Alexandra Genova for Dailymail.Com
While for many, Marilyn Monroe is one of the most enduring sex symbols of our time, behind her perfect curves and sultry personality, lay a complex and troubled woman. And more than that – it is likely that the iconic actress suffered from borderline personality disorder, says science journalist Claudia Kalb.
In a new book that examines, posthumously, the psychological conditions suffered by iconic celebrities and creatives, Kalb writes that while Monroe ‘yearned for love and stability’ she ‘often lashed out at those she cared about’.
She explains: ‘What is clear is that Monroe suffered from severe mental distress. Her symptoms included a feeling of emptiness, a split or confused identity, extreme emotional volatility, unstable relationships, and an impulsivity that drove her to drug addiction and suicide all textbook characteristics of a condition called borderline personality disorder.’
Marilyn, who was born Norma Jeane Mortenson, had 12 sets of foster parents, and according to a newscast at the time, she was quoted as saying in her last interview that she was ‘never used to being happy, so it wasn’t something she ever took for granted’. The beloved actress had roles in 23 films, which grossed a combined total of $200 million since her debut in 1950.
But she suffered from pre-performance anxiety that sometimes made her physically ill and was often the root cause of her legendary tardiness on films sets. ‘The golden girl received 5,000 fan letters a week and to those fans she never let any of her personal problems dim her screen glamour,’ said a news report at the time of her death. On August 5, 1962, at only 36 years old, Monroe died at her Los Angeles home. An empty bottle of sleeping pills was found by her bed.
Speaking to the Huffington Post she elaborates: ‘My goal was to really put a human face on some of these conditions that we read about and hear about, which can be very complex. ‘I wanted to humanize mental illness and explore it in a way that allows people who are interested or thinking about family members or themselves to learn more in an accessible way.’
Kalb was able to draw these conclusions after delving into historical records, reading biographies and autobiographies, letters and generals, as well as looking at medical studies and reports and interviews with mental health experts.
Also in the book, Kalb examines creative greats such as George Gershwin, who she believes suffered from attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, something she uncovered while studying details from his childhood, which revealed that he was ‘exuberant, fidgety and restless’.
She said that Charles Darwin’s health and possible anxiety and panic issues were discussed way back in the 19th century, while there were also indications that Andy Warhol’s obsessive accumulation of ‘Time Capsules’ suggest that he was a hoarder who embraced his mental illness as a part of his creativity.
There were also indications that Einstein was on the autistic spectrum she says. She told Huffington Post that the scientific genius had ‘childhood characteristics of late talking, social isolation, being often ‘in his head’ and absorbed by thoughts’.
She added: ‘He said that it’s possible Einstein would fit into the Asperger’s end of the autism spectrum. ‘He also said that there seems to be a connection between this end of autism and scientific genius.’
Ironically, one of Monroe’s most prized possessions was an autographed photo of Albert Einstein, which included an inscription: ‘To Marilyn, with respect and love and thanks.’ Kalb says she hopes that the book – called Andy Warhol Was A Hoarder – will ‘chip away at the stigma’ of mental illness and that by bringing these iconic people’s personalities to life, people will ‘see aspects of themselves and their family and friends in these conditions’.