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What Would This Be?

Question:

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p>I am writing a screenplay about a young (18ish) year old girl who grew up with her mother and never knew her father. Her mother was an actress and was dilusional and would become certain characters, depending on what movie or book she was obsessed with at that moment.

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p>The young girl idolized her mother and they lived a very secluded life. Her mother dies and… Anyway—I’m trying to create a character who completely thinks she is (and becomes) someone else. Sort of a grieving, post-traumatic stress, dissociative disorder, post-traumatic obsession combination. She reads a character and becomes that person.

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p>I would appreciate any information or thoughts.

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Answer:

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p>The type of character you are trying to create would be a dissociative young woman who has been severely traumatized throughout her young life. The trauma would have occurred at the hands of her mentally ill mother who, behind the scenes and in the secluded life they live together, would have beaten, verbally abused and terrorized her daughter. Tragically, this type of trauma really does occur with the resulting type of dissociative states that give rise to things like amnesia, fugue states and depersonalization.

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p>A mother who is delusional could possibly have a Borderline Personality Disorder. This is the type of disorder that can, under enough pressure and stress, slip into a psychotic state in which she experiences not only delusions but auditory and visual hallucinations, as well. In addition, borderline personality disorder is usually characterized by out breaks of rage and sadism. It would not be difficult to imagine such a mother behaving cruelly toward her child.

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p>It would also not be difficult to imagine the child idealizing her mother despite the cruelty. Children who are abused commonly blame themselves and protect their parents, especially their mothers. In point of fact many of them continue to idealize this type of parent into and during adulthood. I have seen many cases where these patients react with shock and denial if they are told they were survivors of abuse. With patience and continued therapy they come to understand the reality of what happened to them.

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p>In many ways, the best example of the borderline mother and her abusiveness is the story of Joan Crawford, the great Hollywood actress and her daughter who wrote the book exposing her mother’s cruelty, “Mommy Dearest.”

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p>By the way, a common occurrence with cases of abuse and dissociation is that friends and neighbors do not believe that the mother and/or father could have acted so malevalently toward their child. When the book first came out about Joan Crawford, no one believed the daughter’s story. This attitude often reinforces the survivor’s of abuse belief that it was all their own fault and not the fault of the parent.

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p>Post traumatic stress disorder and dissociative states do not occur as a result of some mild type of trauma. Instead, they are the result of ongoing and shocking types of mistreatment. The exception to this is being trapped into an overwhelming and unexpected traumatic event such as an earth quake, military attack, explosion, etc.

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p>Best of luck with your screen play.

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