valerie_z: (Default)
( Jan. 7th, 2010 06:26 pm)
I'm submitting this tomorrow as a proposal for a conference. Any suggestions would be appreciated. I actually have more examples, but the proposal has to be under 300 words. Thanks.

Mental Illness in Buffy theVampire Slayer

Buffy the Vampire Slayer, like much science fiction, uses metaphors to provide a framework in which to discuss larger issues, such as family, gender, and religion. We will present evidence from specific episodes and narrative arcs to show that Buffy the Vampire Slayer uses metaphor to discuss and de-stigmatize mental illness.

In the episode “TheWitch”, Amy’s mother tries to relive her glory days as a high school cheerleader by switching bodies with her daughter. Witchcraft is used as a metaphor for an overbearing mother’s emotional abuse, which may be the result of a mental illness. In the episode, the real Amy is awkward and unsure, and children of parents with mental illness often have trouble with psychosocial development.

In Season Three, the character of Faith shows clear indicators of mental illness either caused or intensified by childhood trauma. Her late mother was physically abusive, and she views the death and betrayal of subsequent female watchers as abandonment, exhibiting symptom of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Her purposeful disregard of human morality, paranoia, and impulsive behavior are indicative of Bipolar Disorder or Borderline Personality Disorder.

In Season Five, Tara’s mind is “drained”, leaving her in a state resembling Schizophrenia. While in this state, she is able to divine the villains’ plans, and she is restored to health with the villain’s defeat. This is a metaphor for the fallacy that those with severe mental illness may simply be healthy minds “trapped” in madness, and can be “cured” easily.

In the episode “Normal Again”, a demonic attack causes Buffy to hallucinate that she is a normal girl in a mental hospital, and her life as the Slayer is the hallucination. This serves as a metaphor for how the severely mentally ill are often unable to distinguish reality from fantasy.

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