“Psychological diagnoses offer an easy way in to understanding character – but our habit of using them comes at a cost”
This article by Lucy Foulkes has been published in The Guardian. It begins:
“It takes around 30 seconds to diagnose Holden Caulfield. Sixty, maybe, if you look at more than one website. The unhappy protagonist of The Catcher in the Rye has post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), brought on by the death of his 13-year-old brother several years before the novel begins. The diagnosis explains a lot: the distressing thoughts, the trouble sleeping, his habit of drinking to numb the pain. Other critics say he might have depression instead, or an anxiety disorder, or maybe all three. The details don’t actually matter. One thing is clear: Caulfield is a teenager in need of a diagnosis.
He’s in good company. Search the internet and you’ll discover that Dorian Gray, it seems, has body dysmorphia. Lady Macbeth, with her incessant handwashing, has obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD). King Lear? Bipolar disorder. Even in the Hundred Acre Wood, home of Winnie-the-Pooh and friends, neurodevelopmental and psychiatric disorders are rife. Pooh himself has attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD); Eeyore has depression; and Piglet, with his relentless, uncontrollable worry, is a textbook case of generalised anxiety disorder.
Today, this is what we do. We look at the people around us, real or fictional, and we try to figure out what it is they have. In the past, this kind of exercise was reserved for those in extreme distress. Now it is applied more widely …”
You can read more from here.