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Gollum has OCD? | (Smeagol/Gollum and The Opponent Process Theory of Emotion) | Pop Psych!
Gollum Goes To Therapy
Smeagol. Here we go.
I diagnosed Smeagol with Substance-Induced Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. Or OCD. The substance in question is his ring (duh) and the compulsion is…you know…constantly trying to kill anyone who tries to touch the ring.
The ring made Smeagol feel good. Really good, like a coffee shop brownie in Amsterdam good. And he wanted it for his birthday. But his brother wanted to keep it for himself. So Smeagol did what a lot of kids in the 90s did over Tickle Me Elmos and Furbies. He freaked the fu** out. And killed his brother. Ring acquired!
Over those centuries, the One Ring twisted and corrupted Smeagol’s mind and body, turning him into a slightly less disturbing version of Steve Buschemi.
Smeagol became obsessed with the ring, constantly calling it his “precious” in a super date-rapey way. Let’s explore his obsession first from a Biopsychological level.
Why does the One Ring make Smeagol feel so amazing? Most likely because the ancient magic curse with which it’s endowed is effectively releasing Serotonin to his brain. Serotonin is one of the neurotransmitters responsible for mood and making us feel good. Now, at first, it’s all about the good feelings the ring gives Smeagol. But after continued use, a second neurotransmitter comes into play: dopamine.
When Smeagol isn’t getting “high” off his ring, his Dopamine circuits activate; which make him repeat his behavior. Because of the dopamine activated circuits, Smeagol takes another bump off his ring. He can’t help himself. We call this the Opponent-Process theory of Emotion. Basically, the more Smeagol is around the ring, the less “high” he gets from it. But his lows become much more intense. He keeps wearing it not because it feels good, but because he needs it to stop him from feeling bad. Over time, Smeagol has developed an intense love/hate relationship with the ring just like the Internet has with Shia LeBeouff. Smeagol has even developed an outward manifestation of his obsession that he calls “Gollum”. And they’re constantly arguing.
This one’s my fault. In my attempts to treat Smeagol, I’ve used a popular technique in Cognitive Therapy for OCD in which we teach our patients to identify and “argue with” their obsessions. In other words, I’ve taught Smeagol to learn to play devil’s advocate with himself. Hence: Gollum.
And I think it’s working! Smeagol has even confided in me that he’s recently made two new friends. Some guy named Frodo and his life- partner Sam. They sound like a really cute couple. I hope this “Gollum” doesn’t cause any problems for Frodo and Sam. Nah. I’m sure it’ll be fine.