Stieg Larsson and psychiatry

Hi everybody, I am reading the third part of the trilogy and I would like to bring attention to the many connections of this remarkable masterpiece with issues relating mental health.

The hinted diagnosis of Salander as suffering from Asperger’s Syndrome, the years of inpatient admission in a children mental health hospital under a dodgy psychiatrist who colluded with the swedish secret service, several men suffering from sexual perversions and named psychopath, like Zalachenko described as psychotic, paranoid, pathologically violent ans certainly psychopath.

Stieg probably knew a lot about Asperger and pictured the 2 most known features of the disorder, the social inadequacy and the photografic memory (see rain man). However, I think that her character is quite far from the reality and it is unlikely she has the disorder, anyway never formally disgnosed. Her unusual features can be easily explained by her deprived and traumatic childhood. There are 2 heroes in the trilogy, Salander and Blomkvist. I much prefer the latter because more realistic. Lisbeth looks like a super-hero with exceptional characteristics which makes her more suitable for hollywood blockbusters than the empire of timeless characters of epic art.

Secondly, the situation described of a complacent psychiatrist, sadistic and corrupted, who cooperated with the secret establishment and kept Salander locked for years reminds the former sovietic psychiatry that imprisoned dissidents on ideological grounds is a bit unrealistic and shows the suspicious and negative attitude Larsson had towards psychiatric service. I am not aware of the Swedish mental health service, but I know that Sweden is one of the most advanced western country in the world; maybe he knew things that we don’t know from his activity as a journalist, but, in this case, he should have disclosed the real crime against humanity he is referring to instead of using it as a narrative trick.

Just to conclude, I have been positively attracted by the books by Larsson but I think they don’t do nothing in the direction of fighting stigma towards mental health and people working in the field, who are stigmatised as well.

Stieg is a fantastic advocate in favour of women (a practising feminist), against racism, right-wing movements, dishonest financial world, male sadistic sexual abuse. However, his approach towards mental health issues is not completely helpful, so far, as I haven’t finished the third instalment of the trilogy but I doubt he put things into it to change radically my opinion. Teleborian will be most probably named and shamed, and all the psychiatric system called responsible for the abuse against Salander.

Mental health problems are still mostly unknown, misterious and scary. The sensitivity of art should come to our resque until the all loto will be explained to accept and support without judgement.

Giovanni Borghini i Watford
Submitted: 28 December 2010

By Editor

0 thoughts on “Stieg Larsson and psychiatry”
  1. I don’t know much about Swedish psychiatry but I know enough to think that Larrson had his own thing about psychiatry for whatever reason. It is unlikely that he would choose any psychiatrist as a hero. He is also pretty careless about medical treatment, also, altho he does have a general physician who is at least a hapless hero.

    – Jq,

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