TV and movie characters often display signs of mental illness, however diagnosing someone at a distance is a challenge. Some are obvious though - like Monica Gellar, who needs everything to always be in its proper place, or Archer, who, well... the mommy issues are only the tip of that iceberg.
RogueFart asked, Psychologists of reddit, do you ever find yourself "examining" fictional characters from tv, books, books and movies? If so, what are some interesting characters that are maybe unassuming to the "uneducated"?
Submissions have been edited for clarity, context, and profanity.
Sound like anyone you know?Giphy
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
How I Met Your -- Psychopath?Giphy
Barney Stinson is not a psychopath (i.e. ASPD). He's not destructive and parasitic enough in the group he's currently exploiting. He supposedly falls in love, has remorse and empathy. That's a little off for someone who is played out as a psychopath. It's the same with some other supposed psychopaths in TV. 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.
Bonus: Michael Scott is a domineering workplace bully and Toby is his submissive victim. We watched a compilation of his bullying in an organizational psychology class. I also would say Jim is a reactive bully and Dwight is his provocative victim. Dwight acts in strange, provocative, and norm-breaking ways, which provokes Jim to bully him to put him in his place.
Touch one thing in that kitchen...Giphy
I have a BA in Psych but my professors would often use Monica from Friends as an example to have Obsessive Compulsive Personality Disorder. That's OCPD not OCD, which are often confused. Just the way she is very rigid, and wants everything clean and organized. My professors would sometimes classify Sheldon Cooper to have OCPD, as well.
Tony Stark had some serious PTSD. Also, solid advice here.Giphy
Iron man is totally going through a Manic episode at the beginning of the Iron Man movie where he's building all those Iron man suits.
Rapid speech, racing thoughts, no sleep for 3 nights, grandiose behaviour, goal directed tasks (his machines, but unlike manic people he finished his objective).
Edit: To everyone relating to the above information, if you think even for a minute you can relate all too well with this, please go see your physician or a mental health professional! These are important conversations to have and the sooner you have them the better.
Mental health diagnoses can be complicated; there are an array of illnesses who's symptoms overlap or co-exist. Google, movies, your friend or a reddit comment are not the most accurate nor the most informative sources to figure out what illness you or a loved one may have. Please go seek help from a professional. I promise you we will do our best to diagnose and treat you to make YOUR life and subsequently the lives of the people around you better.
Also to the buddy who graced me with gold, thank you! For anyone else who thought (or not) about it, please spend those few dollars by donating to a Mental Health charity or facility. Your local one preferably!!
Hogwarts' liability insurance premiums must be astronomical.Giphy
I wrote this a while back when in my MSW program with a mental health focus, but it applies here:
Harry Potter definitely has posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), esp 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 GoF
- 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 portkey 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 5), reckless behavior (Harry in a nutshell), problems with concentration, sleep disturbances
- Criteria F: has persisted longer than 1 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.
She'll always be his girl.Giphy
Degree in behavioral science. Done a lot of work with people dealing with trauma. Jenny from Forrest Gump is an incredibly fascinating character. The way her childhood abuse sets her up to gravitate towards abusers, and avoid people who could make her happy is a hell of a watch. Also consider her feelings of power over Forrest considering his handicap, and to see that affect her relationship with him is a whole other layer to her story. She is a hell of a character, much more so than Forrest.
Chuck is detestable yet he draws sympathy toward the end.Giphy
I read someone examining Chuck McGill from Better Call Saul. Chuck basically believed he had a disease but didn't, and it stemmed from a narcissistic personality needing to be in a world where he was treated like a king. He already was a person of respect and on top of his field, but his wife divorcing him and his ne'er-do-well brother being more charming sent him into some kind of spiral.
I can't say it as well as that person did. If a psychologist knows the show, I'd love to hear their opinion on Chuck.
Funny how that works isn't it?Giphy
In college, I did a research paper on the graphic novel Maus by Art Spiegelman. (If you haven't read it, I highly suggest it!)
Anyway, there's a part in the book where a Jewish survivor of a concentration camp doesn't want to pick up a hitchhiker, because the hitchhiker is black.
I thought it was super interesting, so I did my work on that part of the story specifically. Turns out, a lot of survivors of traumas turn pretty xenophobic, if their own trauma was race/religious oriented.
Brains are weird, man.
Frank Reynolds is a baller.Giphy
I am a licensed and accredited psychologist and I can say for certainty that Frank Reynolds has Donkey Brains.
World's greatest boss.Giphy
Psychotherapist here... Michael Scott is a textbook case of histrionic personality disorder.
What would a retired Peggy Hill be like? She's got an alluring Laura Bush quality.Giphy
Peggy Hill gets SO much hate on reddit, but all her flaws are exactly why I find her character so entertaining. Here's to hoping the King of the Hill revival actually comes to fruition.
*Mike Judge has stated that any revival would have all the characters aged in real time, and taking place in the midst of the current Trump administration. That means Hank in his mid 60s (!!!) and Bobby in his late 20s (29, to be exact). No animated show would have ever aged their characters in real time like this before. It would be almost an entirely different show.
Yes, 13 great seasons. But have people forgotten Fox cancelled it for The Cleveland Show? There's still a lot of life left in the series and aging its characters to the current day gives the showrunners a chance to do something truly unique.
Spoiler: he's bipolar.Giphy
Licensed social worker here, but I appropriately diagnosed Ian on Shameless about 5-6 episodes before they gave him the diagnosis on the show. That was one of my prouder moments.
The Harry Potter series is awash in mental illness.Giphy
Not a psychologist, but I read a really interesting paper on the psychological disorders present in the Harry Potter universe that are never acknowledged in the series.
- Voldemort showing an almost textbook case of ASPD - a facade of superficial charm, manipulative, arrogant, lack of remorse, recklessness, aggressive, difficulty sustaining personal relationships, exploiting others for own gain, thinking lowly of others, and having a callous attitude to people they have hurt.
- Harry suffering with signs of PTSD - dissociative episodes of reliving past events, recurring nightmares, avoids trauma-related thoughts and emotions
- Lupin suffering with depression - linked to his lycanthropy of course, things like melancholy and lonely, losing interest and enjoyment in things they previously did enjoy, reduced fatigue and constantly tired, reduced self-esteem and self-confidence, ideas of guilt and unworthiness
- Mad-Eye Moody suffering with Paranoid Personality Disorder - mistrustful, constantly suspicious of others, delusional, always preparing his own food and drinking from his own flask due to his paranoia he'd be poisoned, his catchphrase of "constant vigilance" screams of someone who is extremely paranoid.
- Snape suffering with Schizoid personality disorder - no interest in social relationships, sheltered lifestyle, secretiveness, general detachment, apathy, emotional coldness, aloof attitude, consider themselves "observers" of the world rather than participants, etc.
- Peter Pettigrew suffering with Dependent personality disorder - constant dependency on others to meet their need for physical and emotional support, characterized by fear and anxiety when the needs aren't met. Desire of constant approval, failing to make decisions on their own, passive and clingy, pessimistic, sensitive to criticism and rejection
Darth Vader/Anakin had some issues yo.Giphy
More than one of my professors have used Darth Vader as a template to explain borderline personality disorder. He meets more than the required number of symptoms to warrant a firm diagnosis.
- People Divulge The Most Recurring Themes From Their Nightmares - George Takei ›
- Friends Of Psychopaths/Sociopaths Divulge When They Realized Their Friend Had Issues - George Takei ›
- Psychologists Describe The Most Interesting Mental Disorders They've Ever Encountered - George Takei ›
- People Share The Exact Moment Someone Made Them Think 'That Person's A Psychopath' - George Takei ›
- People Debate Which Historical Figures May Have Had An Undiagnosed Mental Illness - George Takei ›
The US is represented in the majority of some of the biggest films recognized worldwide–from iconic movies like American Grafitti to The Color Purple, to recent critically-acclaimed films like Minari and Moonlight.
Even classic American sitcoms like Friends are known the world over as the ultimate example of American comedy.
But there are plenty of misconceptions about American culture seen in some of these entertainment offerings that foreign audiences seem to miss, and it's time to set the record straight.
For starters, an apartment in New York City is not at all spacious like the one that was inhabited by Ross, Rachel, Joey, Phoebe, and Chandler. So there's that.
Curious to hear more examples of what our friends across the Atlantic could stand to learn, Redditor Jazzlike_Fondant_518 asked:
"Americans, what’s something Europeans need to hear?"
American Redditors had a thing or two to say about how we roll here in the States.
"Free, clean, omnipresent public restrooms are indeed possible."
Vouching For The Myth
"As a British person who now lives in the US I would say public toilets is something the US does really well. They are everywhere, accessible and usually very clean. Europe definitely needs to catch up on this."
Driving In Circles
"We have roundabouts here. They exist. Stop claiming we don't."
Preconceived notions can be bye-bye.
Nothing Cool About This
"The flavor of America is not cool ranch."
Maintaining Best Indoor Air Quality
"Invest in hvac and soon cause it won't get cheaper or cooler."
"A large portion of Americans are rational and moderate people, and what you see on the television isn't indicative of every American you meet."
"America isn't the only country with racial issues."
Europeans, take note.
"It’s past time you take James Corden back."
It's A Big Problem
"Europe is getting fat too."
Kernel Of Truth
"Putting corn on pizza doesn't make it 'American pizza'. It just makes it disgusting."
"A good looking guy smoking a cigarette is not a movie."
Despite everything in the news happening in the States creating division and leaving people feeling dejected, a good majority of US citizens are not jerks.
There are loads of kind, considerate, empathetic, and well-behaved people living here.
Europeans often don't get to hear this since much of the media focuses on iniquitous behavior.
Humanity is still intact here.
At least that's what I still believe.
I admit, and this might as well be heresy to lots of people, that I just don't like Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.
I know ya'll love it, but there's very little about it that I feel accurately captures the feeling of magic and whimsy that I experienced while I read Road Dahl's stellar book.
Before you get on my case, I'll emphatically deny liking Tim Burton's Charlie and the Chocolate Factory... because it's also terrible.
You just can't please some people (namely me), right?
People shared their thoughts with us after Redditor Dame87 asked the online community,
"What is a film that gets a huge amount of praise but you think is awful?"
Paranormal Activity (2007)
"Paranormal Activity. I've seen scarier crap in a public toilet."
When it came out it was pretty freaky and I still wasn't in love with it. It's the definition of average.
The Notebook (2004)
"The Notebook. Both leads are so unlikeable and horrible to each other it's not even enjoyable in a 'so bad it's good' way."
"Especially when she actually breaks up with him, gets in a stable relationship with another guy who's not awful...and then ditches that guy to get back with the main love interest because respectful relationships are sooo boring, everyone real love requires being unable to be in the same room without coming to literal screaming matches."
Honestly, aside from some very good acting, the script of this film is pretty terrible.
But it's Nicholas Sparks, we're talking about.
The Blind Side (2009)
"The Blind Side. They turned an interesting real life story into Hollywood crap."
Even the film's subject dislikes it.
Sandra Bullock beating her competition for THAT? She was much better in Gravity.
"Frozen. I hate it too much, but I can’t help it. People kept saying how it was the best Disney movie ever and it wasn’t even top ten."
Disney really did this film a disservice by shoving it down everyone's throats for much of the last decade.
Les Miserables (2012)
"I know Les Misérables was super acclaimed and all that, but it was really nothing like the book. It made me sad."
It wasn't meant to be an adaptation of the book, it was meant to be an adaptation of the musical (which a lot of people don't like because it condenses many of the elements from the book).
That said, I can't stand this film either. It's horribly directed.
"Crash won Best Picture, Best Original Screenplay, and Best Film Editing awards. Received six Academy Award nominations. I thought it sucked."
You mean the film in which Sandra Bullock is cured of her racism after she falls down the stairs?
"Grease. I HATED it. I can appreciate the choreography, but the storyline is awful, cheesy (not to mention misogynistic, which at my first viewing I didn’t know what that was). Couldn’t stand Stockard Channing’s character. Really bad acting too."
It's just a bit too hokey for my taste – it makes it difficult to enjoy.
I did see a stage production years ago that was a lot more fun.
Black Panther (2018)
"It has a nice looking setting, and it was good to see a movie featuring a majority black cast with a positive/comic book storyline rather than the stereotypical urban/hang setting. So to that end it read a good movie."
"At the same time, it was also just yet another unmemorable marvel movie - I know I have seen it, but I have no memory of what actually happened in it. Remove the political/seeing element of it and it gets completely lost in the crowd."
Considering that Marvel films do absolutely nothing for me, I was not surprised by Black Panther or the fact that it was more of the same.
Meet the Parents (2000)
"Meet the Parents. It’s just two hours of being vicariously stressed out and embarrassed for Ben Stiller."
Something tells me this movie likely has not aged well. It would not surprise me at all if this turned out to be the case.
"Avatar. It's just Pocahontas in space, God dammit."
I prefer Dances with Wolves in space myself.
I rewatched this earlier during lockdown and dropped my DVD off at a local community center afterward. And who the hell asked for three more sequels?
We all have our tastes, sorry to disappoint. Besides, we're certain that you have a film or two you dislike in your arsenal.
Have thoughts about other films that are not included here? Feel free to tell us more in the comments below!
Even though many of us have interesting events in our lives to share at a get-together, there is always someone who can top your story with a life event that can be a little too zany to be believed.
"What’s your wildest story that sounds too far-fetched to be true?"
Redditors' interactions with animals were either empowering or terrifying.
A Chihuahua's Hero
"Mine is when I was in high school I lived out in the countryside of Central Texas. I was just kind of bumbling around on the property and my mom's little chihuahua was tagging along. I heard a bird, saw a fast moving shadow, and threw my arm out, slapping a hawk out of the sky as it tried to get my mom's chihuahua."
"Cut my arm pretty good, but saved that little rat of a dog. The chihuahua went on to pass away at a smooth 19 years old."
Brush With An Owl
"I worked nights in college. I'd always take my two dogs out to pee when I got home and one late night an owl tried to snatch my Chihuahua but thankfully missed. My golden retriever ran back inside like the owl was going to somehow take his 60lb a** but my chi stood his ground like he could take it on. I got him inside and was much more careful after that. He, too, passed at 19. I miss him."
"I was almost drowned by a pod of dolphins while surfing at Salt Creek, Orange County, CA. I got up on a wave and one of them knocked me over, 2 wave pin down on a 5-7 ft day."
These could be plot points in a movie.
"I was surfing in Santa Barbara County when I was a kid, maybe 14 or 15. When I would come in from a surf, I had the habit of undoing my leash from my leg while I was walking in the shallow water. Unbeknownst to me, the other side of the leash that connects to the board had come off. I lost my leash. I searched around the tidal zone but no luck. I was bummed but I just moved on."
"Three weeks later, I was surfing in Ventura county, and as I was walking in from the surf, a piece of kelp wrapped around my leg. I reached down to pull it off. It wasn’t kelp, it was my leash I’d lost a dozen miles north a few weeks back. It had algae and stuff growing on it, but no mistaking it was absolutely my leash."
The Origin Of Love
"When my dad and step-mom met, my dad swore he’d met her before, but couldn’t remember when or where. Eventually, he decided he’d seen her in Cody, Wyoming, the town where he grew up. She swore she’d never even been to Wyoming (she’s from Oregon and that’s where they met)."
"Several years later, after they’d been married a while, step-mom mentions to her mom that my dad swears he met her in Cody, but she’s never been there. Her mom says 'Yes, you have,' and pulls out a photograph from 1956 of her, age 9, riding on a mechanical horse (a kid one) and in the background, standing around in the crowd, is my dad and his two brothers, ages 8, 10, and 11."
"She submitted the story to a local magazine for a Valentine’s Day contest one year and won a trip to a resort."
"Some honorable mentions: By the time I was 20, I was 1 degree of separation away from 5 different people who’d been murdered by 3 different serial killers (gotta love the PNW), and I almost hit Bob Dylan with my car once."
"First time I ever smoked pot a police helicopter hovered above me and my friend and hit us with the spotlight. They were looking for someone else apparently because they immediately moved on. Nonetheless…"
"I took my VW to the dealer to get some work done. The service rep at the counter was so hung over (possibly still intoxicated) that he couldn’t handle completing the paper work. He told the tech that I was a VIP, specifically 'Britni Spears’s brother' and that he owed me a favor, so the work was on the house and they just never did any paperwork, didn’t charge me a dime, did the work, handed me the keys, and away I drove."
These Redditors couldn't believe their luck.
"I won a two week cruise vacation for two in a contest."
"I never entered the contest."
"I was convinced I was being scammed."
"Even from the beaches of the Caribbean, I still wasn't convinced."
The Generous Friend
"Was in Vegas for a work thing. I was not happy about being there because it was a tough time in my life, money was really tight and Vegas is the last place you want to be when money is tight."
"I was telling my buddy about it and he says, 'Im going to pay pal you $150. Go play the poker tournament at the Venetian at night. You can drink for free and hopefully you last long. If you win anything, pay me back, if not, no worries.'"
"So I did. Won the tournament! $3200."
"The second night, I went off to play some craps alone one night because I did not like the work people and did not want to hang with them."
"Started with $200. 45 minuted later I 7’d out and had $37,000. Cashed out and told no one!"
"On the drive back (I lived in Phoenix) I called my buddy and told him (only) about it. I sent him $2500."
"The one time I went to Vegas at the proper age of 21, I won $2000 on my first spin on the 25c slot machine. I didn't gamble the rest of the time and enjoyed the fact that my trip paid for itself. Came home with all the money I left with and an extra $800. Didn't tell my bf I was with at the time either; he would have tried to spend my money."
Given A Second Chance
"I went jogging one night and came across a lady laid out face first. No heart beat. Started doing cpr. Never saw another person was able to call 911 while doing cpr. Kept at it twenty Minutes till FD got there. She made a full recovery. They said cpr that long has a 95% fail rate."
A friend back in high school told me he was a vampire when he dropped me off from band practice.
This was at a time when Anne Rice was super popular and everyone was reading the Lestat books.
Being an impressionable 15-year-old at the time, I believed him, because he warned me that if I ever revealed his identity to anyone, "I will find you."
A couple of years ago, I reunited with a mutual friend and I joked about how I believed so-and-so was a creature of the night. We nervously laughed.
Whether my blood-thirsty friend was weighing on my conscience or not, I've been visited by him in COUNTLESS dreams ever since I told my friend about him.
Call it what you want–paranoia or self-fulfilling prophecy–but there are some things in this realm I will never be able to explain.
I'm just glad I'm still here to talk about it now that I let the proverbial cat out of the bag.
When you're younger, you might think you come from a great family. But as a kid, you miss out on a lot of nuance. You do not see all the drama the adults around you are involved in. And when you do eventually notice it, you start to realize that maybe few—if any—of your family members actually like each other. So why put up with all those tense family holiday dinners?
This isn't to say that all families are like this. Absolutely not. There are some very happy and wonderful families out there. But seeing families hurt each other is enough to teach you that maybe that age old tradition of getting together for Christmas dinner might not be in everyone's best interest.
People shared their thoughts with us after Redditor captrober157 asked the online community,
"What family tradition ends with you?"
"Being an alcoholic."
"Being an alcoholic. My dad is an alcoholic. Both my grandfathers were alcoholics, which is what killed them. One of my grandmothers used to be an alcoholic and the other one still is. I could go on and on."
Be strong and bold man, don't let the family pressure get to you!
"200 years of living in London and my kids will never be able to afford to rent or buy here."
200 years of living anywhere, it seems. It's insane.
"My dad interrupting dinner..."
"My dad interrupting dinner, so we can CALL LONG DISTANCE to relatives who couldn’t travel to the event. Then we’d have to pass the phone around the table for brief, superficial greetings as our food went cold. Yikes."
Ummm... what? No, thank you. There's no way!
"Expecting the oldest child..."
"Expecting the oldest child to parent the younger one and getting pissed off when the oldest ends up acting like a parent. My younger brother is eight years younger than me. I stopped being a kid by the age of 8.5."
Very frustrating and sadly the case for many families out there, especially those of more limited means.
"Expecting my son..."
"Expecting my son to join the military. Almost every male family member on my father's side have fought in every conflict since WW1. I did two tours in Afghanistan and I never want him to experience anything like that."
War is traumatic and ideally, no one should ever have to experience it.
"Being hush hush..."
"Being hush hush about mental health related topics and untrusting of medicine in general."
It's great to see the younger generation be so open about mental health and fighting the stigma!
"Telling the boys..."
"Telling the boys to not cry. To push it down. Going to let my kid cry and talk about his feelings as much as he damn well pleases."
This is so important — young boys need to grow up knowing that their feelings are valid.
"Arranged marriage. Should have ended that tradition myself but was too much of a coward."
The best time was for yourself. The second best will be for your kids.
"Massive extended family gatherings. Not practical. Besides, grandma kicked the bucket 10 years ago."
Often, families splinter once a matriarch or patriarch dies and people realize that they were the glue keeping everyone together.
"I'm the first..."
"Living below the poverty line. I'm the first member of my family to be middle class."
Fantastic! Break the cycle!
It takes a lot of courage to break from your family, especially if they've always done things a certain way. A lot of respect to people who decide to and are able to create new lives for themselves!
What does breaking the cycle mean to you? Feel free to tell us more in the comments below!