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Mental Disorders

OMG, it’s OCD: Trivializing a Disorder

People often casually comment about being “so OCD” without regard to the level of genuine distress experienced by individuals who have the disorder. OCD is not a passion for organization or cleanliness. It is a psychiatric disorder with a constellation of symptoms that cause...


Mental Disorders

Stories of Stigma, Social Support, and Self-Injury

Stigma surrounds many issues of mental health and mental illness, contributing to an underutilization of needed interventions.  Among the topics that tend to draw significant emotional reactions and stigmatizing responses is the issue of self-harm.  In two recent novels, self-injury and suicide are addressed...


Barriers to Care

Helpers Who Hurt

Novels that feature therapists and the therapeutic process have the power to influence public opinion in subtle ways.

I have previously noted that arguing that all fictional therapists should be neat and ideal is unrealistic and, frankly, unappealing. However, when books, even fictional ones, depict...


Mental Disorders

Schizophrenia as Plot Device: Inherently Stigmatizing?

In Trespassing (2018) by Brandi Reeds, a woman with a family history of schizophrenia discovers her husband missing under mysterious circumstances.  As the story unfolds, she finds it harder and harder to differentiate between an unbelievable reality and possible psychotic delusions.

With the stress of...


Mental Disorders

Bulimia in Fiction

In last week’s blog post, we again discussed the potential impact of mainstream fiction on stigma, depending on the nature of portrayals of characters with mental illness.  When books depict characters with mental illness as whole people, with characteristics and desires unrelated to the...


Mental Disorders

Narcissism in the Boardroom and the Bedroom

People in the throes of a relationship with a narcissist may have difficulty labeling and understanding the experience.  The subtle invalidation of emotions, the continued challenges to perceptions, the covert undermining of thoughts can all contribute to a toxic erosion of self-knowledge and self-worth.  Internalization of blame can be painful and paralyzing.  Public dissemination of information about narcissistic personality disorder through personal memoirs, research summaries, and other fact-based means can be helpful to individuals struggling to make sense of what they are going through with the narcissists in their lives.


Mental Disorders

Hurt People Hurting People: PTSD and Violence in Fiction

It’s my belief that fiction, even mass market fiction, is a form of art; as such, it reflects an endeavor through which people try to make sense of the world around them.  One issue that weighs particularly heavily on the public consciousness right now is that of the potential intersection of mental illness and violence.  It should be noted that there is near-unanimous consent among experts that individuals with mental illness are not more prone to commit violence than individuals without mental illness.  With that in mind, we turn now to some recent explorations of PTSD and violence in popular novels.