What type of personality disorder can you find on Netflix’s The Watcher?

borderline personality disorder Feb 03, 2023

In the Netflix series The Watcher, we have a family, Dean, and Nora Brannock, and their three sons, who move to their dream house in a New Jersey suburb. But the dream turns into a nightmare after they start receiving some mysterious letters signed by “The Watcher”.

Dr. G talks about the different kinds of diagnoses we can see in the show.

This “watcher” asks if the Brannocks know the house’s history and says that he “has been put in charge of watching” them.

As time goes by, new letters arrive in the mailbox with scary messages, like:

  • “Your house is my obsession and now you are too”;
  • “Give the house what it wants. Youngblood”;
  • “I’m still watching”;
  • “I would be very afraid if I were you”.

No doubt the Brannocks get terrorized but if you want to know what happens with them find the show on Netflix and give it a go! No spoilers from me.

Now I would like to talk about the different kinds of diagnoses we might see with the watcher and the family.

I have some experience talking with both stalkers and victims of stalkers and I have some insight about what they feel.

We are going to get started soon, but one last thing: I know this series is based on real events, but I know nothing about them and I’ll be talking specifically about the show.

Also, I’ll just talk about the kinds of features that would suggest the kinds of behaviors that we can see on the show — so, please, don’t take my impressions as a diagnosis to any person with the same behaviors.


The Watcher

There are stalking behaviors in the watcher, of course. And the majority of stalkers have Borderline Personality Disorder.

Basically, personality disorders are different from disorders like anxiety and depression which focus on symptoms.

In personality disorders, we focus on the character of the person.

People with personality disorders fundamentally have different patterns of interacting with the world.

They often severely lack insight, so they don’t understand their own behavior (which is why they can’t correct it).

Furthermore, each personality disorder tends to have a major deficiency, which for Borderline is stability (i.e. people with Borderline are emotionally unstable).

They tend to see things as very black or white; good or bad.

Another thing that people with this disorder do is act impulsively in an attempt to make themselves feel better.

If we look at people that have been affected by stalkers:

  • Over 60% of them receive unwanted phone calls;
  • about 30% of them get unwanted emails or letters*

But it doesn't tend to actually help their urges as they don’t seem to change their behavior.

Unwarranted Victimhood

People with Borderline Personality Disorder struggle with feeling they're the victim. The watcher feels he’s been victimized by the people who moved into the house he has enmeshed with his personality. That is his version of reality and he’s going to react as such.

The Family

When we think about the family and what they went through, I think Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) can be a likely diagnosis for what could come up for them (and let me explain why, because it makes a lot of sense as to why someone that’s been through what they’ve been through could develop this).

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder is an overactive system in the body to make sure that you're going to survive.

If someway you’ve been threatened (or someone else you know has been threatened) and that caused extreme fear about your life or safety, you can develop PTSD.

Why does it happen?

Because we humans are natural survivors! We have a lot of systems already built-in that help us survive.

When somehow our expectations of the world change or we feel vulnerable about a situation, it completely changes the way we perceive the world.

In the watcher, when the family starts receiving threatening letters and doesn’t know what’s going to happen when someone has invaded their home and they have no proof or they find a dead animal and don’t know what happened, it causes them to become hyper-vigilant and can’t put their guard down.

Try thinking about it like this: imagine that you’re lost in the woods and there’s a deadly animal out there.

You don’t know which animal it is, nor what it looks like, but you know that a simple strike can be fatal. What’s going to happen is that all you’re going to do is pay attention to everything.

Everything’s going to feel like a threat and you’re going to be on edge thinking when is this thing going to get you.

In the show, Dean Brannock, the dad, becomes hyper-vigilant against this threat. If you think about the world becoming that unpredictable, the reason that anxiety disorders happen is that things feel unpredictable all the time.

Anxiety is really about predictability. The more anxious you are, the less predictable things feel.

Would you like me to break down another show? Comment directly on this video on my Youtube channel and I’ll break down the most requested shows brought up in the comment section.


Are you having relationship problems? Want to know how to deal with your anxiety?

Get my free resources