Black Swan: Stealing (4-8)
- Category: Culture and Media
I’m glad the Black Swan filmmakers included Nina’s stealing from the older ballerina, Beth. Stealing is often a component of an eating disorder. The person doesn’t steal because she has a criminal mind and seeks to earn her way in the world through theft.
She feels a great deprivation and need within her that she doesn’t understand. Her ability to understand some of her healthy human needs did not develop. She sees what she imagines is the answer to her deprivation in objects, especially objects owned by someone she admires and envies.
Nina did not steal Beth’s diamond earrings because they were of monetary value, or even because they were pretty. She stole them because she was trying to acquire an aspect of Beth herself. Wearing them gave Nina a sense of power and achievement. She psychologically steals these feelings from Beth because Nina couldn’t develop those qualities within her own self.
Often people with eating disorders steal. They steal food from shops and condiments from restaurants. They steal clothes and accessories from department stores, often items they could afford to buy.
To pay for an item means that the woman accepts the fact that the item is owned by someone else, and she is required to give something in exchange for it in order to own it herself. But stealing in the mind of the person with the eating disorder does not take fair exchange into account. She sees an item and recognizes it as rightfully hers. The sight of it brings up powerful and wonderful feelings in her that fill an emotional deficit she didn’t know could be filled. She takes the item because, in her mind, it is hers. She uses stealth because others who might see her take the item are suddenly enemies who don’t understand that she needs this item to fulfill herself. It doesn’t occur to her to buy it, even if she is buying other items. This particular item only has value to her if she takes it as her rightful property, even if morals, ethics or the law disagree.
Nina took possession of Beth’s qualities by taking possession of Beth’s property. Nina justifies her theft and places herself above the law. She will go to any length to fulfill her distorted goals.
I know this sounds terribly extreme. But the severe anorexic woman goes to any length to fulfill her distorted goals, even unto death.