Teenage Angst Has Paid Off Well – Revisited

Posted 4/13/10 by D-Mac

Last Monday, it was the 16th anniversary of the death of Kurt Cobain… and it wasn’t even a blip on my radar. Sixteen years.. man, that means that kids that are sophomores in high school were just being born. Why I have a tendency to equate length of time with how old kids who were born then are now is beyond me.. but that’s a story for another time.

Even more amazing than that to me is that it’s been almost nine years since I wrote this article for the original incarnation of W-D.: http://www.whatever-dude.com/posts/102.shtml

The posts that I wrote back then that I can truly say I knew were pretty good the second after I wrote them are few and far between.. The Cobain one happened to be one of them. (go give it a quick read before coming back and finishing this one. 😉 )

One of the things that I enjoy about growing older is how life experiences continually gain momentum and without even realizing it, all of those day to day experiences build up like compound interest and a few years later, you can totally have a different perspective on specific topics and life in general.

Take the death of Kurt Cobain for example. There I was at 25, so steadfast in my belief that he had been murdered. I mean, no way would Kurt leave little Frances Bean behind in the care of crazy ol’ Courtney Love.. but now, with a little perspective, I can see it’s not so cut and dry. You see, there’s a pervasive mental illness that the general public has little knowledge of.. or at least they think they have no knowledge of it when they hear the term.. but trust me, they do.

Courtney Love, Britney Spears and Lindsay Lohan.. three women that make headlines in Hollywood , who at one point or another have just been written  off as “crazy”… but rather than look at them as simply that, society should be looking at them as textbook examples of one of the most widespread but underreported mental illnesses. I’m talking about Borderline Personality Disorder. Now, to give a quick copy and paste from Wikipedia, here is what the medical community defines BPD as:

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders fourth edition, DSM IV-TR, a widely used manual for diagnosing mental disorders, defines borderline personality disorder (in Axis II Cluster B) as:[2][16]

A pervasive pattern of instability of interpersonal relationships, self-image and affects, as well as marked impulsivity, beginning by early adulthood and present in a variety of contexts, as indicated by five (or more) of the following:
  1. Frantic efforts to avoid real or imagined abandonment. Note: Do not include suicidal or self-injuring behavior covered in Criterion 5
  2. A pattern of unstable and intense interpersonal relationships characterized by alternating between extremes of idealization and devaluation.
  3. Identity disturbance: markedly and persistently unstable self-image or sense of self.
  4. Impulsivity in at least two areas that are potentially self-damaging (e.g., promiscuous sex, eating disorders, binge eating, substance abuse, reckless driving). Note: Do not include suicidal or self-injuring behavior covered in Criterion 5
  5. Recurrent suicidal behavior, gestures, threats or self-injuring behavior such as cutting, interfering with the healing of scars (excoriation) or picking at oneself.
  6. Affective instability due to a marked reactivity of mood (e.g., intense episodic dysphoria, irritability or anxiety usually lasting a few hours and only rarely more than a few days).
  7. Chronic feelings of emptiness
  8. Inappropriate anger or difficulty controlling anger (e.g., frequent displays of temper, constant anger, recurrent physical fights).
  9. Transient, stress-related paranoid ideation, delusions or severe dissociative symptoms

The thing about the psychiatric community and the DSM-IV in general, is that everything is so clinical and it’s hard for the average person to make the leap from what’s written to what the behaviors look like in real life. Most criminally, the one thing that the psychiatric community doesn’t touch on nearly enough is how people with the mental illnesses affect those around them.. their friends and family.

There’s a great blog: http://shrink4men.wordpress.com/ written by Dr. Tara J. Palmatier, PsyD, which goes in depth as to how women with BPD (and the other Cluster B personality disorders – histrionic, antisocial and narcissistic) basically make their spouses, children’s and loved ones lives a living hell..

Take a moment to read this one to get a better sense of what living with someone with BPD is like.. http://shrink4men.wordpress.com/2009/01/21/relationships-with-borderline-narcissistic-personality-women/

Now, in the context of Kurt Cobain.. I think to really get a mindset of what he was feeling towards the end of his life, you really need to look no further than the lyrics of one of his post-Courtney songs… “All Apologies”


What else should I be?
All apologies.
What else could I say?
Everyone is gay.
What else could I write?
I don’t have the right.
What else should I be?
All Apologies.

In the sun
In the sun I feel as one
In the sun
In the sun

I wish I was like you
Easily amused
Find my nest of salt
Everything is my fault
I’ll take all the blame
aqua seafoam shame
Sunburn with freezer burn
Choking on the ashes of her enemy

In the sun
In the sun I feel as one
In the sun
In the sun
Married, Married, Married!
Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah,

All in all is all we are [x20]

Do those sound like the words of a man that has a happy homelife with a wife and newborn baby daughter?  And to put it into the context of a man living with a spouse with BPD.. here you had a guy that was the frontman for arguably the biggest band in the world at the time.. and here he was so beaten down that he was apologizing for everything wrong in the world. “Married. Buried.” Kind of says it all in two easy words.

At the core of BPD is a “fear of abandonment – real or imagined”.. so basically once someone with BPD feels close enough to someone else, this fear will inevitably kick in. Marriage, having kids, buying a home together, etc.. there’s so many different things that can happen to set a BPD off and once that fear of abandonment is triggered.. a BPD will start to do anything and everything to strike first and destroy their relationships before their spouse or siginificant other has a chance to leave them (that’s the kicker.. BPD’s confuse feelings for fact, so even if their spouse has no intention whatsoever of leaving.. since they feel like they might, it becomes a fact in their heads) Having affairs, emotionally abusing their spouses, threatening divorce, threatening to take their children away  and just flat out leaving allows them to have control over the situation and usually they’ll see how much abuse their spouse is willing to put up with.. and once that spouse reaches their breaking point and starts standing up for themself, that’s when they just leave and move on to the next victim.

People with BPD are like chameleons.. they can change personalities, interests, goals, etc.. all on a whim. They infiltrate groups of people, pick the most susceptible member (like an emotional vampire), throw adoration on them, take on their personalities, interests, goals and present themselves as the other person’s soul mate. I mean, back in the early 90’s.. it was more than safe to say that to America, Courtney Love was the female Kurt Cobain.. grunge queen to his grunge king.. and that was never more evident than when Hole released “Live Through This” right after Kurt’s death.

Fast forward a few years to when “The People vs. Larry Flynt” came out and there you had Courtney looking like she cleaned up her act. In the context of BPD though, Courtney never cleaned up her act.. she was dating her co-star Edward Norton… Mr. Serious Well Respected Actor.. so Courtney threw herself wholeheartedly into that role. That’s how seamlessly a BPD can play a role.. that she had a whole country thinking that she was a legitimate Oscar nominated actress who was turning her life around.. when in reality she was just idolizing and mimicking Edward Norton the same way she had mimicked Kurt a few years earlier. That went by the wayside eventually and Courtney went right back to being a trainwreck.. eventually losing custody of Frances Bean last winter.

Do you want more evidence of BPD’s doing this? Let’s look at Britney Spears.. when she was dating Justin Timberlake.. she played the role of America’s sweetheart.. but then after she got bored with that and cheated on him, she went off the deep end.. had a quickie Vegas marriage.. and then in the ultimate chameleon move, she began idolizing Kevin Federline and took on his white trash persona and had two kids back to back. Once K-Fed started to bore her and was out of the picture, she started associating with Sam Lutfi and then Adnan Ghalib and just completely switched gears, almost forgetting she was a mother of two small children and just kind of did everything she could to lose custody of her children because that wasn’ t the life she wanted anymore. It was only after her father stepped in (because let’s face it.. it was probably his love she wanted all along and was most likely a contributing factor to her having BPD in the first place) did she start to listen to reason and ever since then, has kind of kept a low profile in the media.. The fact that she was dating her manager for the past year or so, who wasn’t a complete attention whore and whose name I couldn’t even tell you.. probably has as much to do with this as anything else.  When the next guy comes along.. I’m sure we’ll see yet another Britney.

While most people experiment with their sense of self during their teenage years and pretty much get a sense of who they are and where they’re headed in life by their early twenties.. BPD’s are perpetual teenagers who switch personas based on whoever they’re hanging out with at the moment. It would actually be sad to witness but unfortunately most BPD’s are so damn cruel to the people that they have decided in their head that they don’t need to emotionally leech off of anymore, that any sympathy or goodwill is usually destroyed.

So to bring it back.. 9 years later. Do I think Kurt Cobain was murdered? Well, yes and no. I think Kurt got married to Courtney and once Frances Bean was born.. maybe some of the attention that Kurt used to give to her was now spent on his newborn daughter and Courtney’s fear of abandonment kicked in, so she took advantage of his low self-esteem and emotionally abused the hell out of him.. making him feel trapped and alone.. and he turned to his heroin habit to escape.. and this compounded the worthless feelings that Courtney was mentally beating into him.

So maybe Kurt did hole himself up in that apartment above the garage in Seattle.. did a boatload of drugs and in a moment of ultimate weakness, bought into Courtney’s opinion that he was worthless and the world would be better off without him.. or maybe Courtney had it in her head that Kurt was about to leave her, so she hired someone to take him out before he could leave her.. Either way, a little girl grew up without a father and a country lost an interesting artist.. and whether he pulled the trigger or not, I think it’s safe to say that Courtney contributed majorly to his death, whether it be emotionally or physically.

“Choking on the ashes of her enemy”

The tragedy is that if Kurt could’ve just gutted it out a little longer, maybe he could’ve turned to people for help and would have eventually been able to figure just what her enemy was (BPD).. and if that was the case, would’ve gotten to a place where he realized that no apology was ever necessary on his part.. and that sun that he felt one with, would’ve eventually shone bright for him once again.




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  4. Peter Preedom Says:

    I suppose jail will be good for Lindsay