84 voters

People Who Studied Mental Health Are Applying Armchair Psychology To Fictional Characters

567 votes 84 voters 3.2k views15 items

List RulesVote up the characters that are most in need of a helping hand.

Over on Reddit, people who studied mental health or have experience in the field voice their opinions and general thoughts about possible disorders and issues of popular fictional characters from TV and movies. From possible problems plaguing Ron Swanson to the accuracy of Dexter's diagnosis, people with experience in the mental health industry and/or have studied psychology direct their gaze at popular characters and offer their opinions. Vote up the possible theories that might explain a character's behavior. 

  • Photo: Showtime

    Posted by u/lxndrdvn:

    Dexter is a remorseless killer with no empathy, but starts caring and turns into a normal person when he meets "The Woman."

    Honestly, if you have a psychopath character, just keep it consistent.

    Posted by u/cosmickhaos:

    Dexter is a remorseless killer with no empathy but starts caring and turns into a normal person when he meets "The Woman." Honestly, if you have a psychopath character, just keep it consistent.

    I always got the impression that if Harry had gotten Dexter some real help as a child, he likely would have been a normal person. Harry created The Code and guided Dexter down the serial killer path because he believed it was inevitable. Dexter grew up being told he was different and didn’t have empathy and feelings like a normal person. As an adult, he says he’s a monster, that he doesn’t have feelings, etc. but his interactions with people he cares about prove otherwise. He really loved and cared for Rita, he loves the kids, he loves Deb, and he cares for most of his coworkers. As the series goes on, he becomes more human, expressing feelings he didn’t know he had. For me, that was the point of the show. He wasn’t REALLY a psychopath, but was molded by his adoptive father to believe he was.

    Compelling case?
  • Photo: Star Wars: The Last Jedi / Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

    Luke Skywalker's Behavior Is Consistent With Trauma

    Posted by u/Ms_DragonCat:

    I have a master's in experimental psychology, so I'm probably not the type of psychologist you were thinking of, but the answer to your question is absolutely yes. It was even an exercise in my abnormal psychology class.

    I don't know about unassuming characters, but I can tell you that I often have a very different interpretation of characters than many people do. For example, a common complaint I hear about The Last Jedi was that Luke tossing away the lightsaber was out of character, but I found it very consistent with someone who have been through the trauma he had.

    One thing you learn when studying psychology is that the power of the situation is a lot stronger than many people think it is.

    Compelling case?
  • Posted by u/keiseroll:

    PhD student in clinical psych here. I often say that the main character in Nightcrawler is one of the most accurate depictions of psychopathy/antisocial personality that I've seen in film or TV.

    Most "psychopaths" (not a diagnosis, but a term used in research that overlaps with a lot of antisocial personality disorder) are not overt sadistic murderers, but they lack empathy and will manipulate others for personal gain with superficial charm.

    Jake Gyllenhaal nails this in my opinion and the character is written very realistically.

    Compelling case?
  • Photo: Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix / Warner Bros.

    Posted by u/littlemantry:

    I wrote this a while back when in my mastersof social work program with a mental health focus, but it applies here:

    Harry Potter [seems to have] posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), especially from the end of Goblet of Fire, with symptoms coming full force in the following book. Looking at the DSM5 criteria, he:

    - Criteria A: Witnessed a death/had his life threatened - the events of the end of Goblet of Fire.

    - Criteria B: Recurrent distressing dreams - constant nightmares

    - Criteria C: Avoidance - doesn't want to talk about Cedric, begins avoiding his friends and isolating himself to avoid questions about that night

    - Criteria D: Self-blame (esp with Cedric and suggesting the grab the port key together), feelings of detachment or estrangement from others (belief that his friends don't get it, feeling isolated)

    - Criteria E: Irritability/anger outbursts (hello all of book five), reckless behavior (Harry in a nutshell), problems with concentration, sleep disturbances

    - Criteria F: Gas persisted longer than one month

    - Criteria G: These disturbances cause clinically significant distress and impairment

    - Criteria H: His experiences cannot be attributed to a substance (e.g. drugs)

    Hogwarts really needs a counseling center.

    Compelling case?