In the weeks before Mary Richardson Kennedy began searching the Internet for instructions on how to make a noose, the façade of a life she’d so desperately fought to maintain was rapidly crumbling. She was in the midst of an excruciatingly ugly divorce from Robert F. Kennedy Jr., the second son of Robert and Ethel Skakel Kennedy. She was drinking heavily, and her behavior became so erratic that court authorities would only allow her to see her four children during visits supervised by the family housekeeper. “I saw her in the kitchen, like with her head down, and I was like, Oh, golly, she’s talking on the phone and crying,” says the housekeeper, who had lived with the couple throughout their entire marriage. “But then I get close to her, and she was passed out. The plate of food was old, and her face was on top of the plate. And that day, she was drinking a lot.”
From the part on Borderline Personality Disorder:
In 2006 Bobby talked to Mary’s psychotherapist, then Sheenah Hankin, an author with a clientele heavy with celebrities and semi-celebrities. “You are married to a woman who has borderline personality disorder,” Hankin told him, according to Bobby’s account in the affidavit. “It’s important that you read these books.”
Bobby had never even heard of borderline personality disorder (BPD), but when he opened I Hate You, Don’t Leave Me by Jerold J. Kreisman and Hal Straus, he felt he had an understanding of what was happening with his wife. Bobby read that the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of the American Psychiatric Association lists nine criteria for BPD, five of which must be present for a diagnosis. Mary seemed to have every one of the nine, including a perceived sense of abandonment, a lack of identity, recklessness, suicidal threats, intense feelings of emptiness, and inappropriate displays of anger.
Kennedys still have connections like few families in America, and after Hankin diagnosed the disorder, Bobby and Mary arranged a meeting with Dr. John Gunderson, a Harvard psychiatrist who is often called the father of BPD. After talking to Bobby and Mary, Gunderson says, “I was convinced the diagnosis of BPD was correct. At the heart of this disorder is a hypersensitivity to other people, such that they can perceive rejection and anger from others when it isn’t there, and when it is there, they react with even more desperation. It is thought that this hypersensitivity is present even in childhood, during which they will often feel neglected or mistreated. That sets the stage for their search for an idealized caretaker. The caretaker oftentimes gets exhausted by the unrealistic expectations. But the caretaker finds it difficult to leave as the partner threatens to kill him or herself.”