RHONY’s Kelly Killoren Bensimon- Paranoid Personality Disorder

Welcome to my second blog about the psychological disorders displayed on the Real Housewives series featured on Bravo. Once again I do have a psych degree but I am not a practicing psychologist. These blogs are intended for entertainment purposes only, mostly my own entertainment I will admit.

Thanks so much for the responses on my first attempt at bloganalysis. I do love any and all comments, feel free to disagree or point out flaws in logic. I am open to anything.

I could not resist tackling the juicy subject of Kelly Killoren Bensimon today. If you watched last night, I am sure you know why. Kelly is one of the women featured on Bravo’s Real Housewives Of New York City, also known as RHONY. It does not take a psych degree to see that Ms. Bensimon is suffering from a case of paranoid personality disorder.

People with paranoid personality disorder are highly suspicious of other people. They also are usually unable to acknowledge their own negative feelings towards other people in any realistic way. They generally do not work well with others, feeling as if they will be exploited or otherwise harmed. When paranoid people are in any way confronted or feel threatened, they tend to respond either by detaching emotionally or reacting with hostility that can even manifest in physical violence.

Kelly on the surface seems to be a very social and self confident individual. We see her party hop, chatter and generally act the part of typical socialite. Appearances can be deceptive. Kelly may also be active in her social life but she fails to connect with anyone, even her own children, on any significant level.

Case in point, when she posed for Playboy magazine. She took her daughters to lunch for a conversion about what was going on and I imagine to prep them for what was to come. The entire exchange was fraught with complete misunderstanding by Kelly of everything her kids said as well as a total misread by Kelly of how the children actually felt. There was no connection, it was a going through the motions type of talk. At one point her daughter praised her for working hard for them and Kelly took it as she was saying Kelly was hard on them. Why would that be where Kelly goes? Odd, no?

Kelly does not like Bethenny Frankel. Instead of telling her that or owning that emotion to others, Kelly instead will tell you that Bethenny hates her. She will add that Ms Frankel has attempted to smear her in the press and even that Bethenny has tried to kill her and harm her innocent children. I don’t think Ms Bensimon has any clue why Bethenny or anyone else would dislike her or her behaviors, any negativity is perceived as a direct attack and not dealt with rationally.

I will give her that Bethenny does not like her and indeed has probably made many comments that have made it into the papers. I am sure every housewife is guilty of that in varying degrees, some is probably just normal talk that worms its way down to reporters and some probably is indeed blatant feeding to the press trolls. That kind of press goes with reality TV and really any type of fame in general and you need to realize that going in. I think most rational adults would.

The idea though that any of the housewives tried in any way to harm Kelly’s children is patently ridiculous. I am just not drinking that Kool Aid thanks. As for the Bethenny is killing me comments, well if it had been said in an ironic tone then I would get it. Trouble is, it was not. Kelly honestly seems to believe that Bethenny Frankel is legitimately plotting to kill her. Yes that is indeed paranoia and crosses into legitimate full blown disease.

Kelly maintains a façade of self confidence. If you watch her interactions carefully you will see how often she engages in approval seeking. I think that may be some of the reason she ignores other women for the most part socially, she perceives them as a threat. With men she gets the positive reinforcement she craves, as they are more apt to appreciate her appearance.

Her relationships with women, when she does have them, are odd. She has befriended Jill and meekly accepts Jill’s corrections of her behaviors, even her way of speaking. She is obviously desperate for the acceptance of Jill Zarin, that would not be the case if she truly had self esteem. She defends this woman to everyone (to her own detriment) and in return gets how many times she says *like* counted at her. Yes that is a whipped puppy’s behavior, not the alpha dog. 

Kelly does not work well with others. Awhile back the women tried to organize a charity event Jill Zarin was hosting. Kelly’s first reaction was to insist she doesn’t put her name on anything, implying that her good name would somehow be harmed if she were associated with the endeavor. She seemed suspicious of the motives of the others for being involved as well.

During a vacation shown this week on Bravo, Kelly displayed a lot of her general feeling that everyone is out to get her. A varying times she refered to others as witches, mean, vile and even accused one castmate of “channeling the Devil” himself. She at times self isolated and at others lashed out toward at least three of the women. Her ramblings were illogical, at times even unintelligible. Her anger was of an inappropriate level to the given situations as well.

Whenever emotions were shown she grew more uncomfortable and agitated, even when the emotions were innocuous or not directed at her in any way. She read into every situation a threat against her personally. She raged against anyone who was visibly feeling anything, claiming it was *so 1979*. I confess the amateur shrink in me wonders exactly what happened to Ms Bensimon during that particular year as it is an otherwise completely random choice. She told numerous people to zip it and otherwise shut their mouth, as she clearly could not handle conversation of any type. A true breakdown occurred and I doubt we saw even close to the worst of it.

I also must go into a real life incident off show. Kelly Killoren Bensimon admitted she hit her real life boyfriend Nick Stefanov in March of this year as part of a plea deal. She in return did not have to plead guilty and served two days of community service. When this incident was mentioned on the show it was presented as Kelly volunteering. The fact remains she did legally admit to resorting to violence in a confrontation with her then boyfriend. Not exactly the action of someone in control of themselves. I think after watching a recent episode I can see how it might have come about.

I think Sonja Morgan may have saved more harm coming to anyone else during the vacation scenes. She calmly and rationally made everyone realize the powder keg was ready to blow. Do I think it could have escalated in something dangerous? Yes I really do. Luckily dispassionate calmness is indeed the best way to defuse paranoia.

At any rate I do indeed feel that Kelly Killoren Bensimon is a true case of Paranoid Personality Disorder but again, judge for yourselves.

Other common symptoms include:

  • Concern that other people have hidden motives
  • Expectation that they will be exploited by others
  • Inability to work together with others
  • Poor self image
  • Social isolation
  • Detachment
  • Hostility
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RHONY’s Jill Zarin- The Classic Narcissist

Yes this is just a TV show but I have a psych degree I never use so I am going to dust it off.  I will interpret the behaviors of Bravo’s Real Housewives series’ women with what I was taught. I can only analyze what I see, so of course the results may be skewed. Read this with the usual disclaimer for entertainment purposes only, mostly my entertainment to be frank. Bear with me though, I am neither a veteran blogger nor a professional psychologist.

This entry will focus on Jill Zarin but I am determined to uncover all the disorders lurking inside the various housewives, I am just that way. This is the first of a series of psychological overviews on the real housewives.

I begin with my least favorite of the housewives, Jill Zarin, currently one of the featured people on The Real Housewives Of New York aka RHONY. Jill is a classic narcissist. For those of you not in the know there are subtypes of narcissism, Jill is the grandiose or malignant varietal. The grandiose or malignant subtype is identified by marked arrogance, contempt for others and a belief that they should only associate with other special people like themselves. Jill has gone off the deep end since Bravo show has allowed her fantasy that she is somehow better than the rest of the world to seem like reality to her and some others.

Jill has an obsessive need for attention. She has often displayed fits of piqué when she has not gotten the admiration or adulation she feels she has earned. She honestly feels she deserves attention, despite having none of her own accomplishments, simply because she is special for being Jill Zarin. She talks of her husband’s business as though it is her own, despite having been married to Bobby for a relatively short amount of time and seeming to have no real purpose at Zarin Fabrics. She continually acts as though co-star Bethenny’s success is solely due to her, despite having only been a friend of hers the last couple of years. There is also the pesky fact that Bethenny’s success is largely due to being on a reality show, not the good word of Jill Zarin.

Another personality trait of a narcissist is a noticable lack of empathy. Case in point, Bethenny’s father. Jill knew Bobby Frankel was ill, we know this because she told Alex she knew. Jill reaction was to shrug it off and claim Bethenny and her dad aren’t even close. Instead of sympathizing with a woman that she called a friend, she instead went right back to harping about how Bethenny had not been around for her during her husband’s illness, which had since been over. No emotion for Bethenny, no thought for what she might be feeling, instead it is back to Jill and how she needs things. She cannot see past her own interests for a so-called friend. She cannot understand that any parent dying, no matter how bad the relationship, would be painful to someone she claimed to care for.

Indeed Jill had often mentioned Bobby Zarin’s illness, later we all find out that during this period of time Jill had not been around for Bobby, rather she was pictured often out and about in the Hamptons partying while he was recovering from *being split from ear to ear*. This leads me to believe she was more upset about being ignored by someone (Bethenny) than she actually was concerned for her husband. After all she did not feel it necessary to curtail her own social life for his life threatening illness.

Jill has often been said to need *an underdog*, this may lead you to assume she needs someone to help for selfless reasons. In fact Jill just needs to be surrounded by people she feels are weaker somehow than her, not unspecial people by any stretch, just people she can influence who will in turn give her the volume of attention her disorder requires. In LuAnn, Jill Zarin has found a title to leech onto and a complete sycophant to feed her raging ego. More about LuAnn tomorrow though. In Kelly, Jill has found someone exceedingly attractive (a former model) who she shares an enemy with. Kelly is a weak minded and paranoid person but she also gives Jill a good share of adulation which works for Jill.

Jill has never liked Alex and has regularly displayed contempt for her, commenting negatively on everything from where she lives to her family. Alex is just not special enough in Jill’s eyes, nor does she kiss Jill’s ass so Jill has no use for her. You can see a marked difference in Jill’s treatment of her to Jill’s typical interactions with all the other women on the show. When confronted about her bad treatment by Alex I honestly think Jill was put out because its such a habit she cannot even remember doing it. That and she was appalled at someone she feels is a nobody to be questioning her at all. Jill feels above a scolding from a working person from Brooklyn.

Lately Jill has put on quite a show of sorrow over her broken relationship with Bethenny. Ahhh feelings you cry, yes indeed, the sadness of lost potential for attention stealing. Bethenny became the center of attention, with a wedding and a baby.  Jill knew that the show’s focus would surely be diverted from her own life. She had been short-sighted and suddenly she saw that she had squandered a chance for captured glory she could have garnered for herself by taking the attention for Bethenny’s latest achievements as she had tried to with Bethenny’s past accomplishments. That is sad for a raging narcissist, as sad as it gets.

Judge for yourself though. There are nine diagnostic criteria for a diagnosis of narcissism, you need to only display five behaviorally. To garner a diagnosis of Narcissistic Personality Disorder you must have a pervasive pattern of grandiosity (in fantasy or behavior), a pressing need for admiration and a noticable lack of empathy. This behavior should begin by early adulthood and present itself in a variety of contexts, as indicated by five (or more) of the following:

  • A grandiose sense of self-importance. These people may exaggerate achievements or expect to be recognized as superior without commensurate achievements.
  • Preoccupied with fantasies of unlimited success, power, brilliance or beauty.
  • Believes he or she is *special* and unique. They believe they can only be understood by other special or high status persons and that is who they believe they should associate with.
  • Requires excessive admiration.
  • A strong sense of entitlement. This may include unrealistic expectations of especially favorable treatment or an automatic compliance by others with his or her expectations.
  • Interpersonally exploitative, often taking advantage of others to achieve his or her own ends.
  • Lack of empathy, unwilling to recognize or identify with the feelings and needs of others.
  • Often envious of others or believes others are envious of them.
  • Demonstrates arrogant or haughty behaviors or attitudes.

I feel my case is clear.

Please feel free to comment and share! Thanks!

For anyone having navigational issues here are the links to the other discussions on the Housewives of New York:

https://angelofdevs.wordpress.com/2010/06/18/kelly-killoren-bensimon-update-schizoaffective-disorder/

https://angelofdevs.wordpress.com/2010/06/04/rhonys-luann-de-lesseps-compensatory-narcissistic-personality-disorder/

https://angelofdevs.wordpress.com/2010/06/11/rhonys-bethenny-frankel-obsessive-compulsive-personality-disorder/

https://angelofdevs.wordpress.com/2010/06/15/rhonys-ramona-singer-cyclothymia/

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