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Characters With Mental Instability

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I know that characters with mental disabilities aren't allowed, and I'm guessing depression is also part of the no-no list...

How about alcoholism?  Or addiction?  Or a gambling problem?

I was just wondering where the line was set for character mental instabilities.  I know physical disabilities are allowed, but what draws the line for mental issues?  

What about hallucinations?  Delirium? 

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I think it will come down more to how it's portrayed than the particular category it fits into.

The thing that comes to my mind is site's PG-13 rule: anything you can justify without too much difficulty with the site's general themes and restrictions is probably okay.  In the show itself we've seen (very briefly) a pony who barks like a dog, so it's not as though there are no characters with mental conditions.

If every day for the character is a struggle to keep themselves functioning or distinguish between reality and delusion, I think that would be hard to justify, as well as probably difficult for others to RP with.  But if it's more of just a character quirk, something that either only comes up periodically, or something which helps the character or makes them more happy/amusing as much as it causes problems, then I personally don't see why it would be an issue.  (Though of course, as not a moderator my opinion is by no means an actual ruling).

Addiction, in all it's forms, seems trickier because I'm not sure there's really a good PG-13 way to show those issues.  In theory there might be a way to do it, but I imagine that any character tame enough to be accepted probably isn't really, properly addicted.

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I am not sure how much of this may be relevant, but I might as well put this knowledge to good use! (And this helps to keep it in my brain.)

In psychopathology, abnormality is defined as:

  • Statistical infrequency: A person's trait, thinking or behaviour is statistically rare or uncommon, for example when a person is in the lower extreme of 2.1% of the population with an IQ of below 70, having intellectual disability.
  • Deviation from social norms: When a person does not behave according to their society and culture's standards of what is acceptable or morally correct. Their behaviour may be incomprehensible to others or cause them distress, making them feel threatened or uncomfortable.
  • Failure to function adequately: Involves being unable to cope with the demands of day-to-day life, for example not being able to care for oneself, hold down a job or interact and communicate with others.
  • Deviation from ideal mental health: When a person doesn't meet the prescribed criteria of mental health; positive self-esteem, being able to self-actualise (reaching one's potential), being able to function independently and be self-reliant, not being distressed, being able to adapt to situations, and having an accurate perception of reality.

Each definition has its strengths and limitations, so all must be applied in diagnosing abnormality. Note that generally if a trait, way of thinking or behaviour is not harmful or maladaptive, it might just be classified as eccentric, not abnormal.

I understand that playing a character who deviates psychologically from the norm is an interesting experience, even if I found it difficult to keep consistent. Feel free to check out a source if the topic interests you - this article is pretty good.

I agree with DerpRavener's point regariding the PG-13 rule. Some characteristics deviating from the norm can be beneficial, for example having an irrational social phobia can cause a person to be a workaholic and be more successful in their job which might make them feel happy and more fulfilled, or having an obsessive compulsive disorder to frequently wash their hands may help them feel better and be able to get through the day more easily. You might see how an abnormal character could be quite dark for the setting with some of the traits above, but if you are able to keep it appropriate to the rest of the content of the site then it might work.

Edited by Eventide

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Short answer: No.

Longer answer: Mental disabilities, depression, addictions, whatever, are way off focus for a My Little Pony roleplay. This game is designed to be an escape, not an analogue to real life issues. Yes, FiM does champion tackling real-life issues; its relevant messages make up part of its charm by reaffirming our innate cultural values. It's arguable that Pinkie Pie could be diagnosed with ADD -- or Derpy with a learning disability because she may process information slower than other ponies. Do we need to highlight these issues and label them? Absolutely not. 

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While diagnosis is a part of a process of helping and healing, such as systematic desensitisation therapy for phobias, it can be the rare case that it's not a truly present trait, and diagnosing someone as abnormal becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. And some conditions, such as intellectual disability, can't be cured.

It's funny how Derpy became so offensive to parents when other parents talked about her appearance and gave her an inflammatory label, and I remember it going into the argument of inclusivity and what is acceptable in mimesis, in a show for kids. :I I think we are all wired wrong, a little. Few people tend to meet all of those criteria of ideal mental health, one of the limitations of that definition.

Mmhm, sounds like labels in MLP ain't the way to go. So I guess you can have quirks that are not harmful and dark, without stating disorders.

This has given me an idea for a psychologist pony now... it would certainly be interesting, possibly helpful to use my studies in RP. :)

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I actually had a chance to talk with Amy Keating Rogers in person about the Derpy episode she wrote in question. What kills her is that there are tons of goofy or slow cartoon characters, that have been around by design since the dawn of animation. This explosion seemed to happen for all the wrong reasons. In trying to be PC, I think people jumped the bus and ended up putting down the very people they were trying to champion. Truly only the people afflicted with something should have a say on how they want to be addressed.

This is off topic though -- this question of mental instabilities and pony characters has come up before, and was met with a resounding no. That policy has not changed.

Let it be known that characters with quirks to give them interest are still fine -- they certainly don't need a label describing their issue in detail using real-world terms. All characters are handled on a per-case basis as a subject of merit, so the best way to see what is acceptable or not by presentation and design is to simply ask one of my RP Helpers.

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The way I always tend to do it is to give a character SOME traits synonymous with something, but to never ever name it, such as a character having compulsive habits, but not actual OCD, as Rosewind said, this would be a quirk of the character rather than an actual mental illness. Twilight could be said to show some compulsive habits. but never once is she outright called OCD, but you still get the idea that yeah she DOES have some habits that could be considered compulsive. Like you could have a pony who seems to have bouts of melancholy, without calling them depressed(I know there's more to depression than that, I have it, it's just an example). A character who falls into melancholy might fit into the show, but an outright depressed character probably wouldn't.

 

I hope I don't get devoured for this haha, I just wanted to throw my 2 cents in ;u;

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Nope, you're exactly on point. The important thing to consider when designing a character with quirks is that it should only be part of the character, not the focus of the character. People are more than a sum of their negative traits, and a balanced character design should echo that philosophy.

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