A Psychological Profile On Obi-Wan Kenobi
The Man's Been Through A Lot
Everyone had high expectations for Obi-Wan Kenobi on Disney+. However, one thing I wasn't expecting was seeing so much of myself in the show. I have struggled with mental illness for years, specifically depression. It's uncanny how well Ewan McGregor captures what I've gone through.
His performance made me curious. Is it just me, or would Obi-Wan be diagnosed with any mental illness? Since most mental illness is diagnosed by a cluster of symptoms, psychologists often use checklists to determine if anything is present and how severe it is. So, I asked my therapist for some checklists so I could try to diagnose Obi-Wan. She gave me the PHQ-9 and the PCL-C questionnaires, and I went to work.
I started with the PHQ-9. It is a series of nine questions asking the patient how often they have been bothered by each thing over the last two weeks. The patient responds with one of four choices: Not at all, several days, more than half the days, or nearly every day. Then there is one question about how difficult it is to do everyday things. Since I couldn't ask Obi-Wan himself, I used the show to try to determine the answers. This is what I found:
1. Little interest or pleasure in doing things - Nearly every day. It looks like Obi-Wan hasn't had a pleasurable moment in ten years. He seems to have stopped using the Force entirely.
2. Feeling down, depressed, or hopeless - Nearly every day. He has looked down, depressed and hopeless in almost every scene.
3. Trouble falling or staying asleep or sleeping too much - nearly every day. This is speculation, but I think the montage of Obi-Wan finishing work, going home, preparing a meal, etc., was supposed to be a typical day. If that's true, he has trouble staying asleep.
4. Feeling tired or having little energy - More than half the days. This is also speculation, but he looks tired throughout.
5. Poor appetite or overeating - Several days. There wasn't a lot of evidence either way for this. We only see Obi-Wan eating once. It looks to me like he takes no pleasure in the food, which can signal a loss of appetite. I went with only several days because I can't be sure of anything more than that.
6. Feeling bad about yourself — or that you are a failure or have let yourself or your family down - Nearly every day. Clearly, Obi-Wan feels terrible about himself and that he let the whole galaxy down. He carries that guilt with him everywhere.
7. Trouble concentrating on things, like reading the newspaper or watching television - Not at all. There is no evidence for this, so I gave him the benefit of the doubt and said not at all.
8. Moving or speaking so slowly that other people could have noticed, or so fidgety or restless that you have been moving a lot more than usual - Not at all. Another one with no evidence at all.
9. Thoughts that you would be better off dead, or thoughts of hurting yourself somehow - Not at all. Again, there is no evidence. I feel more confident in this one, though. He feels a sense of duty to Luke, which would be incompatible with self-harm.
10. How difficult have these problems made it to do work, take care of things at home, or get along with other people? Somewhat difficult. I debated this for a while. I went with only slightly difficult because he has kept a job and his cave seems tidy. There's no telling how difficult he finds it to do those things.
Those answers got Obi-Wan a score of 15. The test says, "Scores 15-19 suggest moderately severe depression; patients typically should have immediate initiation of pharmacotherapy and/or psychotherapy." That strikes me as a pretty accurate assessment. If anything, I think he may be in worse shape than that. When Tala says to him, "Your body's not the only thing that needs to heal, Ben," in Part IV, she's exactly right.
Some symptoms didn't look or feel familiar, so I decided to see what the PCL-C would tell me. This one is a series of 17 prompts, and there is a five-point scale for how much each thing bothers the patient. One is not at all, and five is extremely.
1. Repeated, disturbing memories, thoughts, or images of a stressful experience from the past - 5. Several times throughout the series, Obi-Wan finds himself thinking about the events of Revenge of the Sith, and he's obviously disturbed by what happened.
2. Repeated, disturbing dreams of a stressful experience from the past - 5. During the day in the life montage, he dreams of his battle with Anakin/Vader.
3. Suddenly acting or feeling like a stressful experience was happening again (as if you were reliving it) - 3. Furthermore, we can't tell how consistent this is, but in the scene where Ben first senses Vader's presence, he immediately panics.
4. Feeling very upset when something reminded you of a stressful experience from the past - 4. Owen's zinger, "Like you trained his father," clearly hurts Obi-Wan.
5. Having physical reactions (e.g., heart pounding, trouble breathing, sweating) when something reminded you of a stressful experience from the past - 3. For example, this happens when the Third Sister tells Obi-Wan that Anakin is still alive.
6. Avoid thinking about or talking about a past stressful experience or avoiding having related feelings - 2. This is evident in the deflection, "I'm not who I once was."
7. Avoiding activities or situations because they reminded you of a stressful experience from the past - 3. The fact that he hasn't used the Force in years has to be related to this.
8. Trouble remembering important parts of a stressful experience from the past - 1. He seems to remember everything clearly.
9. Loss of interest in activities that you used to enjoy - 4. Obi-Wan abandoned his Jedi training.
10. Feeling distant or cut off from other people - 5. Obi-Was is living the life of a hermit.
11. Feeling emotionally numb or unable to have loving feelings for those close to you - 2. I went with a two here because he seems numb at times but begins to care for Leia.
12. Feeling as if your future will somehow be cut short - 1. There is no evidence for this one.
13. Trouble falling or staying asleep - 4. He is woken almost nightly by bad dreams.
14. Feeling irritable or having angry outbursts - 3. Again, this isn't extreme, but he is more temperamental than a Jedi should be.
15. Having difficulty concentrating - 2. This one is hard to judge, but most of the time, he seems able to focus.
16. Being "super-alert" or watchful or on guard - 4. Obi-Wan no longer trusts anyone.
17. Feeling jumpy or easily startled - 3. He took everything in stride during the prequel trilogy and the Clone Wars. Now he's startled by everything.
Obi-Wan got a total score of 54. According to the scoring guide, that makes him PTSD positive. This also feels right. The events of Revenge of the Sith were highly traumatic. First, most of his friends and colleagues were murdered. Next, his best friend turned to the dark side, and Obi-Wan had to fight him and leave him for dead. Finally, a Sith lord came to rule the entire galaxy. The rest of us would be in much worse shape than Obi-Wan.
Obi-Wan Kenobi is worth watching for typical reasons, but the mental health dimension deepens it. So often, in shows and movies, characters move on as if nothing happened. However, Kenobi doesn't flinch in depicting the aftermath of terrible events. Plus, it avoids the usual Freudian mumbo-jumbo and mommy issues to depict mental illness in an incredibly realistic way. As a mental health patient, I'm grateful and hope others learn from watching.
Written by Gene Glotzer
Syndicated from Culture Slate