The Hermit, The Waif, The Witch and The Queen

Photographs printed on paper, 420mm x 594mm, 2017

This work critiques the stigma against feminine-coded mental illness, focussing in particular on the controversial diagnosis ‘Borderline Personality Disorder’. 

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The four personas named ‘The Hermit, The Waif, The Witch and The Queen’ were once said to describe the different strategies employed by those with the condition to manipulate those around them. The belief that women (the text in fact refers specifically to mothers and wives!) can be categorised based on the way they manipulate men is nonsensical. However, in a condition characterised by unstable identity and now known to stem from severe trauma this stereotyping is a dangerous to those uniquely vulnerable to it.

 

Feminists have often questioned whether the diagnostic label is merely a way of pathologising ‘difficult’ women, and psychiatrists now feel that the term ‘Borderline’ - chosen because the condition was thought to ‘border’ neurosis and psychosis - does not accurately reflect the condition which is now recognised as a complex trauma disorder.