1. Ettina
    Offline

    Ettina Active Member

    Joined:
    Nov 21, 2011
    Messages:
    440
    Likes Received:
    20

    what's this kid's diagnosis?

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by Ettina, Sep 16, 2012.

    One of my characters is a 12 year old girl. Her single mother is an emotionally abusive alcoholic. She used to be a happy drunk, but her younger daughter died in infancy (haven't decided how, but it had to do with the mom's alcoholism) and it pretty much tore them apart. Now the girl tries to avoid her mother as much as possible, such as by coming home late. The plot is kicked off when she finds a badly wounded, brain-injured vampire and decides to take him home and take care of him.

    She's a very unique personality. Here are some of the strange things about her:

    * she is unusually open-minded about the supernatural, so when she finds a vampire she basically thinks 'I always said it was possible for vampires to exist'
    * she doesn't hesitate much before deciding to feed the neighbor's yappy dog to the vampire
    * she lies a lot, volunteering lies when not saying anything would be more effective
    * she identifies the vampire with her dead baby sister, and gets emotionally invested in the idea of taking care of him, to the point where she finds it upsetting when he starts to recover
    * even though she's only 12, she steals her mother's alcohol on occasion and gets drunk

    So, what kind of psychiatric disorder might this kid have?
     
  2. Cogito
    Offline

    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    May 19, 2007
    Messages:
    35,935
    Likes Received:
    2,043
    Location:
    Massachusetts, USA
    She clearly suffers from being a teenager. Well,feeding the neighbor's dog to a vampire is a bit sociopathic, but the rest is fairly normal teenage confusion.
     
  3. lixAxil
    Offline

    lixAxil Self-Proclaimed Senator of the RPG subforum. Contributor

    Joined:
    Sep 1, 2012
    Messages:
    5,504
    Likes Received:
    373
    Location:
    The sea of fragments
    I can see a bit of Asperger on it
     
  4. psychotick
    Offline

    psychotick Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Feb 10, 2011
    Messages:
    1,374
    Likes Received:
    313
    Location:
    Rotorua, New Zealand
    Hi,

    Diagnosis? I don't think you've given enough for anyone to make one. And in any case she may not be ill, just difficult. Quite possibly counsellors would describe her as 'troubled' a catch all word that means little.

    Now going from what you've said there are some worrying behaviours. Feeding the neighbours dog to a vampire - that speaks to a lack of empathy, i.e. no regard for either the dog's suffering or her neighbours. That sort of act would suggest that she's on her way to becoming a sociopath. Note that not all sociopaths are either evil or maladjusted. Many live among us as completely normal people.

    Lying could also speak to a lack of empathy, and a lack of understanding that other people realise that she's lying. However its also a childish thing which hopefully most people can grow out of. And coupled with her natural belief in the supernatural, it could indicate instead that she's highly creative, not an illness at all.

    Given her background as you've described it, and her stealing her mothers booze, I would say that she was naturally rebellious and distrustful of authority. Again not illnesses but learned values. Her teenage rebellious years would likely be a nightmare. I would expect her as she grows up and assuming that she doesn't get help, to become more distrusting and less able to accept what others tell her. Crime and drugs, not to mention teen pregnancy and the rest of that entire nightmare would be strong probabilities. You don't have to be psychiatrically ill to do stupid things.

    Taking care of the vamp and getting upset when he recovers, speaks to a deep seated need to be maternal, coupled with a childish inability to seperate from that role when the situation requires it.

    And as for the open mindedness, we should all be open minded to possibilities - just not so much so that our brains fall out. However she's twelve. I would expect a twelve year old to be more accepting of the impossible than an adult.

    Cheers, Greg.
     
  5. evelon
    Offline

    evelon Active Member

    Joined:
    Aug 26, 2009
    Messages:
    613
    Likes Received:
    24
    Location:
    England
    Isn't this the wrong way round? If you want your character to have a phsyciatric illness (or an illness of any sort) shouldn't you know what the illness is and then add the symptoms? (after suitable research) Otherwise you are placing yourself in the position of physciatrist and trying to diagnose behaviour patterns.

    And, as Cog says, a lot of what you describe does sounds very teenage-like.
     
  6. Ettina
    Offline

    Ettina Active Member

    Joined:
    Nov 21, 2011
    Messages:
    440
    Likes Received:
    20
    She just kind of popped up in my head fully formed. If she does have a psychiatric problem, it's undiagnosed and unrecognized (otherwise, probably the first thing they'd have done is removed her from her home, and she wouldn't have the gross lack of supervision needed for the plot to happen). I was just curious what might be her labels if she did get seen by a psychologist.

    I'm glad to hear she sounds like a teenager. I'm really proud of how she's just naturally turning out to act her age - usually I have trouble with making kids act like little adults by mistake.
     
  7. DanesDarkLand
    Offline

    DanesDarkLand Senior Member

    Joined:
    Aug 16, 2012
    Messages:
    113
    Likes Received:
    3
    Location:
    Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada
    Sounds like she might have the movie Misery problem. Is she going to injure the vampire so he won't leave her? Maybe she might feed her mother to the vampire, and thereby switch caretakers. She would look after the vampire during the day, and the vamp would look after her during the night. it would become a symbiotic relationship.
     
  8. tlm89
    Offline

    tlm89 New Member

    Joined:
    Aug 25, 2011
    Messages:
    9
    Likes Received:
    0
    She doesn't need a diagnosis unless it's important to the story. A lot of writers I've spoken to always seem to think they must label their character as having some sort of disorder just because their traits don't fit in with the 'norm.'

    Mental disorders are extremely complex, and cannot be diagnosed from just a few character traits.

    The majority of her 'symptoms' are just teen-agitis. I did mosts of those things whenever I was a teen (except feeding the dog to a vampire - i used a hamster instead) and I'm certain I don't suffer from anything.

    Your character sounds unique and fresh, don't ruin it by categorising her.


    Disclaimer - hamster comment was just a bad joke... *cough*
     
  9. Ettina
    Offline

    Ettina Active Member

    Joined:
    Nov 21, 2011
    Messages:
    440
    Likes Received:
    20
    I'm not going to forget her uniqueness just because I think of her as having a certain condition. I've written several clearly-distinct autistic characters, for example. (One was a kid being abused as a changeling and was extremely bitter and cynical; one was a quiet, intelligent member of team of adventurers; one was a naive kid desperate for attention who misunderstood her place in the social circle; one was a happy, confident self-advocate with a very supportive mother, and so forth. I know how to write unique characters who have psychiatric conditions.)
     

Share This Page