4Belle from Beauty and the Beast -- Schizoid Personality Disorder
We're going to avoid the obvious fact that Belle's relationship with the Beast who is imprisoning her shows all the signs of Stockholm syndrome (and in fact we've already detailed that here). We're guessing not even Disney would dispute that one.
"So now that we've established a relationship based on mutual trust, can I go now? No? OK, cool."
But Belle didn't need to be kidnapped to develop a mental disorder; she comes firing out of the gates with one already fully developed: schizoid personality disorder.
The Red Flags
Don't confuse this with schizophrenia -- we're not claiming the talking monster and sentient candlesticks are figments of her imagination. Schizoid personality disorder "... is characterized by a long-standing pattern of detachment from social relationships," and a sufferer "... often has difficulty ... [expressing] emotions and does so typically in very restricted range, especially when communicating with others."
It's hard to be normal when the town constantly follows you down the road, singing.
So, in Disney's reimagining of the fairy tale, Belle is a beautiful, independent and headstrong bookworm who is unfairly ostracized by the other inhabitants of her little French village simply for being "odd." She ends up befriending and falling in love with a beast before she knows he's secretly a human prince under a spell. This is supposed to show that her heart is so pure that she's able to look past appearances and love someone for who he is on the inside. In reality, Belle would have probably preferred he stay a beast and all his servants stay candlesticks and clocks, though she'd never admit it.
Wait, are these thing humans as well? Is she going to eat them?
Schizoid personality disorder's trademark symptom is self-imposed social isolation. Above all, someone suffering from the disorder will avoid human relationships, especially any that might result in sexual encounters. Belle is pursued throughout the film by Gaston, who wants to marry her, and while her staunch refusal to entertain any of his advances only because he is handsome seems admirable, she is more likely exemplifying the quintessential behavior of someone who has no interest in sex at all. In fact, someone with the disorder is more likely to find stronger intimacy with animals than people, so it's little surprise that Belle develops a relationship with a beast instead of a man.
"In a few hundred years there's going to be an entire subculture based around this."
In addition, her friendships with anthropomorphized teacups and footstools are stronger than any she's ever had with a human (outside of her father). The seclusion of the castle along with the nonhuman inhabitants and a relationship with a beast who isn't a sexual threat is like a dream for anyone with schizoid personality disorder. So it seems ironic that she was responsible for breaking the spell, turning them all back into humans. It certainly changes the tone of the happy ending.
"I think I'm going to be sick."
3Holden Caulfield from The Catcher in the Rye -- Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
America's favorite literary rebel, The Catcher in the Rye's Holden Caulfield, has a special place in the hearts of readers. After all, everyone was 17 once, and likely tried really hard to articulate all the things they felt about ... stuff. Holden is intensely contemptuous of the insincerity of the world and people around him (the "phonies"), yet still strives to find his place in a society he ultimately despises. Or to put it simply, he has to grow the fuck up.
Oh boo hoo, you're terrible at baseball. To be honest, we skimmed this bit back in high school.
What no one in the book acknowledges, though, is that Holden isn't acting like your standard-issue Hughesian teen, but actually exhibits classic symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder.
No, really. While PTSD is generally associated with people who've experienced horrific events like war, any traumatic incident can cause it. Holden has had to deal with both a brother dying of leukemia and seeing a classmate commit suicide while wearing his borrowed sweater.
"It was from Abercrombie and Fitch ... bastard."
The Red Flags
One of the telltale signs of PTSD is reliving the traumatic event over and over. Holden consistently, almost compulsively, refers to seeing the face of his dead classmate, James Castle, yet he never seems to have any emotional reaction to the event. Instead he concentrates on the visual of seeing the blood and teeth everywhere, or the look on James' face. PTSD causes that kind of persistent emotional numbing, which would explain his distance from the experience.
If Catcher had been written today, Holden would be nursing a Pabst in this picture.
It can also trigger thoughts of suicide, which Holden fully acknowledges throughout the novel ("What I really felt like, though, was committing suicide. I felt like jumping out the window.")
While some of these symptoms could just as easily stem from depression, it's important to also point out that J.D. Salinger himself likely suffered from PTSD. Following World War II, Salinger was diagnosed with "battle fatigue," which sounds much milder than PTSD (and in fact sounds like it could be cleared up with a quick nap). In reality, it was a primitive way to diagnose the thousands of mental breakdowns following conflict that we now call PTSD.
"You're just tired, J.D. War does that to people."
In fact, The Catcher in the Rye wasn't Salinger's only attempt to write about the disorder. The short story "A Perfect Day for Bananafish" also deals with the suicidal thoughts of a man trying to live a normal life after traumatic events, and the story "For Esme" parallels his own traumatic experiences in the military (it was published only five years after Salinger was hospitalized in Germany for his nervous breakdown). A lot of fiction gets more depressing when you realize that writers are usually writing about themselves, whether they admit it or not.