BLUE SUN ROOM

River's mental illness and my fanfic

POSTED BY: GORAMMAN
UPDATED: Monday, March 29, 2010 04:50
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Monday, June 2, 2008 12:53 PM

GORAMMAN


I'm still working on the second part of my fanfic series. Right now I'm roughing out chapter one and outlining the rest of the story. I'm also doing a lot of research for certain aspects of the story.

I previously said in my fff.net log that one of the things I want to explore is River's mental condition in my latest story which will be titled Angular Velocity or Angular Momentum (still haven't decided). In this story River's mental condition will worsen. I already know why. But I'm not sure as to how and to what extent. Part of establishing this is to choose what disorders she suffers from.

I don't want to offend anybody with this but I have a lot of disdain for Psycology and Psychiatry...




It's just too easy listening to somebody talk honestly about their feelings and observe their behavior and start asigning these loosely defined and overlapping terms to these clinical observations. I think the process of being studied like this can cause certain people as much or more anxiety about themselves than what ails them. I also think doctors and practitianors within these fields have a high propensity for over analizing thier patients.

I also have to wonder about the people that are given the authority to perform this analysis. I know somebody that minored in psycology. This person is extremely close minded, concieted, unempathetic, and quick tempered. Now what if they try to major in psycology to get a job in the field? Will the process weed them out? Wouldn't somebody with knowledge of psycoanalysis be able to give the correct answers despite their true nature? For this particular person, I think the Jubal test would be more effective. I wouldn't want this person even tangently involved in the mental treatment of anybody I cared for. People that have positions in the medical field are extremely powerful compared to us Average Joes and Janes (or Jaynes and Janes if you prefer). They can incarcerate us if they can reasonably justify it to the law that it's neccessary for treatment and for the common good, they can make false and erronious entries into your record quite easily but it will take an act of congress to remove them (hey, their a doctor and you're a pissant working at a McJob), and they decide who gets care and who doesn't... and that is the ultimate control of many life and death situations.

Then there are the drugs. I fucking hate the USA's reliance on drugs. Any drug. I make this very well known to the people around me and they try to keep it out of my sight. But they have so much of the shit (pain medication, mood stabilizers, etc.) it's impossible for them to do so. The proccess for correcting mental disorders with the right drugs for any given patient is so experimental, arbitrary, and long there can be little doubt there is far too much room for error. Serious health and life threatening errors.

There are people with serious mental problems that do need professional help, thereapy, and medication but I just can't shake the notion that we are at a point of time where in the aggregate, and in most individual cases, less is more.




...so this idea poses a unique challenge to me as a writer. That's right. We're back to talking about fanfic. My solution to this is to give River some challenges and problems that will correlate to well known disorders. They will interfere with her life and the performance of her duties onboard Serenity and drive a couple sub plots. One of which is Simon's need to make her better. But this story can't read like Simon giving a weekly school lecture on the treatment of mental disorders. So that means he will fail a bunch. This will be difficult for him.

As for establishing which disorders River is afflicted with I have a preliminary list from my notes:

Quote:


MENTAL DISORDERS OF RIVER TAM

Dissociative Disorders
Depersonalization Disorder - periods of detachment from self or surrounding which may be experienced as "unreal" (lacking in control of or "outside of" self) while retaining awareness that this is only a feeling and not a reality.

Mood Disorders
Bipolar Disorder 1 - characterized by at least one manic or mixed episode. There may be episodes of hypomania or major depression as well.

Anxiety Disorders
Panic Disorder - suffers from brief attacks of intense terror and apprehension that cause trembling and shaking, confusion, dizziness, nausea, difficulty breathing, and feelings of impending doom or a situation that would be embarrassing.

Personality Disorders
Pyschopathy/Sociopathy - general term for a range of personality disorders characterized by lack of empathy, socially manipulative behavior, and occasionally criminality or violence.



I think that's a pretty good start for River's brain case. I'm interested if anybody else believes they can identify other disorders that would apply to her or disputes any of the disorders I have listed. You could also comment on my rant but it went a little off topic I think.




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Wednesday, June 11, 2008 11:14 PM

WYTCHCROFT


i'm gonna send you a serious reply in a while - wanna ponder on this very interesting post...:)

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Monday, June 16, 2008 9:08 AM

WYTCHCROFT


Quote:

Originally posted by GoramMan:


Quote:

It's just too easy listening to somebody talk honestly about their feelings and observe their behavior and start asigning these loosely defined and overlapping terms to these clinical observations. I think the process of being studied like this can cause certain people as much or more anxiety about themselves than what ails them. I also think doctors and practitianors within these fields have a high propensity for over analizing thier patients.


um, i think sometimes under analysing is an issue. and - uh, i'm not really sure if you are talking psychiatry - or psychology here.

Quote:

Then there are the drugs. I fucking hate the USA's reliance on drugs. Any drug. I make this very well known to the people around me and they try to keep it out of my sight. But they have so much of the shit (pain medication, mood stabilizers, etc.) it's impossible for them to do so. The proccess for correcting mental disorders with the right drugs for any given patient is so experimental, arbitrary, and long there can be little doubt there is far too much room for error. Serious health and life threatening errors.



don't forget the vested interests of pharmaceutical corporations and private health institutions, families - a lot of factors sometimes in play - and sometimes NOT.
sometimes pharmacological solutions are just that. solutions.

of course there are millions of alternative therapeutic strategies - but which would you suggest for River? I don't think Cognitive Behavioural Therapy is gonna happen for her - ha ha ha!


Quote:

There are people with serious mental problems that do need professional help, thereapy, and medication but I just can't shake the notion that we are at a point of time where in the aggregate, and in most individual cases, less is more.




isn't it the case with River? Most of her trauma was inflicted on her - her underlying personality issues' (if any - we don't actually KNOW) would only manifest gradually. maybe?

Quote:

But this story can't read like Simon giving a weekly school lecture on the treatment of mental disorders. So that means he will fail a bunch. This will be difficult for him.


is he actually qualified? he seems more of a practical doctor - who is grappling to learn psycho-pharmacology. (no mean feat!)

Quote:

As for establishing which disorders River is afflicted with I have a preliminary list from my notes:


MENTAL DISORDERS OF RIVER TAM

Dissociative Disorders
Depersonalization Disorder - periods of detachment from self or surrounding which may be experienced as "unreal" (lacking in control of or "outside of" self) while retaining awareness that this is only a feeling and not a reality.



well, yeah - sure, the Academy wanted her de-personalised.

Quote:

Mood Disorders
Bipolar Disorder 1 - characterized by at least one manic or mixed episode. There may be episodes of hypomania or major depression as well.



yeah - the behavioural highs haven't really been seen (might make a good fic though!) - the compulsions a little too small scale - but i can buy bi-polar. Kristin hersh, the singer and bi-polar sufferer has talked of staring into a mirror and seeing no reflection at all. I can imagine River doing this.

Quote:

Anxiety Disorders
Panic Disorder - suffers from brief attacks of intense terror and apprehension that cause trembling and shaking, confusion, dizziness, nausea, difficulty breathing, and feelings of impending doom or a situation that would be embarrassing.



bearing in mind that River is wounded - i mean physically injured - surgically.
can a case not be made for Post-traumatic shock instead? Panic then becomes a symptom not a disorder.

Quote:

Personality Disorders
Pyschopathy/Sociopathy - general term for a range of personality disorders characterized by lack of empathy, socially manipulative behavior, and occasionally criminality or violence.



i think sociopathy is what may have been intended but i see no trace in River. She has TOO MUCH EMPATHY remember? she can't "help but feel"? - and she's a reader somehow because of that.
I think the agents in Dollhouse will more likely be termed 'sociopathic' - a sociopath aims to please, needs attention and will transform behaviour and personality to suit the company around them. River fights shy of this - refusing to be a gorram doll - and being ambivalent about her own self worth. Despite torture - which induces learned behaviour - 'i'll do what you want to make you stop.' her resilience is kinda awesome.

question - all of these behaviours are in River from the Pilot - how do you see her 'arc'? how do you see her post-miranda - post BDM?

isn't the solution that firefly puts forward that FINDING YOURSELF by choosing to BE yourself among people who support that process (however grumpy and dysfunctional that support might be?)
i.e. the family you FIND leads to some sort of positive self-renewal??

anyway - your post really made me think (or TRY to think!). Good luck with the fics and keep em coming!:)


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Wednesday, July 30, 2008 10:14 AM

NBZ


A few thoughts:

1. River's issues are not only mental - she has a physical deformity. her brain was carved out. As such, the best that can be expected of her is to manage the condition. Never cure. Unless you add some psuedo science, and have an ability to repair her brain.

2. If that does happen, she will still have mental/psychotic issues.

3. In either case, people will still be after her.

4. IMO River is a tragic character who does not have too long to live (max 7 years from the start of the pilot... if you get the hint), whether this be due to external factors, or even heavy medication that has an effect.

As for the actual story you are planning - would she be given "duties"? Can't trust her to fly the ship on her own. Can't trust to be sane. Can't trust her full stop. She will always need supervision.

For her, the big duties are walking on her feet, eating apple bits that stay down... wandering the ship... occasionally being useful either through happenstance or design, but not too often. her default state is to be a burden.

As to how I see her arc, she was "born" in the pilot, she learnt to crawl and then walk through the rest of the series/film. She will contine doing so (not much better than she was in, say, OiS) and if she lives long enough (couple of years? four?)eventually she will "age", then maybe die.

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Saturday, March 27, 2010 9:35 AM

KRELLEK


Quote:

Originally posted by nbz:
A few thoughts:

1. River's issues are not only mental - she has a physical deformity. her brain was carved out. As such, the best that can be expected of her is to manage the condition. Never cure. Unless you add some psuedo science, and have an ability to repair her brain.

2. If that does happen, she will still have mental/psychotic issues.

3. In either case, people will still be after her.

4. IMO River is a tragic character who does not have too long to live (max 7 years from the start of the pilot... if you get the hint), whether this be due to external factors, or even heavy medication that has an effect.

As for the actual story you are planning - would she be given "duties"? Can't trust her to fly the ship on her own. Can't trust to be sane. Can't trust her full stop. She will always need supervision.

For her, the big duties are walking on her feet, eating apple bits that stay down... wandering the ship... occasionally being useful either through happenstance or design, but not too often. her default state is to be a burden.

As to how I see her arc, she was "born" in the pilot, she learnt to crawl and then walk through the rest of the series/film. She will contine doing so (not much better than she was in, say, OiS) and if she lives long enough (couple of years? four?)eventually she will "age", then maybe die.



well the applebits-part I would say is because of the medication-coctails that Simon gives her,

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Saturday, March 27, 2010 11:11 AM

NCBROWNCOAT


I would add that originally (before the surgeons got a hold of her)she might have had an autism spectrum disorder.

If you look at the flashback she's a genius but a bit in her own world. She's a bit obtuse in her communication and a bit obsessive about the dinosaurs.

I've never seen an a true genius that didn't have at least hints of some degree of mental handicap, from the absent minded professor to depression, bipolar and worse As they say, the line between genius and madness is a thin one

http://fireflyfaninnc.livejournal.com/








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Saturday, March 27, 2010 1:31 PM

BYTEMITE


I'd also look into psychosis (different from psychopathy) and schizophrenia, River seems to have hallucinations at times that seem to fall under this area.

(Schizophrenia is not necessarily hearing voices, it can be (or also be) experiencing altered states of reality or even perceiving the passage of time differently)

World salad, which is the clinical description of River's difficult to follow speech patterns, especially when she's struggling to find a coherent way to explain what she's saying, is often also a symptom of psychosis.

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Monday, March 29, 2010 4:50 AM

AGENTROUKA


My two cents about psychology&/psychiatry...

While it's not wrong to carry healthy scepticism towards anything, and certainly not wrong to be wary of unjustified drug prescription, it's reeeeeeeeaaaaaaally unwise to cast blanket aspersions on psychologists and psychiatrists.

It is not "too easy". It takes a LOT of training, a lot of which is focused on their skills to reflect on themselves, as well as observing and diagnosing patients.

The training the go through is intense and while theoretically a bad apple might slip through, the vast majority are people who don't approach the job with the intention of putting people in boxes. They want to help people. They dedicate a vast amount of their brain space to accumulating and constantly refreshing the knowledge to do so. They take pride in seeing their patients gain back a sense of control over their lives, or understand why they have certain conditions... They don't, in general, get off on taking away people's freedoms. And they don't do it nearly as much you seem to think.

Several of my friends as well as my aunt are psychologists, psychotherapists, analysts, counsellors, etc. and the sheer amount of information and continuing education they work through... and there's science to it, studies, statistics, comparisons, special cases they all take into account. It's not just head games or arbitrary categorizing.

No offense, but "I know one person who minored in psychology" is a really small amount of insight into a very intense profession, and not a good basis to make judgements about how these professionals work.





Other than that, your story idea sounds very interesting. I'm a bit hesistant about the Simon part, as "his need to make her better" sounds kind of aggressive, something we have never seen from him on the show on in the movie. Would your plot be headed in a direction where Simon loses sight of what is actually helping River ntil he sees the error of his way, the lesson being "less is more"?

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