Does Chris Brown Have Borderline Personality Disorder?

July 10, 2010

People who are Domestic Violence abusers come from a variety of backgrounds.  Some of them have been labeled as having mental illness and some have not.  Usually, if they have an official psychiatric diagnosis they have a more difficult time changing the behavior.

My recent observations of Chris Brown have had me thinking that he may have Borderline Personality Disorder.  Personality Disorders are long-standing patterns of behavior.  Unlike Anxiety Disorders and Depression that are treatable and have ebbs and flows throughout a person’s life, personality disorders are relatively fixed.  Sometimes people with Personality Disorders may have symptoms of anxiety or depression that are secondary to the personality disorder.  Personality Disorders are difficult to change but if the sufferer is motivated psychotherapy may be helpful to manage symptoms.

Upon perusal of the literature, I actually found there is a significant amount of  overlap between common attributes of people who engage in domestic violence and people with Borderline Personality Disorder.  I am not implying that all people who abuse have a personality disorder or vice versa, but some do.

According to a list of abuser attributes at PSYCHCentral:, abusers may:

Need a great amount of attention.

Be Possessive, jealous or controlling of their partner.

***Fear being abandoned by the partner.

Have Low Self-Esteem

***Have Rigid Expectations about the Relationship

***Have Poor Impulse control and Low frustration Tolerance

***Have a proness to Explosive Rage

Lie to Keep the Victim Psychologically Off Balance

***Manipulate the Victim and Others to Get on Their Good Side  (Chris Brown’s crying on the BET Awards was in my opinion quite manipulative; I did not buy this one).

(*** represents a symptom that is common in both Domestic Violence Abusers and People with Borderline Personality Disorder)

OK.  Now let’s take a look at those Attributes commonly ascribed to people with Borderline Personality Disorder.  (Taken from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual from the American Psychiatric Association) You need five of the following symptoms to qualify.

***Frantic Efforts to Avoid Real or Imagined Abandonment

***A pattern of Unstable and Intense Interpersonal relationships characterized by alternating between extremes of idealization and devaluation

Identity disturbance: markedly and persistently unstable self-image or sense of self

Impulsivity in at least Two areas that are potentially self-damaging (e.g., spending, sex, substance abuse, reckless driving, binge eating)

Recurrent suicidal behavior, gestures or threats or self-mutilating behavior

***Affective Instability (Mood Shifts)

Chronic Feelings of emptiness

***Inappropriate, intense anger or difficulty controlling anger

***Transient stress related paranoid ideation or severe dissociative symptoms (He had quite a dissociative experience: Chris stated on Larry King last year that he did not have a memory for the incident with Rihanna and stated that when he saw photos of what he had done it was “Like, wow.”, and in response to the news he said:  “I feel like they are talking about someone else”)

How do you get Borderline Personality Disorder?  Due to the increased sophistication of neuroscience, they are finding that many are born with a predisposition to develop certain mental illnesses.  Interaction with the environment dictates if and how the illness will progress.

I will tell you in my experience with Borderline Personality Disorder, many have had parents who were unable to provide safe and structured environments.  A child who is not born with a predisposition to the illness may be more resilient.

(Just like with other celebrities I have discussed in this blog, there is no way to truly know what is behind their behavior unless they were to walk into my office and I could fully assess the situation.  However, their behavior is so public, it is relatively easy to come up with a rough estimate of what may be going on.  This is really for informational purposes only.)

Please use the following resource for more information about domestic violence:


22 Responses to “Does Chris Brown Have Borderline Personality Disorder?”

  1. Does Chris Brown Have Borderline Personality Disorder?…

    I found your entry interesting do I’ve added a Trackback to it on my weblog :)…

  2. Aubrey Lee, Jr. said

    Unless you have the details of what transpired between CB and Rhianna over the course of their relationship, what all contributed to the incident in question as well as evidence of CB having a history of violence, you are speculating. Thats dangerous. White Americans have a tendency to name themselves judge and jury with little or no data. This is yet another way in which you continue to perpetuate the discrimiatory prctices your history speaks to…

    • Hi Aubrey: Believe it or not I agree with you. The goal of the piece was to highlight some of the symptoms involved in BPD as well as with abusers. By the standards I have identified it is clear that we do not have enough information to be convinced one way or the other with Chris Brown. He was merely a springboard for discussion.

      Thank you for your feedback.

  3. yoy50 said

    Hi there M.I.P.! Not sure how my initial post on this subject was lost or misplaced other than I’m DEFINITELY being tracked because of what I’m currently exposing. But hey– I’ve expected that for months… anywho, moving forward…

    Instead of trying to repeat what I initially wrote, I’ll simply say that I agree with most of your professional analysis. I don’t know much about the person you’ve highlighted BUT, I do think that the examination of mental health IS important nor should the Black community EVER be ashamed to get assistance. So yeah, yet again, another forward thinking article!!

    You rock, lady!


  4. metal said

    Hi!….I was searching on internet and I found your blog… is really interesting…keep it up….look forward toread more from you

  5. Salata said

    Im not going to going to say what everyone else has already said , but i must say ,Your are truly well-informed. i wasnt aware of information of your post .Thank you for posting more content to this topic for us .Im truly obliged and really impressed.

  6. Izzie said

    He dont have borderline personality disorder!! Alieen Wornos, the serial killer had borderline personality disorder (means u hate people or being around others/paranoid/mistrusting others) & its a movie called “Monster.” about her. Chris is just having those angry moments but he sure as hell ain’t psycho!

    • Hey Izzie:
      I seriously hope that he is not psycho!

      Your comment brings up a good point about the severity of the illness.

      At the root of Borderline Personality Disorder is an inability to see that all people have good and bad in them at the same time. So, they can go from worshipping someone (because they are ALL good) to despising them because they become ALL bad. In severe cases, when the see you as completely bad this can look like paranoia and sometimes result in extreme violence. If indeed the serial killer Wornos had BPD then she had a severe case.

      But there are many others with less severe cases that usually present as extremely difficult to get along with due to problems regulating their mood.

  7. lay said

    I have been researching chris brown a bit…..i believe he is a narcissistic (sp?)… most celebrities are. I read into his background, and it claims he witnessed his step father abuse his mother. rumors are swirling around the Internet that chris brown’s biological father is not really in chris brown’s life. Most narcissistic men have mothers who either praise them when they are “perfect” and then scold them and claim they are disappointed in them when they make a simple mistake. Chris brown’s mother (joyce) is known for getting on twitter and praising her son, but as soon as chris does something she disapproves of, she belittles him publicly…. (Like doing an interview (without chris brown’s consent) and scolding him for the GMA incident (he broke a window out of fustration after an interview he did with a journalist).

    His narcissistic behavior may also be the reason he is attracted to Rihanna (who I believe has borderline personality disorder). Remember, men with narcissism (sp?) are often attracted to women with borderline personality disorder. Rihanna has no friends (besides her paid assistant, Melissa), this speaks volumes. I just wanted to add my two cents. Good blog 😉

    • Thank you so much for your comments. You make some great points.

      It is really impossible for us to know what the deal is exactly with Chris. However, you reminded me that sometimes it is hard to differentialte between Borderline PD and Narcissitic PD. In fact, they both fall under the catergory of CLUSTER B in terms of classification. Also under CLUSTER B is Histrionic PD and Antisocial PD (People with Antisocial PD have a hard time following societal rules; they will often break rules and even break laws.) These groups cluster together because they all have attention seeking behaviors and many times similar histories.

      What differentiates narcisissists and borderlines are usually that narcissists lack empathy for others and this is the primary issue. Borderlines struggle with regualting their emotions and a feelings of emptiness, which narcissists sometimes have but these later issues are more prominent in borderlines.

      (The two other Clusters are “A” and “C” cover other difficulites such as Avoidant Personality and Obsesive Compulsive Personality Disorder.)

      • ria said

        This is so true. Me and you see eye to eye….and I have always taken a liking to psychology and I am also thinking about pursuing a degree in this field. And you are so right…it is hard to tell the difference between narcissistics (sp?) and borderline personality disorder. Most researchers just make it easy by saying the men are narcissistics and the women are borderline personality disorder (which is a high spectrum of narcissistic disorder). I was watching some interviews with Chris brown, and the interviewer just happen to start talking about himself…and chris kept cutting him off saying something along the effect of…..”Yeah, that happened to ME”…..and, “That is what I like”..the interviewer couldn’t get a word in lol There were also a lot of gay rumors….some of which that Chris didn’t deny (it doesn’t make the allegations true), however, I read that many narcissistist (sp?) are really asexual and/or bisexual and some of their anger is expressed through their sexuality, such as being into erotic sex (homesexuality, group sex (chris has been rumored to like threesomes and BDSM along with Rihanna, who openly admitted she was a DOM/SUB)……this psychology stuff is SO interesting! lol

    • johnny said

      Hey lay i am doing a project on chris Brown dot music psyc class do have Any good web sites and info i can use … thanks

      • Hey Johnny: I would love to hear more about what you are doing. Can you give me more details about what you want to explore. Mip

      • johnny said

        just on every thing that chris brown may be disorderd with cant find good any good web sites thanks

      • Hey Johnny: There are many websites that address a whole host of mental health issues. PsychCentral for example is a good website and comprehensive. I would advise you to have some sort of question in mind about what you are looking for, such as: Is X celebrity depressed? then you can come up with any evidence you have to support the answer.

        The problem is, unless you know X celebrity, you will never really know the answer. But sometimes behavior can be so glaring that you can make a pretty good guess. I wish you the best of luck in your pursuit.

      • Just wanted to also mention that some celebrities are brave enough to come out and tell us they are suffering with mental health issues. People like Catherine Zeta Jones and others have gone public and in those cases we don’t have to guess.

    • Virginia said

      THANK YOU:
      I came to this exact same conclusion. BTW, The differences between a narcissist (CB) and a person with BPD (Rihanna), are great.

  8. Dear Ria:

    Thank you for your comments.

    As of today, Borderline Personality Disorder is not a higher spectrum disorder than Narcissistic Personality disorder. They are considered to be two different disorders with similarities. In my experience, this shakes out to be true. But the American Psychiatric Association is now debating some of these issues and has considered eliminating the NPD diagnosis altogether. In my opinion, that would be a big mistake.

    I am interested to know the sources of your information about the sexual acting out in people with narcissistic personality disorder as well as those with borderline personality disorder (who can sometimes have extreme identity issues). Although I am not surprised to hear some of what you have reported, I would like to know exactly where you got the information so I can confirm it.

    Best to you.

  9. BigJuli said

    @ Aubrey, you are way off base if you are calling the author of this article a racist because they think Brown suffers from BPD. The last time I checked, mental illness can affected anyone regardless of what color or sex they are. From watching Rihanna’s inteview on Oprah, she acts like their relationship changed overnight. This sounds like the “hater phase” of BPD to me. I have actually had to deal with a BPD before, and I can assure you that when they “split you to black” you end up feeling just like Rihanna did dazed and confused. Just like a Mac truck hit you. Peace out, BigJuli 🙂

  10. I heard on the news this morning that these two are officially reuniting. I hope they have worked through their issues and I wish them the best.

  11. ae em said

    I would have guessed the opposite. Rihanna is the one with BPD and she applied projective identification and baiting at Chris Brown. Because the society in USA can not see women as aggressors the result was that Chris has to take the fall for Rihanna’s illness and agrressive behavior. Why is it likely that Rihanna Fenty has Borderline Personality? 1. Domestic violence in her own family situation (Rihanna claims father beating is a wife beater). 2. tattoo under her chest. 3. multiple relationships (26 years and 11 relationships, average 12 months per each relationship.

    • Thank you so much for your insights. I know a great deal less about Rihanna. It is very possible they both have it and projectively identify between them.

      (Projective Identification is a term from psychoanalysis that means that Person A is responding to someone, Person B, in a way that is similar to a relationship from the past, in a way recreating that old relationship. Person A Projects the past on to Person B, then starts to Identify with Person B, as if they actually are the person from the past relationship. It is usually such an intense dynamic that Person B may start to respond to Person A in a manner sometimes uncharacteristic of Person B. This is an unconscious process that it an effort to deal with unresolved issues from the past.)

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