Psychosis, Bonding and Deception
(Gilbert ,South Carolina)
Question: Okay, so I am writing a book about a Psychiatrist and his patient who suffers from antisocial personality disorder and psychosis, but I don't know exactly how to combine his disorders and his snarky but cool personality without making it seem that his disorder defines who he is, I don't really want to offend anybody.
I also don't know how to describe the effects of A.S.P.D and psychosis naturally and realistically (delusions, hallucinations, etc...) I just want to really make it believable.
Thirdly, I want them to bond but since Skylar(my character) was physically and mentally abused as a child, I don't know how to get them to slowly connect due to his trust issues and mentally instability.
All I know is that I want Skylar to portray to the readers as actual friend and loyal companion but then for them to find out that he has been deceiving his doctor all along and only wanted to break out.
Sorry for it being so long, but I would really appreciate your answer. And sorry if it doesn't make any sense.Answer:
Bear in mind that you must write about one particular person who happens to have ASPD, along with a lot of other traits that are unique to him. The character as a whole is more important and unique than this one aspect of him. You can read about the symptoms of ASPD and try to write them into the character, but that's how you end up making "his disorder define who he is." You don't want to make him a textbook case of his illness, because as far as I know, textbook cases seldom exist.
You want to create this person just like you would any other character, developing his unique thoughts and behaviors like you would the thoughts and behaviors of any character. The fact that some of his behaviors coincide with the symptoms of ASPD is beside the point.
Of course, it
helps if you know people who have this diagnosis, or if you can interview psychiatrists who deal with such patients (which would be good research for your psychiatrist character too).
But when all else fails, you must rely on your own ability to put yourself into the shoes of this character and see the world from his perspective. Let your empathy for him guide you.
P.S. Sometimes children who were abused and therefore have trust issues also have a craving for the connection they didn't get as children. And sometimes they grow up thinking connection means abuse and don't understand how to have a healthy relationship. They can want connection and at the same time fear it and try to sabotage it to protect themselves. Both elements can be going on at the same time. Hope that helps.
P.P.S Don't worry about someone being offended. There will always be people who want you to portray the character exactly as they think characters with that diagnosis should be portrayed. Maybe they have that diagnosis themselves or they know people who do who are quite different from your character, and they will cry, "That's not accurate." Like I say, you're not writing the character to fit into a stereotype or to be exactly like anyone else with the same issues. You're writing about a unique person, who may have some things in common with other people, but will be also very different from anyone else, if you write him well.
What you especially want to avoid is writing to check the boxes on someone else's list, or trying to please those with an agenda for how they want characters with your character's illness to be portrayed for political reasons. Do that, and you can end up writing a character who ticks all the boxes but is lifeless, bland, idealized, or otherwise inauthentic.
Besides, you could tick all the boxes and some people will still be offended. That's just human nature.