Is Reg Barclay on the spectrum?

Discussion in 'Star Trek: The Next Generation' started by Peach Wookiee, Aug 29, 2019.

  1. Mojochi

    Mojochi Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    It is, & he did cat sit for Data in Genesis (While Data was away with Picard)
    He's really just along for the ride in Ship in A Bottle, his only outing that I was pleased to see wasn't about his mental health issues in some way. In fact Genesis is kind of disappointing, in that it walked the character back some. He had made a lot of progress, to where he was finally fitting in with not only the crew, but the cast dynamic, where he could be just like any other crew member in a story, which is one of the few things I liked about his Voyager appearances. He still had his issues, but the ultimate point of the stories wasn't about them

    However, Genesis kind of makes him a hypochondriac as sort of a gag to get the plot premise rolling. There really isn't much previous evidence that he was a hypochondriac, except that when he was having his transporter phobia, coupled with the phenomenon he encountered in Realm of Fear, he did database self diagnosing & began thinking he had transporter psychosis. That wasn't him being a hypochondriac. It was him trying to figure out what was happening to him, because something WAS happening

    Now, I like that a character with social anxiety was featured, & it makes some sense that a character like that might retreat into a fantasy world addictively, & it might even be possible that he has something like ASD, which means he could also be a bit OCD or even have a few phobias. But the hypochondriac thing let me down a bit. It became a running gag by then
    He was treated a little like a recovering mental patient though. In Nth Degree, they're all politely praising what is not so much a good acting performance, but an encouragement of him blending in with them. It's just as isolating to be coddled by people somewhat artificially as it is to be outcast. It still signals that this is an odd person requiring special treatment. Then in Realm of Fear, the wheels kind of come off for him, because he doesn't want to be seen that way anymore, and this phobia he's been hiding would maybe do that. The man lives in fear that they'll think he's a mental case, & some of that is rooted in how people have behaved around him. It's cyclic

    To be fair, everybody is pretty patient & considerate with him on the transporter phobia thing, but it's not enough to help by then, because he's already had too much singling out that he's desperate to avoid more, to his own detriment in this case, & it goes poorly enough that he got relieved of duty. This might not have been so pronounce, had he not already been on the receiving end of having been a running gag amongst the crew for a length of time before Hollow Pursuits, & then being the "Special Ed" crew member thereafter
     
  2. F. King Daniel

    F. King Daniel Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    Must be something they put in the replicated food and drink.
     
  3. Damian

    Damian Commodore Commodore

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    I do have to agree in some ways that Barclay became the catch-all for mental illness.

    Perhaps what he has isn't so much autism or Asperger's syndrome, but simple anxiety, or even generalized anxiety disorder. He has various symptoms of anxiety....social anxiety and phobias are a big one. Hypochondria is another form of anxiety and he exhibits that at least in two episodes to some degree (though in one "Realm of Fear" I believe it was it ended up be warranted to some degree).

    So maybe we are just considering the wrong type of mental disorder for Barclay. I would say most of his issues fall under some form of anxiety.

    Sometimes they may have got inappropriate with the humor involved, but as someone who watches "South Park" and "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia" I'm obviously not easily offended ;) . And I give them a bit of leeway because it was made in the late 1980s and early 1990s when we were still learning a lot about mental illness. I don't expect the shows and movies of yesterday to abide by today's standards (otherwise you'd probably never watch anything more than 10 years old).

    And I give them some kudos for trying to address mental illness in the best way they could at the time it was made based on what we knew then. And they did do some good things---they showed Barclay's friends supporting him. When he gave his, er, acting performance in "The Nth Degree" I believe it was, his friends gave him a standing ovation in support. That would be a huge step for someone with any sort of social anxiety and they helped give him a boost. Geordi became a good friend to him as well, learning that Barclay was actually a pretty good engineer and encouraging to contribute to the team.

    So while maybe TNG and later Voyager may have missed the boat with some things on Barclay, I think they did a lot right as well.
     
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  4. JirinPanthosa

    JirinPanthosa Admiral Admiral

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    Hollow Pursuits is one of those “Your dangerously savage child race is showing” episodes. Shows that even people with high principles can be jerks in normal social interaction with people who don’t give the kind of social feedback you are primed to expect, and people who require effort to include.
     
  5. Damian

    Damian Commodore Commodore

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    Well, to be fair, Barclay was showing up late to work and slacking off at work when he was there. And Starfleet is still a military organization. You are expected to still maintain some discipline.

    Now Picard decided to take the right steps ultimately when he decided they weren't just going to pawn Barclay off on someone else. And once they got to know Barclay more they learned there were some actual underlying issues and then they worked to help him overcome those issues and he ended up be a successful officer in many ways.

    In a way it's actually a pretty good reflection of real life. That person in real life who acts much the same way. Many people are at first inclined to avoid that person (Guinan even noted in her pointed remarks to LaForge). But once we get to know that person things may change and we may learn with a little help that person can actually be a contributor and a friend.

    Now we may fault the crew for brushing Barclay off, but it's actually probably a reflection of real life in the sense we may do the same thing. Once they overcame that natural impulse things turned around for Barclay. He was still anxious of course, but with the help of his friends he was able to overcome much of that. In many ways a success story. He'll never be cured, but he is able to live his life.
     
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  6. JirinPanthosa

    JirinPanthosa Admiral Admiral

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    Exactly. They behaved the way toward Barclay 20th century humans would.
     
  7. JirinPanthosa

    JirinPanthosa Admiral Admiral

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    Voyager is also intolerant of Seven's lack of instinctive knowledge of social niceties. Star Trek's 24th century might be advanced in accepting cultural differences on an abstract macro scale, but if they can't return the same social signals they're used to, they still won't get invited to the bar after work.
     
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  8. gakelly

    gakelly Commander Red Shirt

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    Not trying to offend anyone, because I am certainly not an expert on this topic. I have known 2 people that have had Asperger's and they both were disconnected, apathetic to their surroundings, unable to really form emotional attachments, didn't want anyone to touch them, and hated any sort of change in routine. Is this the norm for people that have Asperger's?
    Because that really doesn't describe Barclay. He seemed to suffer more from anxiety and possibly depression.
     
  9. Qonundrum

    Qonundrum Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    In America? Not for several years and even then doctors still misdiagnosed and prescribed medications that can cause harmful side effects. I should know, it took another decade to get a proper analysis and diagnosis...

    The condition was, of course, first realized by Hans Asperger during World War II, and has been accepted in Europe for decades. That's all I can remember right now.

    Yep, he's on the spectrum. It doesn't matter since he's clearly wanting to do his part and be part of their society.
     
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  10. Qonundrum

    Qonundrum Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Manifestations can be different between those afflicted. There's also a book, "Born on a Blue Day", involving a person with Asperger's Syndrome who even got married and thus likely enjoys physical touch and the rest of it all as the title would stereotypically (but not always accurately or completely) imply. Nor have I been in his bedroom so I cannot confirm, though if he were single I'd probably be interested. Who cares, all I know is I have been tested by proper specialists in the past. And due to having been molested and assaulted as a kid I cannot deny I don't like being touched until developing a sense of trust and even then it took a while to heal myself... If we're going to do correlation and causation and what one does(n't) lead to the other, we need as many combinations of facets considered (and it's easy to forget all the nuances!) as it's also true that not all who were abused as kids fear touch or are bi or anything else...
     
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  11. Peach Wookiee

    Peach Wookiee Cuddly Mod of Doom Moderator

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    It depends on different things, gakelly. And depression and social anxiety can be part of the equation, particularly in female spectrum dwellers. The female Aspie brain is wired much like that of a non-spectrum male.
     
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  12. Prax

    Prax Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    I don't see how. She was invited to everything. Even the captain invited her to the holodeck to do sculpting, or to do sports. Neelix invited her to his messhall, Kim helped her build astrometrics. The doctor helped her adjust extensively. The only person who seemed to even have a problem with her was B'elanna, and even B'elanna tried to help Seven in her own way.

    And ironically,
    When Barclay was relapsing into holo-addiction, and other unhealthy behavior, his Commander didn't just invite him to the bar, but to his own home, and tried to set him up with his own sister.

    And going back to TNG, besides Geordie initially losing his patience with Barclay's poor performance/lack of effort/tardiness, as well as Wesley's nickname, how was Barclay treated badly on the Enterprise? After Picard's talk, Geordi immediately set out to befriend Barclay, work with him, be patient and understanding, and so did everyone else, including Wesley, who feels remorse once he realizes he sort of "shut Barclay down" in the briefing.

    When Geordi discovered what kind of programs Barclay was running on the holodeck(that he was even skipping his duty shifts to run), he was understanding, discreet, and related to him. When Troi and Riker later found out as well, they were ultimately patient and understanding towards him as well.

    I don't understand where this "everyone treated Barclay like crap" actually comes from(let alone Seven).
     
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  13. NigellaDeanna20

    NigellaDeanna20 Commander Red Shirt

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    yes he deffinately is.
     
  14. JirinPanthosa

    JirinPanthosa Admiral Admiral

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    They even had a childish nickname for him. Yes, they got better after he saved their lives. That is what it took for them.

    Seven was accepted into the ship but socially she was regarded as abnormal. I wrote that post halfway through watching Someone To Watch Over Me. Where the guy goes into the date fully prepared to bombard her with awkward looks any time she says something a normal woman wouldn’t say. He should not have accepted the invitation if not prepared for someone different.

    Any time she socially reacts in the wrong way they give her glances or make patronizing jokes. Like not having the intuitive social feedback is a deficiency of hers. They accepted her in the manner the Rotarran crew accepted Alexander, except that they respected her professional competence.
     
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  15. Prax

    Prax Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    The guy she went on a date with was another guy like Barclay. He is described earlier by Tom as a really nice guy, but socially awkward and terrified of women. He was super nervous on their date.

    Seven was accepted as the ship's fool? What show are you watching?

    Wesley making a nickname for Barclay is something teenagers do. He's a kid. Riker thinks it's cute, but knows it's wrong. Picard puts the kabosh on it immediately. Then they all start working with, and being considerate towards Barclay throughout the episode. He doesn't save the day until the end. How are they supposed to treat him?

    Should he be left to his own devices, allowed to be tardy, allowed to give bare minimum at work, and encouraged to take part in those holodeck adventures he created? Which, btw, implied there was something going on in his fake "counseling sessions" with holo-troy. If that's the case, then they might as well ship him out of Starfleet, and then he can do whatever he wants as a civilian.
     
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  16. Mojochi

    Mojochi Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    It's clear that until Picard ordered everyone to not just write him off... they were doing that, to some degree, prior to what we see. That is a downward spiral. You are awkward. People behave oddly around you. You perceive that behavior and in your struggle to handle it... you become more awkward, & the cycle continues to worsen.

    Over time, you retreat from those people maybe. You have a hard time being around them, because you know that they don't want to be around you, & you can't figure out how to correct that, but you are a human, & need a little feedback from somewhere, so you concoct a fantasy, that substitutes, and before long it's all you've got, which is why you are tardy & seemingly uncommitted.

    However, no one endeavors to understand that, because they don't want anything to do with you by them, and before long they just assume the issue is all about you being problematic. Now you're labeled as well, which makes it even harder. This is the point at which we enter the scenario.
    Like someone to figure out, because he isn't like them. You'd think people who travel the galaxy & encounter endless amounts of different intelligences & cultures would be capable of handling that, without it making it to the boss, who has to remind you of it
     
  17. Prax

    Prax Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    But what are they seeing? From their perspective he's just coming in late and slacking off a lot. By the time it gets to a head, the matter is addressed correctly. What more could be asked? No one said Geordi is perfect, and should instantly know how to coach every personality type on his team, especially if he hasn't encountered someone like Barclay before. He shouldn't be criticized when he ultimately handles it well, and it's a pretty far cry from saying everyone treats Barclay like crap.

    He's socially awkward and gets anxiety around people, but he is still an adult, an academy graduate, and an officer.
     
  18. USS Firefly

    USS Firefly Commodore Commodore

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    Well they have a councillor
     
  19. at Quark's

    at Quark's Commodore Commodore

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    You'd also think that the semi-military command staff of the flagship and pride of the Federation wouldn't fall for the ambush of a handful of rogue Ferengi in 2 rustbuckets. But if that's needed for an episode set-up ...

    I'll agree though that the spectrum of accepted "social" behaviours outside what is actually required for work seems smaller than what you'd expect from such a supposedly cosmopolitan Federation Starfleet, but that goes for all star treks, not just what we see in this TNG ep- we see it also in DS9 and VOY. Perhaps it's our own (or the writers' ) inability to really picture something sufficiently more "advanced" in this respect than our own society?
     
  20. Prax

    Prax Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    I mean, from their perspective, he just looks like a guy who is being lazy and tardy. There's a scene early on (in hollow pursuits) where everyone goes to help clean up the spill in the cargo bay, which Barclay kinda sorta caused. Everyone jumps to help but Barclay just stands there. Geordi says "You can help, you know" and Barclay very reluctantly walks over and gets down to work.

    So to Geordi, Barclay's immediate supervisor, Barclay might seem a little socially awkward, but he would seem a lot of lazy. Perhaps working on the Enterprise, Geordi has never encountered a person with Barclay's personality type, so he has his own learning curve, which is part of what might make the story more compelling.