As we’ve mentioned in earlier articles, if you’re going to experiment with the exploration of mental illness in your roleplaying games, then it helps to do at least a little research. Luckily, there are plenty of resources out there from which to get information.
Not everyone who experiments with the subject of mental illness wants to go out and buy a $50 book on the subject! Luckily there are a number of web sites that contain information on various mental illnesses. A web search is also a decent way to find information; when I was looking for resources on specific disorders, I usually found what I was looking for on the first page of search results. Here are some specific sites you might find handy:
- Complete DSM-IV Diagnostic Criteria
- Mental Health Matters provides links to info on many mental illnesses
- The phobia list will help you to come up with new, interesting, and unusual phobias for characters
- Psych Web
- DMOZ’s mental health disorders site listing can help you find further resources for research.
These are just some of the basic books with well-hashed-out descriptions of a variety of mental disorders. The DSM-IV is the ultimate handbook of mental illnesses and is highly recommended; the rest of the books are mostly meant to make dealing with the DSM-IV a little easier.
- DSM-IV-TR: Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition (TR- revision as of July 2000). This is the reference work on mental illnesses – but it is a bit on the technical side.
- Desk Reference to the Diagnostic Criteria from the DSM-IV-TR
- Quick Reference to the Diagnostic Criteria from the DSM-IV-TR
- DSM-IV Made Easy: The Clinician’s Guide to Diagnosis. The DSM-IV in less technical detail but more accessible language. Includes case histories and examples.
- DSM-IV-TR Case Book: A Learning Companion to the DSM-IV-TR. Understanding through case studies–plenty of illustrative examples to mine for ideas.
Additional Resources for the Psychology or Psychiatry Enthusiast
- “The Dreaming Brain: How the Brain Creates Both the Sense and Nonsense of Dreams,” by J. Allan Hobson
- “Dreaming as Delirium: How the Brain Goes Out of Its Mind,” by J. Allan Hobson
- “Mysteries of the Mind,” from National Geographic
- “Obedience to Authority,” by Stanley Milgram
- “The Emotions,” by Robert Plutchik
- “Searching for Memory: the brain, the mind, and the past,” by Daniel L. Schacter
- “An Unquiet Mind,” by Kay Redfield Jamison