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A Psychiatrist Explains What Kristen Wiig’s ‘Welcome to Me’ Gets Right About Mental Illness

People with borderline personality disorder often exhibit reckless behavior — including impulsive spending.

A Psychiatrist Explains What Kristen Wiig’s ‘Welcome to Me’ Gets Right About Mental Illness

Gwynne Watkins

In the funny, fascinating drama Welcome to Me (now in select theaters and available on VOD), Kristen Wiig plays Alice Klieg, a woman with borderline personality disorder who uses lottery winnings to produce a television show entirely about herself. Alice is an unusual movie character, sympathetic in her desire to be loved like Oprah, yet off-putting in her bizarre, irrational behavior. But does she provide an accurate portrait of borderline personality disorder, a condition characterized by unstable moods, behavior and relationships?

According to Harvard Medical School psychiatrist Dr. Steven Schlozman, she does indeed. Furthermore, Welcome to Me offers a much more sympathetic, realistic take on BPD than most Hollywood films, which have generally characterized it as a disorder of stalkers and serial killers (i.e. Glenn Close in Fatal Attraction, Kathy Bates in Misery). “The compelling storyline of the rageful, murderous person, who is presumed to have BPD, finds its way into movies a lot,” says Schlozman, “but people with what we’d call BPD are hardly ever violent, except maybe towards themselves.” We asked Schlozman to explain how Wiig’s actions in Welcome to Me — from her TV obsession to her angry meltdowns — jibe with her diagnosis.

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