Does Charlie from ‘The Perks of Being a Wallflower’ have BPD? (+5 Other diagnoses)

The current blogpost will be explaining if Charlie from ‘The Perks of Being a Wallflower’ has BPD, by looking at the various signs and symptoms he shows. Furthermore, we will be addressing the other mental health disorders and issues that Charlie may have.

Does Charlie from ‘The Perks of Being a Wallflower’ have BPD?

Yes, Charlie from ‘The Perks of Being a Wallflower’ has BPD. In the book and the movie of the same name, Charlie shows many signs and symptoms of Borderline Personality Disorder. However, neither the book nor the movie openly confirms this.

The theory that Charlie really has Borderline Personality Disorder comes as a result of a number of the characteristic signs and symptoms of BPD that he depicts. Some of the signs that Charlie shows through his actions and behaviors are discussed in the points below.

He can be seen dissociating at times

Charlie can be clearly seen dissociating at times in ‘The Perks of Being a Wallflower’. For instance, when he gets into a fight, this is so unlikely of him and looks like some other person has taken over completely.

He finds it hard to make friends

Borderline Personality Disorder is also characterized by unstable relationships with others. Charlie is most often a loner and does not find a steady group of friends until he meets Sam. If Sam did not take him into the group, it is most likely that Charlie would have been alone.

He goes through blackouts

In several instances in ‘The Perks of Being a Wallflower’, Charlie can be seen going through blackouts. Some of these are minor, while others lead to a spiral of anxiety and depression for Charlie.

One such instance is when he kisses Sam and he blacks out for a second. His memory goes back to when his Aunt Helen sexually abused him, and this eventually leads him to have an anxiety attack.

Blackouts like this are quite common in Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder which is another mental health disorder that Charlie is supposed to have. Blackouts can also be seen in Borderline Personality Disorder, when the person comes face to face with a major stressor.

He clearly fears abandonment

Another sign of Borderline Personality Disorder that Charlie shows is a high fear of abandonment. This is a pretty characteristic sign of this personality disorder. Charlie, being a major loner, feels ecstatic about being in a friends group with Sam.

However, due to certain incidents, there is a fight, and eventually the gang stops talking to Charlie. Charlie clearly cannot take this. And instead of talking things out like a mature person, he overreacts and keeps calling them.

He changes his perceptions of others easily

Charlie also constantly changes his perceptions of others quite easily. At one point he idealizes someone and at another, he is sickened of them. This can be seen in his perception of Mary-Elizabeth.

He takes part in impulsive behavior

Charlie further takes part in very impulsive behavior. For example, the fight that he surprisingly takes part in. Another example of his recklessness is when he buys drugs for the gang after they completely stop talking to him.

This not only points to his impulsivity, but the extremes that he will go through just to get the group talking to him again. This also reinforces the fear of abandonment characteristic in Charlie.

He has a distorted self-image

Charlie can also be seen to have a distorted view of himself as shown in the movie. He clearly has poor self-esteem and his entire identity is sponged off those around him. He takes part in their activities, watches their movies, and even listens to their music.

He does all this just to impress the group so that they will keep accepting him. This distorted self-image seen in Charlie is a typical sign of Borderline Personality Disorder, and even leads to many other emotional conflicts in the person.

He shows self-harming behavior

At one point in the story, Charlie can also be seen taking part in self-harming behavior. Towards the end, Charlie tries to self-harm but is fortunately rescued in time. However, apart from this incident, Charlie is not seen taking part in self-harming behaviors in the book or the movie.

Charlie’s mental health disorders

The movie ‘The Perks of Being a Wallflower’ received a lot of critical acclaim for its beautiful portrayal of a teenager struggling with mental health issues. Charlie, the main character, goes through a magnificent story arc, battling a number of mental health issues.

Most fans and even experts who have studied the story and the character of Charlie have confirmed that he has Borderline Personality Disorder. While this is the most accepted theory, a number of other mental health issues and disorders can be seen in Charlie. Some of these are:

  • Clinical depression: In the book and the movie, it is shown that Charlie was actually hospitalized as a result of clinical depression. This diagnosis also goes to explain his introverted personality and his recurrent anxiety attacks.
  • PTSD: After it is revealed that Charlie was actually sexually abused by his Aunt Helen in the end of the story, it can be assumed that he actually has PTSD or Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. His PTSD leads to frequent blackouts in Charlie.

Charlie feels especially anxious considering the fact that his abuse came from someone he loved the most in the world. At one point, he even is glad that his aunt died in an accident and confesses this out loud.

The flashbacks haunt Charlie, especially when he is in a vulnerable position or when he comes face to face with some trigger factor. What sent Charlie over the edge was Sam touching his thigh when they were kissing.

He temporarily has flashbacks of his Aunt Helen, but he simply brushes them off. The next day, these flashbacks continue, sending Charlie into a complete meltdown. All these instances point to the presence of PTSD.

  • Generalized Anxiety Disorder: Charlie also shows a lot of symptoms of Generalized Anxiety Disorder in the story. For example, he has panic attacks when he has flashbacks of traumatic incidents, and even has anxiety when the gang stops talking to him.

This theory has been pretty much discredited by fans and experts on the story since Charlie’s signs and symptoms fall more in line with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and not Generalized Anxiety Disorder.

  • Asperger’s Syndrome: Another theory that many fans have come up with is that Charlie may actually have Asperger’s Syndrome. This is because of the difficulty in social interaction that he displays.
  • Social Anxiety Disorder: Fans who have closely studied the behaviors and character of Charlie from ‘The Perks of Being a Wallflower’ have also noticed that the character definitely struggles in forming social bonds with others.

As a result of this, many people think that Charlie struggles from Social Anxiety Disorder. He is definitely introverted, and does not like the attention of many people on him. However, this is pretty unlikely.

Charlie can be seen making good friends with Sam and the others and does not show any anxiety in these social situations at all. He also actually craves their friendships and becomes anxious when they stop talking to him.


The current blogpost has explained if Charlie from ‘The Perks of Being a Wallflower’ has BPD, by looking at the various signs and symptoms he shows. Furthermore, we have addressed the other mental health disorders and issues that Charlie may have.

If you like this blogpost, please leave your comments and questions in the space below.


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