Having read the autobiography of George, Lord Byron, there is no doubt in my mind that he was indeed, as Lady Caroline Lamb is purported to have described him, ‘mad, bad and dangerous to know’. Possibly he was bad; he was certainly noticeably and repeatedly self-centred, and there are reports of his having been less than generous to people who deserved better. No doubt he was dangerous to know, breaking the hearts of men and women including, reputedly, his half-sister Augusta. But he definitely wasn’t mad. Nearer Lady Lamb’s description would be the fictional character so beautifully crafted by Emily Bronte; Heathcliff. His complete inability to empathise with others, his recorded cruelty to animals – seemingly spurred on by nothing more than morbid curiosity and, of course, his lifelong obsession with one person, Cathy. Granted, Heathcliff isn’t a real, flesh and blood person with a mind to analyse but, if he were, and based on the characteristic described in Wuthering Heights, I would suggest he had Borderline Personality Disorder.

It would be unfair to claim that Emily Bronte romanticised her hero. In fact I believe her intention, as suggested by those who know far more about the subject than I do, was to portray Catherine and Hinton as the happy couple to be admired and emulated by her readers. Wayward bunch that we are, most of us prefer the dramatic, headstrong and passionate Cathy and her apparently devoted Heathcliff. However, their story is fictional. In reality Borderline Personality Disorder (BDP) is a mental health condition and comprises of an extremely demanding set of symptoms to cope with; whether you have BDP yourself or you live with someone who does. There are a range of behaviours listed under the classification for BDP, the assertion that the symptoms are difficult to accept is a generalisation based on the reasoning that whichever the symptoms are displayed are both challenging and constant.

Dark, brooding heroes, continually obsessing over their loved one, is a nice fantasy. As long as it remains a state of being that we don’t actually have to live with, day in day out, year after year, it can seem almost flattering to be the object of such focus. It isn’t flattering; it is tiring, and draining and, on the whole, extremely negative. Not only does the assumed idol get put on a pedestal and admired, they are also blamed for everything. And I do mean everything; the news, the rain, people talking on the bus, complete strangers laughing together. Paranoia is one of the most common characteristics of Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD). As is the case with many mental health classifications, it isn’t so much that the behaviours themselves are uncommon, but the extent to which they are evidenced in certain people is extreme. When behaviour affects everyday life then it becomes classifiable.

People with BPD can be excessively demanding, so tend not to have a wide circle of friends because of that. Unfortunately, this means that the chosen one tends to have a heavier load to carry than might otherwise be the case. Living with someone with BPD doesn’t mean that you are adored and worshipped; rather you are the chief whipping boy, the scapegoat. There is nothing fictional about BPD, and there is nothing romantic about living with it.

The bottom line is that mean and moody fictional heroes are fascinating; living with a volatile, illogical person continually demanding your complete attention is considerably less so. When a member of your family or a dear friend develops mental health issues, of course we all do as much for them as possible. But if you meet someone new, someone wild and exciting who your friends and family are warning you about then it isn’t necessarily a romantic case of star-crossed lovers. So, before you willingly get involved with someone who appears to only need the love of a good woman, or man, someone ‘mad, bad and dangerous to know’, just think about it first. It might save you the pain of a doomed relationship.

Source by Lynda Fernandez

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