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Misrepresenting Mental Health | 13 Reasons Why


Hey… It’s Knowing Better. Don’t adjust your… whatever device you’re
watching this on. It’s me, live and in stereo. No gimmicky titles, no thirteen title cards,
and this time, no guests. Get a snack, settle in, because I’m about
to tell you why this show is the worst thing to happen to mental health awareness in recent
memory. 13 Reasons Why, welcome to your tape. This video is brought to you by Dashlane. Thirteen Reasons Why is a teen drama on Netflix
that has sparked a lot of controversy since the first season came out last year. It covers sex, suicide, mental health, substance
abuse, you name it. Their stated goal in the trigger warning which
precedes the first episode is to- Start a conversation. If you’ve been following me on Twitter,
you know that I have a deep seeded hatred for this show and the way that it glorifies
mental health issues. And specifically suicide. The show also gets a lot wrong about high
school in general, which is weird considering what a universal experience that is. You’d think the producers would know what
high school is like. We could spend hours discussing plot holes,
like how adults don’t seem to exist in this universe at all. Or how the cliques are incredibly well-defined,
there are no jocks in band, there are no band geeks in yearbook… Think about your high school experience, was
anybody just one thing? We could also talk about silly nitpicks like
how Jessica’s dad is in the Air Force, but nobody else’s parents are – do they live
200 miles away from the nearest base or something? How is he the only one? Or how about the fact that Tony thinks cassette
tapes are a superior medium. You’re still on the old media, huh? So much better. In what universe is that true?! You can make the case that vinyl sounds better,
we could have that debate, but audio cassettes? C’mon. No, we’re not here to nitpick those things,
I’m not a film critic. If you are interested in sort of thing, as
well as some of the more technical aspects, I recommend this video by I Hate Everything… I really need to figure out what’s causing
that. We’re here to talk about the broken psychology
and inaccurate depictions of mental health in the show. We are going to-
Start a conversation. For those of you unfamiliar with the show,
the basic premise is that Hannah Baker kills herself and leaves behind several audio tapes
with thirteen reasons explaining why she did it. The set gets passed from person to person
until they reach Clay, the main protagonist and audience surrogate. We listen to the tapes and learn things along
with him and experience the various flashbacks just as he does. It was actually a pretty clever narrative
device to have him crash his bike in the first episode – if he has a scar, it’s currently
happening; if he doesn’t, it’s a flashback. In the beginning of season two, Hannah reappears
to Clay, not in a flashback, but in current time. So you talk now? Apparently. There are only two possible explanations for
this. A, Hannah is a ghost, in which case I have
some rather strong opinions which I’ve discussed before. You don’t get to come back and watch your
epic revenge fantasy unfold. But since Executive Producer, Selena Gomez,
described the show as “so real” we can assume that’s not the case. Which leaves us with option B, Clay has schizophrenia. It’s somewhat eluded to during season one
that Clay had a mental health issue that required medication and therapy in the past, but we’re
never given any context, maybe they’re leaving that for season three. Yes, there’s going to be a season three. Schizophrenia usually doesn’t present itself
until your early- to mid-twenties, so it’s a little odd that he’s showing symptoms
already. There are two main symptoms of schizophrenia. Delusions are a false belief about reality
– everything from that person is a secret robot replacement, to the government is run
by reptilian shapeshifters, to all of this is just a computer simulation. This is just a symptom of schizophrenia, if
you happen to believe any of these, that doesn’t mean you have schizophrenia – but you might. Clay doesn’t appear to have any delusions,
but he is experiencing hallucinations, seeing or hearing something that isn’t actually
there. Hallucinations come in many different forms
and literally affect every sense. A good example of a tactile hallucination
is when you feel your phone vibrate in your pocket but when you look- I’m actually convinced
that it does vibrate because sometimes when I look at my phone I’ll see the notification
disapp- anyway. Most hallucinations that we’re concerned
with are either auditory, so you’re hearing voices, or visual, you’re seeing things. Clay is experiencing both, an audiovisual
hallucination of a girl who isn’t really there, which is rare, but not impossible. The problem with this depiction is how he
responds to and interacts with the hallucination. Firstly, hallucinations are usually quick
or fleeting – they appear for a moment and then hide behind a tree or corner when you
try to get a better look at them, and when you go to investigate, they’re gone. Secondly, they’re usually scary. Nobody is hallucinating that they’re on
a date with a supermodel or Magic Mike. It’s usually somebody’s trying to murder
you or watching you. This is what causes idiots who are high on
salvia to run into traffic or jump out of the window of their second story apartment. Because thirdly, and perhaps most importantly,
you don’t know that you are hallucinating. You might realize it afterwards and have a
laugh while putting the video up on youtube, you might even know that you’re going to
hallucinate, which is why you set up the camera in the first place. But in the moment, it is real. Your brain is telling you that what you’re
seeing or hearing is actually happening. So Clay realizing that she isn’t real and
still having full conversations with her is an inaccurate depiction of a hallucination. Earlier in the first episode, she appears
in the background or he mistakes people for her, but she always disappears in a flash
because hallucinations are fleeting. It even gets in the way of his relationship
with Skye. What the f-
At first I wanted to applaud the show for its depiction of teenage sex… ugh it sounds
creepy when I say that. The typical Hollywood trope is that all it
takes for a teenage boy is a strong breeze. Open the window and breeze rolls in and I-
But in reality, the opposite is just as common and they go out of their way to show that. I like the way you look, I like you. Really? Because your body is kinda saying the opposite. This is Psychogenic Erectile Dysfunction,
meaning it’s psychological in origin rather than biological. These kids are way too young to be having
biological problems in that regard. They’re way too nervous, their mind is elsewhere,
they’re hallucinating. It really does happen to a lot of guys, your
girlfriend isn’t lying to you. But then they throw it all out the window
and have the creepy incel ruin his pants in a movie theater. What’s wrong? Sorry! Skye is Clay’s girlfriend in season two,
at least when he’s not obsessing over Hannah, and she’s your typical goth gf. Skye has Bipolar Disorder. A person without this disorder goes through
normal ups and downs, but it’s much more pronounced in a person who is bipolar. They go from a deep depression to mania. Most people understand what depression is,
we’ve all likely experienced it at some point. But mania is a little more difficult to wrap
your head around. People going through a manic state feel invincible,
not physically, obviously, but they feel great and like nothing could ever ruin this. So they engage in risky behavior, like gambling,
drug use, and sex. Now, I’m not a clinical psychologist, but
I did stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night, so I was able to diagnose her with bipolar
disorder during this scene… We hang out. What does that mean? I never know… is that slang for sex? Mom! I just hope you’re being careful. Oh c’mon, no adult in that room would not
know what just happened there. It’s later confirmed to the audience that
she has that disorder while she’s at an in-patient mental health resort. Look are they sure it’s bipolar? I mean it feels like kind of a blurry line
between someone being manic and someone being in a really good mood. But I would also argue that she has Borderline
Personality Disorder, which is often co-morbid with Bipolar, meaning that they occur at the
same time. Having Borderline Personality Disorder means
that those ups and downs are much more unstable and sudden. Skye goes from a manic episode to an incredibly
depressed episode in a matter of minutes and then goes home to self-harm. Along with Minecraft, Skye also does Non-Suicidal
Self-Injury, or NSSI. More commonly known as cutting. Then what’s that? It’s what you do instead of killing yourself. There are three main reasons why people self-harm
and in order to discuss them, we need to talk about conditioning. I hope you paid attention during your Intro
Psych class. If you want to get someone to do something
there are two ways to go about it, with a reward or punishment. Though in psychology, we call it reinforcement
and punishment. And then there are two types of each of these,
positive and negative. Positive and negative don’t mean good or
bad in this context, it means you are getting something or taking something away. So a positive reinforcement is something we
all understand, you’re getting something good as a reward. Positive punishment is also something we all
understand, though the name sounds a bit contradictory. You are getting a punishment. A negative reinforcement is when something
bad is taken away, maybe a siren turns off when you stand in a certain place or a headache
goes away after you take medication. The behavior is reinforced by stopping a bad
thing from happening. A negative punishment on the other hand is
when you take away something good. Like being grounded or banned from a video
game. So now that we have that covered, why do people
self-harm? Positive reinforcement is unfortunately a
big contributor. Someone who is feeling neglected will self-harm
and are suddenly showered with care and attention. It’s an attention-seeking behavior in the
same vein as Munchausen Syndrome. The person obviously needs medical attention
and mental health care, but that’s also why they did it in the first place, so it’s
kind of a Catch-22. Positive punishment is somewhat more rare. Someone will physically punish themselves
for some moral failing or wrongdoing. This is common in people who suffered abuse
as a child and no longer have a parental figure to dole out punishment, so… they do it themselves. Skye, as far as I can tell, doesn’t fall
into this category. But negative reinforcement does seem to fit
the bill. She’s taking away the emotional pain she’s
feeling and replacing it with physical pain. As soon as she feels a depressive state coming
on, she goes home and cuts herself to stop it. She doesn’t want to die, people who cut
don’t do it with suicidal intent. It’s the just pain that they’re after,
thus the name. Unfortunately, well over half of people who
self-harm eventually attempt suicide. So if they tell you it’s nothing to worry
about, it’s not nothing. Hannah commits suicide before the first episode,
she didn’t self-harm or show symptoms of any mental health issues before that. But two of the thirteen causes that she lists
involve sexual assault; one of them happens to her and the other to a friend while she
is hiding in a closet. Now, I’ve heard criticisms of Hannah’s
response to these assaults and, especially in the case of her friend, felt it myself. Why didn’t she do anything? Whether it was trying to stop it, or screaming,
or calling the cops, she could have done something, right? To respond to that criticism, we need to talk
about your fight or flight response. Your nervous system has multiple parts and
subdivisions – it’s not just your brain. Your brain is the Central Nervous System or
CNS, but you also have a Peripheral Nervous System, which branches off from your spinal
cord and is never abbreviated. And it can make decisions and perform actions
independently from your brain. It’s not like a separate person or anything,
it’s very basic decisions. Have you ever touched a hot stove and pulled
your hand back before you even felt that it was hot? That’s your Peripheral Nervous System. The Peripheral Nervous System also has two
parts, the Somatic, which controls movement and sensory input, and the Autonomic, which
regulates your physiological functions. The Autonomic Nervous System is what regulates
your arousal level, through, yet again, two systems. The Sympathetic Nervous System ramps you up
for your fight or flight response, while the Parasympathetic calms you down for rest and
digest. So what happens when you encounter something
stressful, like a lion or your friend being assaulted? The amygdala is activated, followed by the
hypothalamus, pituitary, and adrenal glands, releasing epinephrine, also known as adrenaline
– which along with raising your heart rate and affecting your senses, also slows down
your perception of time so you can react more quickly and decide whether to run away or
stand your ground. But that doesn’t happen with Hannah does
it? Because fight or flight is an incomplete understanding
of the available options. It’s actually fight, flight, or freeze. Which is the most common response in modern
humans. It’s the deer in headlights. You don’t know what to do, so instead of
making a decision, you do nothing. Do Something! Hannah doesn’t know if running away will
cause more harm or if screaming and fighting back will cause more harm. So she freezes – whether she’s the victim
or a witness. So at least her response is consistent across
both situations. Now let’s talk about the suicide. Is it possible we can be done with all this? I mean it’s been over a week, isn’t healthy
to like move on? The school is right to be concerned. Knowing someone who commits suicide increases
the likelihood of friends and family to commit suicide by 65% or more. It’s called Suicide Contagion and it can
happen in a local cluster or even nationally when it’s someone like a celebrity. So the school is reacting appropriately to
try and get out ahead of any copycat suicides. Which is exactly what happens anyway. Alex attempts to kill himself by shooting
himself in the head, which doesn’t work. When, in reality, it works 97-99% of the time. This is in contrast to Hannah, who kills herself
by cutting her- Whoa whoa, I’m not showing that scene are
you crazy?! I also disagree with the show showing that,
it was pure shock value and nothing more. Anyway, in reality, cutting your wrists only
works 1.2-6% of the time. So it’s flipped for some reason. Not to mention the show and various other
media depictions make it look like it only takes a few seconds or minutes. When in reality it takes 4-6 hours, if it
works at all. Your body is incredibly resilient to injuries
like that, remember that scene from Saving Private Ryan? Whereas gunshots to the head in the show and
elsewhere, sometimes don’t work. I have my own tin foil hat theories on why
the show flips the success rate, but I’ll let you discuss that down below. You have a cane and a scar. Where? Where is the scar? I get that they might not have wanted him
to have some disfiguring scar that they’d have to apply before filming every day, but
they had no problem with doing that for Clay in the first season. Later, they try to say that the scars are
under his hair, which he grew out, which is supposed to be the narrative device this season
to differentiate between flashbacks. So let’s try and figure this out together. He isn’t Phineas Gage, he didn’t shoot
up and through, that would be horribly disfiguring and we would see that. In fact, there doesn’t seem to be any frontal
lobe damage at all. He also didn’t hit his occipital lobe in
the back of the brain, since his vision seems to be intact. The temporal lobes are the next candidate,
but this would also damage his hearing and speech, which doesn’t seem to be the case. Which leaves us with the parietal lobe, which
controls sensory and motor function, and given his limp and later erectile issues, makes
the most sense. But he also has another plot-convenient symptom. The bullet went up and in and out of my skull
and into the wall, that’s what they told me. You don’t remember? No, I don’t remember anything of like a
month before that. Okay forgetting that up and in an out doesn’t
entirely make sense- That’s not how amnesia works. That’s not how any of this works. There are several different types of memory
and therefore several different types of amnesia. There’s Implicit Memory, which is unconscious
and pertains to things like language and skills, and then there’s Explicit Memory, which
is conscious and contains two parts. Because everything so far contains two parts. Firstly, there’s Semantic Memory, which
is facts, definitions, and dates and stuff. And secondly, Episodic Memory, which is events
and experiences. They don’t always have to be autobiographical,
if you watch a movie or hear a story from a friend, that’s logged as an Episodic Memory. Whether it happened to you or not. It would seem based on his recollection, that
he’s lost his Autobiographical Episodic Memory. If you lose your memory for the past, that’s
Retrograde Amnesia – everything from before the damage or disease. You can also lose the ability to form new
memories, or Anterograde Amnesia, which is what happened to Drew Barrymore in a movie
that shall not be named, usually caused by damage or disease to the subcortical structures,
most notably the hippocampus. It’s usually all or nothing when it comes
to memory loss from physical damage to the brain. You can psychologically repress a memory for
a traumatic event, so I can understand not remembering the actual shooting itself. But not remembering only a plot-specific month
before the attempt is basically impossible. With amnesia, he’d probably forget a ton
of other things too, like people’s names, his school schedule, or his facebook password. I need to remember. Unless he had Dashlane… Dashlane not only stores and secures your
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using the code “knowingbetter” within 35 days of signing up. You’ll also be supporting the channel when
you do. The show gets a few things correct, but it
also gets a lot of things wrong. In order to depict some of these disorders,
they have to crank it up to 11. Showing a more accurate mild bipolar disorder
wouldn’t really come across the screen that well. But in these exaggerations, they lose a lot
of the nuance of human behavior, which can lead people to dismiss actual mental health
issues as not that bad. If 13 Reasons Why is the standard you are
holding people up to when thinking of disorders, then very few people have disorders that need
addressing. Not everybody with schizophrenia hallucinates
dead people. The creators wanted to start a conversation,
and now we can have that conversation, because now, you know better. Wow, look at all these new patrons! Including my newest legendary patron, another
Eric! I can barely fit them anymore. If you’d also like to climb into this clown
car that is the end card, head on over to patreon.com/knowingbetter. What did you think of the show? Let me know down below and don’t forget
to… uhhh… I… uhhh… hmm. It’ll come to me, just gimme a…

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