The next time you watch “Star Wars,” you may look at Darth Vader in a whole new way. A recent study found that Anakin Skywalker’s turn to the dark side was the result of Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD).
In a study published in the journal Psychiatry Research, French psychologists and psychiatrists determined that Darth Vader had six of the nine criteria used for a BPD diagnosis, as defined by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM):
- Rage and anger management issues
- Abandonment issues
- Crises of identity
- Dissociative events
- Illusions of invincibility
The study’s authors noted the following about one of cinema’s most notorious villains:
“He presented impulsivity and difficulty controlling his anger and alternated between idealisation and devaluation (of his Jedi mentors). Permanently afraid of losing his wife, he made frantic efforts to avoid her abandonment and went as far as betraying his former Jedi companions.
He also experienced two dissociative episodes secondary to stressful events. One occurred after his mother’s death, when he exterminated a whole tribe of Tuskan people, while the other one took place just after he turned to the dark side. He slaughtered all the Jedi younglings before voicing paranoid thoughts concerning his former mentor and his wife.
Finally, the films depicted his quest to find himself, and his uncertainties about who he was. Turning to the dark side and changing his name could be interpreted as a sign of identity disturbance.”
What would have helped Anakin avoid turning into Darth Vader? Therapy, said the study’s researchers.
“I believe that psychotherapy would have helped Anakin and might have prevented him from turning to the dark side,” said Eric Bui, a psychiatrist at Toulouse University Hospital. “Using the dark side of the Force could be considered as similar to drug use: it feels really good when you use it, it alters your consciousness and you know you shouldn’t do it.”