Thursday, July 17, 2008

General Hospital: Medicalizing Spinelli

For a twenty-something, Spinelli is socially delayed, sexually naive, speaks of himself in the third person, uses formal pedantic language, and refers to other people by descriptive, perceptive monikers he supplies. He is also a good-natured, computer genius and a loyal, caring friend who can be honest to a fault. Even by soap standards, Spinelli is a little “off the beaten path,” but should Spinelli’s quirks and eccentricities be “diagnosed” or medicalized? Can’t someone just be different or unique? So what if Spinelli processes information or expresses himself differently than the other citizens of Port Charles.

While hospitalized recovering from a virus, Spinelli was evaluated by the new doctor in town, Dr. Matt Hunter, who suggested Spinelli’s speech and behavior patterns required further testing in order to diagnose. Dr. Hunter implied Spinelli might fall somewhere on the Autism spectrum or perhaps have Asperger’s Syndrome. In a split-second, Spinelli’s sweet-natured, unassuming visage changed to worry and fear. Spinelli firmly declined further testing, and concluded by requesting Dr. Hunter not mention this ever again.

Often indecisive and unsure, Spinelli was quick to shut down Dr. Hunter’s suggestion for testing; it appeared as if Spinelli had been down this road before. Was Spinelli “diagnosed" or more likely "misdiagnosed" as a child? Could the fall-out from previous medical labeling have led to Spinelli’s social isolation thus delaying his social development?

There are many unexplored layers to Spinelli. Spinelli talks a lot, but seldom speaks of his past; instead, he spends much more time empathizing with others about their problems. Even after nearly two years in Port Charles, Spinelli’s back-story barely fills a thimble. He was raised by his grandmother in rural Tennessee. Could Spin has been "diagnosed" and bullied or treated differently as a child growing up in Tennessee? Did he leave Tennessee to attend college in Upstate NY to "start over" where no one knew him or his “diagnosis”?

The little information established about Spinelli’s history does not imply a normal, loving childhood. His history suggests prolonged social isolation yet Spin has such positive energy and so much love in his heart. What little is known of Spin's social isolation could easily have made him bitter and mean, but instead, Spin is one of the kindest, most gentle people in town.

Whatever Spinelli’s "diagnosis" or label, he has come to terms with it. Recently Spin explained to Maxie he had feelings like everyone else, and he “functioned quite capably”. In one of Spinelli’s most plain-spoken and touching moments, he softly confessed to Maxie, “I am not a freak.” Whether there is a medical “diagnosis” or "condition" applicable to Spin, does it matter or change anything? Without knowing for certain, Spinelli may have already lived through a lifetime of pain; maybe he has been hurt enough by a “diagnosis” or “misdiagnosis”.

General Hospital has a unique opportunity to tell an amazing back-story with the character of Spinelli. Immediately following the mere suggestion Spinelli might have a medical condition, an avalanche of speculation and discourse began on whether Spin’s quirkiness might be medically explained. Viewers are interested in the enigma that is Spinelli, and Bradford Anderson’s stunning interpretation of this intricate, yet naive character, has kept the mystery simmering just below the surface for nearly two years. Please GH, give us just a little taste of what makes Spinelli tick. It is the perfect combination: a story begging to be told, viewers eager to see it, and Bradford Anderson, an actor who knocks the ball out of the park every turn at bat. General Hospital, it is time to “bring it”.

VIXENELLA’S VIDEO OF THE DAY: Enjoy this fun Spinelli Name Montage by Wdwforever to the tune of Boomshakalaka from Dumb and Dumber.


Mick & Holly July 20, 2008 at 4:33 PM  

I for one would love it if Spinelli WAS diagnosed with some form of Autism. That would add one more layer to this already complex character. The people who already love him will love him even more for overcoming the stigma of Austism. And the people (Sonny!) who thought he was a freak will feel guilty for treating him badly!

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