Mental Health Disorders In Fiction

Article written by E. Prybylski

Hello! Lovely to meet you all as I guest blog this week. My usual blog focuses on the craft of writing,

so I thought I would combine Chrystele’s focus on mental health with my own purview and discuss

the way writers often handle mental health in writing. As someone who suffers from CPTSD

(Complex Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder), ADHD, anxiety, and depression, I have been in therapy

for many years. During this time, I have, as you may expect, done a lot of reading and watching

movies. And much of the time fiction gets mental health wrong.

The first thing I advocate for any writer is that they research the thing they are writing

about if it isn’t something they are experienced with already. It’s okay not to know things, but

“write what you know” comes with an unspoken second half: Research what you don’t. This is just

as true with mental health as it is with anything else.

In addition to mental health disorders, neurodivergence (autism/ADHD) is also frequently

misrepresented. So frequently, we see people leaning into tropes about folks with these conditions

to the point where the characters become caricatures rather than human beings. I ascribe part of

this to the fact that mental health and thi