13 Reasons Why: The Character Analysis of Tyler and His Mental Health
Tyler Down is a high school student and attends Liberty High School on the popular Netflix series, “13 Reasons Why”. He is a student photographer and quite often finds himself in the middle of the drama. He constantly wears his camera around his neck to make sure he doesn’t miss anything. Tyler is friends with many other characters, such as Clay Jensen, Tony Padilla, and even the troubled Bryce Walker, however, Tyler is a quiet and reserved person. Many think he is awkward but he has experienced some trauma that may have contributed to his personality. Tyler Down has been a part of drama dealing with a friends suicide that is contributed to multiple people, including him. He has been harassed by others due to this. He has been bullied for this and other things as well.
The trauma that Tyler has experienced has spanned most of his high school years. He has been bullied by numerous people, but one person specifically. Montgomery de la Cruz has bullied Tyler for being “gay” even though it is unclear if Tyler is or not. Montgomery de la Cruz, or Monty, continued his bullying but one day took it a step farther by recruiting his fellow football players to sexual assault and abuse Tyler in the men’s bathroom at school in season two, episode 13 of 13 Reasons Why. Tyler documents his abuse on camera but doesn’t tell anyone. The last episode of season two of 13 Reasons Why, you see Tyler Down armed with guns, ready to enter a crowded school dance and get his revenge. His plan is intercepted by Clay Jensen and Tony Padilla and the secret is kept by a small group of people. After this incident, many of his friends rotate to keep watch on Tyler to keep him out of trouble.
Tyler has exhibited many symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. According to the DSM-5, Tyler has a stressor in criterion A, since he has had direct exposure to trauma.
He also has a symptom in criterion B, which are intrusion symptoms. Only one symptom in this category is required for diagnosis according to the DSM-5. Tyler exhibits two of these symptoms. The symptoms that Tyler portrays are: “Marked physiological reactions to internal or external cues that symbolize or resemble an aspect of the traumatic event(s)”and “Intense or prolonged psychological distress at exposure to internal or external cues that symbolize or resemble an aspect of the traumatic event(s)” (American Psychiatric Association. (2017). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders: Dsm-5. Arlington, VA.).
Another visible symptom Tyler portrays is in criterion C. He actively avoids the area that it took place, and any similar areas. Tyler refuses to use the men’s bathroom at Liberty High. In episode four of season three of 13 Reasons Why, Tyler is shown walking off of the school campus to use the bathroom outside instead of in the restrooms. Tyler tells Clay “ I don’t like using the bathrooms” (Yorkey, ’13 Reasons Why ‘, 2018). According to the DSM-5, the symptom that most aligns with this is “Avoidance of or efforts to avoid external reminders that arouse distressing memories, thoughts, or feelings about the traumatic event” (American Psychiatric Association. (2017). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders: Dsm-5. Arlington, VA.)
Tyler fits criterion D and E as well. In criterion D, he shows, “Persistent negative emotional state ” as well as “ Persistent and exaggerated negative beliefs or expectations about oneself, others, or the world” (American Psychiatric Association. (2017). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders: Dsm-5. Arlington, VA.). This is shown through multiple actions, especially the ones immediately following his trauma. The actions that are characterized by this are his plans to harm his peers at a school dance in the same episode as his sexual assault. This also fits criterion E, Tyler portrays reckless and self-destructive behavior when he prepares to harm students and take revenge and “Irritable behavior and angry outbursts (with little or no provocation) typically expressed as verbal or physical aggression toward people” (American Psychiatric Association. (2017). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders: Dsm-5. Arlington, VA.). Tyler feels as if nobody can be trusted and that he is to blame for everything that has happened to him and those around him.
Tyler does meet all criteria for the diagnosis, because his symptoms align with the DSM-5 and have persisted for at least a month. Tyler’s prognosis is good. Most of his symptoms are environmental. He is already attending therapy and has since been on a better course. He has expressed his trauma to his friends who are supportive and make sure he attends therapy and never feels alone. In the season of the show following his trauma, he has become more social, less tense and continuously becoming better at addressing his fear and discomfort in safer ways.
- American Psychiatric Association. (2017). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders: Dsm-5. Arlington, VA. Netflix. (2018, May 18). 13 Reasons Why.
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