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March 1967

Borderline Personality and the Theatre of the Absurd

Author Affiliations

From the Institute for Psychosomatic and Psychiatric Research and Training, Michael Reese Hospital and Medical Center, Chicago. Dr. Litowitz is now with the Navy at Great Lakes, Ill.

Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1967;16(3):268-280. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1967.01730210008003

THE PURPOSE of this paper is to illustrate the relationship between the borderline personality and certain contemporary dramatic plays which Esslin1 has grouped collectively as the theatre of the absurd (Albee, Beckett, Ionesco, Genet, Gelber, etc). We believe that the characteristics of the borderline personality are manifested in the structure and content of these plays, just as the classical theatre (Sophocles, Shakespeare, Ibsen) parallels the content and conflicts of the classical neurosis. It is farily well accepted that the artist, in this case the playwright or poet, is often an avant-garde chronicler of changes in society, be they social, political, philosophical, or psychological. We feel that the modern playwrights, through their own perceptive intuitions, have picked up certain themes which they philosophically consider dilemmas of the human condition, and which they have dramatized in a rather unique modern style.

Our intention is to demonstrate

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