*If you missed the Prologue, click the heading "Fiction Section" above.
"Are you going to kill me?" came the Chancellor's voice. Anakin stared at the back of his head.
His lightsaber quivered inches from the nape of Palpatine's neck. They circled each other warily in the wide corridor between the Chancellor's small private gray office and his grand public one, done in shades of red. No, the Sith lord's offices, Anakin thought, feeling sick to his stomach.
What am I going to do?
A thousand thoughts overwhelmed him. If Palpatine were Darth Sidious, and Count Dooku was his apprentice, then -- then -- the war --
Anakin saw it all, hundreds of Jedi dead, thousands of people killed. The destruction on Kashyyk, the suffering on so many Outer Rim worlds, the deaths of so many right here on Coruscant, only days ago. It all poured over him in seconds.
But -- General Grievous had kidnapped Palpatine! How? It couldn't be true.
And then Anakin remembered the expression on Palpatine's face. Calm, imperious, self-satisfied.
"Kill him. Kill him now." The tone rang in his head.
The stricken look as Dooku turned to Palpatine, then Anakin --
Had he even turned on his own apprentice? Oh, worse -- had he set that up, to kill his own apprentice?
And all Anakin and Obi-Wan had gone through to rescue him! How torn Anakin had been at the very thought that one silver hair on that noble head should be harmed --
Anakin's stomach turned.
The look on Palpatine's face as he said it-- "The only way to save your wife from certain death." Had Anakin actually seen a smile?
Thirteen years flashed through Anakin's brain. The drinks, the chess games, the dinners, the talks, the companionship --
How could Palpatine be doing this to him?
He felt the tears start. The trembling seized him, backing him away.
"I -- I can't. I can't --"
Palpatine turned to face him, held out one hand. His expression was indecipherable. Concern pursed the lips, pleading, even, but something else knitted the brows. Consternation, perhaps?
Anakin cried out from his very heart. "How could you do this to me?"
And the next instant his lightsaber was back on his belt, and he was running. Blind, tortured running, he knew not where.
A million still-lifes of their friendship flew through his head. His breath hurt in his lungs. No, no, no.
The corridors of the Senate Office Building streamed past, people stopping and staring in strobe flashes. He stopped on a landing platform and bent to catch his breath.
He had to talk to someone. But Obi-Wan wasn't here, nor Master Yoda.
He stopped cold. He couldn't go to the Jedi Temple at all.
If he did, they would kill Palpatine.
And what about Padme?
For a wild moment Anakin wanted to
run to her, to tell her. Help me, help me decide what to do --
But he knew he couldn't. If he told her, she'd go straight to the Jedi herself.
She'd kill herself, if she knew. And their baby.
With a sickening jolt, Anakin realized he was alone with his knowledge, utterly alone. There was no one he could tell. Any other time, he would have told Palpatine. The empty place where their friendship had been ached like a wound in his heart.
He stood, desolate, heaving.
Padme. He would go to Padme's. He couldn't tell her, and she couldn't help, but she would be there.
At least she would be there.
Threepio would not let him in. "Master Anakin. Miss Padme is in a very important meeting and left orders that she should not be disturbed."
Anakin fought the urge to Force-twist the droid's shiny metallic head right off of his body.
"Threepio. Announce me."
Threepio's servos whirred as the droid retreated to Padme's sitting room.
"Senator Amidala. Please forgive the interruption --" Threepio's voice lowered to an indistinct murmur.
"Um --" His wife's sense strummed and jangled in the Force. "Tell him half an hour, Threepio. Half an hour."
Another voice, older, patrician. Anakin knew he recognized it, but from where?
"Half an hour?" the voice said. "Senator Amidala, I know you're uncomfortable with this, but we do need more than half an hour."
Who was that? And yes, Padme was uncomfortable, but a part of that was personal, Anakin sensed in the Force, and directed at the speaker. Anakin closed his eyes and probed at his wife's thoughts.
And got a quick image, as it was sometimes possible for him to do with Padme. Queen Amidala addressing the Senate, Palpatine at her side, and the man at the podium --
What was former Chancellor Valorum doing in Padme's living room?
His wife felt flustered to him, in the Force. "Gentlemen -- and ladies -- I'm sorry," she said. "Tell him -- an hour and a half? Threepio, thank you."
Valorum's voice continued. "As most of you know, my wife worked for the current Chancellor for a number of years. She has expressed some concerns to me, and I thought they were good ones. Your Graces, if she may speak, I think she could more effectively explain these issues herself."
A murmuring arose from the sitting room, and someone said, "Lady Valorum." Threepio came clicking and whirring back into view.
"Master Anakin, Miss Padme has requested that --"
"I know, Threepio, I heard."
A woman's voice began to speak. "Gentlebeings. Most of you know me, because I've worked for you, too. Terr. Bail. You know that I know Palpatine, and I have to say that I don't think your approach here is going to get you the results you want."
Something in Valorum leaped out at Anakin in the Force, and with a sudden movement he reached behind Threepio for the off switch.
"Master Anakin, you will have to --"
Silence. Anakin stepped in and let the door close behind him, listening, trying to trace what he sensed in the former Chancellor to its source.
Senator Mon Mothma: "I hope you aren't suggesting we do nothing. Chancellor Palpatine has entirely too much power. If the two of you are disagreeing with that, I don't see how anything you might contribute could possibly be useful."
"I'm not disagreeing with that at all, and neither is my husband. What I'm telling you needs to be modified is your approach. Not what, but how."
Bail Organa: "How many times have you heard that?" A few murmured chuckles.
Lady Valorum's voice grew softer and more intense. Anakin crept forward, straining to hear.
"Follow this through to conclusion. What happens? One of two things. One: You could be wrong about this. Palpatine listens to you, furrows his brow, and says, 'Of course you're concerned. I'm sorry. Here's what we'll do instead --' and then you can negotiate. No hostility, you're on the same side. You part friends.
Fat chance, Anakin thought, putting his hand over a deep soreness in his stomach.
"Outcome two: It doesn't go well. For whatever reasons -- and it doesn't matter what they are -- Palpatine says no. 'I'm not ready, I'm not willing, I'm not going to give up any of these powers at this time.' Where are you then? Can you make him give anything up?"
Silence, and a murmur.
"No," confirmed Lady Valorum. "Exactly. And you've threatened him, and you've made an enemy. And there will be no further negotiation from that point."
Padmé's voice, raised in protest:
"But we're not threatening! We're just
asking -- "
Lady Valorum's voice again. "I know that's how you feel about it. But I know Palpatine. I've known him twenty-two years. I saw him teach his first class in law at Carmona. I ran most of his election campaigns. I wrote his most important speeches. I worked for him and saw him every day for eight years. And I know how he is going to react to this, and it isn't going to be good."
Padmé again: "But I've known him a long time, too, he's my friend! Surely he's not going to react badly to a simple request."
"Palpatine isn't humble like my husband or like Bail, here. Palpatine is high-strung, and touchy, and prideful. He just hides it well. If you do it this way, he's going to feel accused. He's going to feel threatened. He's going to feel unsafe. And then both sides will be angry, and there will be a large deterioration." Lady Valorum's tone changed, darker. "I've known him a lot longer and better than you have. With respect, my lady."
Anakin sensed the former Chancellor again, clearly now.
An unidentified male voice: "So, tell us what you suggest."
Lady Valorum's voice went on, low, urgent, intense, and Anakin crept closer still.
An hour passed. The discussion concluded. The rustles of fabric from the living room and the sudden flutter in the Force signaled everyone's intention to leave. Anakin stirred from his place in Padme's foyer and stealthily backed out.
He waited behind a pillar in the corridor as the Senators filed past him. At last Chancellor Valorum appeared in Padme's doorway, holding a lovely fortyish woman with long, curly, graying red hair by the arm.
It hit Anakin suddenly that he hadn't sensed a thing from this woman the entire time she had held the floor. With so many other beings present, and at a short distance and out of sight, that hadn't been unusual, as he didn't know her, but -- standing there in the corridor, the only beings he sensed in the Force were his wife and Valorum. Even the wall had more feeling in the Force than Lady Valorum. She felt like a hologram.
She wasn't even there.
Chancellor Valorum's sense in the Force hung in the hallway all around him. A trepidation, a kind of despair.
Anakin strode out from behind his pillar and up to the three of them. Padme glowered at him.
A quick bow to Chancellor Valorum. "Chancellor. Senator. Lady Valorum. I am Anakin Skywalker."
Lady Valorum gave him a respectful bow of her head. "Jedi Skywalker, of course. A pleasure."
The Chancellor turned dubious eyes on Padme, who cast a glance at her husband that said, Anakin, what are you doing?
"I'm sorry, Padme." Anakin turned to the older woman. "I was in the foyer and heard everything that you said." He turned back to Lady Valorum. "Before you go to talk with Palpatine, I have to talk to you."
They all stared at him. "Alone," he said. "Now. Please. Padme, may we use your kitchen?"
Padme glared at him, her brows rushing together over her nose. "Anakin --" He got it. She didn't want to be left alone with Valorum.
Anakin said, "I've just come from the Chancellor. It's desperately important."
Padme's shoulders drooped and she said, "All right. Please come in. Chancellor, may I get you anything?"
Anakin rounded on Lady Valorum in Padme's darkened kitchen, pinning her down with his gaze. Night had fallen and the shadows from passing ships outside darkened her features.
Anakin said, "Lights," dispelling the shadows.
The Chancellor's wife ran a hand up her brow and over her hair. "So, you saw Palpatine. I'm not even going to ask why, or how, you eavesdropped on our conversation. Have you heard something there that might help us? Something about the war, maybe?"
"I have to...I have to be careful what I tell you. Help me out," said Anakin. "You were closer to Palpatine than just an aide."
"Well, if you heard everything I said --? I was a student of his when he taught law at Carmona. I worked for him for eight years." She shrugged.
"You were closer than that."
She crossed her arms over her breast. Backed up a step, closed off.
"Please. It's important. I need -- I heard the way you talked about him in there. I need help, I need advice, from someone who won't bolt and betray Palpatine. I don't believe you will. What was your exact relationship to him?"
"You can't possibly know anything about Palpatine and me," she said.
"Tell me. Tell me I can trust you, whatever I say to you. I felt it -- from your husband."
She slit her eyes at him, her voice an angry hiss. "Since you asked. Palpatine and I were lovers for close to eight years. I almost married him. Does that satisfy you, Jedi? What. Do you. Want?"
"To trust you. Do you still care for Chancellor Palpatine?"
Her blue eyes snapped at him. She said nothing.
Anakin gestured with his head toward the sitting room, where Padmé and the former Chancellor were no doubt having an interesting and awkward discussion.
"He thinks you do. You made a lot of sense in there. I'm asking you to advise me, the way you just advised them. If I tell you something terrible, I have to know that I can trust you. Tell me. Do you still love him?"
An APD allegory in the form of a Star Wars fan fiction begins, on the Fiction page. Prologue up, 10/14/18. Chapter Four up, 11/13/18.
Movie Review: Black Swan from a mental illness perspective, on the Op-Ed page. 7/10/18
Supermodel Gia Carangi: Was It Really BPD?
"Gia Carangi was a story all right. Sex, drugs, rock and roll, 10-car-pile-up beauty, high fashion, Eurotrash, big bucks, fast cars, homosexuality, AIDS, an early death…"
—Boston Globe review of Thing of Beauty, Stephen Fried's superb biography of the model.
Gia Carangi. Better known as just Gia, she was arguably the world's first supermodel. Immortalized in Stephen Fried's 1993 biography and the 1998 HBO movie that made Angelina Jolie a breakout star—not to mention the hundreds of classic fashion photos she left behind—Gia is one of our truly timeless beauties.
Gia moved from Philly to New York in the winter of 1978 and became the instant darling of Vogue magazine at eighteen. She seemed poised for greatness—a half million dollar a year modeling career, TV, the movies—the sky was the limit. But she fell victim to heroin abuse. Blackballed from modeling for such offenses as tardiness, no-shows, even shooting up while on set, she fell from grace and suffered a horrible death from AIDS at age twenty-six.
The stories about her are legendary: She once got into a fistfight with Vogue fashion editor Frances Stern. She walked out on a huge Versace fashion shoot with Richard Avedon. She shot up during a bathing suit and summer wear sitting for Vogue and appeared in the magazine with track marks on her arms. Once she shocked everyone on a shoot by appearing on camera with blood running down her arm from injecting heroin.
Openly gay, she pursued women with poetry and bouquets of yellow roses. She once lured a girlfriend into her car and simply took off with her to parts unknown. She climbed to another girlfriend's window stories above a New York street—trying to impress her—rather than use the front door. There are darker tales of violent arguments with girlfriends, of stealing to buy drugs, even from her own mother. An altercation at an airport over a knife, dangerous car chases with the police…What drove Gia to such extreme and desperate behavior?
Almost thirty years after her death, her growing cult of fans rivals those of Elvis or Marilyn Monroe for sheer devotion. But with all the attention that's been given to the details of her life, the PD Reader only wants to know one thing: Why hasn't Gia's real problem ever been named? For if her life story isn't screaming out, "Help me, I have borderline personality disorder!" we don't know whose is.
What is borderline personality disorder?
For that matter, what is a "personality disorder", period? Borderline PD expert Shari Y. Manning is the author of Loving Someone with Borderline Personality Disorder, one of the best borderline books around (remember her name…we'll come back to this author a lot in our discussion of Gia).
Dr. Manning writes that someone with a personality disorder "exhibits a chronic pattern of behaviors that are based in his or her personality, which means essentially that they affect everything: moods, actions, and relationships." Personality disorders are classified as "Axis II" on the five "axes" of mental health disorders, meaning they are chronic, usually lifelong. (The other occupant on this lonely axis is mental retardation.) This would be opposed to most of the mental health disorders you commonly hear about, such as depression or bipolar, where the symptoms tend to come and go, leaving the person "normal" (if there is such a thing) between episodes. Often an episode of depression or bipolar mania can be battled into submission with medication. Not so the personality disorders.
Manning tells us that the central feature of BPD is a biochemical abnormality in the brain that is present at birth. A borderline person’s emotional response to just about any stimulus flies right off the chart compared to the emotion a person without BPD would usually feel in the same situation. A BP’s day is full of huge, huge highs and incomparable lows. A quote from Sharon Beverly, from Stephen Fried’s Thing of Beauty, illustrates well what we’re talking about here. Sharon was Gia’s first big love; they dated in Philadelphia in the mid-seventies when Gia was still in high school.
Fried writes, “It was immediately clear to Sharon that Gia had no emotional middle. ‘She was an extremist, and she found emotions traumatically hard to deal with,’ Sharon said. ‘There was a very sad side of her. It wasn’t a sadness that was really blatant—she was always in a good mood, always joking—but it was there. She always questioned why she would get upset. She felt that she had a very rough life and felt that it took a lot of energy to deal with the world as it was. She could never pinpoint where the unhappiness came from, just something inside of her that she could never satisfy. I don’t think she was talking about her parents. I don’t even think she meant anything that tangible was rough. She just meant living and thinking and breathing and having to mentally deal with waking up and living was a hard thing for her.’”
Sounds an awful lot like Marilyn Monroe and the late Princess Diana, doesn’t it? These are two other famous women with BPD—also extremely beautiful, also adored for the electricity that comes across to the viewer in their photographs; for the way they communicated exclusively through the printed photograph. Well-known for that neediness, that wistful quality of sadness and longing that made people around them want to take care of them. If you have read as much about borderline personality disorder as we have here at the PD Reader, you know that this quote by Sharon Beverly describes the internal experience of BPD perfectly, as well as the feeling BP’s often inspire in those around them.
A BP can become so upset or angry over a relatively small issue that he or she can’t control his or her behavior. The borderline behaves inappropriately and gets a negative reaction from the people around him or her—people important to the BP, parents, friends, teachers, or employers. Then the BP feels ashamed. After all, the message he or she is getting from absolutely everyone is that he or she shouldn’t have felt that way and should be able to control his or her behavior. But the problem, documented by modern medicine with MRI’s and PET scans, is that the BP can’t. Maddeningly, BP symptoms are often situational—in this arena or with this person, the BP performs well, but in that arena or with that person, the BP cannot.
People are born with varying degrees of susceptibility to the extreme emotional sensitivities of BPD. On one end of the spectrum are those whose ability to regulate emotion is so impaired that even the calmest home environment, with the most competent and compassionate parenting, isn’t enough to prevent these children from having severe adjustment and mental health issues in adolescence and as young adults.
Then there are those with a milder susceptibility to the disorder. If these children experience excellent parenting and a good fit between themselves and their environments at home and school, BPD may never develop to the point that the individual meets the criteria for a formal diagnosis. But raise the same children in environments where parents are unable to meet their needs—whether through abandonment situations such as illness or divorce, or outright emotional, sexual, or physical abuse—and a child who otherwise could have been fine turns out to have full-blown BPD.
Gia's family history sounds something like this. From Thing of Beauty: "...Joey, Michael [Gia's older brothers], and Gia were often left to their own devices. 'It was real peanut-butter-for-breakfast time, at least from the way Gia described it,' recalled one friend. 'Nobody was paying attention to those kids.'
"'We could've used some disclipine,' said Michael. 'Every child needs it. We were allowed to do what we wanted. I could stay out as long as I wanted and nobody would know. I don't think my parents ever talked to us about sex. In the back of your mind, you want discipline, you want to be told stuff by your parents--just to know that they care and that they know what you might be going through. Gia was the youngest, the breakup affected her the worst. And I feel girls need more attention than boys anyhow.'" Fried also quotes Gia's aunt Nancy Adams: "Kathleen [Sperr, Gia's mother] was driving up there [to New York, where Gia was just making it big in modeling in the late '70's] to do Gia's laundry...When Gia and her brothers were kids, their mother wouldn't do anything for them. They had to get up themselves, they had to do their own clothes. Now Gia's a model, and she's driving to New York to do her laundry for her."
Gia's mother, Kathleen, left the family when Gia was eleven. When she remarried the next year, Fried tells us, her children did not even find out about it until after the wedding.
Mental health clinicians use the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) to diagnose BPD and all other mental and emotional illnesses. At this writing, BPD is still diagnosed using the nine diagnostic criteria in DSM-IV-TR, and will be until DSM-V is published in May of 2013. Until then, the DSM-IV criteria are what we've got, so let's look at them one by one and see if, and how, Gia fits. Next...Criterion 1.