NFL Player Announces Mental Illness

This article in CNN about Brandon Marshall, a football player for the Miami Dolphins, just grabbed my attention. Not because it was a football article–I know very little about the sport but enjoy the Superbowl commercials every year–but because it was about a little known diagnosis called “Borderline Personality Disorder.” Well, I should be more clear–I think it is very well known in the field of psychiatry, but perhaps less well known in the public eye. Most psychiatrists who see a diagnosis of BPD listed in a patient’s chart, have a sense of dread. Why? Well, as the CNN article states, these patients are very impulsive, have extreme mood swings, and tend to act out. As opposed to most people who can acknowledge their feelings and engage in healthy behavior to cope with them, these people tend to act out in extreme behaviors to manage their feelings. This is very difficult for a doctor to handle sometimes–dramatic phone calls in the middle of the night, self-harm behaviors such as cutting, and suddenly hating the doctor they had idealized the week before.

What I find so interesting about this article, and so classic of the diagnosis, is the aspect of attention-seeking behavior. Obviously an NFL football player is in the spotlight for his talent. However, for Brandon Marshall, he is also well known for his legal troubles. This Wikipedia article notes a history of arrests for domestic violence, disorderly conduct, and a DUI. Interestingly he was also hospitalized when his wife stabbed him in April of this year–unstable and chaotic relationships are another aspect of borderline personality disorder.

Although Marshall is announcing his diagnosis because he wants to bring recognition to this illness, he has only been diagnosed in the past few months. Treatment for this disorder is a specific type of long-term psychotherapy. Given that he has not likely to have gone through this treatment yet, it makes one wonder if he is making this statement as another grab for attention. If that is the case, it would certainly confirm the accuracy of his announcement.

Explore posts in the same categories: Psychiatry in the Media, Therapy

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