Goodbye Norma Jean and England’s Rose — making sense of your lives
Marilyn Monroe and Monroe and Lady Diana had a lot in common: Sir Elton John devoted the same song to both of them, both had troubled childhoods, were misfits, died much too young at 36 and both struggled with mental health problems. And they are both featured in Claudia Kalb’s highly recommendable book Andy Warhol Was a Hoarder: Inside the Minds of History’s Great Personalities (2016) in which she examines the lives of some of the greatest personalities from the point of view of clinical psychology. In fact, all five of the personalities featured on the cover of her book were misfits and intuitive perceivers (NP) types in Myers-Briggs. Marilyn is usually typed as ESFP or ISFP, but that is most likely a mistyping. I have argued before that the Myers-Briggs types derive from our ancestral modes of subsistence and I will argue that Marilyn (ENFP) was a gatherer type, like Lady Diana (INFP).
Kalb gives Marilyn a diagnosis of borderline personality disorder and Lady Diana is known to have suffered from bulimia and self-harm. Both had troubled childhoods and difficulties connecting with their mothers. Both (Marilyn more so) may have been insecurely attached.
Insecure attachment type 3 (disoriented) is the one that predicts the most negative life outcomes and neuroticism. Type one and two are more resilient. Marilyn and Diana were what has been called “orchids” (vs. dandelions”) more recently. Both suffered from loneliness in childhood, their teens and throughout life, finding it hard to connect to the people around them. I have argued that this type of insecure attachment is most typical for forager (hunter-gatherer) types. As is postpartum depression. Lady Diana and Marilyn’s mother suffered from it. I have argued before that postpartum depression is likely to be most common among forager types as foragers practice alloparenting and a lack of extensive social support can easily lead to postpartum depression
Both Diana and Marilyn were intellectually curious but did poorly in school, which may be a sign of ADHD and of a forager mind. Marilyn was an avid reader of high literature and her favourite writers included Kerouac, Steinbeck and Flaubert and got — to the surprise of the whole world — married to playwright Arthur Miller. Both were also highly charitable and supported in particular child-focused charities. Of course, it is easy to be charitable when you are rich, but both of them showed high personal commitment. Marlyn was also an early advocate for civil rights with Abraham Lincoln being her personal hero. She certainly was anything but a superficial celebrity.
Here are some more commonalities between the two:
- highly empathic
- overly sensitive
- HSPs (likely)
- Struggles with not fitting in
- Self-harm/suicidal ideation
- Irritable bowel syndrome (Marilyn only)
Last, but not least, both were troubled by low self-esteem. All these are common comorbidities of neurodiversity. Marilyn even got the Marilyn Monroe Syndrome named after her. It defines those people everyone loves, but nobody really tries to get to know. In a way, it reflects modern relationships which have become increasingly shallow with the increasing material wealth we have.
For more on hunter-gatherer minds check out our book: