March 18th, 2010

Looking for a diagnosis for a character.

The setting is 2011, so more or less present day USA, though this character originates from Germany. (Anyone who knows the ace attorney franchise might be a help- this is about Kristoph Gavin.)

Hello! I'd really appreciate some help, because I'm not much of a google guru, despite however much I've attempted to become one. I've googled psychosis, paranoid hallucinations and paranoid symptoms, and came up with an abundance of things including paranoid schizophrenia, which might be a decent diagnosis but I believe there's more to it than that. I've looked into tags, too, and this thread was extremely helpful, but I still wanted a second (or more) opinion on the matter. Thanks!

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PTSD and psychiatry before WW I

Time: 1912
Place: UK

Terms googled: history of psychology / psychiatry; shell shock; PTSD

I was wondering what a psychologist (alienist?) of the non-hospital-affiliated kind (with a private office where people go and talk about their issues) would do when suddenly faced with an individual with severe shell shock / PTSD.

Now, I know the term "shell shock" was only coined three years later, during WW I. And wasn't the whole humane talk-therapy thing only invented by Freud and Jung? Whose discoveries seem right about that time and I have no idea how fast and widely these new methods were accepted by the medical community. I have a scenario how I want this to play out in my story (see below), and I'm willing to squint a bit to make it work, but I'm worried about getting a "no way in hell" reaction from readers who actually have a clue about the subject.

Also, as far as I know Freud needed to study medicine first, but he wasn't British. Can I safely assume that my British psychologist has a medical degree? Or at least enough knowledge to check there's nothing physically wrong with the patient? Or would he bring in another doctor?

Here's what I want to happen:
The psychologist finds the unconscious patient (near their house) and takes him home. He and his wife nurse him until he rises to consciousness, then keep him under close observation, because he's first catatonic (stupor), then aware but actively suicidal. The psychologist tries to talk to him, but without much success. Maybe he sees him as an interesting case for study. In the end the psychologist doesn't actually do much to help, only keeps the patient alive and safe until he gets through the worst of his issues on his own and heals enough to be functional again. (this self-healing process doesn't have to be realistic) PTSD is a defining character trait of the patient even months and years after this, so this isn't about full healing, just taking care of himself again and interacting with people.

What I really don't want to happen:
The patient landing in a hospital / asylum, or receiving any kind of nasty electroshock therapy or something like that. The patient is supposed to remember the psychologist and his family fondly later on.

Are there any non-violent therapy methods that the psychologist might test on his patient?
What kind of drugs might he try to use to rouse him from catatonia; and to put him to sleep when he won't sleep for days on end later? (Laudanum?) What about drugging him when he has short spells of violent and self-destructive behaviour (punching in a mirror)?

On a related note: How could you tell someone is in psychological catatonia / stupor following a few hours or days of deep unconsciousness (looks like coma, but in terms of the story actually a healing process) and not in a vegetative state because of brain damage?