Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Star Trek and the DSM IV

Don’t get me wrong... the new Star Trek movie is great, but I think they missed a good opportunity. Over the years, the Star Trek institution has advanced the idea that you can succeed regardless of race, age, species, etc. But, if they truly wanted to go where no one has gone before, what about this idea: instead of showing a crew that is different in appearance and culture (Vulcan, African American, Japanese, Russian, Scottish, etc.), show us a crew who can turn the DSM IV (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual) upside down. They would not only look and speak differently, but would have abilities that in the 20th and 21st centuries were considered disorders or liabilities.

Let me explain. In the 20th and part of the 21st centuries ADHD, autism, bi-polar disorder, OCD and depression were all stigmatized. If you had such a disorder you may have been accommodated in the classroom, but not accommodated at work. Without the proper treatment, you were often not able to work at all. Life was hard. People didn’t always value your hidden abilities. But people were beginning to realize that if you had such an “illness” there was often a hidden talent or skill.

Some examples:

Bi polar: Great energy, new creative insights…
ADHD: Ability to hyper-focus, creative…
OCD: Intensity, deep thinking, persistence, etc.

So, the message to the writers of Star Trek is this. You’ve done a good job of advancing the cause of equal opportunity. Now, it’s time to take this one step further and advance the cause of people with “disorders.” In our time they still call this mental illness. In the future, it may have a different name.

Note to J.J. Abrams. I’m hoping you will explore this possibility for the next Star Trek movie and will consider hiring me to write the screenplay for this. I’m out of work… and would love the opportunity.

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