When most people hear the name Alex Forrest, the first thing that comes to mind is a psychopath who cannot get over a breakup. The actuality is that this “antagonist” of the 1987 film Fatal Attraction is not an insane villain, but rather a person who suffers from a mental illness. Alex never receives an official diagnosis in the film, but there are several possible diagnoses that can be made. Some of the symptoms she displays are listed in the diagnostic criteria for Adjustment Disorder, Antisocial Personality Disorder, Bipolar Disorder, and Borderline Personality Disorder.
To meet the diagnostic criteria for an adjustment disorder, an individual must show emotional or behavioural symptoms in response to an identifiable stressor, and these symptoms must occur within three months after the onset of the stressor. These symptoms must be out of proportion to the severity or intensity of the stressor and must significantly impair the individual’s social or occupational functioning (American Psychiatric Association, 2013). Alex’s response to the breakup with Dan is out of proportion considering theirs was an affair that only lasted over the course of a weekend. She becomes suicidal and violent, and stalks Dan. The symptoms for an adjustment disorder must not meet the criteria for another mental disorder or be the result of a stressor exacerbating an already existing condition (American Psychiatric Association, 2013). Alex’s symptoms could meet the criteria for another psychopathological disorder, and thus the diagnosis of an adjustment disorder should not be made.
The diagnostic criteria for Antisocial Personality Disorder states that the individual must have a pattern of disregard for, and violation of...
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...ngly admit to cheating on their partners in America (Rachel Martin, 2015). The statistics prove this behaviour is not statistically deviant despite it deviating from societal norms. Despite the commonality of someone struggling to handle a breakup, the obsessive nature in which Alex goes about trying to “win” Dan back is deviant.
Alex’s symptoms put both her life and the lives of others in danger. Not only does she show suicidal tendencies, but she also violently attacks both Dan and his wife. In addition to the physical threat she poses at the end of the film, Alex’s actions throughout the movie put everyone through intense emotional trauma. Mrs. Gallagher discovers her husband had an affair, which is emotionally distressing for her. The perceived dissolving of the Gallagher family and the death of her pet also threatens their daughter Ellen’s emotional wellbeing.
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