Does Beth Harmon have BPD? (+5 Signs of issues)

In this detailed post, we will be answering if Beth Harmon has BPD. We will also be checking out the various signs of mental health issues that Beth Harmon portrays in the series ‘The Queen’s Gambit’. In addition to this, we will list a few causal factors.

Does Beth Harmon have BPD? 

No, Beth Harmon does not have BPD. The fictional chess player who is portrayed in the miniseries, ‘The Queen’s Gambit’ definitely shows a number of signs of mental health issues, but never has been properly diagnosed.

Beth Harmon is an orphan who develops an interest in chess, which soon becomes her forte. The series not only covers her adventures with chess and how she becomes an expert in this field, but even shows her mental health struggles along the way.

Some fans that have followed the series very closely and studied the personality of Beth Harmon have come to various conclusions as to what mental health disorder she might be suffering from. A few diagnoses which have been discussed when it comes to Beth Harmon are listed below.

  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder: One of the mental health disorders which mostly matches the actions and behaviors of Beth Harmon is Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. As a child, Beth goes through a lot of trauma.

She sees her mother kill herself in a car accident which was actually supposed to hurt Beth. She suddenly finds herself living in an orphanage where she does not feel at home. All these events could have led to Beth Harmon dealing with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder much later.

In specific, Beth Harmon deals with Complex-PTSD where the trauma is not just one incident, but a series of painful experiences. This type of PTSD causes even more stress and anxiety and is difficult to deal with.

  • Asperger’s syndrome: Some fans also speculate that Beth Harmon actually has Asperger’s syndrome. The reason for this is because Beth displays a lot of struggle in socially interacting with others, especially in the orphanage.

She also seems to not understand social cues, especially from groups. At the same time, she has a penchant for learning about intricate patterns and routines, such as those involved in chess. All these reasons fuel the theory that Beth might actually have Asperger’s syndrome.

  • Substance abuse disorder: Substance abuse is another important theme which is covered in the series ‘The Queen’s Gambit’. Beth Harmon can be seen abusing tranquilizers after she is forced to take them at the orphanage.

She quickly learns that the tranquilizers help in calming her down and may also help in her chess-game. Later on, Beth even starts abusing alcohol in addition to the tranquilizers and finds herself reeling from the negative effects of her addictions.

Signs of Beth Harmon’s mental health issues

In the miniseries ‘The Queen’s Gambit’, the lead character Beth Harmon can be seen depicting a number of signs and symptoms of various mental health disorders. While her actual diagnosis is never confirmed, fans have not stopped giving her arm-chair diagnoses.

Beth Harmon has been closely studied as she portrays a high-functioning form of whatever mental health issue she is actually suffering from. A few signs of Beth Harmon’s mental health issues have been discussed in detail as follows.

She finds it hard to socialize

After Beth Harmon is placed in an orphanage as a result of her mother’s death, she can be seen finding it very hard to socialize with the other children. She however, manages to do alright when it comes to one-on-one interactions.

After Beth finds her love in chess, she simply cannot stop bringing it up in every conversation, even after she has been adopted by another family. Later on, she is also seen to be struggling in other social relationships.

Difficulty in socializing and social relationships can actually point to a number of mental health issues and mental health disorders. For example, those who are on the Autism spectrum may find socializing difficult, and this can also be seen in personality disorders.

She has problems with addiction

Beth Harmon constantly struggles with addiction and substance abuse throughout ‘The Queen’s Gambit’ series. She finds her adoptive mother using tranquilizers and immediately starts mirroring this.

Her substance abuse only becomes deeper when she attributes her wins and achievements in chess to the tranquilizers she is taking. In later episodes, Beth Harmon also turns to alcohol for the same effect, basically digging herself deeper in the pits of addiction.

She goes through constant flashbacks

Throughout the series, Beth Harmon can be seen struggling with flashbacks of the traumatic experiences in her past. For example, she frequently sees her biological mother dying in a car crash.

The flashbacks actually become constantly worse towards the ends of the series, when Beth is dealing with a lot of stress. Experiencing flashbacks of trauma in stressful situations actually point to the presence of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.

She is obsessed with chess

It is no secret that Beth Harmon loves chess and is obsessed with it. When she is introduced to the game by the janitor at her orphanage, Beth instantly falls in love with the game and can be seen talking about it all the time.

She also goes to great lengths to improve her skill-sets in chess, by reading books and even playing the game for hours. At the same time, she avoids improving the other areas of her life, such as forming healthy relationships and learning other activities.

Being committed to a certain talent like playing chess is quite common among professional athletes and sportspersons. However, if the other areas of life are taking a backseat and are not being improved on, this can point to some deep emotional conflicts.

In terms of Beth Harmon, it is clear that she needs help to stay off drugs and alcohol, which actually sends her in to a dark and toxic spiral. However, due to her obsession with the game, she does not do much to stay sober and clean.

She has poor self-esteem

Beth Harmon has the aim of becoming the world-champion in chess. She is truly a natural talent and carries the various skill-sets to dominate anyone in the field. She is highly regarded by anyone she plays with for her talent and her witty charm.

At the same time, Beth Harmon actually struggles with her own personal image. She has poor self-esteem and this can be seen time and time again in her self-talk. This is also quite understandable in seeing that all Beth has done is improve her skills in chess.

The other skills that are needed for a healthy life, such as social relationships, learning and knowledge, managing finances, eating healthy and physical fitness, all are secondary and may be even tertiary to Beth.

Her complete identity is in chess. And without this game in her, Beth Harmon feels lost and pretty worthless. Low self-esteem and poor self-identity is not just the by-product of many mental health disorders, but can lead to disorders like depression and anxiety.

Causes of Beth Harmon’s mental health issues

‘The Queen’s Gambit’ series was critically acclaimed for its beautiful portrayal of the many battles a chess champion needs to face. In the series, Beth Harmon’s mental health issues can be blamed on a few causal factors, like,

  • Her mother’s suicide
  • Her lonely life at the orphanage
  • Her adoptive mother’s death
  • Her struggles with addiction
  • The pressures of being a woman playing a man’s game


In this detailed post, we have answered if Beth Harmon has BPD. We have also checked out the various signs of mental health issues that Beth Harmon portrays in the series ‘The Queen’s Gambit’. In addition to this, we have listed a few causal factors.

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