Date of Award

Fall 12-14-2020

Document Type

Honors Project

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts


English and Linguistics

Department Chair or Program Director

Richards, Gary

First Advisor

Levy, Ray

Major or Concentration

English (Creative Writing Concentration)


The Diagnostic Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, or the DSM, is the book that helps psychologists diagnose mental illnesses. Its weakness lies in its categorical approach, a labeling system without exceptions for individuals. Many psychologists agree that it should be changed to support less black-and-white criteria for mental illnesses. I want to tackle this issue through a series of three nontraditional essays that use the DSM criteria as building blocks for the scenes of the story. Each piece will feature a character with a specific mental illness, with the focus being on building a three-dimensional character out of the two-dimensional and categorical structure that the DSM provides. This project attempts to go beyond the limits of the DSM by showing that people cannot be limited by labels of their disorders—that they exist to be so much more than their illness.