Annie Wilkes “Misery”

Annie Wilkes is a former nurse who lived a in a rather isolated area of Colorado. As an extreme fan of author Paul Sheldon’s romance novels (which feature her favorite character, Misery Chastain), Wilkes is ecstatic to save Sheldon himself from a car wreck that leaves him immobilized with both legs broken.

Annie was born in Bakersfield, California and she graduated from the University of California at the Los Angeles nursing school in 1966. While serving as head maternity nurse at a Boulder, Colorado hospital, several infants in her care died under mysterious circumstances. She was tried for their deaths, but she acquitted for lack of evidence. The character mentions that her favorite activity while growing up in Bakersfield was to go to the movies and watch “chapter plays”. She also says that she was not very popular with other children because of her temper. An article in a local Bakersfield newspaper, found in the patient’s “scrap book”, reveals that on Sunday June 29th, 1963 Carl Wilkes, a local Investment Banker had been found dead by his 11 year old daughter Annie Wilkes after falling off from the stairs of their home. The article announces the incident as a “freak accident”. The relationship between the patient and her parents is unknown; therefore, an accurate speculation regarding the significance of Carl Wilkes death on then 11-year-old Annie Wilkes cannot be made.

Misery (1990).

Best-selling novelist Paul Sheldon is on his way home from his Colorado hideaway after completing his latest book, when he crashes his car in a freak blizzard. From the brink of death, he is rescued from the snow by Annie Wilkes, who just so happens to be Misery’s self-professed biggest fan. In the beginning, Annie is presented as a capable, caring, and devoted fan who is willing to help Paul get back on his feet and go back to his normal life but very soon it becomes apparent that her motives are not sensible. His gratitude soon starts to turn to concern though, as it becomes increasingly clear that her love of his Misery novels is far from normal. Annie displays a series of obsessive, delusional and dangerous behaviors through the course of several weeks that reveal her unstable troubled mind. Her rage and insistence that he should re-write the book leads him to becoming a prisoner in her home. Paul used to write for a living… now, he must write to save his life!

“The rain. Sometimes it gives me the blues. When you first came here, I only loved the writer part of Paul Sheldon. Now I know I love the rest of him, too. I know you don’t love me, don’t say you do. You’re beautiful, brilliant, a famous man of the world and I’m… not a movie star type. You’ll never know the fear of losing someone like you if you’re someone like me.”

Annie’s personality is characterised by violent mood swings, alternating between sweet and charming and blind with fury. Despite her evil actions, Annie regards herself as a devout Christian and believes that God often speaks to her and instructs her. She lives alone in a remote area outside of town, and does not have any close friends or acquaintances, which reflects “pervasive pattern of social and interpersonal deficits”, seen in this personality disorder. She enjoys the company of a pig rather than people. She has eccentric behaviors and mannerism that seem odd and at times bizarre. She jumps up and down when she gets excited even though she is close to 50 years old. She uses words such as “dirty-birdy” and “cocka-doodie” and her language is over elaborated when she wants to express strong emotions. She is obsessed with the Misery Chastain novels by Paul Sheldon and has difficulty distinguishing between them and reality. During her depressive favours, she binge eats and self-harms. Annie is a control freak with a strong desire for power over others and shows pronounced sinster tendencies, not only torturing Paul for disobeying her but also murdering countless infants during her tenure as a nurse. Annie rationalizes her actions and behaviors by saying that God told her to do what she is doing and that it is her duty.

Forensic psychologist Reid Meloy states that Annie’s personality is a virtual catalogue of personality disorders. She shows signs of Schizoid, Schizotypal, Borderline and Obsessive compulsive personality disorders respectively as well as bipolar and sadomasochistic features.

I thought you were good, Paul. But you’re not good. You’re just an old dirty birdy.