Mental Disorders in Fanworks

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Trope · Genre
Synonyms: Mental Disorders
Related: Hurt/Comfort, Disability Fic, PTSD, Suicide in Fanworks
See Also: List of Fan-fiction Kinks, Tropes, and Clichés, Ableism in Fandom
Tropes · Slash Tropes · Tropes by Fandom
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Giving a character a mental disorder is a popular trope in fanfiction. In other cases, writers may develop a headcanon that a character is suffering with a mental illness due to their canon behaviors or as a consequence of canon events. Works are often focused on how a character deals with their illness and how others help and support them.

Fanfiction that focuses on a disorder are often in the Hurt/Comfort or angst genres. Abuse, Violence, Self Harm and Suicide Attempt often appear in these works which often have trigger warnings for any readers that it might affect.

Some fandoms are more likely to have fics dealing with mental illness. Many fandoms with canonical superheroes such as the MCU have a large number of fics examining characters dealing with PTSD following traumatic events in canon. Some DC works set in Gotham City highlight Arkham Asylum's inability to provide appropriate care for its patients.


While there is an understanding that issues related to mental health should be examined in fiction, some readers take exception at particular portrayals of mental illness, in canon and in fanworks. The most common criticism been that the authors might not have personal experience of the illness they're writing about and rely on stereotypes of mentally ill people.

Some believe that mental disorder headcanons are actually stigmatizing people with an illness, and encourage negative stereotypes about mental illness. For example, when a particular mental illness is used to explain the actions of murderous or villainous characters.

Example Fanworks

Examples Wanted: Editors are encouraged to add more examples or a wider variety of examples.



  • The Puzzle Box of Yogg-Saron, a zine that "features over 80 full-color pages of artwork, creative writing, and prose from thirty different contributors about the unique experience of playing World of Warcraft as a person with mental illness and/or neurodivergence (or MI/ND)."
  • Mind Over Matter, "a digital fan zine that explores the relationship between superheroes and mental health."

Mental Disorder Tags on AO3

Fanwork tags for various disorders on Archive of Our Own:

Canon Examples

Archives & Links