13 Thoughts on 13 Reasons Why

**WARNING: SPOILERS APPEAR IN THIS POST.**

I watched the new Netflix series 13 Reasons Why (based on a book with the same title). This post sums up my reactions, and I am also in the process of recording detailed Jedi Counsel podcast episodes on the series with my co-host. Some people say this is art and entertainment, and therefore, exempt from social responsibility. Nonetheless, many people will watch this series, and that makes it important to view it critically and to consider its implications. My thoughts aren’t fully formed yet, but I wanted to post something as the series came out without waiting until I had it all sorted out. My feelings and opinions may develop more as I process the material for a longer period of time. I’m open and curious about other perspectives.

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  1. The series is set up as a mystery that quickly pulled me into the story. I finished the whole series within a few days. The framework for the series is that an adolescent, Hannah Baker, has died by suicide and left behind audio tapes detailing every component that she believes led up to her death. In addition, she has a methodical plan for the specific people who should listen to the tapes, how they should be listened to, and the order in which people hear them. While this is a compelling way to reveal a mystery, I believe that it contributes to stigma by painting the picture of a woman who ended her life for the purposes of getting attention from the individuals she believed ruined her life. The tone of her delivery is blaming and feels vengeful. I worry this perpetuates the myth that suicide is typically driven by desire for attention, selfishness, or revenge…which it most certainly is not.
  2. There is a scene that is explicitly blaming of one of the few kind (though not perfect) people in the series (Hannah’s friend and love interest, Clay). Hannah’s friend, Tony, tells Clay that Hannah would have been alive if he had acted differently. He later softens his tone, saying it is not Clay’s fault and Hannah is responsible for the choice that she made. Still, the blame message is there in a scene where Hannah tells Clay repeatedly to leave her alone. He reluctantly leaves the room. The show then depicts a parallel universe where the “right” things happened: Clay insists on staying despite Hannah clearly asking him to leave her alone, he turns the conversation around through persistence, Hannah feels loved, and suicide is prevented. In light of the violations of consent elsewhere in the series (including two rape scenes), I was bothered by Clay being painted as having done the wrong thing when he honored Hannah’s wishes to leave her alone.
  3.  Hannah decides, as her last attempt at help-seeking, to reach out to her school counselor about her suicidal thoughts and being the victim of rape. The counselor, insensitively and against best practice guidelines, implies she may be partially to blame (e.g., asking if she verbally said no to the perpetrator, asking if she had been drinking) and jumps right into telling her that her only choices are to: 1) report the assault or 2) to move on. She leaves the office, and he doesn’t follow-up with her in any way. He doesn’t ask for more details or conduct a suicide risk assessment, and he does not try to reach out to her parents to prevent her from harming herself. Of course, there are some counselors out there who might act in this irresponsible way. However, the vast majority would not. In a show that is viewed by a lot of young people, the depiction of the counselor matters a lot. People are already reluctant to reach out to mental health professionals. I worry people would feel even more discouraged from seeking help after seeing this terrible, judgmental, unethical interaction.
  4. The series accurately portrays some of the risk factors for suicide: social isolation, loneliness, and disconnection from others (including in the painful forms of bullying), perceiving herself as a burden (e.g., she describes herself as a “problem” for her parents and especially feels burdensome after accidentally losing some of their money), family conflict (her parents argue about issues including finances), witnessing and then being a victim of sexual assault, and hopelessness about her future (e.g., with regard to college and other plans).
  5. I appreciated the series emphasizing how crucial social connections are for health and talking about different types of loneliness – including individuals truly isolated and those who feel “lonely in a crowd.” It seemed to make the point that even apparently popular people (like Zack) can feel lonely. I believe this sends the message that anyone is vulnerable to loneliness, and we shouldn’t assume people are doing well just because they appear that way on the outside.
  6. One of the themes of the series is that – at any point – one person listening, reaching out, or doing something differently could have prevented Hannah’s suicide. Ultimately, this is a positive message. Unfortunately, I think it’s lost and distorted because it is used to blame people for their failures to save Hannah rather than demonstrating that one person could have made a difference and changed the story to a hopeful one. If the counselor or one of her parents had connected with Hannah and supported her in seeking help for her struggles, this point would have been much more persuasive. Instead, the story feels more demoralizing than inspiring to me.
  7. Hannah’s death scene is a graphic depiction of her cutting her wrists with razorblades in a bathtub. In a documentary-type episode made about the series, they said that it was to show the painful and hard-to-look-at nature of suicide. To me, it feels like a choice to make a dramatic, visually startling conclusion to the story rather than to deliver a lesson. It makes sense – this is a series meant to be watched and to get people glued to their screens- not a PSA. It’s possible that an individual who feels suicidal might see that and be afraid; however, it’s also quite plausible that an individual feeling suicidal might mistakenly view it as an end to all of Hannah’s emotional pain and problems. Anecdotally, there are cases of suicidal individuals watching scenes of suicide building up to taking their own life.
  8. There are warnings in the beginnings of episodes where there are graphic scenes (e.g., sexual assault, suicidal behavior). It would have been helpful if the episodes had information about resources, such as the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline and the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, embedded in them too. It would be a simple way to reach a lot of people. Again, the series created a separate short documentary-like episode with mental health professionals and resources in it. However, it appears completely separately from the series (rather than as the 14th episode, for example). It would reach more people if it was connected to the full series.
  9. The pain Hannah’s parents experience after her death is excruciating. I feel this is one of the most realistic aspects of the series. It shows their horror, their confusion, their regret, and their desire to prevent other suicides from occurring. In the documentary afterwards, they suggest that this might show individuals who feel suicidal about the pain that others would experience if they died. I think this may be the case for some, but for certain individuals, tragically, they might imagine that people wouldn’t feel the same way about their death. That’s the cruelty of perceiving oneself as a burden – people struggling with mental health problems may not see how the world is better with them in it.
  10. Related to the second point, several characters clearly violate Hannah. Marcus and Bruce grab her, Tyler and Justin take and share revealing pictures without permission, and Bryce rapes her. When Hannah and Clay are starting to kiss, Clay asks, “Is this okay?” I really liked this scene because it shows how asking about consent is natural and enhances, rather than ruins, the moment. It also shows a welcome contrast in that Clay genuinely respects and cares about her feelings and perspective. Sadly, this positive point gets diminished when the scene turns into Hannah yelling for him to “get the hell out” and the suggestion that if he had only ignored her wishes, he would have saved her life (as described above).
  11. From one perspective, it seems like a point of the series is to teach bullies that their actions can lead to someone dying by suicide. However, most people who are bullied do not die by suicide – people are often remarkably resilent in the face of great adversity. It’s important that people who are on the receiving end of bullying know that. Secondly, most of the people on Hannah’s tapes are more concerned about protecting their own secrets (e.g., that Courtney is attracted to women, that Justin allowed Bryce to rape Jessica, that Ryan published Hannah’s poem without her permission) than how they hurt Hannah. If the message is supposed to be an anti-bullying one, I don’t think it really connects with bullying people in the audience. I guess that it would resonate more with people on the receiving end of bullying who feel a sense of hopelessness about the bullies having any potential for empathy and a sense that there is no help available to them.
  12. On two occasions, two adults (the counselor and the communications teacher) state that the warning signs for suicide include withdrawing from friends and family, changes in appearance, and trouble in group projects. This was a great opportunity to share the real warning signs for suicide, but unfortunately, only the first one really maps onto the list.
  13. A lighthearted, sweet aspect of the series is that Clay is different from his peers in that he cares relatively less about what other people think of him. He still cares what people, including Hannah, think of him to some extent, but he doesn’t try as hard as his peers to be something he’s not. He feels nervous around Hannah, but doesn’t ever really pretend to be someone else. He doesn’t let other people’s opinions make him feel bad about himself. Again, Clay’s not perfect (he says some mean things to Hannah and looks at a revealing picture that Tyler took without consent). But, overall, he’s smart, sensitive, caring, a good student, interested in the world beyond the walls of his school, helps others, takes reasonable caution in his decision-making, and likes geek stuff like Lord of the Rings and Star Wars. During one exchange, Hannah says to Clay, “Wow. You’re an actual nerd. There’s courage in that.” Most of the other characters in the series view themselves and their worth in terms of what their peers think of them. This generally rings true with regard to this developmental period in adolescence. It’s refreshing to see someone who has some self-acceptance and a sense of what’s right in the midst of all of the tragedy.

You can check out our first podcast episode on this series here and our second episode here.

If you or someone you know needs help, please reach out. There is hope and help is available here.

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Analyzing Oliver Queen (Arrow, Season 1)

PSYCHOLOGICAL REPORT

Name: Oliver Jonas Queen
Date of Birth: May 16, 1985
Ethnicity/Race: White
Occupation: Billionaire
Date of Initial Interview: October 10, 2012
Date of Report: April 4, 2017
Therapists: Brandon Saxton, M.S., Katie Gordon, Ph.D.

Presenting Problem:
Oliver was referred by his mother, Moira Queen, for a diagnostic assessment following his return from a deserted island. Oliver was previously presumed dead. In actuality, he was the sole survivor of the sinking of his family yacht, The Queen’s Gambit. He reported living alone on the island for five years before being rescued.

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Family History:
Oliver has one remaining parent and one sister. His father, Robert Queen, was on the yacht when it sunk. Oliver reported that he did not see his father die, but solemnly stated that he, Oliver, had to have been the only one to survive. His mother, Moira, took over the operations of Queen Consolidated after his father passed away. Oliver reported that he is very close to his sister, Thea (or Speedy, as he likes to call her). He reported having some regrets about the type of role model he was to her before the island and wanted to do better for her now.

Educational/Employment History:
Oliver reported never having a job, instead relying on his family’s fortune to make his way. He attended some college. He said that he only went because he was expected to. Beyond that, he reported that his primary goal had been making friends and partying to the extent that the only book he read during all of college was The Odyssey. It was not clear whether he actually completed his studies and received a degree.

Psychiatric/Medical History:
Oliver has no documented psychiatric or serious medical history. However, it should be noted that medical reports indicate that his body is covered with scar tissue following his return from the island. At this time, it is unclear how this scar tissue was obtained. Oliver’s primary care physician indicated that Oliver claimed the injuries happened while attempting to survive. However, the report indicates the injuries are more consistent with weapon or combat trauma. Further assessment may reveal further events that happened on the island.

Assessment & Diagnostic Impressions
All assessment and diagnostic information was collected with Oliver one month after his return from the island (i.e., at the beginning of season one of Arrow). It should be noted that we felt Mr. Queen was not being completely forthright with us during the diagnostic interview. We offer this assessment based on the information we have. As treatment continues, we suspect that what Oliver is willing to report about his time on the island may change (What we are subtly saying is, if you like this post, let us know! We will turn it into a series covering each season!).

Treatment Recommendations
In light of the limited information revealed by Oliver Queen, it is difficulty to conclusively identify the source of his problems. Further assessment should be conducted in order to understand the impact that his time on the island and loss of his father had on him. We recommend that a patient approach is taken, such that the therapists can build a sense of trust and rapport with Oliver over time. Perhaps once Oliver feels more trust in the therapists, we can gain a more precise understanding of the issues he is facing and plan treatment accordingly.

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THE GORDON/SAXTON TEST


1. Was the portrayal of mental illness accurate?
At this point, there is not enough information to determine whether there is a mental illness, accurate or not.

2. Was the character struggling with mental health issues depicted with compassion?
Oliver Queen is an intriguing character because he is depicted as pretty despicable prior to his time on the island. However, when he returns, he has changed so significantly that it’s hard to not feel compassion for the struggles he’s suffered through.
We are also thrilled that the actor who plays Oliver Queen, Stephen Amell, has raised funds and awareness for mental health issues.

Overall rating:
On a scale of what’s a quiver? to master archer, we rate this depiction as……to be determined as the evaluation of Oliver Queen continues in future seasons!

Dueling Personalities: The Psychology of the Hamilton-Burr Conflict

Note: Most of the words in this post are direct or slightly modified excerpts from the brilliant lyrics written by Lin-Manuel Miranda for the musical, Hamilton. This analysis is based on the portrayals of Burr and Hamilton in the musical.

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PSYCHOLOGICAL REPORT

Names: Aaron Burr, Alexander Hamilton
Ages: 48 (Burr), 47 (Hamilton)
Education: Bachelor’s degree from College of New Jersey/Princeton; theological, military, and legal training (Burr), Bachelor’s degree from King’s College/Columbia; military & legal training (Hamilton)
Date of Session: July 10, 1804
Therapists: Katie Gordon, Ph.D., Brandon Saxton, M.S.

Presenting Problem
Alexander Hamilton’s wife, Eliza, grew concerned when he said that he “had an early meeting out of town.” Hamilton’s disagreement with his long-time frenemy, Aaron Burr, had recently escalated, and she was suspicious that this meeting might actually be a duel. She insisted that Hamilton and Burr attend a therapy session to resolve their conflict peacefully. Eliza told him that she felt helpless after losing their son in a duel and that he owed it to her after burning her with the whole Reynolds Pamphlet ordeal. Hamilton couldn’t say no to this.

We started the session by walking up to the two men in the waiting room and asking one of them, “Pardon me, are you Aaron Burr, sir?” To which he responded, “Alexander Hamilton. My name is Alexander Hamilton.” After getting clarity on who was who, we introduced ourselves and invited them back to our office to further assess the problem. During the interview, we did not find Burr to be forthcoming on any particular stance. He’d glance off, obfuscate, and dance. Meanwhile, Hamilton did not equivocate on his opinion; he wore it on his sleeve.

Apparently, the heart of the conflict was that Burr wanted desperately to be in “the room where it happens” and blamed Hamilton for his losses in the Presidential election of 1800 and the New York Governor election in 1804. Specifically, Burr believed that Hamilton’s public attacks on his character swayed these elections. Hamilton’s criticisms of Burr included saying that he had no principles and acted in an opportunistic, self-interested fashion. He called him “amoral” and a “dangerous disgrace.”

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History
Burr’s grandfather was a fire and brimstone preacher; his mother was a genius; his father commanded respect. Tragically, both of his parents died when he was a young boy. When asked how he managed without them, he replied, “I’m a trust fund baby, you can trust me.” He was raised by relatives and reaped the benefits of their wealth, including access to an excellent education and connections with powerful people. After graduating in two years from college, he fought in the Revolutionary War. He was romantically involved with a married woman named Theodosia, whose husband was fighting on the British side in Georgia. Ultimately, he and Theodosia married (after her husband died) and had a daughter, who he referred to as “Dear Theodosia.” Burr practiced law and was active in politics as a Senator and Attorney General. The highest office he held was the Vice President of the United States from 1801-1805. The fact that Burr was born into financial and societal privilege may have influenced his life philosophy to wait patiently for opportunities to arise before acting on them. By working hard and avoiding huge public errors, he believed he could maintain the status and wealth he was born into and use them as a foundation to achieve even greater political power.

Hamilton presented as a bastard, orphan, son of a whore and Scotsman, dropped in the middle of a forgotten spot in the Caribbean by providence impoverished and squalor who grew up to be a hero and a scholar. When he was 10, his father split, full of it, debt-ridden; two years later, he and his mother were bed-ridden, half-dead sittin’ in their own sick, the scent thick. Hamilton got better but his mother went quick. He moved in with a cousin, who died by suicide. Left to fend for himself, he got a job for his late mother’s landlord trading sugar cane and rum and all the things he couldn’t afford. By 14, he was in charge of a Trading Charter. Then, a hurricane came, and devastation reigned. He wrote a letter describing the hurricane’s impact, and it was so beautifully stated, that the people in his town took up a collection to send him to the mainland to get an education and nurture his talents. Like Burr, Hamilton graduated from college, fought in the Revolutionary War (Hamilton served as Washington’s right-hand man), practiced law, and was active in politics as the first Secretary of Treasury for the United States. He married Eliza Schuyler, after meeting her at a winter’s ball, and they had eight children together. Their oldest son, Philip, died at a young age in a duel. The fact that Hamilton was born into a stigmatized position at the time (i.e., being born out of wedlock) and into poverty may have influenced his life philosophy to persistently pursue his dreams without inhibition. By fervently seeking out chances to ascend in society and working non-stop, he believed he could attain status, wealth, and political power only by working a lot harder than others, by being a lot smarter than others, and by being more of a self-starter than others.

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Diagnostic Impressions
After an evaluation, we concluded that while Burr and Hamilton share many qualities, the areas where they differ led them to the point where they were considering a duel. An analysis of these overlapping and divergent qualities are depicted in the Venn diagram below:

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Treatment Recommendations
To our knowledge, there are not any evidence-based strategies for duel prevention. However, we intervened by explaining to Burr and Hamilton that participating in a duel would negatively impact them and interfere with their personal goals. We told Burr that killing Hamilton would hinder his ability to be in the room where it happens. We hoped that this would motivate him to find an alternative approach to handling the conflict. Similarly, we told Hamilton that duel participation would increase the likelihood that he would actually “run out of time” before establishing the legacy he desired, and we reminded him, “history has its eyes on you.”

We experienced resistance from Burr, who argued that he looked back on where he failed, and in every place he checked, the only common thread was Hamilton’s disrespect. His overwhelming blame of Hamilton for all of his thwarted plans formed a significant obstacle to duel dissuasion.

Similarly, Hamilton wasn’t willing to decline the duel invitation. Hamilton’s personality rarely involved backing down from positions or challenges. Indeed, when Burr asked him for an apology, Hamilton responded with, “Burr, your grievance is legitimate. I stand by what I said, every bit of it. You stand only for yourself. It’s what you do. I can’t apologize because it’s true.”

To this, Burr replied, “Then stand, Alexander. Weehawken. Dawn. Guns drawn.”

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Status at Follow-up
Burr shot Hamilton in a duel the day following our session, and Hamilton died the day after that. Hamilton’s legacy was planting seeds in a garden he’d never get to see. and he is remembered as a ten-dollar founding father, hero, and a scholar. Meanwhile, Burr became the villain in your history books. When Burr was asked if he had any regrets, he said that he now understood that “the world was wide enough for both Hamilton and me.” We would have strongly preferred that Burr had that revelation before killing Hamilton.

THE GORDON/SAXTON TEST

  1. Was the portrayal of mental illness accurate?

Lin-Manuel Miranda was not portraying characters with mental disorders. However, his depictions of Burr and Hamilton appear both psychologically and mostly historically accurate. Miranda went to great lengths to examine historical records and consult with historical experts when he created Hamilton. He took some artistic liberty for the sake of storytelling and this approach resulted in fascinating, relatable characters.

  1. Was the character struggling with mental health issues depicted with compassion?

Miranda depicted his characters with great compassion. Burr is generally remembered as a villain and Hamilton as a hero, but Miranda went beyond that simple dichotomy of good versus evil and presented two realistic characters with both redeeming and irritating qualities.

Overall rating: On a scale of Darwin Award to EGOT, we rate the Hamilton depictions of Burr and Hamilton as EGOT!

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The Room Where It’s Happening is an awesome Hamilton fan podcast! You can check it out here.

If you’d like to read 10 Hamilton Quotes for Therapists, you can click here.

Ridin’ along with “Mad” Max Rockatansky

PSYCHOLOGICAL REPORT

Name: “Mad” Max Rockatansky
Date of Birth: Pre-nuclear apocalypse
Occupation: MFP Pursuit Officer (former)
Road Warrior (current)
Date of Initial Interview: 05/5/2015
Date of Report: 02/01/2017
Therapists: Brandon Saxton, M.S., Katie Gordon, Ph.D.

NOTE: Some information in this report contains chronological gaps and inconsistencies. This information was collected via diagnostic interview (i.e., watching the films, playing the game, and reading the graphic novel) while roaring through the wasteland in Max’s V8 Interceptor: Pursuit Special being pursued by raiders from Gastown. This made for a difficult intake session…

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Presenting Problem:
Max was self-referred to therapy with the goal of reducing his distress levels. After the loss of his family and some other traumatic experiences, Max reported having intrusive thoughts and flashbacks that interfered with his everyday functioning.

Family History:
Max did not disclose much about about his childhood. He mostly responded with grunts when asked about it. In his previous position as a police officer, Max was a highly-skilled driver who often engaged criminals in high-speed chases on the open road. Realizing that he was losing himself in his work, Max retired and moved to the country with his family. Unfortunately, his past followed him. A gang leader took revenge on Max by killing his wife and son in front of him, and he was reduced to a shell of his former self. As a result, he left his life completely behind and became a road warrior in the wasteland.

Occupational History:
Max commandeered the V8 Interceptor: Pursuit Special and his old police gear. He was able to locate and take revenge on each of the gang members who took his family from him. For three years after, Max traveled the wasteland with a dog aptly named Dog. Max moved into his car, which was heavily modified for long distance travel. While scavenging, Max was nearly ambushed by a gyrocopter pilot. Turning the ambush around, Max forced the pilot to bring him to a nearby compound where he could obtain fuel.

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Once there, Max saved people who were under attack with the hope of being rewarded with fuel. Instead, they detained Max and his car. Eventually, Max made a deal with their leader, offering to retrieve a vehicle that they could use to transport gasoline away from the compound in exchange for his car and fuel. After delivering on his end of the deal, Max left the compound. However, he did not make it very far before being run down by Lord Humongous’s gang. Fortunately, he was saved by the gyrocopter pilot. After being nursed back to health, Max agreed to help the people in the compound escape with gasoline. He lead the escape in the tanker. It was then that Max learned that the tanker was filled with sand, and that it was all a ruse to get the hidden fuel away in smaller vehicles.

Many years later, Max was still wandering the wasteland and found his way to Bartertown. Max was forced into entering the Thunderdome, Bartertown’s gladiatorial arena, where he was pitted against Master Blaster. Max was could not bring himself to kill his opponent, who was an innocent man with a disability.

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Because he did not kill Master, Max had to “face the Wheel.” With the Wheel of Fortune deciding his fate, Max was sent into the wasteland to die. Max was saved by a tribe of young children who believed he was their hero of prophecy. Max returned to Bartertown to find Master,  who he believed could help the children. He fled Bartertown with Master in tow, which lead to a terrible road war. Eventually, Master and the tribe of children escaped.

Some time following these events, Max was again run off the road and taken captive. This time, Immortan Joe and his war boys took Max to use him as a “blood bag.” Finding his blood being drained while strapped to the front of a car racing across the dessert, Max was able to escape while the war boys pursued Furiosa, one of Immortan Joe’s Imperators.

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Max joined with Furiosa who was fleeing the warlord dictator, Immortan Joe, with his Wives. Max and Furiosa were ultimately able to escape with the Wives and find Furiosa’s old clan. Furiosa learned that The Green Place that she had been seeking was no longer there. Furiosa decided to take everyone and flee across the wasteland instead. Max, with his own supplies, went in the opposite direction.

Then, Max experienced a flashback of a young girl. This prompted him to go back to Furiosa and her group. He believed that their best bet for a safe home was to take the Citadel from Immortan Joe while his forces were out pursuing them. After yet another destructive road war, Max, Furiosa, and the rest were able to defeat Immortan Joe and his army. They returned to the Citadel as heroes and liberators. However, Max left them behind to continue his life alone.

Psychiatric/Medical History:
Max denied any history of psychiatric treatment. With regard to medical history, Max suffered an injury after being shot in the leg and subsequently wore a leg brace.

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Assessment & Diagnostic Impressions
Max’s symptoms appear to be best captured by a diagnosis of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), as defined by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders – 5th Edition.

As detailed previously, Max has experienced a variety of traumatic events (defined by the DSM-5 as exposure to actual or threatened death, serious injury, or sexual violence). Max’s symptoms primarily seem to be related to the people he has been unable to save throughout his life. For example, Max appears to experience multiple intrusive symptoms in Mad Max: Fury Road. These flashbacks consist of a young girl asking Max for help. They appear to be very distressing. Beyond that, Max also appears to engage in avoidance of situations that remind him of the traumatic events. Specifically, after losing his family, Max is seen refusing to get close to others again and again. This is particularly worth mentioning as solitude in the wasteland almost always means death. Additionally, following the loss of his family, Max appears to have negative changes to his thoughts and moods. He goes from being a light-hearted, family man to a dark killer. His life goal becomes revenge. Additionally, Max appears to have suffered from changes in his arousal and reactivity (e.g., irritable mood, angry outbursts, etc.). Max is always on alert for danger. He rarely falls into a trap (such as the one set by the gyrocopter pilot) and is usually on edge.

Treatment Recommendations
In summary, Max appears to meet full diagnostic criteria for PTSD. Fortunately, evidence-based treatments are available. Such treatments include therapist-guided processing of traumas (e.g., Cognitive Processing Therapy, Prolonged Exposure) and decreasing unhealthy behavioral patterns without focusing directly on the trauma (e.g., Present-Centered Therapy).

THE GORDON/SAXTON TEST

  1. Was the portrayal of mental illness accurate?
    The changes that Max undergoes after losing his family do appear to be within the realm of possibility for someone experiencing such trauma. Max loses his sense of his former self, exhibits extreme negative affect, avoids getting close to others, and experiences many reminders of those he has lost.
  2. Was the character struggling with mental health issues depicted with compassion?
    Overall, Max was not written specifically to depict mental health issues. That being said, he does appear to be a character who, despite intense trauma, is able to rise above and help those in need. Additionally, Max refuses to harm Blaster, of Master Blaster, while battling in the Thunderdome, as Blaster appears to have a developmental disability. So, not only is Max depicted with some compassion, he also displays some. Nice work, George Miller.

Overall rating:
Overall, we rate Mad Max as SHINY AND CHROME! That is, totally awesome. Max is a complex character. He is continually seen trying to shun connections with others, often acting as if he only cares about his own safety and survival. Despite this, he always ends up being guided by his moral compass. Time and time again, we see Max come to the aid of those in need, never able to completely turn away.

We joined The Geek Therapy Podcast Network!

We have exciting news! We joined The Geek Therapy Podcast Network, which hosts 4 other shows: Geek Therapy (about the potential benefits of comics, games, TV shows, and movies), PsychTech (exploring the human side of technology), Headshots (about psychology and gaming), and Rolling for Change (about the educational and therapeutic side of gaming). We highly recommend all of these shows. They’re high quality, thoughtful, and super-fun to listen to! gtc