Mental Illness really isn't a stranger to Buffy The Vampire Slayer; season five featured mental illness as a strong theme, with Glory's instability and trail of catatonic 'victims', and season six had a strong focus on depression and addiction. The protagonists in most sci-fi shows are shown to be somehow ill or defective. Nothing new, really However, I've always been dumbfounded by Buffy's deep, unrelenting depression. It's never really talked about - and Buffy, by far, is the craziest, most unbalanced person on the show. She's even crazier than Glory or Willow, and that's saying something. Willow, Glory and even the angry, vile thing known as Xander Harris act out at various stages. Buffy never does. Instead she holds everything in and dies inside until she quite literally dies, only to be resurrected by greedy Willow... then B literally becomes living death. I watched Buffy when I was a child and I always got a weird vibe. Charmed, Angel, most of the Star Trek series...they all had a charm to them. So did Buffy The Vampire Slayer, only the charm was evil. There was always a weird undercurrent to Sunnydale and Buffy's slaying that made me just uncomfortable enough to change the channel. I realize now that that something was Buffy's deeply disturbed psychology. 2.1 "When She Was Bad" - Buffy returns to school showing textbook signs of post-traumatic stress disorder. She snaps at Angel, sexually teases Xander and then blows him off, is vicious towards Cordelia, and most notably continues to have nightmares that the Master might come back to life and kill her. And guess what? NONE of her friends, with the exception of maybe Giles and Cordelia, recognize her suffering. Only when Buffy has a mini-mental breakdown by smashing the Master's bones in fit of fearful anger. (Off topic: in this episode, Xander nonchalantly threatens to kill Buffy. Gross, gross, GROSS!) 3.1 "Anne" - Buffy runs away from home without telling even her friends (can't say I blame her), then returns, only to try to run away a second time. It's unstable behavior, and Buffy isn't being abused at home. Even considering Angel's death, this instability is quite extreme. Of course, Buffy is judged horribly and nobody bothers to get her the help she desperately needs. 3.9 "The Wish" - An alternative reality Buffy bears an uncanny resemblance to Faith - stoic, cynical and kinda dead inside. Looks like she had the time of her life getting her neck broken. 5.21 "The Weight of the World" - Another episode where Buffy's over-the-top reaction to Dawn's abduction can only be ascribed to some sort of deep psychological trauma. Buffy goes into a state of catatonia. Willow uses a spell to see into Buffy's mind, where Buffy relives the deed of smothering Dawn to death with a pillow. Even in her mind, Buffy's emotions are deeply suppressed, with Buffy neither taking pleasure in or feeling guilty about murdering Dawn, though her mind seems to cling to this delusion so she can preserve her catatonia. It's a good prelude for her modus operandi in season six. 5.22 "The Gift" Buffy's cynical words of 'wisdom'; "the hardest thing to do in this world is to live in it." Frightening suicidal ideation that will worsen in episodes to come. 6.12 "Doublemeat Palace" - Buffy now works in a fast-food joint. On her break, she has sex with Spike in an alleyway. This is not sane behaviour. This is somebody who is burying their self-loathing behind various sexual rendezvous and fast-food. 6.13 "Dead Things" - Buffy, in an episode with eerie parallels to Faith's character arc, is convinced she killed a civilian. She's not hypocritical in that she turns herself in, but she does go slightly over the edge, just like Faith. She beats Spike into a pulp, renouncing him as being 'dead' and 'nothing', and seems to get some sort of sick release from pulverizing him (much like Faith did in season three when she used to beat up vamps for release). Amusing is the fact that Buffy immediately pointed out that "Faith is not playing with a full deck of cards" back in season three..yet in this episode, Buffy replicates the behavior she previously judged Faith for. 6.17 "Normal Again" - This harrowing episode is the biggest clue into Buffy's diseased mind. Yes, the whole 'alternate reality in a mental institution' plot has been done before in most sci-fi shows, but what's interesting about this one is that A) The possibility of Buffy suffering from catatonic schizophrenia is presented as a possibility (unlike in say, Charmed, where we know it's just a demonic illusion). B) Even if the viewer chooses to not believe in the alternate world, the episode still portrays Buffy as a highly unstable woman who is willing to escape reality by contriving a vastly different fantasy world (one in which she is a center-staged heroine, another where she has no responsibilities whatsoever). It doesn't matter if she contrives World A to escape World B, because in World B she's contriving to escape World A. either way, she's sick. The pent up resentment she has for Dawn and her friends is also made evident here, storing them in her subconcious (the basement), as is the trauma of losing her mother. Lastly, Buffy's chilling confession to Willow reveals Buffy has a history of mental illness (wrongfully diagnosed): The irony is that Buffy was committed to a clinic for telling the truth - it's an obvious trauma, one that contributes towards her deranged fantasies in this episode. Joyce was an excellent character but she fundamentally failed to meet her daughters psychological needs on more than one occasion. 6.21 "Two To Go" - Willow sums it up.