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Ian Curtis and BPD (or another disorder)

Ian CuritsRarely do you find an individual artist who expresses his/her emotions and pain as clearly as did Ian Curits. He was the lead singer and song writer for the band Joy Division. In May of 1980, two days before their first U.S. tour, Curtis hung himself in his kitchen. Joy Division reformed as New Order and had a major impact on dance/rock music. But Joy Division was an amazing band. Curtis’ lyrics read like a suicide note. He had epilepsy and the medication he was taking for it supposedly depressed him. The lyrics on their two albums (Unknown Pleasures and Closer) are fought with pain, shame and depression. Two years ago there was a bio-pic about Curits (“Control”) and a documentary about Joy Division. Again, rarely do you find someone who expresses his pain in such clear terms. Here is a sampling of Curtis’ lyrics:

Isolation

Mother I tried please belief me
I’m doing the best that I can
I’m ashamed of the things I’ve been put through
I’m ashamed of the person I am
Isolation, isolation, isolation

New Dawn Fades

Different colours, different shades
Over each mistakes were made
I took the blame
Directionless so plain to see
A loaded gun won’t set you free
So you say

Passover

Forgive and forget’s what they teach
Or pass through the desserts and wastelands once more
And watch as they drop by the beach
This is the crisis I knew had to come
Destroying the balance I’d kept
Turning around to the next set of lives
Wondering what will come next.

Atmosphere

Your confusion
My illusion
Worn like a mask of self-hate
Confronts and then dies
Don’t walk away

7 comments to Ian Curtis and BPD (or another disorder)

  • james

    Individuals diagnosed with borderline personality disorder (BPD) often have multiple suicide attempts, but are rarely successful. Also, BPD is much somewhat more common in females. Being in the medical field, I cast doubt on the speculative “BPD” diagnosis. I personally feel that there are huge problems in the way that psychiatry classifies and diagnoses mental illnesses. Most of the diagnoses are based solely on subjective findings, and are subject to huge biases. Also it often seems that some diagnoses are similar and often almost interchangeable. Because accurate diagnosis and management can mean the difference between life and death, more science is desperately needed in these areas.

    More likely, he was severely clinically depressed or he was suffering from bipolar affective disorder.

    I do wonder if it had been diagnosed, if it would have made a difference (would he still be alive today)? I believe that this question cannot be answered.

  • Aladinsane

    Not only do borderlines, experience suicidal and parasuicidal difficulties, sadly many are sucsessful. BPD has the same prevalance in both males and females, however it may appear to be more prevalent in females as seventy five percent of all humans beings presenting to services, are female which can only suggest male role model stereotypes are preventing men from accessing help. Not being in the medical field but actually being a having BPD, rarther than making assumptions about others that do, cast doubt on the validity of your speculative “BPD” opinions.

  • Danny

    I have recently gained a major understaning as to Bi-polar. Ian Curtis was at the forefront of a new wave in the music scene that essentially ‘spawned’ the ’80’s Manchester scene. He was a genious, yet on the eve of going to America he ‘chose’ to take his life in the meantime. Epilepsy may well have been a contributory factor but I am verement that Ian Curtis suffered with Bipolar disorder. I can even be surer that, once he took his own life, he suffered no more. While I am also sure there are many people that are working hard to break down the stigma and taboo that generally surrounds the issue of mental health, I think that Stephen Fry is an absolute legend as he has set his tasks on breaking down the taboo and inherent misunderstanding that surrounds this terrible affliction. I shall be expressing my thanks to him in the medium-term. Danny

  • […] And of course, there are probably twenty more examples in his various lyrics. The only other musician that I can think of off the top of my head who consistently used the words “shame” and “I’ll take the blame” is Ian Curtis (Joy Division’s lead singer who also committed suicide). […]

  • Brenda Jayne

    I can relate so well to Ian Curtis…I am diagnosed with both bipolar and borderline personality… I have attempted suicide 8 times now over 30 yrs…and I’m still alive…I suffer from depression…and I really can understand how Ian felt to love deep, suffer inside and eventually lose control….RIP Ian….

  • Rachael

    WEATHER OR NOT IAN WAS DIAGANOSED WITH BPD OR BI-POLAR SYNDROME (AS I HAVE BEEN) I HIGHLY DOUBT IT WOULD HAVE MADE A DIFFERENCE AS TO WEATHER OR NOT HE WOULD BE HERE TODAY ….WHEN A PERSON AS SICK-AS SAD AS IT IS-WANTS TO TRULY END THEIR LIFE THEY WILL BE SUCCESSFUL …….THE ONLY THING THAT MAY HAVE BEEN ALTERED IN IAN’S CASE WOULD BE PERHAPS THE TIME ……IN OTHER WORDS IT MAY HAVE TAKEN A FEW MORE ATTEMPS BUT IF HE REALLY WANTED TO END HIS LIFE AND I BELIEVE HE DID HE WOULD HAVE SUCEEDED…… :(

  • Just so sad, people cannot see whats going on inside and make disparaging comments or react with indifference to those suffering form BPD and other mental issues. ADD, which I deal with, is also misdiagnosed often and its effect of those who have it highly minimized. I feel bad for Ian and that his only way out was to take his own life.Such a beautiful mind, such talent. He is at peace now though. :-)

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