Desperate Housewife: Diagnosing Teresa Giudice

Illustration for article titled Desperate Housewife: Diagnosing Teresa Giudice

I've been pondering the issues of Teresa Giudice from Real Housewives Of New Jersey, trying to figure out exactly what might be leading to the behaviors we've observed on television and in recent interviews. I observed definite impulse control issues.


Once again, I must issue the disclaimer that I do have a legitimate psychology degree but I am not a practicing psychologist. This is intended for entertainment purposes only, mostly my entertainment.

I was uncomfortable with the DSM's Borderline Personality Disorder as a diagnosis. I just do not feel Teresa meets enough of the diagnostic criteria. Intermittent Explosive Disorder is something I considered but it does not cover all of the behaviors I have observed. I turned to the ICD-10, a diagnostic manual used by the World Health Organization. Voilà, Emotionally Unstable Personality Disorder – Impulsive Type. It is closely related to BPD but it has a different set of diagnostic criteria that I feel Teresa does meet.

Emotionally unstable personality disorder is a personality disorder in which there is a marked tendency to act impulsively without consideration of the consequences, together with affective instability. The ability to plan may be minimal, and outbursts of intense anger may often lead to violence or "behavioral explosions". These occur with a disproportionate reaction to any provocation, real or perceived.

There are two variants of this personality disorder (impulsive and borderline), both share this general theme of impulsiveness and lack of self-control. I feel Teresa is definitely the impulsive type. The predominant characteristics of the impulsive type are emotional instability and lack of impulse control. Outbursts of violence or threatening behavior are common, particularly in response to criticism by others.

Teresa is a woman who has outbursts seemingly out of the blue. During last season's finale of RHONJ, she famously flipped a table and lost utter control of herself during a dinner party. She even lost the ability to speak, shouting nonsense at Danielle Staub, ending up howling in a nearly primal fashion as her husband had to hold her back. Her completely out of proportion reaction seemed to be triggered when Danielle admonished her to "pay attention puh-lease" while they were discussing issues related to a book about Ms . Staub's past. Ms. Giudice stated right afterwards about her outburst "Don't f@#%ing think I am airheaded stupid because that is what set me off". She added later, "I can be mad one minute and then I will be fine".

We have all witnessed time and time again that Teresa has a bit of problem with shopping. According to reports, she and her husband have dealt with numerous financial difficulties yet we continue to see her spend outrageous sums on decorating, parties and clothing. Please note that these reports have been confirmed by Teresa Giudice herself in People magazine, where she states that bankruptcy will be a fresh start for her family. Teresa clearly has lived beyond her means, splurging on a variety of items with the attitude that money is no limit. This is also indicative of her lack of impulse control, she wants immediate gratification and does not consider the future consequences of her behavior.


Recently Teresa has attacked other housewives in the press. She called Sonja Morgan a "Crazy Old Whore," "desperate" and a "bitch" in a mean-spirited blog about Sonja's first appearance on the Real Housewives Of New York. This attack was from out of nowhere and the hostility was really uncalled for.

Teresa then attacked Bethenny Frankel, also of RHONJ, in a People magazine article, saying, "She used to be a fun, regular girl, but after she got successful, she became a total bitch. I know she acts sweet to her fans on Twitter, but as an insider, I'm here to tell you, it's an act. She is not sweet. She is calculating and cold." She then said on her blog, "Bethenny is not normal".


Teresa went on to say the reason for her comments were because Bethenny said some mean things about her last year. The mean comments Teresa is referring to came from Bethenny's blogs on the first season of the NJ Housewives, which Teresa provided links to. The comments by Bethenny mostly criticize Teresa's impulsive behaviors seen on the show. There was also one which questioned Teresa's intelligence, also based on her behavior seen on RHONJ.

The reason it stands out so much to me is because Bethenny was blogging for Bravo about RHONJ and her criticisms were based on what everyone was seeing on the show at the time. Her cuts were also directed at all the other ladies, they were not just aimed at Teresa. Teresa's attack of Bethenny came from out of the blue and was about Bethenny's personal life, not any behaviors witnessed by the public on the reality show this season. It is clear that Teresa feels more than justified to attack anyone, in any manner, who ever has criticized her. Even months later.


As I always say though, judge for yourselves.

To garner a diagnosis of Emotionally Unstable Personality, Impulsive Type, at least three of the following must be present:

  • Marked tendency to act unexpectedly and without consideration of the consequences
  • Marked tendency to quarrelsome behavior and to conflicts with others, especially when impulsive acts are thwarted or criticized
  • Liability to outbursts of anger or violence without ability to control the resulting behavioral explosions
  • Difficulty in maintaining any course of action that offers no immediate reward
  • Unstable and capricious mood

This post originally appeared on A Real Housewife's View. Republished with permission.


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Tracie Egan Morrissey

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