Using Behavioral Therapy to Treat Borderline Personality Disorder
The Black Swan is a psycho thriller film that narrates the demise of a young talented twenty-some year old ballerina named Nina Sayers. The story begins with the main character Nina anticipating her lead role as the Swan Queen in the upcoming new production of Swan Lake. This new version of Swan Lake as presented by the artistic director, Thomas Leroy, tells the story of a virginal girl that is trapped in the body of a White Swan. The White Swan desires to be free but only true love can break her spell. Soon as a handsome prince falls in love with the delicate White Swan and is about to announce his love for her, the White Swan’s lustful twin (the Black Swan) steals the prince away. Devastated, the White Swan kills herself, where in death she finally finds freedom from her curse. Once Nina successfully obtains the role as the Swan Queen, she is to portray both personas of the innocent and fragile White Swan, as well as the destructive and devious Black Swan. As expected Nina could easily capture the essence of the White Swan since they both share very similar personalities. Nina is a well-structured dancer and is always in control of every movement she makes, but her overall timid and fragile character cannot gain the essence of the Black Swan. The Black Swan represents a looser and sensual structure of dance that becomes difficult for Nina to embrace. With such frustration in Nina’s inability to fully grasp both characters in one dance, Nina begins to suffer from delusions, hallucinations, and amongst other irrational behaviors, all of which later contributes to her diagnosis of the borderline personality disorder. Nina’s abnormal behavior becomes more consistent as the date of the show’s premiere approaches. Her disorder develops more as she shows patterns of impulsivity with high levels of instability and anxiety. Borderline personality disorder is known to show a pervasive pattern of unstable self-image that may later lead to an erratic self-destructive behavior. Another symptom that is known to be common with this disorder is having minor to severe episodes of delusions, hallucinations, and/or certain dissociative effects. It is also noted that many people that suffer from borderline personality disorder partake in self-mutilating actions or in more extreme cases much like Nina’s, commit suicide. In the DSM-IV-TR, there are a total of nine criteria for the borderline personality disorder, of which to be characterized with this disorder you must demonstrate five characteristics. Nina Sayers demonstrated 6 criterions and if treated with the behavioral psychotherapy, in time it would have saved her from her ultimate demise. Behavioral therapy focuses on changing observable behavior with the use of learning theory-based principles. Since the development of such learning theories, therapists have been able to control anxiety type behaviors. In the case of Nina, where she is constantly scratching her shoulder under severe stress and partakes in impulsive actions by sleeping with multiple partners, behavioral therapy can model theses pathological behaviors and emphasize learning rather than point fault on herself that may even cause more distress. By decreasing the number of undesirable behaviors that Nina begins to demonstrate throughout the film, a behavioral therapist could use operant conditioning to change future behavior as a function of its previously experienced reinforcement. For the purpose of this case study, I will demonstrate that by using behavioral therapy Nina would have gained control of her impulses and stopped her from harming herself with the use of operant conditioning and even later introduce her onto Dialectical Behavior Therapy. As any therapy session should begin, Nina would first go through a behavioral assessment. Considering Nina’s shy and timid personality, a clinical interview would suit her more efficiently. It is...
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