Desperate Housewife: Diagnosing Bethenny Frankel


I was blown away by the premiere of Bethenny Getting Married?, because finally someone on a reality television show was owning their behavioral issues. Bethenny acknowledged that she needs professional help to deal with what has happened in her past.

She recognizes that it may interfere in her current and future relationships if she cannot come to terms with it. Hallelujah.

I am thrilled to see someone take this step. It reduces unnecessary stigma that are commonly associated with psychological problems. Seeking treatment is a brave step on the road to mental health. I am proud to see Bethenny be so forthcoming and honest with herself. I wish her nothing but success.

I feel personally that Bethenny has suffered from Obsessive Compulsive Personality Disorder. Bethenny is a classic overachiever. She is extremely ambitious, driven and perfectionistic. She is hard on herself personally, particularly in regards to her appearance and weight. She is detail oriented, liking the smallest detail to be perfect.

Her focus on her business and success has been to the exclusion of everyone in her life. Until recently she lacked many personal relationships at all. Her extreme independence and often rigid self-control are definitely in keeping with this disorder.

Bethenny employs numerous coping mechanisms in dealing with her emotions. She is very self-deprecating and often sarcastic, usually in a clearly humorous manner. This type of humor is a classic response to feelings of low self-esteem that are at the heart of the obsessive compulsive personality disorder. This also allows her a way to control her emotions, spinning them into a more acceptable form for her psyche.

Bethenny has a difficult time ever shutting off the business side of herself. Even on vacation she takes control, cooking meals despite a team of chefs on hand to wait on her. Not only did she throw her own dinner party for the women, we also see her cooking in the morning for herself and possibly others. I do wonder if these activities were a way for her to regain a measure of control during what appeared to be a very out of control situation.

She promotes her business unrelentingly, driving around in a Skinnygirl car, giving gift bags emblazoned with the Skinnygirl logo, containing Skinnygirl swag. Yes this makes good business sense but it also demonstrates that she never turns the drive for success off. *Workaholics* are generally OCPD afflicted.

Bethenny admits that she has struggled in relationships. It is often hard for someone with such control issues to commit to a binding relationship such as a marriage. It can be very stressful. We see her conflicts with Jason come up when things have to be shared decisions. She wants things to be her way and has trouble when he asserts his will. He messes with the orderly way of life that she has established and she resists changes at every turn.

In Cognitive Therapy of Personality Disorders, there is a list typical beliefs associated with each specific personality disorder. The beliefs and attitudes rationalize and reinforce the idealized image and the compulsive attachments and aversions. Here are the typical beliefs that they have listed for Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder:

  • I am fully responsible for myself and others.
  • I have to depend on myself to see that things get done.
  • Others tend to be too casual, often irresponsible, self-indulgent, or incompetent.
  • It is important to do a perfect job on everything.
  • I need order, systems, and rules in order to get the job done properly.
  • If I don’t have systems, everything will fall apart.
  • Any flaw or defect of performance may lead to a catastrophe.
  • It is necessary to stick to the highest standards at all times, or things will fall apart.
  • I need to be in complete control of my emotions.
  • People should do things my way.
  • If I don’t perform at the highest level, I will fail.
  • Flaws, defects, or mistakes are intolerable.
  • Details are extremely important.
  • My way of doing things is generally the best way.

This post originally appeared on A Real Housewife’s View. Republished with permission.

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