Mental Disorders in Fanworks
|Trope · Genre|
|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|
|Click here for related articles on Fanlore.|
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.
- Hanson: Living Up The Ghost by Nichole. Zac seeks treatment after a strugging with self injury and depression.
- One Direction/Radio 1 RPF: Not Your Fault But Mine by sunsetmog. Louis works through a depressive episode while in uni. (November 2014)
- Star Trek DS9: Psychostasia, by ComeChaos. Explores Julian's fear of failure, and examines what happens when it's taken to the extreme through an eating disorder.
- Sherlock: In Aftermath John Watson struggles with self harm.
- MCU: In Homefront, Steve Rogers suffers from depression and suicidal ideation.
- Criminal Minds: In this AU, The Intelligence Control and Analysis Program, Spencer Reid suffers from panic disorder, depression, and psychiatric mishandling.
- 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:
- Anxiety Disorder
- Anxiety Attacks
- Avoidant Personality Disorder
- Bipolar Disorder
- Body Dysmorphic Disorder
- Borderline Personality Disorder
- Dissociative Identity Disorder
- Eating Disorders
- Frontotemporal Dementia
- Multiple Personalities
- Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder
- Panic Attacks
- Seasonal Affective Disorder
- Social Anxiety
- Drusilla in the Buffyverse - delusional, as a result of prolonged psychological and physical torture by Angelus. Being a psychic novice nun forced to become a vampire probably doesn't help...
- Eeyore in Winnie the Pooh - is probably well known for his depression.
- Dexter Morgan in Dexter - initially believes himself to be a sociopath, but the final season of the TV series suggests that this is conditioned behavior, not a true psychological disorder.
- Julianne Simms of Breakout Kings is often praised for representation of various psychological disorders including social anxiety, panic disorder, and depression.
- Marvin the Paranoid Android in The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy suffers depression.
- Tony Stark in the MCU suffers from PTSD. His comic counterparts in 616 and 1610 both suffer from alcoholism.
- Chidi Anagonye from The Good Place has a highly nervous nature that likely entails an anxiety disorder.
- Takashi Shirogane from Voltron: Legendary Defender has PTSD due to a year of captivity and torture by the Galra.