The study of mental health is an intriguing topic: it allows us to delve into the mind to make sense of what was previously obscured by mystery. But really, who cares about exploring the mind of our fellow man? Let's go deep and psychoanalyze the mental illnesses of some of our favorite TV characters.
How I Met Your Mother
If there was ever a guy with a serious case of narcissism, it would be Barney Stinson. We're not talking healthy self-love, here; we're talking full-blown conceited, elitist egotism. The man wear's a suit everywhere he goes for God's sake. Anyone can be confident, but Barney takes his vanity to strange, dark (and admittedly, hilarious) places, shielding himself and others from the sense of self he's lacked ever since he was raised alone by his highly promiscuous mother. Sweet, sweet childhood: you're the architect of our future mental disorders.
If you count the time during the 8 seasons of '24' that you can see Jack doing that thousand yard stare into the distance, contemplating his pain, you'd probably be able to extract an entire season's worth of '24.' It's not hard to tell that our counter-terrorist hero has Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. Jack's PTSD is characterized by his inhuman ability to stay awake for '24' hours at full-throttle, his superhero-like hypervigilance (defined as an enhanced responsiveness to sensory stimuli with the purpose of detecting threats) and of course, the quick-to-anger hostility that threatens to surface at any moment. Plus, the beard he grew while being tortured by the Chinese for months on end? Haggard.
Take one look at George Costanza's parents and you can immediately see why he's a bundle of nerves, displaying symptoms of low self-esteem with narcissistic tendencies, compulsive lying, anger issues, hypochondriasis, extreme selfishness and obsessiveness. Not that Jerry, Elaine or Kramer are much better, but George sure is one sick puppy.
Besides the fact that Elmo teaches kids terrible English by constantly referring to himself in the third person, that cute, furry red whatever the hell he is also has a raging case of Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder. ADHD is often diagnosed around the age of 7, but we'll make an exception for young Elmo seeing as he's easily distracted, won't sit still, blurts crap out, daydreams and most importantly, can't hold a job. But hey, it could be just because he's got a grown man's hand jammed all up inside him, too.
Dr. House isn't just a curmudgeon; he's also a prick. Or, more specifically: a prick with Antisocial Personality Disorder. I don’t care if he has chronic leg pain, no one is that much of a…how do I put this scientifically? No one is that much of a prick without having some type of mental trauma that made him or her that way. Good thing he’s also a multi-lingual, medical genius.
The Big Bang Theory
The minute Sheldon opens his mouth to speak you can already tell something's off. Sheldon isn't just an awkward nerd; he's got Aspberger's Syndrome. Smart as a whip, but puzzled by normal social interactions, a genius IQ of 187 but baffled by sarcasm. These are classic examples of the day-to-day struggles of a person with Asperger's Syndrome.
Though Dr. Hibbert is a hell of a lot more normal than most of Springfield's residents being a successful doctor and all, you can still bet your butt you'll find him chuckling at inappropriate moments every time there's an inappropriate moment to chuckle at. Some people laugh when they're nervous or scared which acts like a pressure-valve anxiety release. This is called Pathological Laughter Disorder. It's annoying and inappropriate but hey, it's a hell of a lot better than Pathological Stabbing Disorder.
Of all the mentally ill TV characters in this list, Cartman is clearly the…uh, winner? He’s the meanest bastard (while still being funny) you could ever envision. In short, he’s got sadistic personality disorder, characterized by his vicious, hateful and manipulative behavior toward others. We can only imagine that he was abused when he was younger, because nothing else could screw an 8-year-old up that much. Time to think happy thoughts.