Friday, June 11, 2010

Was Darth Vader Mentally Ill?

In a news bulletin that has stunned an unbelieving world, a team of French psychiatrists and psychologists have released a detailed study in which they claim that legendary Sith Lord Darth Vader was, in fact, mentally ill.

According to ABC, their report, which was recently published in the medical journal Psychiatry Research, concludes that young Anakin Skywalker exhibited behavior that is consistent with borderline personality disorder, which may in turn explain his decision to embrace the dark side and become Emperor Palpatine's apprentice.

Needless to say, this bombshell has rocked the mental health community, with American experts immediately disputing the claims, and not just on the grounds thatGeorge Lucas characters have never before been accused of having personalities.

"Anakin shows borderline traits, but these do not persist into his adulthood," UCLA psychiatrist Dr. H. Eric Bender said. "It's important to note that any person, when put in highly stressful situations, may display certain traits, such as impulsivity, which are associated with borderline personality disorder." The paper, he said, failed to prove that Skywalker had "enduring and maladaptive patterns" over the course of his entire lifetime, which would be necessary to adopt a formal diagnosis.

Dr. Sue Varma, assistant professor of psychiatry at the NYU Langone School of Medicine, agrees.

"Teenagers are impulsive and can practice risky behavior," she said. "They are trying to find out who they are and in playing around with identities, they show characteristics similar to borderline. But this is not enough for a diagnosis. Most teens come out the other side by their 20s."

What side they come out on, however, doesn't determine whether or not they were mentally ill. In other words: Vader may not have been sick, he might just have been a giant a-hole.

For now, then, the debate rages on. But with some of the finest minds on both sides of the Atlantic working on the issue, rest assured that at some point, the truth behind Skywalker's transformation to Vader will finally be revealed once and for all. And that's the important thing.

Because if we can prevent just one Padawan from embracing the dark side, it will all be worth it.

Scott Harris

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