Thursday, August 1, 2013

Sherlock, Existence, and Fiction: Part One

Is Sherlock in the TV series Sherlock an Aspie?
There's some dispute over this question. The actor, Benedict Cumberbatch claims that Sherlock is not an Aspie, but is a "high-functioning sociapath." I think this is equivalent to a mistaken self-diagnosis. But let's take up the details of this later.
Right now, let's address the question of what it even means to say that a fictional character has or doesn't have whichever psychiatric condition.

First of all, let's remember that Sherlock is a fictional character. What kind of existence does a fictional character have?
A fictional character is not one thing, but many.
There is no fictional character. And yet there is.
There is the writer thinking of the character. The thoughts and images inside his head are the character.
There is the reader reading about a character. The thoughts and images inside his head are the character.
There is the actor playing a character. His actions and character related images/thoughts are the character.
There are the viewers watching a movie. The images and sounds in front of them are the character, but so are the images and sounds inside their heads.

There are many versions of each fictional character.

 Does Sherlock have aspergers?
The correct question isn't "Does this fictional character have this diagnosis?"
But "Is this diagnosis a legitimate interpretation of this character?"  
In order for a diagnosis of a real person to be true, it must correspond accurately with what is actually going on inside that person's head. 
In order for a diagnosis of a TV character to be legitimate, the type of (imaginary) things going on inside that character's head, the (imaginary) stuff going on in their brain that would fit that diagnosis must be things that would fit that character's external actions.
There can be different legitimate interpretations of a TV character's mind/brain/neurological state, just as there can be different legitimate visualization's of the physical appearance of a character in a book. (As long as such visualizations fit with the sparse verbal description written down by the actor.)

In the next post, we shall examine whether ASD is a legitimate interpretation in this particular case.

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