Sunday, September 16, 2007

Personality Disorder?: Chloe O'Brian from "24"

If you have watched the Fox show, 24, you know Chloe O'Brian, CTU's best analyst. Dinah and I were talking and it seems she thinks Chloe's character (played superbly by Mary Lynn Rajskub) has Schizoid Personality Disorder, while I think she has Borderline Personality Disorder. What are your thoughts?

A pervasive pattern of detachment from social relationships and a restricted range of expression of emotions in interpersonal settings, beginning by early adulthood and present in a variety of contexts, as indicated by four (or more) of the following:
1. neither desires nor enjoys close relationships, including being part of a family
2. almost always chooses solitary activities
3. has little, if any, interest in having sexual experiences with another person
4. takes pleasure in few, if any, activities
5. lacks close friends or confidants other than first-degree relatives
6. appears indifferent to the praise or criticism of others
7. shows emotional coldness, detachment, or flattened affectivity

[I don't think she meets 5, 6, 7. Not sure about the rest, though the fact that she has been married reduces the strength of this formulation.]

A pervasive pattern of instability of interpersonal relationships, self-image and affects, as well as marked impulsivity, beginning by early adulthood and present in a variety of contexts, with many of the following features:
1. Frantic efforts to avoid real or imagined abandonment such as lying, stealing, temper tantrums, etc.. [Not including suicidal or self-mutilating behavior covered in Criterion 5]
2. A pattern of unstable and intense interpersonal relationships characterized by alternating between extremes of idealization and devaluation.
3. Identity disturbance: markedly and persistently unstable self-image or sense of self.
4. Impulsivity in at least two areas that are potentially self-damaging (e.g., promiscuous sex, eating disorders, substance abuse, reckless driving, overspending, stealing, binge eating). [Again, not including suicidal or self-mutilating behavior covered in Criterion 5]
5. Recurrent suicidal behavior, gestures, threats, or self-mutilating behavior.
6. Affective instability due to a marked reactivity of mood (e.g., intense episodic dysphoria, irritability, or anxiety usually lasting a few hours and only rarely more than a few days).
7. Chronic feelings of emptiness, worthlessness.
8. Inappropriate anger or difficulty controlling anger (e.g., frequent displays of temper, constant anger, recurrent physical fights, getting mad over something small).
9. Transient, stress-related paranoid ideation or severe dissociative symptoms.

[2, 6, & 8 are the characteristics that made me think of BPD.]

I'd say she has a mix of the two. In Blogs4Bauer, Bob noted: "a vote for Chloe is a vote for a knocked-up Asperger's case with borderline anti-social personality disorder with strong leaning to OCD."

In reading Guntrip's criteria in the Schizoid wikipedia article, I am tempted to agree with Dinah (but only tempted).

Dinah's Input: I decided to join in as a front page-commenter, I hope that's okay, but talk about Meaningful topics, especially now that The Sopranos are gone. Please, commenters, no spoilers--Roy is at the beginning of Season 4, I am nearing the end. I was afraid to check out the Blogs4Bauer blog. Just what I need, anyway, a new blog in my life.

Does Chloe have Asperger's : definitely.
And since Roy likes to list diagnostic criteria:

Diagnostic Criteria For 299.80 Asperger's Disorder

A. Qualitative impairment in social interaction, as manifested by at least two of the following:
  1. marked impairments in the use of multiple nonverbal behaviors such as eye-to-eye gaze, facial expression, body postures, and gestures to regulate social interaction
  2. failure to develop peer relationships appropriate to developmental level
  3. a lack of spontaneous seeking to share enjoyment, interests, or achievements with other people (e.g. by a lack of showing, bringing, or pointing out objects of interest to other people)
  4. lack of social or emotional reciprocity
B. Restricted repetitive and stereotyped patterns of behavior, interests, and activities, as manifested by at least one of the following:
  1. encompassing preoccupation with one or more stereotyped and restricted patterns of interest that is abnormal either in intensity or focus
  2. apparently inflexible adherence to specific, nonfunctional routines or rituals
  3. stereotyped and repetitive motor mannerisms (e.g., hand or finger flapping or twisting, or complex whole-body movements)
  4. persistent preoccupation with parts of objects
C. The disturbance causes clinically significant impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning

D. There is no clinically significant general delay in language (e.g., single words used by age 2 years, communicative phrases used by age 3 years)

E. There is no clinically significant delay in cognitive development or in the development of age-appropriate self-help skills, adaptive behavior (other than social interaction), and curiosity about the environment in childhood

F. Criteria are not met for another specific Pervasive Developmental Disorder or Schizophrenia

So Chloe has 1-4 in the A list and 1 &2 in the B list. I haven't seen her flap and if she's preoccupied with parts of objects, I haven't gotten that far. If you ask me, schizoid and Asperger's have a fair amount of overlap and I haven't found Schizoid Personality Disorder to be a particularly useful diagnostic entity.

In terms of the criteria above for Schizoid Personality Disorder-- you don't have to have them ALL! Few people fit into Chinese Menu descriptions-- I would contend that she's mostly Schizoid. Okay, so she get ruffled and makes funny faces when she's criticized, but she scowls and moves on, Chloe doesn't break down in tears or ruminate when criticized, and many non-schizoid people would. She's a little impervious. Chloe's been married? Unfortunately trying to look this up led me to plot information about Season 5, but it seems Roy is right. I've actually assumed that a lot of the quibbling and tension between Chloe and Edgar results from their inability to address the sexual tension between them-- just my theory. Okay, so Jack's her "friend" and Chase is her "friend" but really, I think they just use her--maybe some vague fondness, but trust me, at the end of the day Jack isn't texting Chloe "Hey want to get a bite to eat." You'll note that when she gets fired in Season 4, she goes home alone, not off to a friend's. And affective flattening? Well, affective something--you aren't going to tell me, Roy, that Chloe is affectively normal.

Chloe as having borderline personality? I don't see it. I'll let our readers chime in. So she gets miffed. I don't think her relationships are all that intense or unstable. And she's chronically irritable, is that affective instability? No signs of euphoria or depression. You'll tell me if I'm wrong. And even if she does have a mild degree of one of two these features, that doesn't give you the diagnosis. OCD-type rigidity? Yup-- kind of goes with the Asperger's Diagnosis. And I also don't see the Anti-social Jack, in the name of the greater good he can execute his own boss and a tear or two later he's back in the saddle......

I hope it's okay that I jumped on Roy's post... great pic, great topic, great show.

Roy here. So we're gonna have all our comments within the post, huh? Okay. I agree that the affective instability is more driven by irritation with others' perceived incompetence (hmm, perhaps a touch of OCPD or NPD). [you all know, we're just having a bit of fun here; not taking the show too seriously, so please no "it's just a TV show!!" comments. tx]

But she does NOT meet criteria B1 and B2. B1 says "encompassing preoccupation with one or more stereotyped and restricted patterns of interest that is abnormal either in intensity or focus." She is at work, so of course she has a preoccupation. There is nothing abnormal about her intensity or focus... it's her job! Lives are at stake.

B2 says "apparently inflexible adherence to specific, nonfunctional routines or rituals." Again, this is a work requirement. Her type of work requires such adherence to routines. However, she is not really so inflexible, as evidenced by her bypassing usual protocols when Jack asks her to, despite the fact that it could get her fired or in jail. She sees the bigger picture, and so tries to do "the right thing", not the correct thing.

So, I don't see any of the B criteria. And, if you look at the OCPD link above, you'd think that these criteria fit her to a T. But, it is important to remember that many of these characteristics are necessary for her work. And we really only see her in work settings, so it is hard to assess these. I think she has nearly none of the OCPD criteria. And, the only piece of Narcissistic PD criteria she meets is that of lacking empathy.

[You all can see why many of us don't focus too much on personality disorder classification. Too subjective.]


ClinkShrink said...

OK, I think you both have far too much time on your hands...

Otherwhys said...

Clink rocks. She totally rules and I bet she also rolls with the punches.
Maybe I am the only one but this post made me sad. Maybe it was meant to be funny but it didn't make me laugh. It made me sad.I will just go off now and roll with the punches.

Alison Cummins said...

I watched Series 2 and 3, maybe 4. In the ones I watched she seemed to have ordinary uncomplicated Asperger's. I thought she was great, and thought it was terrific to be seeing Aspies on screen - and without excessively glamourising them!

Since Asperger's was the flavour of the moment at the time the series was developed, I assumed that the Chloe character had been written with AS specifically in mind.

However, in more recent series she has been sexed up a bit and given more social skills. (So I hear.) I think the screenwriter changed, and whoever is producing the series doesn't necessarily care that much about portraying AS - they have just designated Chloe as the wonky character.

So I think you need to diagnose the Chloe in each individual series separately. The Chloe in Series 5 isn't necessarily the same person as the Chloe in Series 2.

As far as AS and sex - AS folks do have sex lives. AS women may have babies young because they are vulnerable to sexual exploitation. Autism spectrum disorders are more common in the children of older fathers, and one explanation is that AS men are more likely to have children when they are older than when they are younger. They aren't particularly sexy when young. As they age they become more socially experienced and the women looking for spouses in their late thirties are more interested in breadwinner-type characteristics and predictability than they were in their twenties.

Roy said...

Otherwhys: no, not meant to be funny, as in ha-ha. I used the word "fun" in the sense of trying to take a character portrayal, who clearly has interpersonal difficulties, and try to understand where this is coming from. The first step is to be able to parse out the different elements of her portrayed personality.

So, this post shouldn't make one laugh, it should make one think. Think about how one begins to look at behavior and personality (or, how one begins to write a screenplay or to act this out) and parse out the different elements.

Great points, Alison, especially about pointing out the evolution of Mary Lynn's character as the writers change. BTW, this actress is also a comedian, and really quite funny. Catch some of her talk show appearances on YouTube.

Gerbil said...

I don't watch "24," so I can't comment on Chloe. But if you ever want to do a post on the psychodynamics of Detective Stabler (of "SVU"), hoo boy, I'm there.

Otherwhys said...

"..who clearly has interpersonal difficulties, and try to understand where this is coming from." Fair enough, but to diagnose borderline personality disorder or schizoid personality disorder still does not shed any light on where these difficulties are coming from. It makes me sad because the DSM is so flawed and it is all about putting people into slots and obviously different docs will choose different slots depending upon their own perception, which may or may not be accurate. It isn't very scientific at all.

Dinah said...

Clink: If you hadn't blown me off last night, I wouldn't have had so much time on my hands.

Otherwhys: It isn't very scientific at all. It also isn't particularly useful.

It is kind of fun when it's to spark a discussion about a TV show/character.

Input from the peanut gallery-- my younger teenybopper started reading the post, read through schizoid and borderline criteria and said "She doesn't have either of these." Got through the Asperger's criteria, said "That's what it sounds like. Maybe she's just a weird person."

Then: "Is this what psychiatrists do for fun? Try to figure out what's wrong with TV Characters?"

Yup. Maybe we're just weird people.

ClinkShrink said...

Thanks for the kind words Otherwhys.

Dinah I didn't blow you off last night. I wasn't the one who mentioned pizza, but now that you've brought it up that sounds delicious...

I've seen one episode apiece for both Lost and 24. Now if you wanted to discuss the character Haywire from Prison Break, that would be a totally different story.

Sarebear said...

I haven't seen any 24, although I've read a previous spoiler here on the blog. But I'm going to actually get into 24, and Prison Break (probably prison break first as it only has one older season so far, and then I'd be up with what's going on; I like Amazon unbox on Tivo, esp. since I got some free credits there.)

First use of those was a weekend without the little one, and we unboxed the first two Bourne movies, then the night before picking dd up we saw the third in theatres (this series rocks! Now there's a guy w/some interesting psych/pathology, especially given his amnesia). The first two were on sale for cheap for probably the exact use we put them to, and it was great!

Anyway. I'd get caught up on Alias, except the wierdness in the season I did see sporadically near the end, just seems . .. well, ok, if they're on a mysterious island, yeah, but c'mon (yeah, it's tv.)

Clink, I may email you w/my observations or questions raised about prison as they show it, once I've caught up on PB. (where's the jelly, mmmm . . .)

I have a nephew, 19, with Asperger's, so this is more than academic to me, and yet, I take no offense or anything personal or over the line (like I'm the judge of that, not) at all in this "exercise".

Since it's not ok to speculate publically as licensed shrinks, in depth like this, about cases such as Lindsay Lohan or Olsen Twins' anorexia or bulimia, fictional characters are the way to go. And I found it interesting, especially your reasonings back and forth on the matter.

If her char WAS intended to be AS, especially without glamourising it, it's a shame they didn't stick with that.

Dinah, lol at what your daughter said. Teens are rather more perceptive than often given credit for, thanks for relating that experience.

Rach said...

Out of curiosity, do you think you'd be able to make the same type of commentary on a cartoon character (I'm thinking of quagmire from Family Guy) or does this type of analysis only work if the person is human and 3 dimensional?

Sarebear said...

I think they could do animated characters . . . . I'm thinking General Woundwort from Watership Down (granted that's based on a book with a depth to the characters not found in most animation).

Miss Piggy comes to mind. So does Animal, but I prefer him to her, lol! I'm more of a Beaker type.

Actually, according to a what muppet are you thing a while back, I'm actually Gonzo . . . . now THAT is fitting (tee hee!)

I think he's tragically misunderstood . . . .

Ack, my train of thought derailed again. Ah, well.

Cael from Titan A.E., or the dude that was his father's friend . . .

Mother Jones RN said...

Does she sleep with a stuff animal and wear big furry slippers when she's at home? That's another indication of BPD. I know, you aren't going to find that in any medical book, but it's true. I see it all the time on our unit.

Anonymous said...

BPD should be out of the DSM.

Anonymous said...

This is a clear case of Aspergers. The Borderline Personality Disorder is waaaaaay far from the mark. Someone clearly knows nothing about that disorder! Schizoid might be realistic if the Aspergers wasn't so obvious. However, Chloe seems to be an Aspie who's had therapy and is trying to recognize and change her habits.

Anonymous said...

Chloe is definitely NOT borderline. She is far too stable for that and reasonable.

Anonymous said...

She is textbook aspergers.
Her flat affect and socially awkward features are the reason i feel this.
She is also uncomfortable with praise as she herself says in season 8. She has a difficult time saying thankyou when complimented and if the compliment is something she herself feels is apparent she will say "i know" i.e
Season 4 she is told she is the best analyst CTU has and she agrees.
She is very uncomfortable with sexual interactions between people and finds it offensive when one person has a crush on another.
I have aspergers.
It is very hard to guage what the proper responses are in social situations until long after the occurance when i am extraordinarily obsessed with thinking it over with many scenarios as to how i should have handled it making mental notes to NOT repeat my bad or ill timed response. Which, in fact? I do anyhow