I don’t mean to say he specifically does, or specifically has any particular definable mental illness. That’s part of why I worded that the way I did: “He doesn’t externalize (his) symptoms of mental illness and neurodivergence” <– putting the “his” in brackets was meant to imply that he doesn’t necessarily have mental illness or neurodivergence, but if he has either, he doesn’t externalize his symptoms in the way that Mick does.
But more generally, I do headcanon/believe he has some mental illness. I think Len struggles with (episodes of) depression, probably some form of an anxiety disorder though maybe not always at a clinical level, and has (had) PTSD from his childhood and upbringing. And I’d say that it doesn’t show that much in part from the fact that he internalizes more than he externalizes, he’s had so many years to work through some of it, and also because he has coping mechanisms (sometimes maladaptive ones) that make it manageable. It also flies under the radar on a show with so many other people with varying levels of mental illness, like Mick, or Rip with his grief and depression, or Sara with her own struggles too.
Some signs of Len’s mental illness come through in his ‘adrenaline junkie’ way of doing things, the way he seems addicted to it and to continuing to up his game, needing more of a thrill and a rush from stealing over time. I’d argue there’s self-worth problems tied up in there, throwing himself into danger, heedless of his own well-being. Addiction in most of it’s forms tends to be due to a persistent lack of reliable social connection (including in the early, like up to 18-20 parts of life) or lack of social support. Survivors of abuse also show issues with self-worth and depression and anxiety pretty commonly, though of course everyone deals with these things differently.
More evidence on the anxiety and evidence of PTSD side? There’s his strict adherence to a plan and timing things to the second, that meticulous need for order when it comes to his work. And then the fact that he literally shot a guy for wanting out without thinking twice, a sort of highly extreme hair-trigger reaction to a reasonable situation. A learned, knee-jerk reaction that came from somewhere. It fits with other signs of hyperviligance we see from him, including the fact that he always knows when Barry shows up, or else knows whenever there’s someone behind him, and often keeps something at his back in a room, even though he doesn’t always. Should also say the way he responds to his abuser (Lewis) is telling.
It’s worth noting, though not everyone will agree with him on this, that most of the positive emotions we’ve seen him express are in the form of sarcasm or sardonic wit, in the middle of a heist and then it’s more exuberance and a rush than actual joy, or else his positive emotions seem far more muted. I would argue he therefore demonstrates difficulty in experiencing at least some positive emotions, if not a larger range of them. And we know he has serious difficulty with trust. He pulls his weapon on his best friend and other allies when he feels threatened or backed into a corner in any way. Pulling the gun on Sara on the Waverider was an act of panic. And not that it shows, but like killing anyone who wants out, it looks almost like a knee-jerk panic reaction he suppresses and deals with through violence.
There are a lot of plausible headcanons for Len in terms of mental illness and neurodivergence. These are just some of mine. I know some people see him as maybe having obsessive-compulsive disorder, which seems possible, and is technically an anxiety disorder so fits with how I see him more broadly. Some have headcanoned different personality disorders, which I know less (but some) about and I enjoy those headcanons.
And more frequently, I’ve also seen him described as on the autism spectrum and I can 100% see it. Stimming with throwing a ball or keeping his hands busy, wrapping his arms around himself in the way he does for physical pressure stimming when he’s overwhelmed or self-protective. His attraction to some of the things he steals could be due to special interests or stimming as well. He demonstrates a difficulty looking people in the eye or looking them in the eye for too long, and an awkwardness with certain types of social situations (but a smoothness when he’s not involved himself, when he’s following a ‘script’ of sorts like when he’s on a job?).
I’ll admit though, I know a bit about autism but people who are actually autistic can speak much better to headcanons on that, which is why it’s not something I typically discuss on this blog in too much detail. I will say though that I’ve been trying in my latest fic to write him more on the autism spectrum, but I don’t know if I’m having any success.
Of course, everything here is a headcanon because canon never gives explicit diagnoses for any of it’s characters, we just get to conjecture.
I mean, okay, where do I begin? You’re basically the reason I got dragged into this side of tumblr. The “gateway drug” as I told you once. You’re basically my main headcanon for a lot of characters, especially the Founders. You honestly inspire me to do more backstory type of stuff and to explore different characters.
You’re also such a chill person?? Like, the one time I was on a gh when you were there was so much easier than I expected? I mean, lowkey still intimidating because I’d never spoken to you before, but other than that it was so easy and you were super great. You’re super friendly and I really enjoy your humor. I love how much you love your friends and family because I relate so much.
Oh! And I sang and you listened and don’t mind me but I was just kinda freakin out because that was weird to think about???
Idk but all in all you’re just such a 10/10 person and thank you for everything you do because you put so much effort into what you do on Tumblr and it’s just wonderful. I wish you all the success in the world and I hope your future treats you well because you’re so very deserving of good things.