Monday, May 2, 2011

Mental Disorders at the Office

I have suspected for a long time that almost every one of the characters in NBC’s TV series “The Office” has a psychological disorder - even if it is a slightly subclinical one. Each character has a flaw that causes them to consistently make the same types of misconstruals, misapprehensions or misjudgements.  Often these mistakes lead the characters to commit serious social or occupational blunders making my favourite show on television a madhouse confined within the four walls of second story, Scranton, Pennsylvania office space.  In my Mom's opinion, the writers either intentionally modelled their characters after common psychiatric or psychological disorders or else at least a few of them have an uncanny sense of how and where everyday people can go wrong. What follows is a list of the characters and the psychological disorders that I think they are supposed to represent.
Few of the characters deserve a full blown diagnosis, rather most have tendencies or habits that are characteristic of a specific disorder. Further, some of the characters' patterns of behavior don’t map onto a true disorder but to a personality trait. A person usually only receives a diagnosis if their disorder consistently and adversely affects their well-being, their social life, their economic status or the people around them. On these criteria, you be the judge. Characters are listed in an order that reflects the severity of their disorder, with the first being the most severe. Most of the descriptors below are symptom criteria coming straight out of the DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders).

Michael Scott:
ADD: Inattentive, impulsive, inattention to detail, careless mistakes, does not follow through, difficulty organizing tasks and activities, forgetful, easily distracted by extraneous stimuli
Dwight Schrute:
Aspergers Syndrome: Impaired social and emotional interaction, impaired empathy and sympathy, forced to compensate for deficit of empathy by memorizing social patterns, idiosyncratic communication, make-believe inappropriate to developmental level, intense asocial preoccupations, obsessed with details that have no social consequences, other symptoms of autism
Creed Bratton:
Schizophrenia or Schizotypy: Disturbance of consciousness, poor clarity of awareness of the environment, reduced ability to sustain or shift attention, disorientation, memory impairment, frequent derailment of thought, incoherent, odd, eccentric or peculiar,
Angela Martin:
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder: recurrent and persistent thoughts about maintaining structure and order despite anxiety and stress that they may cause, preoccupied with lists, details and organization, feels driven to behaviors that are subject to rigid rules, overconscientious, scrupulous and inflexible about matters of morality, ethics or values. Hyperfrontality: habits pertaining to hygiene or social conventions are clearly excessive
Ryan Howard:
Narcissism: grandiose sense of self and inflated ego, arrogant and egoistic, is interpersonally exploitative and opportunistic, takes advantage of others, exaggerates achievements and talents, preoccupied with fantasies of success and power, has a sense of entitlement, lacks empathy
Erin Hannon:
Avoidant: avoids interpersonal activities that involve social contact in an effort to avoid criticism, disapproval or rejection, unwilling to become involved unless certain of being liked, shows restraint within intimate relationships for fear of shame, ridicule, inadequacy or embarrassment
Kevin Malone:
Mental Retardation: Does not meet the standards of his age group for pragmatics, communication, or self direction.
Kelly Kapoor:
Dependent Personality Disorder: pervasive and excessive fear of separation leading to clinging behavior, necessitates advice and reassurance from others, false veil of openness, extraversion and sociability.
Mr. Mifflin:
Alzheimer’s Disease: Significant memory impairment and advanced cognitive deficit, forgetfulness, disorientation
Toby Flenderson:
Depression: depressed mood throughout the day, feels sad or empty, low self esteem, feelings of hopelessness or melancholy, diminished interest or pleasure in most activities
Meredith Palmer:
Alcohol Dependence, Substance Abuse, Addictive Personality, Hyperactive Sexual Desire
Jan Levinson:
Neurotic: Impelled by distressed, anxious or angry energy
Stanley Hudson:
Antisocial / Psychoticism: failure to be apprehensive of aggressive acts, irritability, lack of remorse, indifference
Andy Bernard:
Intermittent Explosive Disorder: several episodes of failure to resist aggressive impulses that result in harm or destruction of property. Degree of aggressiveness is out of proportion to the precipitating psychosocial stressor, age inappropriate displays of anger
Jo Bennett:
Histrionic: uncomfortable in situations in which she is not the center of attention, uses physical appearance to draw attention, inflated ego, has a style of speech that is excessively impressionistic
Phyllis Lapin-Vance:
Eating Disorder
Oscar Martinez:
Pam Halpert:
Low Self-esteem, but she is much better now
Jim Halpert:
Procrastination, Sarcasm, Competitiveness
Darryl Philbin:
Holly Flax:
I guess she is just a bit nerdy


  1. I have say that I have always thought Michael was a narcissist. I mean the lack of empathy, the "all about me" attitude that is displayed on several occasions, the constant pull for praise and admiration,the way he expects the office workers to go along with his plans, despite a better plan being provided by others, the jealousy, the unhealthy relationships, the unrealistic goals that could he could never achieve, the fragile self esteem and over susceptibility to criticism or rejection. It's all there. He's a total text book narcissist.

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