Thinking Fans Comment update: antmuoz doubts AMC will “actually tell a reality-based story with Annie. But if they did, it might be a daytime first in that it doesn’t involve cloning or demonic possession” … while Matthew objects to AMC’s “fear-based portrayal of Bedlam with outdated methods and near criminal activity” … and more. See Comments below.
By Damon L. Jacobs
2008 was a rough year for the residents of Pine Valley. Murderers ran loose, tornadoes crashed through homes, but nothing or no one had an impact quite like hurricane Annie herself.
Annie Lavery (played by Melissa Claire Egan) first blew into Pine Valley in 2006, on the run with her infant daughter, Emma, from her first husband, Terry. She was a force to be reckoned with, as she mistakenly shot Ryan (thinking he was Terry),proving to everyone she would do anything to hold on to Emma. Eventually she and Ryan fell in love, got married, and lived happily ever, because that’s what always happens on soaps, right?
Only in Annie’s delusional mind it does!
In 2008 alone, Annie killed her brother Richie and her friend Di, almost killed Greenlee, stabbed Erica, faked Emma’s kidnapping, broke out of an insane asylum,
The Soap Shrink is sickened by the way Annie has been treated in The Oak Haven Institute, and is deeply concerned that this portrayal will scare viewers away from seeking mental therapy when they need it.
assaulted Ryan — and this doesn’t even include losing her marriage to Ryan, losing her unborn baby, losing custody of Emma, losing her job, losing her home, her good friend Babe dying, and those pesky hallucinations of her dead brother egging her on to do horrible things. And you thought YOU had a hard year!
How did this “good girl” go so wrong? In order to better understand her behaviors, it would be beneficial if we looked at diagnoses. As several court-appointed therapists have already pointed out, Annie appears to be coping with Borderline Personality Disorder, a characterological disorder that leads people to go to extremes in order to avoid abandonment from a loved one. This would certainly help explain the desperate measures to hold on to Ryan, including faking their daughter’s kidnapping and even allowing herself to get shot in the arm by Aidan in order to hold on to him.
But what about the hallucinations of her brother? The delusions of still having a perfect marriage? The disorientation of who and where she is? And her tragic clown makeup in that bloody bridal gown? These symptoms are better explained by “Schizophrenia, Paranoid Type,” a psychotic disorder which results in one losing touch with reality and perceiving individuals and systems as plotting against her. I must make it clear, however, that although it is common for people with this disorder to display outbursts of rage, it is rare that their actions are violent.
The question then remains, what does one DO with all this information? I’ll start, dear Thinking Fans, by explaining what you DON’T do. You do not lock someone in a sterile room, load them up with drugs, video tape them against their will, verbally berate them, accuse them of faking their sickness, deprive them of compassion, or counseling, or interactions with others, or group therapy, and you DO NOT plot against them to keep them behind bars for the rest of their lives.
Clearly the Soap Shrink is sickened by the way Annie has been treated in The Oak Haven Institute, and is deeply concerned that this portrayal will scare viewers away from seeking mental therapy when they need it. I have watched every interaction with Annie and her psychiatrist, Dr. Riley Sinclair (McKenzie Westmore), and can cite at least ten ethical and legal violations she has committed that in the real world would end up with her losing her license to practice. But that may be another feature of another column.
What I believe would be helpful at this point is for Annie is to be involved in an inpatient treatment setting that is respectful, structured, and objective. There are noninvasive medications that could easily stabilize her psychotic symptoms, and therapeutic modalities, such as Cognitive-Behavioral therapy, that work very well with Borderline. Given time, individual and group therapy, compassion, and supervised medication, I have no doubt that Annie can face the pain of her past and learn to deal appropriately with life’s obstacles.
Dr. Sinclair, however, does articulate a point of view that is much debated in the legal and psychiatric communities. She does not believe that rehabilitation is possible, and that criminals such as Annie deserve to be behind bars. I clearly disagree with this point, as I have seen first hand the power of therapy to rehabilitate violent offenders. But what are your thoughts? Do criminals like Annie deserve to walk the streets among us? Or is society better off if we lock her up and throw away the key? The Soap Shrink wants to know what YOU think!!
Damon L. Jacobs is a family and relationship therapist practicing in New York City, and the author of Absolutely Should-less: The Secret to Living the Stress-Free Life You Deserve. He blogs regularly at www.shouldless.com.