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The Originals Meta: Klaus fits the criteria for a BPD diagnosis

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In episode 1x04 “Girl in New Orleans” of The Originals, psychology grad student Camille “Cami” O’Connor diagnosed original vampire Klaus Mikaleson with some specific symptoms.

"I don’t believe in evil as a diagnosis. I think you have unstable personal relationships, stress-related paranoia, chronic anger issues, fear of abandonment. I think you could benefit from talking to someone professionally.”

I love Cami, and I love her science-based approach to the supernatural. It is a fun theme that The Originals’ sister show, The Vampire Diaries, also chose to explore during its concurrent season.

Season 5 of The Vampire Diaries had Dr. Wes Maxfield and the Augustine secret society of doctors and scientists based at Whitmore College studying vampirism from a scientific perspective, with zero regard for the fact that vampires actually have thoughts and feelings and that torturing them or wishing to make them extinct might possibly be unethical.

The Originals chose to use Cami to show the opposite side of the coin. Her entire use of science when it comes to vampires is completely in acknowledgement of the fact that the vampire Klaus does have thoughts and feelings that parallel a typical human being’s.

Because I have some personal experience with someone in my life having Borderline Personality Disorder, I realized, when she listed off Klaus’s symptoms, that most of them fit BPD to a T.

The Wikipedia article says BPD is characterized by "a pattern of marked impulsivity and instability of affects, interpersonal relationships, and self image. The pattern is present by early adulthood and occurs across a variety of situations and contexts. Other symptoms may include intense fears of abandonment and intense anger and irritability, the reason for which others have difficulty understanding. People with BPD often engage in idealization and devaluation of others, alternating between high positive regard and great disappointment.(Emphasis mine.)

This fits Klaus surprisingly well. The more I thought about Klaus actually suffering from BPD, the more I realized it just does make sense.

According to a large number of studies, child abuse and/or neglect is the single most common risk factor seen in individuals who develop Borderline Personality Disorder. Klaus was severely abused and neglected as a child by Mikael, his father, who treated him horrifically once he realized that Klaus was not biologically his.

On The Vampire Diaries, Klaus treats Caroline Forbes like a goddess who can do no wrong. She is everything good about the world. She is full of light. She is young and innocent and completely beautiful. This is putting her on a pedestal in the sense of having too much of a high positive regard for her, and is actually quite common for people with BPD to do. They see things in black and white, including the people in their lives. This means Klaus is setting himself up to be gravely disappointed by Caroline, eventually.

Klaus has already felt this way in his relationships with his sister, Rebekah, and his close friend he considered “like a son” to him, Marcel. He felt extremely betrayed by them in such a way that can best be explained by this kind of black-and-white thinking. They were the people he loved most in the world… and suddenly he considered them the people he hated most passionately.

On the page I linked to in the author's note: You can see a handy list of symptoms. Just look at that and consider how many actually do fit Klaus.

As someone who grew up with an abusive mother who has untreated and unacknowledged BPD, I worry for baby Hope and I wish her mother Hayley and her Aunt Rebekah would be careful and protect Hope as she grows up from the likely abusive treatment Klaus would rain on her. She is just an infant now, and as such Klaus loves her and would never hurt her. But as soon as she starts becoming more independent... around age 7, or maybe not till age 12... sometime in there... that's when Klaus will start feeling negative emotions toward Hope too, if he doesn't first have someone like Cami help him manage his BPD. He doesn't need to be kept 100% out of his daughter's life - I'm not advocating kidnapping and running away with the child. I'm advocating understanding that this is a serious matter and it's not just as simple as Rebekah thinking "Sure, he was abusive to me, but I know he'd never hurt a small child, especially his own child" - the problem is, he will. Over time, if he doesn't get help for his mental health problems, he will hurt Hope.

Just some food for thought. What do you think? Does Klaus actually have BPD?

I know Klaus is a mass-murderer many times over. I don't intend to be offensive or unrealistic about what the typical person with BPD endures/suffers/lives with. I am well aware that even abusive and untreated people with BPD like my own mother are typically NOT violent criminals, let alone murderers. My mother's abuse was mainly verbal and emotional/psychological. Klaus' abuse is somewhat like that too, he just happens to be a Hybrid (werewolf/vampire creature) who can emotionally torture Rebekah, Davina, or whoever he feels like via killing the person's loved ones with no risk of prison or the person successfully fighting back. :P