Gone Girl: Husbands, It’s Safe to Sleep Tonight

Mysterious woman, black overcast, serious, suspenseful

Gone Girl: Husbands, It’s Safe to Sleep Tonight

A couple of months ago, I was having lunch with a friend who had just seen Gone Girl. Unable to resist a good suspenseful flick, I asked her how she liked it, thinking I could make it a good date night movie with my husband. “It was great!” she replied, “But my son-in-law said he didn’t want to sleep in the same bed with my daughter after watching it.” Inspired in a negative way by the main character’s deceit, her son-in-law remarked that he could no longer trust what he thought he knew about his wife.

After suspending date night plans, I downloaded the book onto my iPad to better understand his dilemma. I have to agree with him that the main character is beyond disturbing on so many levels that I lost count. Even as a psychologist, I could completely understand how a story like this one could lead any reasonable person to question everything about everyone. But, before installing locks on your bedroom door, with your significant other on the outside, take heart. While the main character, Amy, is frightening, it is highly unlikely that her severe pathology could remain unnoticed for years.

Let’s break it down. Amy meets criteria for a personality disorder that includes borderline, antisocial, and narcissistic traits. Individuals who struggle with these tendencies experience daily difficulties that are not easily hidden for years from a significant other. The very definition of a personality disorder, according to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) is “an enduring pattern of inner experience and behavior that deviates markedly from the expectations of the individual’s culture, is pervasive and inflexible, has an onset in adolescence or early adulthood, is stable over time, and leads to distress or impairment” (p. 645). The fact that Amy’s husband, Nick, didn’t realize anything was wrong for approximately five years is almost as disconcerting as Amy’s wild schemes. Even more, Amy’s parents appeared to consider her angelic. Even allowing for some parental denial, such disconnect with reality is not realistic. While the story was quite engaging and I truly enjoyed it, it does not accurately reflect psychopathology as I have witnessed it in the field of psychology. Therefore, if you have not observed any alarming incidents from your significant other in years, you are most likely safe to sleep with both eyes closed tonight.

© Copyright 2015 Ashley Curiel, PsyD, therapist in Beverly Hills, California. All rights reserved.