Borderline Personality Disorder in Silver Linings Playbook Film

Overview of Basis for Treatment

There’s so much skepticism around borderline personality disorder (BPD), a mental condition marked by emotional dysregulation and dysfunctional interpersonal relationships. Many films have been used to establish characters with the same state, but no other movie depicts it as Silver Linings Playbook. Furthermore, the two leading theories that have been developed to determine and discover the symptoms and treatment modalities include Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and Psychoanalytic Theory. CBT theory analyses the aspect of short-term psychotherapy treatment and uses a realistic and intensive approach to address such problems as depression, anxiety, and addiction. It is also known as “the talking cure” because it encompasses examining links or substantial occasions that may play a vital role in a client’s present complications. These theories significantly impact the behavioral change of individuals and provide a clear outline for treatments, as depicted by “Tiffany,” and Jennifer Lawrence in the movie.

Brief Case Introduction

Tiffany, a character in the film Silver Lining playbook, is a widow in her early 30s with no child. Notably, she claims Xanax, which is used for anxiety, was previously prescribed for her. The tension and mental condition are probably because of the death of her husband, Tommy. According to Choi-Kain et al. (2017), superficial changes in self-image, emotion, thought, and actions can result from the imminent perception of rejection, separation, or the loss of external structure. Tiffany’s unemployment status is also another significant concern for her mental situation. In this case, she lives in her parents’ private house, which currently sits in their backyard. Moreover, she has a propensity to lie, appears violent, and has bursts of rage when challenged by others. Many people only understand BPD based on assumptions, so it is easy to doubt whether there are compassionate examples of BPD and its symptoms (Gunderson et al., 2018). Therefore, it is essential to perform an analysis concerning the Silver Linings Playbook to appreciate how BPD symptoms have been presented in “Tiffany.”

Presentation of Complaints

Arguably, in the playbook, Tiffany indicated withdrawal symptoms from her irresponsible drinking that made Tommy think of himself being the cause of the marital conflicts they had with Tiffany. Tommy later rushed to bring flowers to revive their fading love and died in an accident. Tiffany later started displaying BPD symptoms when she openly told Pat of her sexual engagement with literally everyone in her workplace because of depression caused by Tommy’s death. This ambiguous act made her lose her job, forcing her to seek residence in her parent’s house.

Tiffany’s Disorder History

Tiffany’s family is presented not to have a history of a mental disorder. She says she has been prescribed Xanax, which has not helped her. Being a widow, Tiffany has not lost her wedding ring, which made her develop such conditions as obsessive behavior, motion struggles, and trauma. Besides the death trauma, Tiffany’s job loss is a significant challenge as it has developed a vicious behavior of lying. Her lies, concerning messaging men and telling them to turn up at her residence place, are a psychological condition caused by relationship issues. Precisely, she presents self-destructive behavior by trying to have physical intercourse with the men. By pretending to send a letter from Pat to Pat’s ex-wife, Nikki, she indulges in using her dance partner, Pat, for emotional benefit. All the listed behavioral patterns are an indication of the development of a mental disorder.

Initial Therapeutic Assessment

Tiffany uses Xanax, a prescription for mental illness and bipolar disorder, yet acts as though she is fine. However, she displays the symptoms of BPD, which makes her seek psychological therapy. Victims of BPD usually show no negative impressions, and to some extent, they never notice the effects of the disease. Tiffany’s case is extreme, which made her family members withdraw their sustenance support.

Case Conceptualization

While addiction and drug abuse are prevalent among those trying to cope, Tiffany uses alcohol in social settings, even during her assessment. As such, victims of BPD may assume that the abandonment by friends is indicative of disarray in society. These feelings of rejection are connected to an intolerance of being alone and a desire to have other people close to them. Impulsive acts such as self-mutilation or suicidal activity may be part of their frantic attempts to resist neglect.

Tiffany’s loss of job, violent behavior, and bursts of rage, especially when challenged by others, are another course of concern. Her lies concerning messaging men and telling them to turn up at her residence place show that she is suffering from a mental disorder. This is a significant symptom of BPD, loss of self-image, marked by changing ambitions, beliefs, and career expectations, which experience abrupt and drastic changes. Moreover, sudden changes in views and plans concerning career, sexual orientation, ideas, and types of friends can occur in BPD (Gunderson et al., 2018). Such people may suddenly move from the role of a helpless supplicant to a righteous avenger of past mistreatment for aid. While they usually have a self-perception focused on being evil, people with a BPD can often feel non-existent. Furthermore, in circumstances where an individual feels ill, and lacks meaningful partnership, nurturing, and care, such experiences typically exuberate. In unstructured work or school circumstances, these people can display worse results.

Tiffany also shows signs of psychological loneliness and relationship issues. She uses deception to reach Pat by pretending to send a letter to Pat’s ex-wife, Nikki, to gain Pat’s emotional benefit. IConsequently, individuals with BPD can idealize potential caregivers or lovers by demanding to spend time together and share most personal information at the onset of a relationship (Perdikaki et al., 2017). However, they may quickly turn from idealizing other individuals to devaluing them, feeling that the other person does not satisfy them. Such people create emphasis on other people and tutor them, but only in exchange for fulfilling their own needs. In their acuity of others, such individuals are susceptible to sudden radical alterations, which may alternately be seen as kind support or cruelly punitive.

Course of Treatment

Although BPD is a highly treatable severe illness, with many people recovering from it, cultivating stable relationships that promote satisfactory life is often difficult. Victims of BPD experience a reduction in thoughts with injurious actions and suicidal feelings. Psychotherapy that aims at correcting behavior is the initial treatment for BPD (Choi-Kain et al., 2017). However, the function of medication is less known, and medication recommendations are mixed for individuals with BPD. For specific symptoms and co-occurring disorders, the remedy can be beneficial. One of the leading therapy recommended for Tiffany is Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT), which has been developed as an evidence-based treatment for BPD.

Dialectical Behaviour Therapy is based on four primary critical skills that are tolerance, mindfulness of distress, interpersonal effectiveness, and emotion regulation. It deploys a paradigm of individual therapy, which is composed of phone crisis coaching between sessions, a 2-hour weekly training group for skills, and the therapist’s weekly appointment meetings. According to Choi-Kain et al. (2017), DBT with skills training and coaching is effective in improving suicidality. However, there is a great challenge in BPD therapy. After all, it results in stigmatization and complication of the condition because it encompasses ingrained patterns of the symptoms influencing the behavior. The victims are detached from such mental health problems as post-traumatic stress disorder and mood disorder.

Treatment Considerations and Recommendations

Victims of BPD are typically more susceptible to external conditions than other individuals. Profound changes in self-image, affect, cognition, and actions may result from the perception of imminent separation or rejection or the loss of external structure. Even when faced with a reasonable, time-limited break or inevitable changes in plans, such people experience extreme abandonment fears and inappropriate frustration. An individual with this disorder, for example, can experience sudden desperation in response to the announcement of the end of the hour by a clinician; or panic and rage when someone important to them is only a few minutes late. For instance, in the Silver Linings Playbook movie, Tiffany Maxwell’s behaviors are broadly aligned to the aspects of BPD. Treatment for this outrageous personality act is laid on psychotherapy (Choi-Kain et al. (2017). In this regard, psychoanalytical therapy with behavioral skill training is recommended.


Choi-Kain, L., Finch, E., Masland, S., Jenkins, J., & Unruh, B. (2017). What Works in the Treatment of Borderline Personality Disorder. Current Behavioral Neuroscience Reports, 4(1), 21-30. Web.

Gunderson, J., Herpertz, S., Skodol, A., Torgersen, S., & Zanarini, M. (2018). Borderline personality disorder. Nature Reviews Disease Primers, 4(18029), 1-20. Web.

Perdikaki, K. (2017). Film Adaptation as translation: An Analysis of adaptation shifts in silver linings playbook. Anaphora, 4(2), 1-17. Web.

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PsychologyWriting. "Borderline Personality Disorder in Silver Linings Playbook Film." September 5, 2023.