Created By: Hertzyscowicz on June 6, 2012 Last Edited By: SharleeD on November 2, 2012
Troped

Medicate The Medium

It's not psychosis if you're seeing real ghosts

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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.


Examples

Film
  • 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.

Literature
  • 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.

Live-Action Television
  • 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.

Web Comics
  • 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.

Web Original

Miscellaneous
  • A Russian joke: Beware of haloperidol, it doesn't cure anything! It blocks chakras and blinds the third eye!
Community Feedback Replies: 29
  • June 6, 2012
    Hertzyscowicz
    I see Demon Hunter Kain doesn't have an entry yet, and I'm too tired to start one up right now. Here's a link to the actual comic: http://demonhunterkain.com
  • June 6, 2012
    SKJAM
    Saw a short live-action film to this effect...the Virgin Mary appears to a little girl with a new message ala the Fatima prophecies (I think that's the ones I am thinking of). The little girl tells her parents, they immediately take her to a psychiatrist who puts her on heavy meds.

    Mary shows up the next night, but has no luck trying to communicate with the girl, so appears to her sister instead. The next morning, sister is asked if anything interesting is going on with her, she looks at the medicated girl drooling into her cereal, and denies everything.
  • June 7, 2012
    aurora369
    A Russian joke: Beware of haloperidol, it doesn't cure anything! It blocks chakras and blinds the third eye!
  • June 7, 2012
    peccantis
    Film:
    • 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.
  • June 8, 2012
    fulltimeD
    In Twin Peaks, taking the medium OFF his medication was part of the process of solving the murder of Laura Palmer.
  • June 13, 2012
    Hertzyscowicz
    I claim that this trope has an unambiguous description, doesn't duplicate an existing trope, there are at least three examples and te title makes sense. Is anyone opposed to launching?
  • June 13, 2012
    surgoshan
    I think gather more examples, it's anemic right now.

    • 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.
  • June 14, 2012
    Damr1990
    i'm not sure if this counts but
    • on the A Nightmare on Elm Street Movies some of the survivors where latter put on a psychiatric institution and under heavy drugs, however, since most people apparently knew the danger was real, it was done with good intentions, as the drugs allowed them to sleep withouth dreaming so Freddy could not kill them.

  • June 14, 2012
    Sheora
    • 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.
  • June 15, 2012
    Hertzyscowicz
    The A Nightmare On Elm Street example doesn't quite count, since the doctors know what's wrong and are giving them the right medication.
  • June 15, 2012
    Ryusui
    • 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.
  • June 15, 2012
    Sheora
    OK, there's an example that's on the tip of my tongue and it's driving me crazy that I can't remember it. Maybe someone knows what I'm talking about. There were twins, and they both had the sight. When they were called crazy, the one claimed she made the whole thing up and didn't see anything. The other stuck to her guns and got sent to a mental hospital and the other kept her mouth shut when she could have saved her sister by telling everyone it was all real. I can't remember what media it was even in, I just remember the plot line. Anyone know?
  • June 16, 2012
    aurora369
    In Age Of Aquarius, magic works on Clap Your Hands If You Believe, so a psychiatrist who believes in science, reason and logic enough (Positivist paradigm 4-5) can actually cure mediums, shamans and psychics of their "mental diseases".
  • June 16, 2012
    Arivne
    ^^ @Sheora: You're remembering the plot of the film Constantine, which is in the original post.
  • June 28, 2012
    Hertzyscowicz
    Actually, I'm rethinking the Constantine example. If memory serves, the Psychic Children got psychological help more for the trauma and less for the "seeing hell" part.
  • June 28, 2012
    TBeholder
    Cure Cassandra?
  • June 29, 2012
    Arivne
    ^^ No, they got the treatment because of what they saw.

    Quotes from Constantine:

    Constantine: When I was a kid, I could see things. Things humans aren't supposed to see. Things you shouldn't have to see. My parents were normal. They did what most parents would do. They made it worse. [Scene with Constantine undergoing electroshock treatment]

    Angela: Our father thought she was just trying to get attention. She certainly did that. She'd tell everyone about the things she said she saw. She'd scare my mother half to death.

    Angela: I used to pretend that I didn't see things. By the time we were 10, they started forcing her to take antipsychotics and have treatments. They would come for her and she'd look at me, and she'd say to me, "Tell them. Why don't you tell them, Angie, that you can see them too?" But I lied. I said "I don't see anything."
  • June 29, 2012
    Hertzyscowicz
    OK, good point.

    Also, I'd like to repeat my prior call for hats or critique.
  • June 29, 2012
    Omeganian
    An important plot point in The Salvation War.
  • July 2, 2012
    Rognik
    Played with in The Blackwell Series. Patricia and Lauren Blackwell both go crazy when they refuse or stop helping ghosts reach the afterlife. The Countess also goes crazy when her link to her spirit medium is severed, and the universe fills in the void in her head.
  • July 2, 2012
    FireWalk
    • 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.
  • July 3, 2012
    Hertzyscowicz
    Doesn't look like the Blackwell example fits. Looks like they went actually crazy because of their powers, and didn't get mistaken for crazy because they claimed to see ghosts.
  • July 3, 2012
    SquirrelGuy
    This was a central theme in the movie The Sixth Sense.
  • 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.
  • July 4, 2012
    randomsurfer
    re Buffy: 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. Speaking of...

    • In Angel the team come across a young woman escaped from a mental institution who is unusually strong and an able fighter; turns out she was a "Potential Slayer" who got activated when Willow activated all Potentials in the Grand Finale of Buffy. She was driven crazy by, among other things, her Slayer-premonition dreams.
  • July 5, 2012
    Hertzyscowicz
    The Angel example looks like a person being driven insane by their powers, not being mistaken for insane because she told people about them.
  • July 9, 2012
    Hertzyscowicz
    This has only four hats and I'm going to be offline for at least three weeks now, so I'm leaving this Up For Grabs.
  • November 1, 2012
    Hertzyscowicz
    YKTTW Bump. I'll be online for the weekend once again.
  • November 2, 2012
    Hertzyscowicz
    And that's five hats. Launching tomorrow (GMT+2).

Three days must pass before this YKTTW is Launchworthy or Discardable

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/discussion.php?id=cpmi2fdwm4whs7haghqdz33g&trope=MedicateTheMedium