Marilyn Monroe and Narcissism
Marilyn Monroe and Narcissistic Personality Disorder
Marilyn Monroe to me is a woman who is endlessly fascinating. Previously I wrote about my belief that she could have had Aspergers Syndrome i.e. please see my previous article on Hub Pages, Marilyn Monroe and Aspergers Syndrome.
Now having delved into the Norma Jeane psychological make up a bit more and reading another biography about her life i.e. Marilyn Monroe, Private and Undisclosed by Michelle Morgan I think that the character that became Marilyn Monroe had many layers to her personality and that now it can never be truly unraveled.
Below is a list of clues from Marilyn Monroe’s life that to me indicate that along with Aspergers Syndrome Marilyn quite possibly also had a Personality Disorder. It is a pretty frequent occurrence for a person who has had a traumatic childhood. Or also people on the Autism Spectrum are much more likely to also develop a Personality Disorder. The most common ones being: Borderline Personality Disorder, Narcissistic Personality Disorder and Histrionic Personality Disorder. In the past it has often been speculated that Norma Jeane definitely ticked a lot of the right boxes for having certain characteristics of all three of these disorders.
Marilyn Monroe and Narcissistic Romance
Marilyn Monroe was extremely unpredictable and volatile when it came to love. She always claimed that all she really wanted was a white picket fence, a loving husband and a family of her own. However in spite of these claims Marilyn Monroe never seemed to be able to sustain a long term relationship. Although in the early days of a new romance Marilyn would gush about her latest love and at times she seemed to be almost obsessed with her latest man. She always threw herself into a new relationship wholeheartedly and did everything possible to please her new partner. This behavior is very consistent with how the Narcissist acts when they are trying to woo a new love.
Anyone who has loved a Narcissist will say that in the early days of their romance they really could not believe that they had met such a perfect person. In fact most will probably tell you that they had to keep pinching themselves to really believe they had been so lucky as to find such an exciting, charismatic, attractive, intelligent, romantic, caring individual. Except the sad truth is that it is all an act and eventually the truth will be revealed. When the Narcissist thinks they have you hooked you will the begin to realize so called perfect partner was just actually the greatest actor or actress whoever lived.
This is consistent with how Marilyn seemed to treat her partners i.e. as time passed she seemed to become more and more demanding on each new partner. Or as was the case with her first husband i.e. Jim Dougherty (whom she married when she was just sixteen) she seemed to become totally indifferent to him once she started to build a modeling career.
Her second husband Joe DiMaggio was a high profile Baseball player and as their relationship progressed Marilyn’s celebrity status was very much on the rise. It is also documented in many sources that as Marilyn became more famous she began to take great pleasure in reminding Joe DiMaggio that he was no longer the number celebrity in their relationship and that now it was her turn to shine while he stayed in the background.
Husband number three was playwright Arthur Miller and it has often been written that the real cracks first started to show in their marriage when Marilyn found Arthur Millers journal in which he had written his real thoughts about Marilyn’s erratic, demanding behavior on the set on her latest movie, i.e. Arthur Miller had written in his journal that he was ashamed of Marilyn’s behavior during the shooting of the movie. That her constant lateness, insecurities and diva like behavior was an embarrassment to him.
For a Narcissist the perceived insults that Arthur wrote about his wife in his journal would have hit her hard. Indeed Marilyn was reported to have been irate with fury at her husband over his comments. It has also been written that Arthur Miller claimed that he could not write very well while he was married to Marilyn Monroe as placating and being her partner was pretty much a full-time job that left him drained and emotionally fraught at the end of her day.
Though Marilyn never married again after Arthur Miller she did keep in contact with her second husband Joe DiMaggio who it is said never fell out of love with Marilyn Monroe and after she died he paid for roses to be left at her crypt three times a week for another twenty years.
There were many other men in Marilyn’s life during and between her marriages, the most infamous being the whole issue of her reputed affair with the American President JFK and his brother the Attorney General Bobby Kennedy. More about this later.
Childhood Narcissism and Norma Jeane Baker
Norma Jeane Baker never had a father figure and even now it is still not certain who her father actually was. Her mother pretty much abandoned her early on i.e. Gladys Pearl Monroe wasn’t at all maternal and also had her own psychological issues to contend with. Despite Marilyn always claiming that her mother was dead in reality she actually outlived her daughter by many years and spent a number of years in a home paid for by Marilyn.
The young Norma Jeane lived in many different foster homes some of them were good but none of them ever seemed to last for one reason or another. Undoubtedly the young Norma Jean had the textbook type of childhood that would allow a Personality Disorder to develop.
It is believed that a person usually develops Narcissistic Personality Disorder in childhood as a defense mechanism against abuse or neglect. Or consequently a child can also develop Narcissistic Personality Disorder as a result of never being given any discipline or never having to adhere to any boundaries in relation to their behavior.
Often it has been said that Narcissistic Personality Disorder is a child’s way of coming to terms with their less than perfect environment. If they are exposed to an unnatural environment very early on in life it causes them to cocoon their real self very deep inside of them and create a new false self with the intention of never letting anybody else in.
From now on what they allow other people to see is the self that they imagine the world wants to see. This someone is often extremely polite, soft spoken, always smiling, always sociable an apparent people pleaser and this is often exactly how many people have described Marilyn Monroe.
Marilyn Monroe and her legendary lateness
Marilyn never overtly worried about being on time for anything. She exasperated actors, producers, directors and Studio bosses on every film that she ever worked on.
This was also verified by many of the crew members on the set, one said Marilyn had no regard for them and must not even know they were alive taking into account how late she always arrived on set each day (if she arrived at all). When and if Marilyn did finally make an appearance she would usually rush into her dressing room and refuse to come out until she felt ‘psychologically ready.’
This again is consistent Narcissistic Behavior i.e. she is too important to have to follow the rules that apply to others. She is so superior and wonderful that they will just have to wait until she is ready to appear. Fortunately for her she got away with this behavior because after all she was Marilyn Monroe.
However it never gained her too many friends on her film sets and many also described her as being aloof, haughty and not a woman to cross. While there are numerous accounts verifying that Marilyn could be the most charming woman ever there are also other stories in circulation that paint Marilyn in a very different light.
In one instance Marilyn took an intense dislike to an onset costume designer i.e. Dorothy Jeakins. As time went on during the filming of, Let’s Make Love. Marilyn started to consistently refuse to work with Jeakins and eventually even started insulting her to other cast members and made her job so impossible that she had to leave the film and she was then replaced by a new costume designer. Marilyn never commented on this afterwards.
Therefore while Marilyn often seemed to pander to the needs of other film stars, politicians and those that she classed as being ‘important people.’ However in classic Narcissistic fashion if you were deemed to be in the 'inferior people,'category then you were subjected to Narcissistic type condescension and cruelty.
The Narcissistic version of the truth
Anyone that knows a person with Narcissistic Personality Disorder will know that the Narcissists version of the truth and their memories of certain events can often vary greatly from the actual truth of the matter.
Marilyn was infamous for changing certain details of her life and it has often been documented that on a number of different occasions she often claimed her father was a number of different men. She also constantly changed the details of her childhood making it more terrible each time and was severely insulted at one stage when Frank Sinatra is said to have exclaimed something like not your damn sad childhood stories again.
Marilyn consistently lied to many of the people in her life and at times she may even have convinced herself that her new version of past events was actually real. Many biographers and interviewers often claimed that they were never sure when Marilyn Monroe was telling them the truth or when she was inventing another elaborate lie.
JFK and Marilyn Monroe: Narcissistic Stand Off?
The last men Marilyn Monroe was reputed to have been involved with were the President of the United States John F Kennedy and his brother the Attorney General Bobby Kennedy. Unfortunately for Marilyn neither romance worked out well and eventually she ended up face down on her bed lifeless and overdosed on a large concoction of prescription drugs.
Depending on which version of Marilyn Monroe’s life that you chose to read there is still huge speculation as to what exactly caused Marilyn Monroe’s death? But unless some new evidence comes to light at some stage in the future the true nature of Marilyn Monroe’s demise will never be totally certain.
It would appear though going ton the large body of evidence out there that Marilyn did have a relationship with the then President JFK. There is also a huge body of evidence out there that Jack Fitzgerald Kennedy and many other members of his family could certainly fit the profile of having Narcissistic Personality Disorder themselves. JFK had scant regard for women, concealed a massive amount of his life from the public domain and had some very dubious high profile campaign contributors. His own father was also ruthlessly ambitious and nothing was going to come in the way of him getting a son into the White House.
If Marilyn Monroe did indeed have Narcissistic Personality Disorder then JFK would undoubtedly be the ultimate prize for her to obtain. However she may have massively overrated her appeal to him. For a Narcissist to be unceremoniously dumped in the way it appears JFK may have done in the case of Marilyn would have been a massive blow to her ego and undoubtedly she would have wanted to get revenge.
Was Bobby Kennedy part of Marilyn’s master plan to exact her revenge on JFK? Or could it have been her attempt at making JFK jealous? It is certainly possible but unfortunately for Marilyn it was a doomed plan from the start. Marilyn may have disastrously overestimated how her celebrity status could ever possibly be any match for the might of the Kennedy Clan.
When you have two Narcissists in a relationship it can only be a completely destructive experience and the only way it is going to end is very badly. Unfortunately for Marilyn this dangerous liaison was followed by the end of her life. Whatever the truth behind the Marilyn image really was she surely would be very happy now at how the Marilyn Monroe legend lives on ..
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Marilyn Monroe and Aspergers Syndrome
- Marilyn Monroe and Aspergers Syndrome?
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Marilyn Monroe at Santa Monica Beach
Geo on January 21, 2019:
Finally someone actually realized and described the NPD in Monroe. I had to deal with a Narcissist in my like and can only say they are more or less like demons with no morality. And they rarely live past 55.
Mary Kelly Godley (author) from Ireland on August 09, 2016:
Quite possible alright that she had Histrionic Personality Disorder. I would say she was very complex and had many issues.
Amelia on August 09, 2016:
Hi, I really enjoyed your article. I too came to the belief that Marilyn had a PD after researching them due to longtime emotional turmoil from a friendship. Of the narcissistic types, I think she mainly had histrionic personality disorder, as that focuses on the need for opposite-sex attention and therefore an abundance of sexual charisma and seduction.
Mary Kelly Godley (author) from Ireland on January 18, 2015:
Thank you too for reading.
toni goldsboro on January 17, 2015:
I am fascinated by all stories and biographies about Marylin Monroe! She was one of a kind in so many ways. Thank you for your writings!
PJ on September 10, 2014:
I have dated a BPD for a number of years. I was fascinated by her after we broke up because of how she acted. I came across Marilyn and did tons of reasearch. I think my ex is exactly like her in so many ways...she even looks exactly like her. I think she might be reincarnated from her....lol.
Nisha on September 05, 2014:
the more important question is what would motivate a person to create a persona and pursue any kind of mass appeal WITHOUT some kind of damage? Come on it's unrealistic to assume that a person could function at that level and then also be mentally well. either you enjoy the fantasy or you don't. It's all a bit of a fantasy and thank god for that becuaee otherwise what would humans do for fun??? there is not a human society in the history of time that hasn't featured its assortment of high profile nuts and of course the idea that you could be fabulously talented and terrifically loyal etc etc without having some kind of dark side is in itself the problem. how could a woman like her ACTUALLY want a home and a picket fence? Is it possible to be ADORED AND ADMIRED and then also loved? come on all of it is subject to interpretation anyhow. I am glad that Norma jean became marilyn it was a fabulous show and I am sorry it ended tragically but that meant that she got to live on in all perpetuity as having been at the oldest, 33. not a bad turn of the cards I just really hope she was genuinely missed. I hope so marilyn. You deserved it and so did Norma jean.
Kazz on July 31, 2014:
I think Marilyn had many problems before she had even became an actress, she was psychically abused has a child she had a lot of abandonment issues and had tried to commit suicide many times, it was also reported that she tried to blame a police officer for raping her in her bedroom? if that was not paranoid behavior then it was obvious to some because her story was not believed? I do feel Marilyn could of gotten better help for herslef but back in those day she really wasn't being treated properly like how BPD behavior is now treated by health professionals.
Mary Kelly Godley (author) from Ireland on December 23, 2013:
Perhaps you are right. Its hard to know at this stage and it all depends on whose take on it you read. Thanks for commenting.
ec on December 23, 2013:
Marilyn wasn't a narcissist. she was talented and she did what she had to do to be an actress. she didn't feel entitled. she worked hard. she was open about her insecurities. she worked hard on those too. she did have troubled relationships-she sought validation from her men. DiMaggio was controlling and physically abusive. miller lied about her, told her she was stupid, and was doing what he could to keep her small - Arthur Miller was the narcissist, not Marilyn.
Mary Kelly Godley (author) from Ireland on November 02, 2013:
Sorry you don't like my article Emily, but I don't mind as it has encouraged an exchange of opinions and that's what I love about writing articles. I knew about Marilyn's BPD diagnosis too. Another diagnosis that has been suggested for Marilyn Monroe on a number of occasions is Histrionic Personality Disorder There are definitely BPD characteristics there and there are correlations between BPD, NPD and HPD definitely. Its very unfortunate for Marilyn though that she got a BPD diagnosis but still that wasn't enough to help her cope with her many issues, which can only lead us to wonder if this wasn't a complete analysis of Marilyn's mental health problems or whether as this was over fifty years ago just not enough was known back then. It is all speculation at this stage unfortunately. Even today people are often misdiagnosed or receive an incomplete diagnosis so I am afraid Emily in this case all we can do is go back over her history and draw our own conclusions as you have done too. Thanks for stopping by.
Emily on November 02, 2013:
If you knew anything you would know she was diagnosed with BPD by Anna Feud. Her medical card can be seen at the Anna Freud centre. Stop speculating, when she was diagnosed. I get fed up with reading this.
Mary Kelly Godley (author) from Ireland on July 10, 2013:
Thanks last of Mo Blondes for your last three comments. I agree that Marilyn Monroe was definitely highly talented as an actress and that there were many sides to her that we did not see. Unfortunately now we never can. Also it is true that her unsettled upbringing did have a huge effect on her as it does every child raised in such an environment. Please do read some more. I have also written an article about Marilyn Monroe and Aspergers which can sometimes co-exist with other Psychological conditions too.
AndthelastofMoBlonde on July 09, 2013:
Marilyn Monroe had one of the most intelligent minds in entertainment, and often intelligent minds raised in
horrific environments, with little access to education, learn alternate communication and expressive skills. And prone to cement weight
of fear of loss and self doubt, they hide, control, are passive aggressive--the long delays,
procrastinations--and in the end, because they cannot hurt another
person willfully, they hurt themselves.
How fortunate were we all to have her entertain us, and be a part of our lives, as long as she coul d. This was a mind like a diamond, and gossip won't hold the answers you are looking for :-)
MofromMoBlonde on July 09, 2013:
As far as NPD, BPD, or Asberger's, be very wary of matching appearance to actual symptomatic behavior. Of the factual information included above, the constant reimagining of her childhood, the lateness, all express a desire to control her
environment and constant fear of her environment; i.e. the survival behavior of PTSD.
A clue to her mind which has not been studied, and should be, is her used of language and musical ability. Lack of empathy is a marker
of these disorders, and she haas no lack of that trait :-), or inability to communicate.
MoBlonde on July 09, 2013:
Oh, my goodness. All gossip can be twisted into any psycological disorder. Highly possible she had many disorders or none, but work from facts first. The first marriage was an arrangement that enabled her to stay out of foster care. The second ended due to domestic violence issues. The third was Arthur Miller's McCarthy dodge, and
his way out of his first marriage, for which Miss Monroe paid all the bills. And I mean she was the sole support. There was no private, unsupervised contact with any Kennedy.
Mary Kelly Godley (author) from Ireland on June 21, 2013:
You are welcome lavenerholly. If you don't agree that Marilyn had NPD that's perfectly okay as I say I cannot be sure or nobody else can be at this stage. For the examples you ask for please read my article or some of the written biography's as details are included.
Victoria Raquel from Tejas on June 20, 2013:
"Marilyn consistently lied to many of the people in her life" Could you give some examples, please? And apparently, JFK/Marilyn was just a one-night-stand and really nothing more, seeing as though he had some troubles in that area.
I've never thought of her having NPD. She very well could have, so thanks for bringing the idea to the table for me at least!
Mary Kelly Godley (author) from Ireland on June 17, 2013:
Very interesting honeytrap99. Many people with Borderline Personality Disorder are often misdiagnosed with Narcissistic Personality Disorder and vice versa. I will certainly check out the Anna Freud centre as I am always eager to know more about Marilyn Monroe's complex psychological make up certainly. Would love to know too what clue she gave Peter Lawford also? I hadn't come across that before either. There has been so much written about Marilyn that it is impossible to get it all. Thanks for stopping by and if you have more info I am always eager to see it.
honeytrap99 on June 17, 2013:
Marilyn Committed suicide. God I know everything about her. Whilst shooting her last uncompleted film she overdosed and was caught just in time, watch final 24 hours. Theories are made up by bored people. Kennedy slept with everybody, so all of the would have been killed. I know her habits as I'm the same, I'll take some pills, not sleep, take more, and then I don't know what I have taken. This crap about no glass next to her bed, she had an en suite. I do believe it was a cry for help like the other times as she was trying to call for help and gave Peter Lawford a clue, probably for John or Bobby's attention. She is vey borderline.
honeytrap99 on June 17, 2013:
Marilyn was diagnosed with BPD by Anna Freud. her medical card can be seen in the Anna Freud centre. So why all keep speculating is beyond me as proof. She saw Anna whilst in London filming the prince and the showgirl. I have written two books on her. She was not NPD. My Mum is both. Now I think Freud's wife who be the best person to diagnose her. The card also states paranoia which borderlines have. Go check it out at the Anna Freud Centre. Quit speculating, she died years ago and nobody knows but the Doctors she saw alive and what they diagnosed her with.
Mary Kelly Godley (author) from Ireland on February 05, 2013:
Thanks Gail for your comment. Yeah there are many theories out there surrounding Marilyn's death. In the last book I read about her there were a lot of inconsistencies in how her death was handled and her autopsy in particular so I think we will never know exactly what happened. Those that may do seem to be remaining very tight-lipped about it too.
Gail Meyers from Johnson County, Kansas on February 04, 2013:
This is an interesting and well written hub. I enjoyed reading it. I have also read the theory that Marilyn Monroe was a victim of something along the lines of MK Ultra, CIA, etc. I have seen all three deaths attributed to that Illuminati theory. JFK because he intended to put an end to the unconstitution Federal Reserve, among other things. Voted up and interesting!
Lisa Kroulik from Minnesota on July 27, 2012:
Narcissism is one of my favorite topics. I was married to one for 13 years and have studied it extensively. This was a fascinating account of someone I didn't know too much about previously.
Mary Kelly Godley (author) from Ireland on July 27, 2012:
I know she was just the type of person you couldn't help liking. Lots of Narcissistic people are just like that and once you stay on their good side all is well!
beingwell from Bangkok on July 27, 2012:
I like Ms. Monroe. I think she's just a troubled overwhelmed talented perky girl. Voted up!
Mary Kelly Godley (author) from Ireland on July 27, 2012:
Marilyn was a very complicated lady that's for sure. The dumb blond image was just an act she was a highly intelligent woman really and obviously a brilliant actress too. Thanks for comment.
Kristy LeAnn from Princeton, WV on July 27, 2012:
This is really interesting. I dated a guy for 3 years and after we broke up (horrible break up) I ended up reading a lot about psychology and I came to the conclusion he is a narcissist. While reading this article I was like "yep, he did that...and acted like that...." and so on lol... I didn't know most of this stuff about Marilyn though...you got me interested in her now...I'll have to read up on her some more. :)