The song The Archer by Taylor Swift is the fifth track from her 2019 album Lover highlights a pattern of instability and interpersonal dysfunction that is characteristic of borderline personality disorder (BPD).
I’m ready for combat
I say I don’t want that
But what if I do?
These lines suggest that the narrator is always expecting conflict in her relationships, but questions if she is unconsciously creating that conflict herself. This suggests a lack of insight into her actions, which is a defining feature of personality disorders.
Self-injury and low self-esteem, another two defining features of BPD, are mentioned in the lines:
And I cut off
My nose just to spite my face
Then I hate my reflection
For years and years
The final stanza explicitly mentions trauma caused by multiple failed friendships and relationships:
All the king’s horses
All the king’s men
Couldn’t put me
’Cause all of my enemies
Started out friends
They indicate that the narrator feels “broken”, just like Humpty Dumpty from the nursery rhyme which is referenced here.
When asked about The Archer, Taylor Swift told her fans in an Instagram livestream, “Track five is kind of a tradition that really started with you guys because, I didn’t realize that I was doing this, but as I was making albums, I was instinctively putting very vulnerable, personal, honest, emotional songs as track five.”
Feature: Kai Stachowiak at Needpix, Public Domain