show a lack of understanding BPD and not including high functioning BPD in their understanding.
Well as someone over 50 and diagnosed correctly at 5. I can clearly see BPD behavior in people all around me
But my view BPD is genetic and in varying degrees in people. In some sense everyone has a little BPD to survive
Yet some have a lot of BPD.
Here's my BPD movie list...and lets remember BPD individuals like everyone else like to life.
* Harold and Maude ...harold BPD
* Troy ...Achilles BPD
* Patton ..Patton BPD
* Dead Poets Society. John keating BPD
* 2001 ...HAL9000 BPD
I can go on and on but dont ever find these movies listed as BPD. Yet as someone
from a BPD family the behavior and characteristics are there yet go unrecognized.
As a young adult who has been diagnosed with Borderline, I have experienced the stigmas in the mental health community and facilities against me. But however, I found nothing offensive about this movie. There were a few inaccuracies, as there are with every movie. I actually enjoyed the movie. I'm not sure why people are up in arms about it, especially those who don't even have first hand experience with BPD.
@Lucy, again, in an attempt to remain consistent with the published literature, and as well, to remain respectful of those who carry this diagnosis (I am not one of them), then it is impossible to ever really know for sure whether empathy is more or less part of the fabric of someone's personality. Such terms are difficult at best to even define, but impossible to truly feel how another is feeling as that would be considered mind-reading. The discussion could stop right here on that note. Something interesting to consider is the difference between the kind of empathy that so-called mentally "healthy" adults possess, as opposed to intellectualization of empathy (ie. the 'idea' of empathy), two distinct notions. As well, given that neuro-imaging studies have offered a glimpse into brain structures thought to be somehow implicated in BPD, it may be that the stress response that hijacks the fight-flight response also 'short-circuits' the empathy connection, as you have alluded to (trust is another casualty). In the end, no one knows. Lots of anecdotes.
Sorry, that last link was supposed to be www.helpguide.org/articles/personality-disorders/borderline-personality-disorder.htm
The majority seem to have camped on the word "empathy". That's like holding a single piece of a puzzle and saying you see the whole picture. Many perfectly healthy people lack empathy. We call them "jerks". And a lack of "empathy" can be applied to a multitude of mental illnesses. So let's set aside that one word. Borderline Personality Disorder is about highs and lows. Borderliners live on emotional rollercoasters, unlike Kirstin Wiig's character, who is flat-lined through the majority of the film. The only strong emotions she expresses are when reenacting her past. Other than that, she's nonreactive to everyone and everything around her, which would be more accurately described as "disassociative". BPDs are known for being impulsive. Yet, she's calculating to the point that she writes "prepared statements" for her therapist, friends, and family. She also does things that are incredibly strange, like neutering animals onstage. This bizarre behavior falls under the category of "bat-#$%-crazy". It's as though the screenwriter took a hodgepodge of mental disorders, stewed them together, and labeled them all as BPD. It was an incredible disservice for those suffering from BPD and all the people involved in making this film ought to be ashamed of themselves. For more accurate information on BPD, visit www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/borderline-personality-disorder or www.helpguide.org/articles/personality-disorders/borderline-personality-disorder
Thank god I'm not the only one who was insulted by this movie. Horrible misrepresentation of BPD. I have the disorder & could not relate to the character on really any level. I feel like they wanted an incredibly eccentric, "crazy" character & needed to label her as something, so they slapped on BPD without doing really any research on the disorder. Like, "oh look, according to Wikipedia, borderlines have trouble regulating their emotions, so let's have her scream & cry over ridiculous shit". Also, did they not see Girl, Interrupted? I mean, the difference between the characters is so huge. I feel like THAT movie really got it.
r huitt firstly you can't call someone a BPD. That makes no sense. People are not a disorder so please try not to use dehumanizing language.
Secondly, if you think this movie provides an accurate depiction of BPD then it sounds like your wife didn't have it. Try reading the article, it clearly states why the movie is inaccurate and offensive. Your armchair diagnosis is wrong and you're incredibly offensive. Sounds like your ex wife is better off without you.
I could not agree more. I have struggled for 7 years with BPD and watched this movie hoping to see an accurate representation in the media. Instead, just more stigma.
Please help support me end the stigma with NAMIWalks
I feel very conflicted about this movie - although my immediate reaction is "Again we sensationalize mental illness in the interest plot devices." I'd say this woman suffered more from the comorbid disorders of obsession/compulsion, narcissism and schitzotypal fantasy than she did from BPD (or emotional disregulation as its better called). What I mean is - they cherry-picked all the "fun" disorders that can co-occur with BPD because they make for better screen time, then singled out "borderline personality disorder" as the vague mental illness the main character suffered from. They're allowed to do this because people are less familiar with BPD which makes it "fair game." Try doing this with autism. People would freak out.
The unfortunate consequence is that WE are all now associated with the "Welcome to Me" character. This character will now define how some people "envision" what a borderline is. How many of you feel a renewed desire to open up about your condition to other people?
I'm not going to deny that how they've interpreted some borderline traits was creative. For example the character's use of "I'd like to read from a prepared statement" mimics my inability to send an email until I've edited it down to the perfect expression of what I mean. The idea of a borderline using her millions to buy a show for herself so she can feel less isolated does acknowledge how isolated we tend to feel. But let's be honest - we would ever think WE were worth spending $15 million dollars on (we might, however, have paid for such a extravagant show for our boyfriend).
I bring up these examples to show how the filmmakers found a way to describe the borderline condition in a way that was technically accurate (if you nitpick it like I did) but doesn't capture the spirit of the borderline condition. Which I would describe as:
"I believe, with good reason, that I'm unlovable. I'm not in control of my emotional reactions and because of this most people don't know how to deal with me. I've always been this way. I've learned to hate myself because others hate the way I am. I've learned I'm not good enough to be loved. Knowing this, I won't let you love me. Because I won't let you later reject me. I'll drive you away so that I can tell myself I was the one doing the rejecting. So that you hurt me less. I sacrifice the chance of love for the certainty that it will be taken away.
If I wan't so guilty for being the shitty person I am, I probably would have killed myself already. But I don't even deserve to do that."
These are the grim truths of the borderline. In some ways I think guilt and a feeling of worthlessness are the only things that keep us alive! But this makes for shitty comedy. So we end up with a movie like "Welcome to Me."
I guess my question to Kristen Wiig is: if you wanted to play a mentally ill character - why did you have to pick BPD? Why did you have to pick the one brain disorder that is the least understood, the least cared about, the hardest to treat, and, arguably (because of these factors) the most painful to endure? If you knew what BPD was personally and picked it anyway - why did you think this was going to help?
I really don’t think think you should say any mental disorder is the hardest to deal with... have you had them all? Have you seen demons or heard voices? Have you thought you where dying from a panic attack? Or dealt with insomnia? You just shouldn’t compare. There is always something worse. It’s arrogant to think you could possibly have suffered the most
My partner and I gave this a try, solely because we are fans of Kristen Wiig. She was adorable as always, but I wish "crazy" wasn't the premise to this movie. I found little to no similarities between myself and Alice, save for some angry outbursts that were few and far between. I know that we sufferers of bpd are not all the same, but the filmmaker does not have appeared to do much research into our poorly understood ailment. My partner (a writer) thought she seemed like a poorly construed caricature of the embodiment of misconceptions of mental illness and autism.
Just to weigh in on empathy: I went out with a guy with BPD and before I knew he was mentally ill I told him a few times that he lacked empathy. It was hard to watch him treat his "friends" so poorly. He didn't believe me and dismissed what I said. There's a huge issue when you tell someone they lack empathy and they say they don't. If you don't have that level of self awareness - when someone who cares about you questions your ability to empathize - you will not, I believe, get healthier. When you turn that comment into an attack instead of an opportunity to review your behavior, you're not moving forward.
Regarding the film - it was weird how she was spaced out. Guy I was with was so full of life and charismatic, it was addicting. I was disappointed not to see that vibrant energy in Kristin's character.
Everyone is different... a lot of people with bpd do tend to be the life of the party in one way or another (Center of attention) but not always the same ways, the person I knew most closely was a trouble maker really always wanting to skip school and drink and other things that I didn’t really want to do and she would turn on people for no reason at all but also on herself sometimes... people are still people even if they have issues they aren’t defined by that, not all people with bpd are the same at all
Thanks Felix, nice response. I see your points and have been thinking about it. I'm wondering perhaps if it is not that there is a lack of empathy; that perhaps it is when the person with BPD feels threatened, they put their guards up and it is a defense mechanism (the understanding of others then becoming less 'loud' as they struggle to keep from feeling in danger or attacked). That's certainly at least how I feel. When I am not 'in it' or I am thinking about others situations I find empathy comes very easily. Likewise when I reflect on events I can understand how I hurt others. I will admit when my head is on fire and I think my partner is trying to destroy me, that feeling of being destroyed overtakes anything else. I don't stop caring about the other person, but it's a way of protection from a threat. in every case I get cognitive dissonance as my brain tries to balance contradicting thoughts (this person says they love me but I think they're trying to destroy me- who/what can I trust?) and this further adds to the pain in my head. Knowing I have BPD doesn't help the pain, but it does help me recognise more clearly when I am having distortions. I'm genuinely curious what you think about this. Sorry if this reads a bit muddled, I'm writing while at work! Thanks
@Lucy, regarding "empathy", since it is uniquely personal, regardless of a mental health diagnosis or not, then I agree that one might best be cautious about further stigmatizing, my original comment was in follow up to what was originally written. Based on the current accepted object relations theory that attempts to explain BPD, the differentiation of Self (from Other) is in some way under-developed. Empathy therefore, based on such current understanding, is also under-developed. There is a difference between a valid concern over stigma of mental illness, and cognitive distortions causing true and observed challenges that partners (and professionals) are witness to.
Felix, while you mention that empathy is not part of the diagnostic criteria I think the point is that lack of empathy isn't part of it either. Just like a person with a broken leg can either be very empathetic or not, a person with bpd can be the same. Therefore depicting lack of empathy as a bpd trait further adds to the stigma and assumptions made about a very debilitating illness. I think some people in the 'mental health professional community' could do with having a little more empathy themselves and recognise that bpd sufferers are suffering and stigmatising them even more on the basis of no evidence isn't showing understanding in the least.
FINALLY. I went through all movie reviews and not a single person talked about how they portrayed her with asbergers or slight mental retardation and VASTLY got personality disorders wrong. Most people with personality disorders are actually incredibly hard to diagnose just from a si gle encounter. They often are truly amazing sounding people at times. And they just butchered personality disorders in the movie. Like, the writers must think that people with personality disorders are easy to spot or super weird or awkward; THEYRE NOT. They know how to be incredibly charming and then can flip a switch and be somebody else or be crazy or depressed. Ugh. As someone who works with people with psychological disorders, I'm so outrageously offended. Personality disorders are out there, and they are much more sly and hard to find and MUCH more damaging to people. Ahhhhh. It was a horrible movie.
I hope that I am not making my comments redundant for re-attempting to post something.
While I appreciate that this is written from your subjective viewpoint, and certainly each of us is entitled to their opinion, when you (Mary) refer to empathy, and claim that those with BPD "definitely FEEL empathy", the therapeutic community does not agree with that claim. In fact, it is the lack of empathy that is often most troubling, certainly for many partners of sufferers. Given that the prevailing conceptual foundation of BPD refers to an under developed Self, with emotional regulation problems thought to be related to disruptions of early attachment, empathy is more often than not part of the unfortunate casualties. Likewise, the current thinking speaks of cognitive distortions and beliefs that may skew the sufferer's perception to such an extent that they may believe that they are empathetic, but they may be relating more to the desire to be empathized with, rather than empathizing for the Other. The bottom line really, is that empathy matters most when we are stressed, and yet this is when the sufferer may be least capable of empathy. That is how I have come to understand this. Whether a Hollywood movie offers a realistic depiction of an illness is not something that I would rely upon. Hollywood makes movies, not documentaries after all.
@MaryHF, you refer to "empathy" as a quality that BPD sufferers possess, " There are a lot of mixed messages, but I think it comes down to the fact that borderlines definitely FEEL empathy (perhaps even more than the general population), they’re just not always good at EXPRESSING it....". This may be your personal opinion, but this is certainly not consistent across the mental health professional community, nor is "empathy" mentioned as diagnostic criteria in the DSM.
Why? Honestly, why does someone of influence (or more than one person in this case really) have the careless, thoughtless insensitivity and ignorance to create a misinformed portrait labelled under 'borderline'?
People with borderline have suffered enough, in every case.
The degree of borderline suffering and the lack of appropriate treatment has been called: a human rights issue.
I say no to this caricature of my suffering.
I say no to putting a spotlight on my illness, in a way that makes what was already difficult, now impossible; disclosing my diagnosis to those close to me who have no background in psychology.
This is beyond frustrating, outright insulting and what's worse is that the general population and media are ignorant enough not to bat an eyelid.
I challenge someone, somewhere, to attempt, with empathy and current, valid information; to create an accurate depiction of what living with borderline personality disorder is actually like.
my god i feel the same way you do. i felt offended after watching. we are not socially inept awkward weirdos, we are sufferers of extremely strong emotions. and i love kristen wiig! it's so disappointing that there was a chance to turn around the stigma and misrepresentation of BPD but all this movie did was contribute to it. ugh.
There is a kernel of truth to every experience. Hopefully the film has done some good stuff for someone.
"excluding the traits that give depth and meaning to the illness of borderline personality disorder." Surely you mean "shallowness and irrationality" in lieu of "depth and meaning". I've lived with someone with bpd and this movie nailed it, at least from a non's perspective. The only difference between symptom of bpd and bi polar is the fear of abandonment. Covered by the " I'm all alone" scene which triggered the dissociative walk of shame thru the casino. Agreed that bi polar patients do better on meds, but the meds help regulate mood, abilify goes one step further and regulates impulsivity. I'm sorry but people with bpd need to see this so they see how non's perceive them, then maybe they may get the help they need (dbt) and stop acting like their behavior has "depth and meaning". The only part I didn't understand was how she could have kept her best friend for so long, maybe they should have explored that character a little more, and shown that only codependents gravitate and stay with people with bpd. I did not see Alice as charming or endearing, rather a menace, with the emotional development of a twelve year old in an adult body, just like the person I lived with.
They said she had borderline personality disorder not bipolar, people with manic depressive bipolar get bouts of mania with grand delusions, borderline personality disorder absolutely doesn’t cause that, and is not like what is shown in that movie in any way. Neither is bipolar, yes that type of bipolar needs to be medicated but not all types do
I tought the main character had asperger syndrome. BDP is different.
Welcome to Me supposedly portrays BPD (that's what the filmmakers are calling it and what is declared in the film). Asperger syndrome is never mentioned.
Thank you for this.
I recognized quite a bit of the ex-wife BPD that I spent 30 years trying to understand. Her's was much more inward facing, with all of her energy spent on how she appeared to others. A good friend's BPD ex wife is much more like Whig's portrayal, involving as many people in her pain as possible. I think most BPDs are afflicted by several other issues, as would explain Whig's character. But I think her inward rage and pain were pretty dead on. My ex wife could either express an overabundance of caring for others, if it fit her image she wanted projected, or have no empathy whatsoever, much like Whig's apathy for her friend. She also had plenty of the sort of obsessive ticks portrayed in the movie.
This critique is justified, but it seems to wish that BPD was portrayed in a positive light, when it is in fact a soul crushing affliction that tortures the bearer and those who love her. I disagree with the line, "people who feel deeply for others and would go out of their way to help and comfort." I have not seen that in any of the books or massive amount of forum entries to be a attribute you could say borderlines share.
I think this is a pretty good article discussing the ins and outs of BPD and empathy (https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/stop-walking-eggshells/201309/do-people-borderline-d…). There are a lot of mixed messages, but I think it comes down to the fact that borderlines definitely FEEL empathy (perhaps even more than the general population), they're just not always good at EXPRESSING it, especially if they're stressed. So, using my example in the article (the scenario in the movie): the borderline's friend loses her job... The movie portrayed the borderline as completely apathetic in a relatively relaxed state. This is a false representation. If the borderline is not flooded or in crisis mode or particularly stressed, she will feel and demonstrate empathy. If she is stressed (i.e., she thinks she caused the job loss), she will be so overwhelmed with emotion and guilt that she will be unable to express the empathy she is feeling. It's almost like borderlines experience and demonstrate SO MUCH EMPATHY that it directs attention back to them. It's not a deliberate or manipulative thing; it's simply the unfortunate consequence of their hypersensitivity. If your partner really doesn't experience empathy, then BPD is not the correct diagnosis. There are other personality disorders in the same cluster that can look like BPD that actually characterize a lack of empathy.
While I agree with much of your sentiment and definitely agree that the character had a schizotypal streak a mile wide and was probably in the wrong type of therapy, but DBT is not as sexy as psychodynamic therapy on the big screen. I screamed at the TV during the scene where she was making tea on air, convinced that she would at that moment harm herself; Sadly this would have added an air of reality to her depiction. That said, I don't discount her depiction as strongly as you since everyone with Emotionally Unstable Personality Disorder will present differently. The use of an atypical antipsychotic, like the well placed Ability plug (I wonder what they paid for that one!), often helps with the symptoms, but intensive therapy is still the gold standard. I viewed the film less as a pure depiction of a specific personality disorder and more as a behind the scenes glimpse of mental illness for the "normal" people watching. Any dialogue on mental illness is probably a good one and if this film helps, great. Thanks for writing your piece.