Medicate The Medium
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. Worst case scenario: The therapists are completely aware of the supernatural and either believe The World Is Not Ready or are part of The Schizophrenia Conspiracy opposed by psychics. A possible fate of Psychic Children under the care of Muggle Foster Parents, and a consequence of the fact that All Therapists Are Muggles. 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. Given the choice, the patient may decide on No Medication for Me, unless they're better off suppressing the visions. Contrast Junkie Prophet, when it's drugs (usually illegal ones in this case) that give the medium their visions.
ExamplesAnime and Manga
- Deconstructed in Kotoura-san's Downer Beginning. Neither Kumiko nor her daughter Haruka are aware of the latter's inadvertent Telepathy, and the school told Kumiko that Haruka is being "a compulsive liar" even though she's really revealing everyone else's lies. After several hospital visits note , none of the doctors could find anything truly wrong with Haruka enough to take her in because Psychic Powers are not recognized by the setting's mainstream science and Haruka wasn't sick nor delusional in any sense. This failure drives Kumiko into alcoholism, and Kumiko eventually disowns Haruka altogether since Kumiko could not understand Haruka at all.
- It doesn't deal directly with spirits, but Fujino Asagami of Kara no Kyoukai was medicated since she was a small child to seal her psychic power to bend things, which had the side effect of making her unable to feel pain. When she starts getting her sense of pain back in fits it also unlocks her powers and then you understand why they were sealed in the first place when she goes after a gang that sexually abused her and bloodily rips them apart.
- Not exactly this but close, Cade Skywalker from the comic book series Star Wars: Legacy medicates himself with death sticks (a narcotic drug) to prevent himself from seeing spirits of his ancestors.
- 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 one 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: Dream Warriors, 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 committed 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.
- Cordelia of the The Vorkosigan Saga got a rare non-supernatural version of this, since she couldn't tell the whole story about her involvement in the Barrayar-Escobar war and the part she could tell was dismissed as obvious Barrayaran brainwashing.
- Zhegorz in the Circle of Magic series spontaneously developed at a very young age the ability to scry the winds, hearing and seeing events that the winds had touched earlier in their travel. Unfortunately, this ability not only tends to drive people crazy on its own, but it's so rare that nobody realized he had it, so he wound up getting put in a lunatic asylum and drugged to within an inch of really going mad. Luckily, he eventually bumped into someone who had taught herself the same ability, and teaches him to use and control it.
- Katie in the Enchanted, Inc. series can temporarily lose her magical immunity when dosed with anti-depressants.
- 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" Buffy is almost convinced that the entire Slayer world she is living in is actually her delusion. The episode leaves open the possibility that this is actually true (and, by extension, Angel as well).
- 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 fiance thinks is a mental issue.*
- On Millennium Frank takes part in a drug trial that he thinks may suppress visions like his own. Not for himself, but for his daughter Jordan. It doesn't work out, but the trouble he gets into does bring some things to light.
- 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.
- The heroines of Cheshire Crossing have spent most of their childhood hopping from asylum to asylum and initially believe the institute is just another one.
- The Perry Bible Fellowship has "Return of the Ghost".
- An important point in The Salvation War.
- A Russian joke: Beware of haloperidol, it doesn't cure anything! It blocks chakras and blinds the third eye!
- Unfortunately, the Russian joke isn't that funny once you know that haloperidol is often given to people with dementia who experience hallucinations. In some cases it helps, in others, not so much. In at least one type of dementia, the hallucinations have a different cause and the haloperidol makes the hallucinations worse instead of better. There has been at least one real life case in which a doctor failed to recognize this.