After I answered a question yesterday about the possibility of Medic (or any other TF2 character) being a psychopath, I got to thinking about what might actually be the deal with these guys. Obviously, they’re abnormal, but I don’t like writing off weird characters as just being crazy and/or stupid.
I dug into what I understand about the characters—the core mercs as well as the Administrator and Miss Pauling—and came up with this run-down of how I think they might be diagnosed if evaluated by a modern psychiatrist.
A disclaimer! First off, please take all my conjecture with a big ol’ grain of salt. I’m not claiming to be an authority on either psychiatry or neurology, and this is just my personal interpretation of the characters. It’s fine if you don’t agree! Also, I want to be clear that I mean no disrespect to anyone who might have any of the conditions I mention. I hope my tone comes off as respectful and not exploitative.
One last thing. I feel like this should go without saying, but just in case: DON’T USE THIS LIST AS A WAY TO DIAGNOSE YOURSELF. If I mention something that strikes a chord with you, by all means research it, but talk to a professional if you seriously suspect you might have a mental issue. I am NOT a professional!
Now that all that hemming and hawing is out of the way…
Not to rely on stereotypes, but I think ADHD is likely. His impulsivity, hyperactivity, and need for stimulation are strong indicators. He also has a tendency to self-medicate with massive amounts of caffeine and sugar from all the soda he drinks. Oh, and it’s been pretty heavily suggested that Scout is dyslexic, which I believe to be the case.
It’s pretty much directly stated in the comics that he has brain damage, resulting in delusions and cognitive impairment that border on dementia. (Think Gary Busey post-motorcycle accident.) The comics suggest he was brain damaged by lead poisoning in the water, but I’m certain he had preexisting problems from old head trauma. That helmet has an important function!
On top of that, I think Soldier’s a good candidate for Tourette Syndrome, but I don’t mean the coprolalia version you see in TV and movies, where someone involuntarily shouts obscenities. He commonly has sudden verbal outbursts (”MAGGOTS!”) and physical tics (saluting, marching, etc.) that manifest in his drill sergeant persona.
Oh, boy. Okay. Pyro is a hell of a puzzle, and I could go on for pages, but I’ll boil it down to what I think is most likely. Of course, they exhibit pyromania, but possibly also synesthesia?
One possibility is an “eccentric” mood disorder that manifests as a loss of contact with reality, among other symptoms. That would be either Schizotypal Personality Disorder or full-blown Schizophrenia. The distorted Pyroland version of the world fits this really well, and it’s possible that it might be a chronic thing, with Pyro constantly filtering the world through their delusions.
The other likely possibility is some sort of Temporal Lobe Epilepsy, where seizures in a focal part of the brain yank Pyro out of reality without sending them into the physical convulsions you associate with general epilepsy. This would suggest that Pyro does touch base with reality but gets “transported to Pyroland,” instead of living there all the time.
This one is easy. Demo’s a severe alcoholic, to the degree that stopping drinking cold turkey would probably kill him. In the comics, his body even rejects normal food and drink because it’s learned to get energy just from booze, and his body, in times of withdrawal, can make its own alcohol supply, which an actual real thing. It’s called Auto-Brewery Syndrome, where microbes in the gut can convert carbs into ethanol. Demo must just have the most advanced case of it in human history!
He seems completely neurotypical to me, aside from the hints of both psychopathy and PTSD that come with being a mercenary. I do think he used to have problems from sleep apnea, but some surgery cleared that up. Now he just snores like a chainsaw. (Yes, I know sleep apnea isn’t a mental condition.)
I suspect, but I’m not certain, that he may be in the very high-functioning part of the Autism Spectrum, with savant-like qualities. Maybe he got his 11 PhDs and abilities as a human calculator just from being driven and extremely intelligent, but I wouldn’t be at all surprised if he were wired differently. If it is the case, he’s learned to compensate incredibly well in his interpersonal behavior. That Texan charm is a pretty effective tool for putting people at ease, I bet.
Like I said before, I don’t like simply labeling characters as “crazy.” Yeah, he’s got the mad scientist thing going on, but I think that stems from Bipolar Disorder. Specifically, I believe Medic has type I, which is what people usually think of when they imagine bipolar behavior: extended periods of elevated mood (or hypomania) punctuated with full manic episodes, which can take on psychotic features. There may or may not be periods of depression. He doesn’t seem to swing that way, but it’s possible.
He’s DEFINITELY a self-medicator. I mean, duh. Huffing Medi-Gun fumes and a bit of drinking probably help to calm him down when he gets too high-strung. I doubt he takes pills for it, e.g. lithium or anti-convulsants, because of the high likelihood of side-effects. I could see him doing some DIY ECT, though. Getting too unstable? A few brain zaps, and he’s right as rain!
Bonus fact! Did you know that a German term to call someone insane is to say that they “have a bird”? It might come from folklore about insane people literally having bird familiars living in their heads, or it might be something like calling someone a “crazy cat lady,” where people who keep birds will talk to them too much and seem a bit off. Just thought that was interesting!
I personally believe he probably has some Agoraphobia. Not to a debilitating degree, but he hates being stuck in what feel like insecure places. It’s actually a symptom of Avoidant Personality Disorder, which I think is pretty likely for him. It’s thought to result from feeling abandoned and alienated by other people at a young age. (*cough*orphanedbybirthparentsandraisedinAustralia*cough*) In addition to agoraphobia, signs include self-imposed social isolation, emotional distance, mistrust, and an inferiority complex. If he does have APD, he’s integrated it neatly into his occupation, where distance is a good thing.
Similar to Heavy, he seems pretty neurotypical to me. It’s possible that he had some similar issues to Scout when he was younger, but if so, he’s learned to compensate. He does exhibit the most psychopathic traits of all the mercs, but like I said before, I don’t believe any of them are actually true psychopaths.
Classic megalomaniac! She’s got textbook Narcissistic Personality Disorder. Everything about the way she presents herself screams narcissism: grandiosity, a thirst for power, arrogance, a sense of entitlement, lack of empathy, and extremely manipulative behavior. Maybe she has good reasons for her narcissism, like being an 150-year-old supervillain, but I digress.
Poor thing. I’ve mentioned it before, but my pet theory is that the Administrator broke down her original personality and built it back up to make her a useful pawn, capable of appearing very unassuming and responsible while performing cold-blooded acts of violence guilt-free. She’s a perfect tool, with limited freewill and no room in her mind for cognitive dissonance to slip in. To her, I imagine it feels like living with with Depersonalization Disorder, where either the world around her or her own actions take on an unreal quality as a way of shielding her mind from the nasty parts of her job, but on the outside, the effect is seamless.