by Izzy Kalman (March 2004)
A few months ago, I wrote about neuroses and personality disorders. Personality disorders have traditionally been considered more pathological than neuroses, a step closer to psychosis. What has perplexed the experts, though, is the fact that people with personality disorders do not decompensate to psychosis any more frequently than neurotics do. My opinion is that they are really two sides to the same coin, with the difference being that neurotics tend to blame themselves while the personality disordered blame others. Since blaming does not solve problems, both are limited in their ability to deal with life.
Woody Allen’s latest film, Anything Else, available on DVD, does a magnificent job of demonstrating the complimentary nature of neurosis and personality disorders. The movie is an interesting twist on his typical neurotic love-affair stories. Woody Allen befriends a young Jewish man, Jerry (Jason Biggs), who is a psychological replica of his younger self. Jerry is hopelessly in love with a personality disordered young woman, Amanda (Christina Ricci), who takes terrible advantage of him. Woody Allen gets to advise the younger neurotic with the benefit of the wisdom that comes with age and experience.
Perhaps the main message of the film is that he neurotic and the personality disordered are the pot and lid that go together, one being no more healthy than the other. The personality disordered is the manipulator and the neurotic is the sucker. You can’t have one without the other.