Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Thinking Out Loud: The Prince and the Threapist

Is Vegeta Autistic? Yes, I am well aware that the preferred terminology is currently Autism Spectrum Disorder (I'm a therapist after all), but I needed that evocative opening sentence. Before we get too much further, I need to highlight that I'm not fond of the idea that people "on the spectrum" have anything wrong with them, a "disorder", from my work with clients, ASD people simply possess a different, yet equally valid, way on seeing and interacting with the world. Anyway, I've been watching Dragonball Super lately (it's pretty good, actually) and Vegeta features pretty heavily, which I also like, because I find Goku tedious at the best of times. Vegeta has undergone character developments and changes in his personality even since the end of Dragonball Z, finally admitting his own heroic side and even "settling down" to a certain extent. An interesting element comes in when Vegeta refuses to attend a martial arts tournament in order to stay for the birth of his second child with Bulma, Bra. 

It makes sense from a narrative standpoint, Vegeta has settled down and acclimatised to life on Earth, so of course he's not the same guy who tried to blow it up way back when. But I wonder if it's not also a function of the underlying patterns of his thoughts. Vegeta, much like Goku, has difficulty "fitting in", or rather, finding a way in which he can function comfortably in the society in which he finds himself living; if you are at all familiar with ASD, either as a worker or person on the spectrum, that sounds pretty damn close to home. Vegeta doesn't work. What even would he do? He can't work, not because he isn't capable in an intellectual or physical sense, but because the workplace is such an alien environment that he would be both unable to function and have little desire to do so. Vegeta is driven, not by pride, as he so often claims, but by self-actualisation; he has to get better than what he is now in order to be comfortable with himself. Not wants to, but has to. That is a very specific focus on a vary specific goal and/or idea. A possible factor of ASD so well known as to have become narrative shorthand for "intelligent and antisocial, but well-meaning". You know, the sidekick to the bland protagonist. (Oh, snap!)

Just for fun, I did a "12 Personalities" (Myers-Briggs) test answering the questions with a view to how Vegeta would answer and got the following result. I'm not going to discuss the problems with MB tests here and it doesn't necessarily fit with what I've been talking about, but it is somewhat interesting to take a look at.
ISTP-T "Virtuoso" 
Virtuosos love to explore with their hands and their eyes, touching and examining the world around them with cool rationalism and spirited curiosity. People with this personality type are natural Makers, moving from project to project, building the useful and the superfluous for the fun of it, and learning from their environment as they go. Often mechanics and engineers, Virtuosos find no greater joy than in getting their hands dirty pulling things apart and putting them back together, just a little bit better than they were before. 

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