Star Wars: The Psychopathology of Fan Favorites
A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away…there was Anakin Skywalker, C3PO, Yoda, and their dark side. Star Wars reviews, commercials, and memes are blowing up our newsfeeds. It is nearly impossible to open up your social media account without seeing an intergalactic update on the latest film. So here is one more to add to your feed. As a Star Wars fan and a psychology nerd, I compiled a list of fan-favorite characters and their psychopathologies! No Spoilers!
Anakin Skywalker (Darth Vader): Borderline Personality Disorder
Borderline personality disorder is described as a pervasive pattern of behavior in which individuals experience varying moods, impulsivity, and interpersonal problems. Individuals with this disorder experience intense negative emotions that include depression, anxiety, and anger. Anakin Skywalker is the perfect example of someone who may have Borderline Personality Disorder.
Anakin exhibits extreme episodes of rage when killing all of the citizens in his mother’s hometown and his epic battle against Obi-Wan in Episode III. Anakin also displays interpersonal problems with his love for Padme, almost killing her before giving birth to Luke and Leia. Individuals with BPD exhibit intense and unstable relationships with their loved ones swinging from extremely closeness to extreme dislike. Other symptoms include efforts to avoid abandonment, self-harming behavior, inappropriate anger, and viewing things in absolutes as the dark side does.
C3PO: Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
Easily one of the most endearing characters of the franchise, C3PO exhibits many of the traits that encompass OCD. Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder is characterized by uncontrollable, recurring thoughts (obsessions) and behaviors (compulsions) that need to be repeated. These symptoms can interfere with all aspects of their life, and everyday fears include germs, contamination, forbidden thoughts, aggressive thoughts, or having things in a specific order. Common behaviors include excessive cleaning, arranging things in a certain way, or compulsive counting. C3PO’s worrisome personality and staunch adherence to the protocol labels C3PO in this category.
The famous line of, “Do or do not, there is no try” is a prime example of dyslexia than involves difficulty reading due to problems in the brain that process language. Some symptoms include delayed speech, learning new words slowly, and reversing words or sounds.
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder: Jar Jar Binks
ADHD is a brain disorder that includes symptoms of inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity. Inattention refers to how quickly an individual may be distracted from the task at hand. This individual may lack persistence and be disorganized. Hyperactivity may look like extreme restlessness including excessively fidgeting or talking out loud inappropriately. Lastly, impulsivity, the last trait of this disorder, is characterized by a lack of self-control or the ability to delay gratification for short-term rewards.
As of the goofiest, silliest characters, Jar-Jar Binks exhibits many of these traits with his careless mistakes in Episode 1 banishing him from his home planet, inability to stop talking during inappropriate social situations, and is consistently forgetful in his daily activities. These traits that encompass ADHD may be one of the reasons that Jar-Jar Binks became one of the most hated characters, but his silly, well-intentioned personality made him a fan favorite of my eight-year-old self.
Anti-social Personality Disorder or more commonly known as psychopathy is a set of traits defined by a person’s lack of empathy or the emotional aspects of conscience. This does not mean that psychopaths can’t identify emotions in others, but instead do not feel other’s emotions. They can understand the difference between right and wrong, but do not have the moral emotions such as shame or guilt to guide their behavior. Individuals with this disorder typically show fearlessness, low self-control, and exhibit a lack of remorse for their actions.
Individuals with this disorder typically become criminals as did the galaxy’s most powerful gangster. Jabba the Hutt’s other behavioral traits include the enjoyment of torturing his victims, humiliating his enemies, and a lack of respect for the rules.
Jedi Mind Tricks to Cope with Psychological Disorders
Besides just being an amazing hip-hop group from Philadelphia, you can use the way of the force to cope with psychological disorders such anxiety, PTSD, depression, and even mood disorders.
Jedi Masters teach their young padawans to quiet their mind to connect with the Force. The ability to connect with the force is also known as mindfulness, which is the act of paying attention to the present moment without judgment. Mindfulness practices include deep breathing, noticing sensations, or letting your mind wander. Individuals that are more in tune with their feelings and emotions even if they are unpleasant ones, report having higher levels of well-being and happiness in the long run. Other benefits of mindfulness include reductions in bias, reductions in cortisol levels, and an increase in compassion.
Jedi Masters value education, self-discipline, honor, and their connection with the force. These values make up their perception and guide their behavior. Many therapies including Dialectical Behavioral Therapy and Acceptance-Commitment Therapy use exercises to help individuals decide what their values are and how to organize their lifestyle and incorporate them. Common values include love, health, and honesty. Identifying our values helps us to make decisions, increase our happiness levels, and live a life of integrity.
One of the core elements of the Jedi lifestyle is self-control. Self-control helps individuals to regulate their emotions and behavior. Self-control helps us to reach our goals and is associated with many positive psychological traits such as humility, patience, and mindfulness. Self-control propels us to reach our goals by enabling individuals to endure discomfort, delay gratification, and follow through on challenging tasks. Anakin’s lack of self-control leads him to the dark side without the ability to control his anger or impulses. Self-discipline is a guiding virtue of the Jedi Council and can be more predictive of success than IQ alone.
As a young padawan, you can train your mind to regulate emotions and learn self-discipline to lead the life of a Jedi. May the force be with you!