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"Sad Doctor"

More than an outlet for mere entertainment and profit, participating in fandom affects its participants in psychological ways. This is evident in studying the habits of a “fanboy” or “fangirl,” or even in how they are interpreted to those outside of fandom (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CJt5kfWtGn0). Fandom involves immersion and imagination, which both take a toll on the mind (especially those that may be more vulnerable to change, like teens or a younger audience). However, this affectivity does not always represent itself as unproductive or without a practical application in “reality.” There is attention towards fandoms practical application as a coping mechanism for psychological trauma, in any degree.


Where a majority of citizens see fandom as a useless outlet for attention, a considerable amount of fandom participants would argue that their involvement in fandom has bettered their lives (http://smoakingkills.tumblr.com/post/16582448384/how-who-changed-my-life). Whether its to inspire or calm, fandom has the capability to instill moods or ideas on those who participate in it. It’s major components alone each promote an idea of therapy. Cosplay allows for “masking” one’s true identity and can inspire one to be more outgoing. This could address issues of being shy, or even dealing with sexuality (How Does Fandom Affect Perception of Gender and Sexuality?).
Fanfic and fan art are an opportunity for one to arrange circumstance and create, building imagination and creativity, which can boost self esteem in the admiration of fellow fans.
Doctor Who Cosplay
Doctor Who Cosplay


In watching a separate reality where the protagonists life is a total mess and watching him or her overcome them, one gets the sense they their personal conflicts and struggles are less detrimental and less challenging to overcome. In shows like Doctor Who and Supernatural the plot is so outlandish and fictional that when outrageous circumstance comes forth, the defeat of the enemy or resolution seems so heroic and is admired by the viewers. This could inspire them to slay a few dragons in their own lives, like finish their taxes or make up with a friend they were fighting with. Whatever the issue in the viewers reality, their problems could seem conquerable. Another approach to fandom as a coping mechanism is the escape from tormented thoughts. Sometimes it's really good for individuals who are suffering from high mental stress to take a beat and forget that life sucks right now. Studies have already been taken to introduce fictional realities to therapy (
http://www.psychiatrictimes.com/integrative-psychiatry/content/article/10168/50556). Fandom offers that opportunity by providing outlets of concentration to separate realities where it's the protagonists problems that are in focus. This gives the viewer a chance to refresh his or her mind and re-address the problem again with new perspective and hopefully a sense of confidence.

Bring it on.
Bring it on.


The application of fandom as therapy is a gateway to the vast potential this genre of study contains in regards to it’s “real world” use. With the acceptance of fandom as a coping mechanism comes a respect for the community who participate within it. No longer would all fans be grouped into the category of “weird” but rather they could be seen in a more academic light. Applied fandom is a science, as is general psychology. With fandom being supported as such comes funding for those working in fandom research and fandom studies. The overall light on fandom would change from criticism to support.