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Author Topic: Should psychologists diagnose fictional people?  (Read 6421 times)

Offline Eric A. Taylor

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Should psychologists diagnose fictional people?
« on: 12/06/2010 05:49:33 »
Read an article today about some French researcher who has diagnosed Darth Vader with borderline personality disorder. This should not be surprising considering his manic-depressive daughter Ellie.

More seriously, should researchers be doing this sort of thing. After all Darth Vader isn't a real person. Sorry to pop your bubbly here but none of the people in these movies are real people. True they are played by actors and actors are real people (usually, kinda sorta) but Darth Vader, Luke Skywalker, Obe-Won Kinobi...These people are fictional! They have no past, no future, and exist only in our imagination. What's the point of a psychological profile on a fictional character. Perhaps we should have this researcher evaluated. It doesn't appear he can tell reality from fiction....

Here's the article if you want to see it.

http://movies.yahoo.com/feature/buzz-log-darth-vaders-diagnosis.html
« Last Edit: 13/06/2010 11:40:11 by chris »


 

Offline RD

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Re: Should psychologists diagnose fictional people?
« Reply #1 on: 12/06/2010 08:30:59 »
Whadayamean fictional ...

 

Offline Eric A. Taylor

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Re: Should psychologists diagnose fictional people?
« Reply #2 on: 13/06/2010 04:17:23 »
Do you really think, with his vast powers in the Force he'd be riding a scooter in Europe? Also don't forget Darth Vader lived a long time ago in a galaxy far far away...

No comment on the Ellie Vader pun.....I'm disappointed. That pun is right up the ally of the Naked Scientists.
 

Offline chris

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Should psychologists diagnose fictional people?
« Reply #3 on: 13/06/2010 11:40:45 »
Gosh, that's a fancy Burka...
 

Offline Bored chemist

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Should psychologists diagnose fictional people?
« Reply #4 on: 13/06/2010 18:41:24 »
Last time I checked, psychologists didn't diagnose people but perhaps that's  a US/ English  thing.
It might be interesting to get a bunch of psychiatrists to evaluate a bunch of famous fictional characters and see if they all give the same result.
If not, what does that lack of repeatability say about the science of psychology and psychiatry.
 

Offline rosy

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Should psychologists diagnose fictional people?
« Reply #5 on: 13/06/2010 19:08:31 »
Quote
If not, what does that lack of repeatability say about the science of psychology and psychiatry.
Not much, one way or another, unless the authors set out to describe a particular condition/individual in their writing. If a character has a number of damaging/irritating/self-destructive traits assembled by an author of a fictional work, perhaps from a range of individuals they've known over a period of years, expecting a number of psychiatrists to produce a consistent diagnosis would be unreasonable.
The diagnosis of historical characters is a somewhat different matter, since accounts will at least all be describing a set of behaviours that really did appear in a particular individual... but even then all the accounts are second hand and might play up, or down, particular characteristics for political or personal reasons, as well as being subject to differences between the accepted norms of the societies in which the subjects and the psychiatrists were living.
 

Offline Bored chemist

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Should psychologists diagnose fictional people?
« Reply #6 on: 13/06/2010 21:05:47 »
Quote
If not, what does that lack of repeatability say about the science of psychology and psychiatry.
Not much, one way or another, unless the authors set out to describe a particular condition/individual in their writing. If a character has a number of damaging/irritating/self-destructive traits assembled by an author of a fictional work, perhaps from a range of individuals they've known over a period of years, expecting a number of psychiatrists to produce a consistent diagnosis would be unreasonable.
The diagnosis of historical characters is a somewhat different matter, since accounts will at least all be describing a set of behaviours that really did appear in a particular individual... but even then all the accounts are second hand and might play up, or down, particular characteristics for political or personal reasons, as well as being subject to differences between the accepted norms of the societies in which the subjects and the psychiatrists were living.
As an example, take Darth Vader.
Essentially everything known about him is known from the films. If the researchers watch all the films then they should all come to the same conclusion. Similarly, there are not many Winnie the Pooh books so they should all form the same opinion of the bear of very little brain.
 

Offline Eric A. Taylor

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Should psychologists diagnose fictional people?
« Reply #7 on: 14/06/2010 04:58:27 »
Last time I checked, psychologists didn't diagnose people but perhaps that's  a US/ English  thing.
It might be interesting to get a bunch of psychiatrists to evaluate a bunch of famous fictional characters and see if they all give the same result.
If not, what does that lack of repeatability say about the science of psychology and psychiatry.

Psychology is NOT a proper science. Neil Tyson has said that for a science to be proper you need to have a way to objectively measure. There is no way to measure a person's sanity so it can't be a proper science. Maybe someday when we have a better understanding of the human mind we might do better.

Psychology is making some progress though. Physical causes have been found for many psychiatric disorders, which by the way make them physical illnesses instead of psychiatric problems. Could ALL psychiatric disorders be physical? Or are some people just plain mean?
 

Offline rosy

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Should psychologists diagnose fictional people?
« Reply #8 on: 14/06/2010 10:28:38 »
BC - I would disagree. Real people may have real conditions which can be diagnosed. Fictional people will display a selection of symptoms without regard to any underlying cause, so I think the better psychiatrists got at accurate diagnosis, the more likely they would be to disagree in diagnosing fictional characters (unless perhaps the author had drawn the character with a specific view to conveying a particular illness/disorder). I don't really believe that there's that much diagnostic accuracy available, but I don't think that the "test" proposed tells us anything one way or another.
 

Offline Eric A. Taylor

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Should psychologists diagnose fictional people?
« Reply #9 on: 14/06/2010 22:59:57 »
It's interesting to look at trends in psychiatric medicine. Diagnosis come in trends. In the mid to late 80's it was "manic-depression" in the 90's it was OCD and ADD, today it's Asperger's. This ought to tell you that the "doctors" are not really diagnosing the patient, rather just assigning whatever is popular at the time.

It's sad that the state of modern psychiatric medicine is still in the dark ages, where physical medicine has made so many huge strides in the last 100 years. Psychiatric disorders are very real, but their can be little done for people who suffer until they are better understood.

What's really scary is no one is really sure what constitutes a "disorder" Does criminal activity a disorder? Some people think other who do not agree with their own political views are nutters.

The term "medicine" used to mean the same as "magic".
 

Offline Geezer

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Should psychologists diagnose fictional people?
« Reply #10 on: 15/06/2010 00:34:56 »
I think they should stick to diagnosing dysfictional people.


Oi! No need to shove! I was just about to leave anyway.
 

Offline Joe L. Ogan

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Should psychologists diagnose fictional people?
« Reply #11 on: 15/06/2010 00:41:56 »
Hi, Geezer.  Sorry, I really wasn't pushing! Thanks for comments.  Joe L. Ogan
« Last Edit: 15/06/2010 00:44:11 by Joe L. Ogan »
 

Offline Bored chemist

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Should psychologists diagnose fictional people?
« Reply #12 on: 15/06/2010 14:44:45 »
BC - I would disagree. Real people may have real conditions which can be diagnosed. Fictional people will display a selection of symptoms without regard to any underlying cause, so I think the better psychiatrists got at accurate diagnosis, the more likely they would be to disagree in diagnosing fictional characters (unless perhaps the author had drawn the character with a specific view to conveying a particular illness/disorder). I don't really believe that there's that much diagnostic accuracy available, but I don't think that the "test" proposed tells us anything one way or another.
So, a number of experts presented with exactly the same data (the films) would come to different conclusions.
Sounds like economics to me.
 

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Should psychologists diagnose fictional people?
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