"Sleeping with the Enemy" (1991). Martin Burney as an example of Obsessive Compulsive Personality Disorder?

Analysis with the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5)

Abstract, 2016

13 Pages, Grade: 99.00/100.00


Table of Contents


DSM Criterion

Examples of OCPD

Categorical Information

Borderline Personality Disorder Traits

Narcissistic Personality Disorder Traits

Schizophrenia Trait

Dimensional Information

Medical Problem(s)

Psychosocial Problems

Examples of Narcissistic Personality Disorder

Examples of Borderline Personality Disorder


Movie watched: Sleeping with the Enemy (Joseph Ruben, 1991, 20th Century Fox) .

Character observed: Martin Burney, a married, white male in his late twenties-early thirties

Diagnosis: Obsessive-compulsive personality disorder (OCPD)

DSM Criterion

According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorder (5th ed.; DSM-5; American Psychiatric Association [APA], 2013);. Obsessive Compulsive Personality Disorder (OCPD) is indicated when four (or more) criteria are met (APA, 2013). Martin Burney meets four of the criteria for OCPD.

All examples of OCPD diagnostic behavior by Martin Birney appear in the 1993 film Sleeping With the Enemy ( producer, director, year of release).

Examples of OCPD

1. “Is preoccupied with details, rules, lists, order, organization, or schedules to the extent that the major point of the activity is lost” (APA, 2013).

Specific examples-

Martin seductively embraces Laura; she thinks he wants more sex. He then orders her to “come with me” and leads her (by the hand, trailing behind him) to the bathroom where he forces her to determine what (in his opinion) is wrong. Laura quickly glances around and spots that the bathroom towels are not aligned perfectly, she quickly fixes them.

Laura frantically line-up groceries in kitchen cupboard, it is obvious to viewer that she fears Martin’s retribution should he find them not to his satisfaction.

As Martin and Laura have intercourse, we see his shoes lined-up perfectly near bed, socks rolled perfectly and centered between shoes, Martin’s clothes are folded perfectly and draped, perfectly centered over the back of chair near bed, Martin’s belt is hung (exactly in the middle) over his slacks .

After he climaxes, Martin immediately heads for the shower.

Laura asks Martin if his dinner has ever been late, even once. (Martin obviously has insisted his dinner be made exactly on time every night they eat at home).

3. “Is excessively devoted to work and productivity to the exclusion of leisure activities and friendships…” (APA, 2013).

Specific examples-

Martin approaches wife on beach, walks across expanse of sand at their vacation home dressed in full business suit, complete with overcoat.

Martin admits to his wife, Laura that he is working while they are on their vacation.

4. “Is overconscientious, scrupulous, and inflexible about matters of morality, ethics, and values…” (APA, 2013).

Specific examples-

Upon admitting on the beach that he is working on their vacation, Martin overcompensates and attempts to sound as if he cares about Laura’s opinion as he asks her, “do you forgive me?”

After Laura smudges small amount of sand on him Martin says he will change clothes.

At party, Laura asks Martin, “Have I been social long enough?” Laura has subordinated herself to the rigorous demands of Martin.

After Martin has beaten Laura, says to her, “Now you’ll pout and spoil our supper.”

Martin tells Laura to conquer her fears (of water).

Martin has slugged Laura and kicked her afterwards as she lay on the floor. Once he leaves the room. Laura immediately begins picking up the flowers that have fallen to the floor lest she incur Martin’s additional wrath for allowing a mess to lie on floor.

Martin reminds Laura that his dinner was late when Laura went away (ostensibly) to her mother’s funeral.

Martin pats mouth with a kerchief after drinking water from a water fountain.

8. “Shows rigidity and stubbornness” (APA, 2013).

Specific examples-

Martin passive-aggressively tells Laura that he wants her to wear a black dress to the party instead of the white one she has chosen, even though she is already wearing the white dress.

As Martin speaks to doctor at dock near sailboat, he tells doctor that he tries to get Laura out on a boat, “at least once a season,” after he has told doctor that she nearly drowned as a kid, hates the water, and cannot swim.

Martin calls the doctor Laura’s “friend” even though Laura has said she does not know doctor. Martin implies he and Laura will be sailing that evening, and that she must not protest.

Martin tells Laura that the discussion they are having about her working more days at the library is postponed until after they go sailing.

Categorical Information

Martin’s preoccupation with rules, order, organization and schedules (APA, 2013) interferes with the enjoyment of his marriage to Laura: He brings Laura inside the house to force Laura to rearrange bathroom towels. Laura then hurries to kitchen and hurriedly arranges groceries perfectly in kitchen cabinet. Martin arranges clothes too carefully before he and Laura have sex, and after he climaxes, he immediately runs to the shower. Martin is “excessively devoted to work …to the exclusion of leisure activities and friendships…” (APA, 2013): Martin is going into the office in full business attire while he and Laura are on vacation at beach house, leaving Laura at home alone. Even upon returning from work, Martin walks to the beach in his business suit indicating that the fun is over, he has not put on shorts and come to join his wife in the fun of digging for clams.

Martin is “over-conscientious, scrupulous, and inflexible about matter of morality, ethics, or values…” (APA, 2013). From the way his wife, Laura, cleans up messes, Martin appears to insist the house is spotless and that every item must be in a very specific place-the bathroom towels, his clothes hung perfectly over a chair before he has sex, changing suit after small amount of sand gets on it. Martin’s inflexibility about morality, ethics, or values is apparent when he insists the Laura go sailing with him even though she hates the water.

Martin “shows rigidity and stubbornness” (APA, 2013) when he passive-aggressively tells Laura that he does not like the dress she has already chosen for that evening’s party and tells her to wear a different dress, instead. Even though Laura has said she does not know the doctor, Martin calls the doctor Laura’s friend. At the boat dock, Martin tells the doctor that he likes to get Laura out on the water in a boat at least once a year even though she hates water and does not swim. Martin will not resolve his discussion with Laura about her working more days at library. Instead, he says the discussion is “postponed” until after they go sailing.

Although Martin exhibits enough categorical symptoms to warrant a primary diagnosis of OCPD, an OCPD diagnosis does not account for Martin’s fear of abandonment, rage, selfishness, egotistical behavior, and his violence. Those traits warrant an (undiagnosed) mention as secondary personality disorders containing the symptoms of borderline personality disorder, narcissistic personality disorder, and schizophrenia..


Excerpt out of 13 pages


"Sleeping with the Enemy" (1991). Martin Burney as an example of Obsessive Compulsive Personality Disorder?
Analysis with the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5)
California State University, East Bay  (CSUB)
Abnormal Pshchology 315
Catalog Number
ISBN (eBook)
ISBN (Book)
File size
479 KB
Martin Burney, DSM-5, Sleeping with the Enemy, OCPD
Quote paper
William Bell (Author), 2016, "Sleeping with the Enemy" (1991). Martin Burney as an example of Obsessive Compulsive Personality Disorder?, Munich, GRIN Verlag, https://www.grin.com/document/334153


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