A View Of Mental Health Treatment’s Portrayal In Fantasy TV: Aliens And Magic (Part 2)

  This is a continuation of last week’s blog. — A probably much darker variant of the Neurodiversity is Supernatural is the nightmare Bedlam-style asylum, using institutions such as a mental hospital as a penalty for a character who believes in concepts not typically known to the common man. This also extends to the ‘that crazy guy/gal’ treatment most people live with this conflict with the supernatural, which often ends up with them being ostracized.

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This variant has its roots in history, tracing back to 19th century, calling back to the harsh conditions people with a mental health condition suffered back in such times. In those days, anyone who believed anything slightly outside the norms was carted off to one such institution, much like Belle’s father in Beauty and the Beast. Such also happened with more prominent figures in history, more noticeably scientists. Society back then was lot less understanding that it is today, some may argue even, to a fault. This trope has made its way onto numerous media, ranging from Dorothy in Return to Oz (1985) to as recent as Alice in Once Upon a Time in Wonderland (2013). What does this trope portray is that mental institutions are hell for people with mental afflictions, which doesn’t help at all. Such people need professional help, and the trope, intentionally or otherwise, can deter patients from seeking medical help. This trope also extends to general hospitals, being presented as purgatory and the last place the character needs to be in right now, which is not true in real life.

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The television industry, especially the science-fiction/fantasy sector, has always had an unfortunate knack for oversimplifying topics that should need more careful thought, all in effort to have to say in the rating game. In present times, however, the masses have become more discerning, and expect more out of the pop TV. The Neurodiversity is Supernatural trope offers a lot of story potential, you will be hard-pressed to find anyone who may say otherwise. However, over time, innovations and considerations had been made not to alienate the viewer, and bring the show closer to the viewer’s home. Production people need to take in mind coping mechanisms, self-awareness levels, how do they deal with triggers, and last but in no means least, just how public do they want to be with the affliction.

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In the end, it’s still important to separate fiction from fact; discern what is real and not, but producers, directors, and writers, and other people involved in the process should also help with the process since the masses look highly up to them for opinions. A psychiatric disorder and the ability to see supernatural things can co-exist in a person, without one being caused by the other. It is possible that wizards have depression, but not connected to the fight of dark arts, be able to talk to aliens and be bi-polar, among others. In the end, it’s still highly advised to seek professional help, no matter if you’re a demon slayer, a professional image, a highly skilled scientist hero or just an everyday Joe or Jane just going through life with a mental affliction.

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