CHARACTER CASE STUDY: SQUIDWARD TENTACLES
Squidward Quincy Tentacles is a Turquoise male from the poplar series of SpongeBob SquarePants (2004). He resides in an Ester Island Head located in Bikini Bottom, Pacific Ocean. Squidward, who is an octopus was born on October 10, 1972 (47 years of age) to Mr. and Mrs. Tentacles.
Squidward’s peers have noticed that his behavior has changed from his normal functioning and it has been concerning. Although he is a very reserved man and tends to stay to himself more often than less, his moods have been very apathetic and questioning. His neighbors don’t hear him play the clarinet anymore, which is strange because that’s his favorite activity. Something about him is just off, and they are really worried. Even if you didn’t know Squidward one could see that he wasn’t okay. Everything he does takes a lot longer than usual. He is highly irritated by all his friends and family being around him to the point where he’s rudely yelling at them. Everyone wants him to be happier and healthier again. There’s only so much they could do, but they want what’s best for him, so they recommended Squidward to seek help and treatment for Major Depressive Disorder (MDD).
Treatment history: Before his recent behavioral changes, Squidward has never received psychological services.
School/work history: Squidward attended Bikini Bottom University about 50 miles away from his home. He majored in Management and minored in Music. After college he put his minor into use and attempted his clarinet career, that didn’t last long but it didn’t stop him from continuing to try. When he was younger his father gave him a clarinet to learn how to play and ever since he has not put it down. After his “music career,” Squidward decided to apply to the new burger joint, The Krusty Krabs and has been working there since 1999 as assistant manager.
Family history: The only family that he ever talks about are his parents, Mr. and Mrs. Tentacles, but more so his mother. He and his father never really had a relationship, nor did his father ever show him affection.
Substance use history: After he attempted to reach out to his father for the first time, after completing school, he used marijuana as a coping method.
Legal history: Squidward does not have a legal history.
Symptom Presentation & Diagnoses per DSM-5
In the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5), there are three diagnostics criteria for MDD. Criteria A states that five (or more) specified symptoms have to all be present for at least 2-weeks, that are different from normal functioning behavior and one of the symptoms has to be depressed mood or a loss of interest or pleasure (2017). Criteria B states that “the symptoms cause clinically significant distress or impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning” (p 161, American Psychiatric Association, 2013). Criteria C states that “the episode is not attributable to the physiological effects of a substance or another medical condition” (2017).
The clarinet is the one thing that genuinely brings him joy and he has lost all interest in playing and performing. His neighbors SpongeBob SquarePants and Patrick Star say that they hear him weeping and crying almost every night. On top of that, he has been sleeping and eating a lot less which is increasing his prior agitation. One could physically see that he has lost an abundance of noticeable weight. He consistently discusses with people that there’s no purpose or meaning to life anymore. These discussions drive his peers away which results in him isolating himself socially and physically. There has never been a manic episode or a hypomanic episode, so we know for sure Squidward isn’t Bipolar. A diagnostics tool that would be useful for Squidward’s primary diagnosis is The Beck’s Depression Inventory (BDI) test, which is a 21-item, self-reporting rating inventory that measures characteristic attitudes and symptoms of depression.
I believe that these symptoms came about because of his relationship with his father and his loss of connection with his clarinet. The only reason why he picked up the clarinet was because of his father and his father isn’t around. Mr. Tentacles senior never checked on Squidward or cared to improve their relationship as he got older and that has taken a toll on his development in all areas. As years went on, Squidward, started caring less and less about his father. That lack of care was projected onto his clarinet.
There are plenty of methods that can be used to treat MDD. These include psychotherapy, antidepressant medications, electroconvulsive treatment, behavioral activation and many more. The methods I’d use on Squidward is behavioral activation therapy. During behavioral activation therapy, the patient chooses goals for the week that they want to work towards meeting. These goals help the depressive patient have a structured and positive way of living life, while still positively engaging within their environment and relationships (2017). For example, if Squidward notices himself feeling depressed, he’d work on a rewarding activity he genuinely enjoys. This method is designed to increase the patient’s contact with positively rewarding activities and changing their behavior (2017). This treatment style will teach Squidward that his behavior can have an impact on his mood.
Despite how Squidward is feeling internally, he is very cooperative and does want to get help. It may be a little hard to crack him open, but once you’re capable of doing so you get to see the effort, he’s putting forth to get help. An important strength people tend to overlook is how honest Squidward is, he will always get to the point and tell you the truth.
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