Clinically a high-functioning sociopath? A case study on BBC’s Sherlock Holmes

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Character Overview:

Sherlock Holmes is a fictional private detective created by Arthur Conan Doyle, and this character is played by Benedict Cumberbatch in the BBC television series Sherlock (Gatiss & Moffat, 2011). As a consulting detective widely reputable for solving crimes, Sherlock is portrayed as smart, attentive to detail, intuitively clever, and consequentially often condescending and arrogant. That said, albeit a great reputation for intelligence and problem-solving, Sherlock tends to be emotionally cold, distant, insensitive, and tremendously unempathetic when it comes to interpersonal relationships or social interactions. In fact, throughout Sherlock, various characters comment that he is “a bloody psychopath”, an “insensitive prat” and “without a heart” (Gatiss & Moffat, 2011-2014). However, given the buzz about Sherlock’s notorious reputation of being “a high functioning sociopath”, does this character really meet diagnostic criteria for such a statement? This case study will closely analyze whether Sherlock clinically meets the criteria for an antisocial personality disorder as compared to an autism spectrum disorder, followed by a detailed analysis of Sherlock’s interpersonal tendencies through an attachment theory lens. Implications for relevance to modern mental health diagnosis and practice will be discussed.  Continue reading →

Behind the Earth’s mightiest hero: a clinical case study on Marvel’s Tony Stark

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Character Overview:

Widely recognized for being one of the most prominent superheroes in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Tony Stark, otherwise known as Iron Man, is the creator of a collection of high-power, engineered suits that provides him with superpowers to protect society. Although Tony Stark is the leading member of the Avengers team, as well as the CEO of Stark Industries, this fictional character suffers from various mental health difficulties, chief struggles being post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and severe anxiety. As such, specifically evident in the film Iron Man 3, Tony’s presenting problem comprises of recurring panic attacks, insomnia, hypervigilance, and flashbacks, all which have persisted for a year since The Avengers (Feige & Black, 2013). The following material is an adaptation of a clinical assessment assignment in my graduate program. Given that these symptoms suggest debilitating mental distress, this case study will explore detailed biological, psychological, social and cultural factors to analyze this character’s presenting problem, and ensuing goal assessments and treatment suggestions will also be discussed. As this is a conceptualization, this case study will refer to Tony as a prospective client for therapeutic intervention, under the context of a hypothetical clinical assessment.  Continue reading →

What can Gollum from The Lord of the Rings teach us about Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID)?

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Character Overview:

Most commonly recognized as Gollum, Smeagol is a Hobbit who becomes corrupted by the One Ring, and slowly loses his self-identity while an ulterior, nefarious second personality develops. Though he is widely known as the creepy character bloodthirstily whispering the words “my precious”, Smeagol’s original character was a relatively ordinary Hobbit living in The Shire with his family. Gollum’s persona is particularly interesting throughout the Lord of the Rings trilogy, since initially this character does not even seem to be human, but rather a repulsive creature. This case study will explore Smeagol’s slow recovering of his past, his split personality between two opposing identities, and how his behaviors can relate to the prevalence of psychosis today. Continue reading →