Freudian Script: Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

Today on Freudian Script, we are exploring Post Traumatic Stress Disorder - aka PTSD. Unlike other topics I've detailed, PTSD has a lot of Hollywood exposure - it's dramatic, it's visual, and it can throw your sober sensible "normal" character into a hellish irrational out-of-character orgy of chaos. With this post, I want to highlight the areas that Hollywood often glosses over and which can serve the writer interested in authenticity. DISCLAIMER: This blog post is designed for writers of fiction. If you are concerned that you or someone you know has symptoms of mental health problems, please see your doctor. What is PTSD? PTSD is a stress condition arising after a trauma - a definition which surprises precisely no one. Historically, it was first noted after the First World War, when it was termed "shell shock" or "war neuroses". During the Vietnam War, interest in the condition increased due to the frequency of its occurrence and it was more openly acknowledged and studied....
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Freudian Script: Depression

Time for another Freudian Script, the series on psychology and psychiatry for writers. The topic this week is: Depression. DISCLAIMER: This blog post is designed for writers of fiction. If you are concerned that you or someone you know has symptoms of mental health problems, please see your doctor. What is depression? You know that bit in the movie where it's all gone to shit - the "All is Lost" moment? And the hero grows a beard, drinks a lot of whiskey and becomes a recluse. He may even contemplate his gun collection with a mournful expression. But then some small piece of inspiration comes along and he decides to fight on, and the beard and the whiskey and the melancholy is forgotten. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wei3ydjvGe0 Yeah, that's not depression. It could be described as an acute stress reaction or an adjustment disorder, depending on the length of the misery. In the case of Christian from Moulin Rouge, it is grief. But it is not depression. Depression is a...
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Freudian Script: Psychosis

Welcome to a new series of Freudian Script, where I delve into psychology and psychiatry for writers. My focus over the next few weeks will be on common mental health disorders, including basic facts, common portrayals in fiction, and how writers can accurately and sensitively tackle these diseases in their work. DISCLAIMER: This blog post is designed for writers of fiction. If you are concerned that you or someone you know has symptoms of mental health problems, please see your doctor. My first topic is PSYCHOSIS. Frequently misunderstood and misrepresented by writers and journalists alike, psychosis covers myriad diseases and comes in many varieties. Psychosis is NOT psychopathy - the terms "psychotic" and "psychopathic" are not the same thing, though these terms are frequently (and inaccurately) used interchangeably. While I will discuss psychopathy and sociopathy at a later date, we will concentrate on psychosis for now. What is psychosis? In the broadest sense, psychosis is the inability to distinguish what is real and what...
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2013 in review

So now is the time of year where writers waddle to their blogs, stuffed with Vegetable Wellington, and reflect on how everyone in the industry got the goddamn breaks except them. Or some such thing. My goal for this year was simple: seize my opportunities and write! Here's what happened: - I submitted my Cyber Crime Sleuth novel to Carina Press and it was accepted for publication. It will be published as BINARY WITNESS in May 2014! - I wrote the first draft of the Cyber Crime Sleuth sequel for NaNoWriMo 2013. - I wrote a short film called "A work of art", which was shot under the expert eye of Emma Ashley in August and is now in post-production. - I started work on a Wine and Women feature script with Nicholas John of Changeling Films. - I was a guest of Euro #scriptchat, talking about Multi-Platform writing. - I started a new blog series called Freudian Script about psychology for writers. It's been on hiatus but will...
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Freudian Script: 4 Extremely Neurotic Character Reactions

Apologies for the week's break in the middle of this series, as I was distracted by actually writing and changing my day job. Neurotic defences are the province of characters failing to deal effectively with life stresses. They are still fairly common in adults, but more likely to be unhealthy or seen in extreme situations. There are also rather a lot of them, so I'm going to concentrate on a few in this post before completing the tour in the next. The ones listed here are strong salt, so their use in your plot will probably have resounding consequences for the rest of the work. As before, I will illustrate with some of my favourite audio-visual treats: 1) Repression I telepathically received details of genocide, so I buried them down so deep I couldn't find them When a situation is completely beyond a person's ability to process, that memory can be repressed. This is not voluntary forgetting and people are often not aware the memory...
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Freudian Script: 4 Ways to Show Your Characters Need to Grow

For the next installment of Freudian Script, we will examine the unconscious reactions that characters give when they're under greater stress or lack emotional maturity. These are the immature defence mechanisms. As the name suggests, these are normal for teenagers - YA writers, take note - and are fairly common in adults. The following examples represent some of those defences, alongside some explanation and illustration from two of my favourite shows: 1) Regression I have a writing deadline and murders to solve...or I could play laser tag Wasn't life so much easier when you were a child? No responsibility, all that free time, and a part-time job on Saturday to buy more sweets. So, when reality comes knocking and you need to act like a grown-up, why not do something fun and childish instead? State Dinner to organise? Build a fire! Captaining a starship on a five-year-mission? Pretend you're the captain of a Royal Navy vessel (or just sing about it). This is the staple of...
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Freudian Script: 5 Mature Defence Mechanisms of Well-Adjusted Characters

To start my series on psychology for writers, I thought I'd take a meaty topic that will have practical uses for all your characters, irrespective of genre or medium. What are defence mechanisms? You're wandering along in your own little world. Life is good. You're happy, content, satisfied. WHAM! Suddenly, everything gets turned on its head - you have been hit by An Inciting Incident. How do you react? Something has threatened your state of wellbeing, provoking something inside you, and you need to get rid of this ugly feeling. So, our unconscious mind defends you - and not always in healthy ways. Psychoanalysts (the school of psychology founded by Freud) have formed a list of common defence mechanisms and divided them up. The most common divisions are mature, immature, neurotic and pathological. (NOTE: while this topic is based in psychoanalysis and psychodynamic psychological principles, I'm going to skip over the theories behind the development of these reactions and concentrate on their possible manifestations and...
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Freudian Script: Psychology for Writers – new blog series!

I have long believed that a working knowledge of psychological theories can really benefit a writer's perspective. However, not all of us can afford a psychology degree or hours spent picking through Google results trying to make sense of half a dozen websites on the subject. With that in mind, I've decided to present a new regular series on this blog called Freudian Script, where I'll try to break down some key psychological concepts that writers might find use for. And why might these things be useful? Well... 1) How will my character react? People do things for a reason. Now, this might not be a conscious reason and it might be a completely spurious reason if it were examined logically, but these reasons exist in their conscious and unconscious minds. By naming and categorising these reactions, writers can manipulate them into producing more conflict, driving the action, or simply showing that a character has matured over the course of a narrative. 2) What issues...
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