PDA

View Full Version : Extent of Mental Illness



Travis J. Smith
07-02-2009, 04:04 PM
Thanks in large part to a dream I had the following idea for a scene; I am unaware at this moment if it will end up being more than a scene, but I digress.

A man, a pedophiliac in the sex offender registry, is so mentally ill that he is unaware of his illness. He goes to his old elementary school when the littlest kids get out with his CD player in tow, listening to it, and honestly believes that he is watching a movie with scenes filmed right here at his old school rather than satisfying this sick need of his.

When someone notifies a woman, presumably a teacher, of his presence he closes his eyes as if to give more credence to his ludicrous idea of watching a movie with a CD player by allowing himself to say, "I'm imagining it; I have a very vivid imagination." But when the woman comes over and challenges this idea he goes bonkers, most likely as a combined result of his word being challenged and him realizing that she is right and that he is doing something altogether different and while he is not entirely sure what he is doing he knows it is good, especially not with how the woman, and everyone else there, is looking at him.

And so he sprints off away from the school, tearing the headphones from his head/ears and slamming the CD player off the sidewalk, bashing it again and again until it is broken into little enough pieces for him to feel as if he has accomplished something with his burst of anger and that he cannot do much more damage.

So, my question is, is this plausible? Can someone with a mental illness, namely pedophilia, really be so ignorant of his or her own problems?

Maryn
07-02-2009, 04:24 PM
I'm sure someone with an acute mental illness might be unable to distinguish reality from a movie (or a memory), but pedophilia is not that kind of mental illness.

Surely someone schizophrenic could also be a pedophile, but he's likely to be under treatment for the schizophrenia, with medications which work--when he takes them. I hear they also dull or mute emotions and slow thought processes, so some people don't like to take their meds.

Unless he's got a mental illness in addition to his predilection for kids as sexual objects, this doesn't work for me.

(Can I say that you're using CD when you mean DVD? It confused me.)

Maryn, not a mental health professional

Travis J. Smith
07-02-2009, 04:50 PM
Not to confuse you, but I did mean CD player. What it was in my dream and it makes his inability to see things as they really are rather clear, though there is that potential for confusing someone, as seen with you. :tongue

I think I will add a note to my dream log about him potentially having another mental illness, most likely schizophrenia, and being off his meds, then file this away for later use. Can't see it fitting in my WIP or in that fantasy novel that hasn't really gotten off the ground yet because of my WIP

Thank you Maryn for your prompt and helpful (even though you are not, as you said, a mental health professional, it still was a very helpful post) response. :Hug2:

ChristineR
07-02-2009, 04:55 PM
I agree, you're describing schizophrenia, not pedophilia. Could someone with schizophrenia also be a pedophile? Possibly, but schizophrenics don't function very well. A guy like that is going to have trouble getting enough food to eat. His schizophrenia is not going to turn on and off as he moves towards and away from children. It's unlikely that he would be able to harm children. If he did manage to grab a kid and get arrested for it, he'd be evaluated and treated.

And decreased libido is common in schizophrenia also, and the drugs they take make it even more so. Schizophrenics tend to loners because they find other people confusing and troubling, like your character finds that teacher confusing and erratic.

Ms.rachel
07-02-2009, 05:56 PM
Schizophrenics in the middle of an episode could believe such a thing, but the reaction when the other people interfere is questionable. In order for the schizophrenic to be so far gone that he has hallucinations, he would not snap out of them so quickly. There would be continual other signs. A person can be off meds and just be on the edge ready to have a break...teetering so I guess it depends how you write it and how you write his reaction. A schizophrenic on the edge could function ...eat ...not a tone of sleep but still. A schizophrenic could (when having a break) snap and take a kid and harm them. Though even if a person were schizophrenic and a pedophile one would not feed into the other. Schizophrenic episodes are typically like waking nightmares. Stress can set off an episode. So he could willingly and knowingly go to the school and the stress sets him off. Once set off his goal would very unlikely be kid-centric at least not in a sexual way.

RJK
07-02-2009, 06:35 PM
IMHO what you've described is a psychotic episode. If a person is psychotic, nearly any experience can seem real to him. Have you considered inducing drugs to create the psychosis? Or the removal of drugs to cause the episode. The psychosis could be a separate issue from the pedophilia. I don't think it's a good idea to make broad statements like it's unlikely a schizophrenic would be harmful to children. They can be harmful to anyone, including themselves.

ChristineR
07-02-2009, 07:15 PM
I didn't say that a schizophrenic would not be harmful to children. I said it's unlikely that he would be able to harm children. The kids would run away and get help. In order to actually harm the kids, a lot of circumstances would have to work out, which really aren't happening in this scenario.

ResearchGuy
07-02-2009, 07:52 PM
. . .
So, my question is, is this plausible? Can someone with a mental illness, namely pedophilia, really be so ignorant of his or her own problems?
Two suggestions for study:

Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition (aka DSM-IV-TR(r)), American Psychiatric Association.

The Criminal Mind: A Writer's Guide to Forensic Psychology, by Katherine Ramsland, Ph.D.

FWIW, a few years ago, a popular member of a small business group I was in turned out to be a child molestor. He was arrested (to the astonishment of the rest of us, who learned via a news report), and eventually jailed (he got off remarkably light in terms of sentence, if you put aside loss of wife, children, friends, and probably his business). Needless to emphasize, we promptly evicted him from the group when we learned of the arrest (a situation in which he was caught in the act, with a mountain of further incriminating evidence). I don't know what he was thinking, or not thinking, but none of us had a clue until we heard of the arrest.

--Ken

Kurtz
07-02-2009, 08:20 PM
Theres a bit of debate into whether Schizophrenia is any one disorder, it is likely to be a whole family of related disorders, ranging from catatonic (where you just sit silently and never move a muscle) to the full-on tinfoil hats the aliens are trying to get me kind.

Also remember that, by itself Paedophilia (this being, people with an attraction towards pre-pubescent children) is not a crime. Research has proven that paedophiles do not "choose" to become paedophiles, but are instead made from a combination of a biological predisposition and (usually) child abuse. It is child molestors, the ones who actually harm children who have to be stopped, but a unacted upon sexual attraction is not just grounds for imprisonment.

Also remember that for a child molestor to survive in public society without being discovered they have to be very, very thorough and smart. They are likely to be incredibly in control and brilliant actors.

Travis J. Smith
07-02-2009, 08:22 PM
Please make note of the fact that this is how it played out in my dream. After waking I forgot a few small details and spruced it up a little to provide my guestimations of the motivations of the people in the dream. Thus, this is by no means set in stone as how it would happen if I were to use it as a scene in a larger work or base a story around it.

As a result, the pedophilia is not key to my idea, but just seemed a logical conclusion based on what followed the woman approaching and talking to him. I mean, I left out the ludicrous parts, like a bevy of cops sprinting towards him as he ran away (hence my conclusion of pedophilia, what with it and all the other circumstances pointing to it, though in ridiculous fashion).

When it comes to this idea I feel that I can be pretty flexible. Mayhaps the man is only schizophrenic or psychotic, but people are familiar enough with him, either through encounters or through gossip, for a concerned parent or teacher to not want him around the children. Could even be a misunderstanding where the parent or teacher is ignorant to the specifics of his illness and feels he'd be more of a threat than he really is. This is an elementary school so it is not as if any of them would be teaching psychology and thus have that great an understanding of matters of mental illness.

Or, what if he previously committed some sort of vile and reprehensible act against a child previously when "the circumstances worked out" and these city folk, like many, either gloss over his mental illness or don't take it for an excuse, thinking him a monster as a result.

EDIT:

Kurtz: I am aware of all that, pretty much. Didn't mean to imply that he was in the registry simply because he was a pedophile, but because he acted upon those urges.

And, the more I think about this idea/dream, the more I think I want to make this into a novel that delves into people's misunderstandings of pedophilia and/or mental illness (most likely schizophrenia). I'm thinking something along the lines of the movie The Woodsman.

jclarkdawe
07-02-2009, 08:31 PM
I think you're going to need to do some research beyond what you can find on this forum to really understand this.

A pedophile is a sexual dysfunction which manifests itself in a variety of different ways. The way in which it is manifested depends upon the causes and needs that the dysfunction has. And realize that much of this is not going to be displayed most of the time. In other words, you're not going to recognize a pedophile by them walking down the street.

Now the behavior you're describing would seem to be what I've heard called a "Peter Pan Pedophile." I don't know if psychiatrists have a better name for it. Basically your character has not grown up. He's unable to deal with adults as a grownup, and is most comfortable with children. The sexual dysfunction stems from that, and is not especially involved with power. He's unlikely to be violent, and tends to respond well to authority (i.e., grownups) such as teachers.

As RJK says, what you're describing sounds like a psychotic break. He's going back to something that feels comfortable to him. However, you need to understand that the psychotic break is completely and utterly separate from him being a pedophile. However, it is possible that someone who is a pedophile can have a psychotic break, just like someone with red hair or is right handed can have psychotic break. Why your character had a psychotic break is going to be essential to setting this scene. And it has nothing to do with him being a pedophile.

Predicting violence is next to impossible. In this case, your character is probably not already on the edge. Some mental health issues leave a person ready and willing to strike out violently with little or no pushing. This doesn't mean that your character can't become violent, but that there's going to have to be some external pushing.

Now if the teacher approaches in a confrontational way, you could easily elevate this to violence. But your character is probably not going to "snap out" of this. More likely, they'll react like a ten-year-old (or whatever age they're happy to be). Imagine a ten-year-old on steroids and you've probably close. Your character will probably continue to believe his psychotic episode it the truth.

What triggered his psychotic break is the part that's going to be hard to set up. If you set that up right, the rest of this flows logically.

Best of luck,

Jim Clark-Dawe

Travis J. Smith
07-02-2009, 08:42 PM
jclarkdawe: That was enormously helpful. As I said, I was willing to work this dream into something not as obviously dreamlike (AKA, ludicrous in a few aspects), and what you described (Peter Pan Syndrome, or Puer Aeternus, based on a quick Google search, coupled with a psychotic break) would be the best option for making this plausible, so long as the trigger of the psychotic break is also plausible.

Nianne
07-03-2009, 05:22 PM
If you are going the Schizophrenic route, I just got done reading a blog by the father of a schizophrenic child. Some parts are more interesting than others, but it does describe in specific detail several episodes where the child goes though a psychotic break. Maybe you should take a look, to get an insider's view of what someone looks like from moment to moment, going through that process.

News article about the girl: (possibly the most horrible thing I've ever read)
http://www.latimes.com/features/health/la-he-schizophrenia29-2009jun29,0,4834892.story

Blog:
http://www.januaryfirst.org/www.januaryfirst.org/Blog/Blog.html
http://www.januaryfirst.org/www.januaryfirst.org/Blog/Archive.html

Kurtz
07-03-2009, 05:51 PM
Most of Philip K Dick's later fiction is about his schizophrenia. Well it's not really about his schizophrenia but through his writing you get quite an insight into how certain schizophrenics think. VALIS and UBIK are awesomely weird.

StephanieFox
07-04-2009, 01:41 AM
This could be someone at the high of a manic episode during a delusion, but these things and sexuality do not really mix well. If someone cannot tell the difference between a movie and reality, they are probably not thinking about sex.

I think you are going to have to come up with another idea. Perhaps, a delusion about his own childhood or maybe an inability to understand what he's doing to the point that he might so something that seems sexual toward children (like take off his pants or say something inappropriate) but actually isn't.

Chalula88
07-07-2009, 08:18 PM
It's just a story, leave the disorders ambiguous. Unless you are trying to educate about a specific disorder there is no reason to follow any steadfast diagnostic criteria. Books and especially movies come out all the time with people who have mental problems that make no sense. I would just write it how you want to write it and not worry. Momento comes to mind as a film with a sort of mental disorder that doesn't make sense (if I remember correctly), Pan's Labyrinth is also very vague. And then there are all the movies that feature real disorders with unreal or hugely exaggerated symptoms (narcolepsy being one of them).

I say go for it and don't worry about diagnosing your character, just let him be who he is. If he's believable, no one is going to sit and analyze how plausible his diagnosis is. People, symptoms, and disorders are hugely varied, your character can be too.

Just my opinion. :)

Rarri
07-07-2009, 11:00 PM
I agree, you're describing schizophrenia, not pedophilia. Could someone with schizophrenia also be a pedophile? Possibly, but schizophrenics don't function very well. A guy like that is going to have trouble getting enough food to eat. His schizophrenia is not going to turn on and off as he moves towards and away from children. It's unlikely that he would be able to harm children. If he did manage to grab a kid and get arrested for it, he'd be evaluated and treated.

And decreased libido is common in schizophrenia also, and the drugs they take make it even more so. Schizophrenics tend to loners because they find other people confusing and troubling, like your character finds that teacher confusing and erratic.

People with schizophrenia can, for all intents and purposes, be 'normal'. So you could potentially have a whole range of scenarioes become possible (IE could be functioning family member/partner/parent; could harm a child; could behave appropriately to their age or behave like a child etc).

Concerning the OP, i think it would also be worth researching psychosis independently of schizophrenia; it's hotly debated, but cannabis is one avenue (as are several other drugs).

Someone may be psychotic and have a (legitimate in their mind) fascination with children that could be entirely unrelated to paedophilic tendencies which allows you to explore umpteen other ideas (delusions etc).

Remember a community may be unaware of a diagnosis but could have come to their own conclusions (which can then grow arms and legs), independently of their ignorance concerning schizophrenia and psychosis.

Your ideas are certainly sounding very interesting, the only thing i would say (which feels somewhat ironic) is that writing about a paedophilic (rather than delusional/psychotic) person with psychosis or schizophrenia could be detrimental to the ideals of trying to reduce stigma around these conditions. Sorry, that was a real tangent, but your idea does sound very interesting!!