I feel a lot of love for Bojack, but that just might be my savior complex kicking in.
He’s a washed-up celebrity from the 90s, spending everyday dancing with his vices and venomous thoughts. But, hey, who isn’t?
BoJack exhibits most of the symptoms of Borderline Personality Disorder. It’s characterized by feelings of emptiness and boredom, impulsive behavior, unstable yet intense romantic and platonic relationships, inappropriate anger, confusion of identity, intense mood swings, self-harming or destructive behaviors and problems being alone. BoJack experienced an abusive childhood which could have been a major factor in the development of his borderline personality disorder. His mom was a major narcissist, and his dad was an alcoholic and a failed author.
Borderline personality disorder can be diagnosed when the individual meets at least 5 of the DSM-5 diagnostic criteria. If you’ve seen the show, you know BoJack is no stranger to impulsive behavior. He acts with no consideration of other people or commitments. He fears abandonment, so he sabotages everybody’s plans – especially Todd, who has been living in his house. Instead of expressing appreciation for the individuals he cares about most to encourage them to stay, he ruins all other opportunities for them, so they don’t have a choice.
BoJack has many unstable and intense relationships that make him spiral into emotional crises and addictions. His manager is also his ex-girlfriend, constantly having an on-again, off-again relationship. He believes he is in love with her when she seems to be moving on, does something impulsive, realizes he never loved her and abandons her, and has an emotional crisis. He repeats this cycle often with almost every relationship. Relationships are all-or-nothing with BoJack, and when he feels one or the other, he feels it very intensely.
He has little to no understanding of his self-image or goals. Whenever he sees his reflection, he fails to recognize himself. He is unable to make plans or think about what his desires are in any aspect of his life. He is constantly self-harming by abusing drugs and alcohol, acting out sexually, binge-eating, and isolating himself. His hyper-sexuality is a coping mechanism to avoid emotional intimacy due to the fear of being abandoned. He has overdosed and placed himself in dangerous situations more times than he could count.
BoJack is incredibly emotionally unstable and unavailable, unable to process any negative emotions. Whenever he experiences a negative emotion or situation, he resorts to one of the forms of self-harm mentioned above. He always feels empty, which he constantly expresses to himself and those around him. Disassociation is quite common for BoJack, entering trances and not remembering.
Lastly, whenever somebody criticizes his actions or acts in a way he did not like, he feels intense anger and holds a grudge. He basically went to war with that veteran that wanted the muffins at the grocery store. BoJack ate all of them out of spite and challenged him on national television. Obviously, BoJack looked like a fucking fool. I find it unlikely that BoJack would ever seek treatment for his disorder, making it very difficult for him to achieve emotional stability.
The writers did an amazing job at designing BoJack. The beauty of BoJack Horseman is that everybody can relate to an aspect of him. He makes you feel less alone and comforted – he feels like home.
*DSM-V criteria were used to make the diagnosis and assumptions.