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Friday, July 25, 2014

Dear Jeannie: Shock Value and Abandoned Teens

Dear Jeannie,

Oliver (aged 17) is – how should I put this – odd. He does things to intentionally make people feel uncomfortable. For instance, on the day that he met his only friend (a quiet, distant, and eccentric girl), Oliver ran a plastic knife across his throat, then coughed fake blood. His father killed his mother, so he obviously has a troubled past. His school therapist calls him mentally disturbed and unstable. I honestly have no idea if his behavior is realistic at all, and if it is, what could he be diagnosed with, and how would he interact with people?

Unable to Diagnose 

Dear Unable to Diagnose,

There are people out there who love to go for shock value, and the more uncomfortable the reaction from others, the more it feeds into this behavior. He's more into the macabre, slitting his throat and coughing blood. If it's remotely realistic looking, then he's going to get an intense reaction. This would appear to be mentally unstable, but I don't know a lot about Oliver at this time. He might have a very good reason for doing what he's doing. Did he have a lot of attention growing up? Was he always told to blend into the background, that children are better seen, not heard? Would this be a reaction against this? As for diagnosis, he could have a simple adjustment disorder, depending on when his mother died or if something else traumatic had just happened. Does he have flashbacks to his father's murder of his mother? You haven't really given me enough to diagnose from. But while I haven't met or treated any personally, there are class clowns, if you will, who lean toward the darker side of it's feasible. But we'd need to talk more.

Dear Jeannie -

Alice and her four companions are all around the age of 13-15 years old. They have been abandoned in a science facility, left there by the scientists who decided to look out for themselves rather than take care of kids. They are the only ones left who aren't dead already. They experience bouts of going hungry because there is nothing to eat, and fighting for survival in hopes of exiting the facility. They finally are rescued after about a month of living there. What would be the emotional repercussions for the abandonment, isolation, responsibility, and fear placed on these kids?  

SciFi Junkie

Dear SciFi Junkie,

What wouldn't be the emotional repercussions? The sky would be your only limitation. I'd believe that lack of trust would rank high on the list. Adults used and abused them as test experiments and then left them. Assuming that it's adults who find them, I'd believe that they would be mistrustful to a high degree. They'd also want to stick together, likely, even if they had arguments between themselves. This type of trauma could form an impenetrable bond between these teens. It's something they went through together, and understand together. They might be hoarders, constantly sneaking and stuffing food into pockets, not quite sure when they will see food again. This is survival mode. Some of the group would likely be more parental than the others. They'd show a large amount of caretaking, keeping law and order, etc. Others are going to be the rebellious acting out type. Think The Breakfast Club.  People assume roles that they think they are to assume. Leaders need followers and rule-breakers, etc. It's a broad question, for sure, and you have lots of room to run with it.

Got Questions? 

I might have answers. Anonymously leave your question in the comment section below, using monikers like Sleepless in Seattle. I'll post my answers in future Dear Jeannie columns.