In Real Life
, when somebody keeps seeing ghosts or other apparitions against their will, it is generally a symptom of psychosis or a neurological disorder, and best dealt by identifying which it is and treating them for it.
In TV-land, however, this may run into the snag that the patient may just be seeing real ghosts and spirits
. In this case, antipsychotic medication isn't likely to help. Mix in a generous helping of Masquerade
, and the most likely result is that, in absence of an actual medical condition, the patient will be put on increasingly stronger medication. If they are lucky, the drugs will dull their sensitivity. If they are not, they will be institutionalized, to be tormented by the side effects of their medication and the apparitions.
A possible fate of Psychic Children
under the care of Muggle Foster Parents
Compare and contrast They Would Cut You Up
, for nasty things that happen when the doctors are all too aware of what ails the subject.
- Constantine: The title character and Isabel and Angela Dodson all first displayed their psychic abilities as children. Unfortunately, these abilities helped them to see the half-demons infesting the Earth, resulting in two of them being forced to undergo psychiatric treatment and later committing suicide.
- In Dark Shadows, the little boy, David, sees his mother's ghost, has a personal psychiatrist living in the house, and could be on meds. These measures help none. Victoria had it worse: she sees her earlier incarnation and was abandoned by her parents on the grounds of being too embarrassing to keep, and thrown into a barbaric mental asylum with featureless, padded rooms, habitual straitjacketing and nasty treatments. And they helped none.
- The setup of The Sixth Sense
- This trope actually gets people killed in A Nightmare on Elm Street 3, in which Kristen's disbelieving shrink has her sedated to force her to get some rest. Several of her friends die in their attempt to protect Kristen from Freddy.
- Jem, the heroine of Numbers, has a psychic ability to look into a person's eyes and know their date of death. She discloses this ability and ends up commmitted to a mental hospital for treatment. Unusually for this trope, not only is Jem's psychic ability completely eradicated by the drugs she's administered, she's happy to lose it.
- In Twin Peaks, taking the medium OFF his medication was part of the process of solving the murder of Laura Palmer.
- Buffy the Vampire Slayer spent some time in an asylum after she saw her first vampires and made the mistake of telling her parents about it.
- In the episode "Normal, Again" it's strongly implied that the entire Slayer world she is living in is actually her delusion, including Angel somehow.
- In Ghost Whisperer, Melinda's half brother was put through rough treatment in medical facilities because of his powers. Melinda escaped this fate because she lived with her grandmother who also had the sight. This key difference in the reactions to their powers defines who they become in life.
- In Bedlam, Jeb spends time in a mental hospital due to seeing ghosts, and his family think he's crazy. In the second season, Ellie refuses to take meds or get help with what her fiancee thinks is a mental issue.
- Zandalee from Demon Hunter Kain spent four years in a mental institution, until spirits either left her alone for a while or the medication dulled her sensitivity.
- A variant in Homestuck: it's suggested that Roxy Lalonde's perpetual drunken near-stupor is keeping her from manifesting her powers as the Rogue of Void to their fullest. The Alpha session's "blackouts" grow more frequent as she sobers up.
- A Russian joke: Beware of haloperidol, it doesn't cure anything! It blocks chakras and blinds the third eye!