Freudian Script: Autistic Spectrum Disorders (ASD)

Today we have a special Guest Post from Katherine Fowler, my good friend and go-to girl for Autistic Spectrum Disorders (ASD) - take it away, Katherine! It is a great honour to be asked to do a guest post here, on ASD (aka my favourite topic in all the world). So, without further ado... 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 ASD? ASD, or autism spectrum disorders, cover a wide range of developmental disorders, ranging from full-blown classic autism, to the catchily named PDD-NOS (pervasive developmental disorder, not otherwise specified). As the word "spectrum" suggests, there is a huge difference between those at the far ends of the scale. And, with such a diverse range of symptoms, even those placed in the same spot along the scale may come across very differently. For simplicity’s sake, let’s divide the spectrum into...
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Freudian Script: The Psychopath

The Psychopath - favourite of Hollywood and tabloid journalism alike. This week's Freudian Script attempts to clarify the definition of psychopathy, identify people wrongly called psychopaths, and uncover how you can write better psychopaths. 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 instead of doing a test on the internet. What is a psychopath? Unlike other conditions I have detailed in this series, psychopathy is a murky concept at best and is often the subject of controversy. I will therefore digress into the details of classification to shed some light on the problem. Psychopathy is considered a personality disorder, often sub-typed under either anti-social or dissocial personality disorder - depending on your classification system. The International Classification of Diseases (ICD-10), baby of the World Health Organisation and preferred by UK psychiatrists, bundles the term in under dissocial personality disorder. The Diagnostic and...
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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: 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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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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