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Lord of the Rings Media Movies

Medical Students Profile Middle-Earth's Gollum 164

An anonymous reader writes "Several medical students and a lecturer in 'old age psychiatry' have written up their analysis and final diagnosis of Gollum in the British Medical Journal. Other readers note the possibility of metal toxicity from the One Ring in their Rapid Responses." Hopefully everyone has had a few days off to 'Research' this by watching RotK's extended cut.
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Medical Students Profile Middle-Earth's Gollum

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  • by mOoZik ( 698544 ) on Sunday December 26, 2004 @12:54PM (#11185295) Homepage
    It was lead, I tells ya! ;)

    Site's melted. :(

    • Re:Lead poisoning! (Score:1, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Still no cure for cancer. Glad the LOTR fanboys with the power to make a difference are focusing on important issues. What next, a deep analysis of Lord Vader's life support system?
  • Wow (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 26, 2004 @12:59PM (#11185322)
    I'm glad our educational system has progressed to the point that students can get acclaim for watching fantasy movies and devoting their time to "studies" of this kind. The human condition is so much better off now. Thank you very little.
    • Re:Wow (Score:2, Insightful)

      by spikexyz ( 403776 )
      Yes, cause students should spend every second on serious study. That's the way to stay sane.
    • Re:Wow (Score:5, Interesting)

      by cenonce ( 597067 ) <anthony_t@ma[ ]om ['c.c' in gap]> on Sunday December 26, 2004 @01:34PM (#11185477)
      My wife is a psychology professor. One of her class exercises in Abnormal psychology is to have students "diagnose" a charcater from a movie. She says it helps students get interested in the topic to be able to write about a movie in which they are interested. Sure, she gets the standards: Norman Bates from "Psycho", Jack Nicholson's character in "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" and Glen Close from "Fatal Attraction". But she has recently gotten Jake Gyllenhall's character from Donnie Darko. I don't think she has gotten a paper on Gollum yet.

      BTW, since the site has been blasted by Slashdotters, I can't get read it, but her guess is that Gollum has dissociative identity disorder. I'll be interested to see what the article says.
      • "But she has recently gotten Jake Gyllenhall's character from Donnie Darko"

        How hard is that? There are several scenes in the movie where he's with a psych[ologist|iatrist], and one where she even diagnoses him for his parents. I guess you could say that, as the audience, we see things that he may not tell his shrink. On the other hand, according to the movie, he clearly has no mental problems whatsoever; he's just the animated dead, gotten off of God's uh, line, and he has to get reality back in order. See?

      • Re:Wow (Score:3, Interesting)

        by hchaos ( 683337 )

        BTW, since the site has been blasted by Slashdotters, I can't get read it, but her guess is that Gollum has dissociative identity disorder. I'll be interested to see what the article says.

        The site seems to be back up, but for those too lazy to read the article, the final diagnosis is schizoid personality disorder.

        Dissociative Identity Disorder (in the article, referred to as multiple personality disorder) was ruled out because his two personalities are aware of each other and are present simultaneously

        • Re:Wow (Score:4, Funny)

          by vsprintf ( 579676 ) on Sunday December 26, 2004 @03:43PM (#11186029)

          . . .the final diagnosis is schizoid personality disorder.

          Unfortunately, the diagnosis comes too late to help poor Gollum who refused to seek professional help and died during the commission of a theft. Let this be a warning to all who suddenly develop a taste for sushi and flashy jewelry to seek help from your local Elf immediately.

      • "Gollum displays pervasive maladaptive behaviour that has been present since childhood ... His odd interests and spiteful behaviour have led to difficulty in forming friendships ..."

        Wow, that sounds a lot like me, and nearly everyone else who reads Slashdot, I'd bet. He is ultimately diagnosed as schizoid [mentalhealth.com]. Raise your hand if you can honestly say you don't exhibit at least 3 of those symptoms.
        • Yeah, I'd say the last four criteria probably describe a lot of /.ers. But, IIRC, mental illness of any kind is a matter of degree (severity). Many may exhibit some of these symptoms, but not nearly to the degree of a true schizophrenic.
        • Re:The Conclusion: (Score:3, Informative)

          by budgenator ( 254554 )
          One of the things that make your first psyc clinical so challenging is how normal the patients are, not how abnormal.
        • I'm starting to believe that psychiatrists are all idiots or scammers. All of these different "disorders" have mostly the same symptoms & actions. I have over half of those listed in the link, but then it says "Excludes Asperger's Syndrome," which has pretty much the exact same symptoms. There are about 20 "different disorders" that all present the same problems, but psychiatrists have an economic incentive to tell us they are all different and have different causes. Conveniently, they claim they ca
      • Amnesia (Score:2, Interesting)

        by rishistar ( 662278 )

        Well, coincidentally the BBC have a report about movies which have amnesiacs acting as they are supposed to [bbc.co.uk].

        Finding Nemo [imdb.com] and Memento [imdb.com] are amonst the gud'uns. Overboard and the Tom'n'Jerry movie are amongst the bad'uns.

        The research was done by the National Society for Epilepsy [epilepsynse.org.uk], so its being used as a publicity piece I guess to highlight misconceptions about amnesiacs. Epileptics can suffer from amnesia as part of their condition. This does make it different to the subject story - which I guess is just a bi

    • Hello! These are MEDICAL students! An EXTREMELY important part of their field is the ability to arrive at diagnoses when presented with a set of symptoms. (It's so important that Discover magazine devotes one of its montly columns to the narration of a tricky medical diagnosis: it's called "Vital Signs.")

      And who says that those symptoms HAVE to come from firsthand observation? If they did, no doctor could ever phone up a colleague for a consultation, or derive any worthwhile conclusions from reading a pati

  • by Average_Joe_Sixpack ( 534373 ) on Sunday December 26, 2004 @12:59PM (#11185323)
    Revealing Gollum's private medical information constitutes a violation of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996.
    • Re:HIPAA Violation! (Score:3, Interesting)

      by pe1rxq ( 141710 )
      Does that act cover the medical information of the deceased to? (Lava stream usually are kind of lethal....)
      And if it does is there a maximum time limit? (This is supposed to happened a long time ago)

      • (Lava stream usually are kind of lethal....)

        Lava is more dense (higher mass per volume) than Gollum. He should have floated only partially submerged in a tortured agony.

        Oh, and HIPAA doesn't cover any creatures other than humans, so Gollum is unprotected by this act anyway.

    • And... (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Doc Squidly ( 720087 )
      and it would also violate the Privacy Act of 1974 [usdoj.gov].
    • That's a very American-centric joke. Considering this was done in the UK, not nearly as funny.
      • Re:HIPAA Violation! (Score:5, Interesting)

        by jabuzz ( 182671 ) on Sunday December 26, 2004 @01:58PM (#11185567) Homepage
        In five days time due to the wonders of the Freedom of Information Act there is no such thing as privacy in medical records in the U.K. any more - period. Want full disclosure of Tony Blairs recent operation, then it's all yours provided you cough up the money.
        • by Anonymous Coward
          Absolute nonsense.

          Practices will have to supply anonymised info on their population and practice guidelines etc. Patient personal data WILL NOT be available. Any healthcare personnel releasing this information would be subject to action by their professional regulators, as they always have.
        • Yep, looks like it. I'd like to know what made Cherie smile [google.co.uk] like that and tip her head to the side.

          "Happy New Year

          So, just in case you have forgotten, from 1 January 2005:

          all NHS organisations must reply within 20 working days to any credible written request for information from anywhere in the world
          the request can be made by email or written on a piece of paper and made to any member of staff
          it does not have to refer to the Freedom of Information Act
          you cannot ask the reason for the request, or question
    • But don't we not like the **(*)AA anyway? :P
    • Oddly, I'm having trouble placing 1996 in the Third Age of Mankind. I'm thinking it might just have (allegedly) happened before 1996. Does the act cover historical recovery of those deceased before 1996? (Or who never actually lived?)

      I think not. And the fact that you would invoke legalese tells me you are an emissary of Sauron. Only the Dark Lord would use Lawyers.
  • by Xpilot ( 117961 ) on Sunday December 26, 2004 @12:59PM (#11185328) Homepage
    My friend and I theorized that under that dirty little loincloth of his, Gollum probably doesn't have much of his manhood left, having shrivelled up and dried off after centuries of disuse. Maybe we should write it up and send off our theory to the British Medical Journal too. I'd feel so erudite seeing my name published there.
  • by cbnewman ( 106449 ) on Sunday December 26, 2004 @01:00PM (#11185329)
    my neurology professor gave a lecutre about neurologic disorders in star wars. the most interesting part was the observation that yoda may have suffered from William's Syndrome [wikipedia.org]
  • by Pecisk ( 688001 ) on Sunday December 26, 2004 @01:02PM (#11185339)
    but web site diagnosis is clear: slashdotted.
  • by Faust7 ( 314817 ) on Sunday December 26, 2004 @01:09PM (#11185375) Homepage
    Gollum suffers from a severe case of being a book/movie character with behavior patterns that may have some similarities to real-world ailments, but which are ultimately artificial constructs of Tolkein's/Jackson's minds and therefore fruitless to "research." :D
  • Metal toxicity? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by RenaissanceGeek ( 668842 ) <ross.holmberg@gm ... m minus caffeine> on Sunday December 26, 2004 @01:16PM (#11185403)
    Hmmm. Could the ring have been made of a gold/mercury amalgamation? That WOULD explain it's being maleable enough to fit fingers of different sizes.

    Now, to figure out just what alloy that it was that the embedded scrollwork was made from which would glow red at a temperature below the melting point of the amalgam (something with phosphorous in it, perhaps?)....

    • That, or it was magic.

      Failing that, it might have just been a poor fit on everyone but Sauron.
    • It's not just "below the melting point"- the Ring does not seem to absorb heat at all. It's at or below room temperature after being in a fire for several seconds. Maybe the scrollwork is made of the same stuff as those "magic" coffee mugs? :P
    • Re:Metal toxicity? (Score:1, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      I'm glad to see people trying to figure out why a magical ring which turns its wearer invisible can fit any size finger.

    • That WOULD explain it's being maleable enough to fit fingers of different sizes.

      Does it explain its malevolance, slipping off fingers at the worst possible moments, or refusing to come off when it would be best if it did?

      I didn't know mercury was sentient...
    • I think the ring was made from, among other things: gold, cruelty, malice, and will to dominate all life. I believe the ring was also made partially with Elvish forging techniques unknown to us now that we would (perhaps mistakenly) refer to as "magic".

    • See, it doesn't MATTER what kind of metal was used...maybe it was mithril! Hey, who knows? The point was that Sauron imbued it with the greater portion of his power. The ring was Sauron to a certain extent, and thus (at least somewhat) alive. That it was made of metal is irrelevant. It could have been made of stone and done the same things. We could call it magic, but that would be a little like calling the sun a big ball of fire. Accurate, but so unrefined as to seem utterly childish.
      • > that would be a little like calling the sun a big ball of fire. Accurate, but so unrefined as to seem utterly childish.

        Ummm, it's a story about magic, trolls, elves, etc. It's already childish.
  • by Luscious868 ( 679143 ) on Sunday December 26, 2004 @01:17PM (#11185408)
    "Too much time on my hands...."
  • by bishr ( 262019 ) on Sunday December 26, 2004 @01:33PM (#11185472)
    Google news has a few articles about it - here's clips from the original article via other articles on google. By the way, slashdotting a medical journal is a bad thing - I'm a medical student and I rely on these resources to guide or double-check decisions, or to keep up to date.

    "A space occupying lesion such as a brain tumour is unlikely as his symptoms are long standing. Gollum's diet is extremely limited, consisting only of raw fish. Vitamin B-12 deficiency may cause irritability, delusions, and paranoia. His reduced appetite and loss of hair and weight may be associated with iron deficiency anaemia. He is hypervigilant and does not seem to need much sleep. This, accompanied by his bulging eyes and weight loss, suggests hyperthyroidism. Gollum's dislike of sunlight may be due to the photosensitivity of porphyria. Attacks may be induced by starvation and accompanied by paranoid psychosis. ... On initial consideration schizophrenia seems a reasonable diagnosis. However, in the context of the culture at the time it is unlikely. Delusions are false, unshakeable beliefs, not in keeping with the patient's culture. In Middle Earth, the power of the ring is a reality. The passivity phenomena Gollum experiences are caused by the ring, and these symptoms occur in all ring bearers. Gollum does not fulfil the ICD-10 criteria for the diagnosis of schizophrenia.

    The presence of two personalities, Gollum and Sméagol, raises the possibility of multiple personality disorder. ..."

    "There is no disorder of the form of thought. He uses neologisms such as "triksy" and "hobbitses." Gollum has nihilistic thoughts, believing that he is a murderer, liar, and thief; although there is some basis in fact for this and he shows little guilt or remorse. He is preoccupied with, and deeply desires, the ring. He has obsessive thoughts but no compulsions, though he would do anything for the ring. He is hostile towards Frodo, the current owner of the ring. He has paranoid ideation about Sauron ("the eye is always watching") and about Samwise Gamgee ("the fat hobbit... he knows"). Gollum has difficulty controlling his thoughts and actions, exacerbated by prolonged contact with the ring. As Gandalf and Frodo have similar symptoms in the presence of the ring, we can attribute this somatic passivity to the ring. There are features of dissociation. Smeagol has separated his personality and is now Gollum as well."

    "Gollum displays pervasive maladaptive behaviour that has been present since childhood with a persistent disease course. His odd interest and spiteful behaviour have led to difficulty in forming friendships and distress to others," she said.

    "He fulfils seven of the nine criteria for schizoid personality disorder, and if we must label Gollum's problems we believe that this is the most likely diagnosis,"

    Wiki entry on Schizoid [wikipedia.org]
  • is that gollum is a obsessive compulsive, paranoid schizophrenic. Am I right?
  • While I completely understand the purpose of the study, I don't think it is useful to match Gollum up to any disorders that we recognize today. Why?

    Because we don't know the effects of the ring psychologically. We have some vague descriptions, and we get to see some of the results, but nobody has a clue how that thing works etc.

  • by Weaselmancer ( 533834 ) on Sunday December 26, 2004 @04:22PM (#11186177)

    Ok, even by Slashdot standards this is going to be a seriously geeky post. Prepare yourself - you have been warned.

    Gollum is at least 969 years old, and probably a whole lot older. Proof follows.

    In the Silmarillion, there is a quote in "Of The Rings of Power and the Third age" that goes as follows:

    ...the One Ring was indeed found again, by a chance more strange than even Mithrandir had foreseen; and it was hidden from Curunír and from Sauron. For it had been taken from Anduin long ere they sought for it, being found by one of the small fisher-folk that dwelt by the River, ere the Kings failed in Gondor;

    Gollum found the ring while there was still a ruling king in Gondor, before the reign of the Stewards.

    The reign of the Stewards began in TA 2050, after the death of King Eärnur [masterliness.com] at the hands of the Witch-King. So we know that Gollum had the ring before TA 2050.

    The ring was destroyed in TA 3019. That makes Gollum at least 3019-2050=969, and that's only if he found the ring on the very day the Stewards claimed Gondor.

    The Third Age begins with the defeat of Sauron by the Last Alliance. The earliest Gollum could have found the ring would be the day Isuldur lost it (TA 2), so he could be as old as 3019-2=3017.

    So Gollum is somewhere between 969 and 3017 years old. Splitting the difference makes him probably around 2000 or so. In any event, he's a lot older than 587.

    So how's that? Geeky enough for you? =)

    • I've only this to say, Bravo!
    • Wrong! (Score:4, Informative)

      by ewe2 ( 47163 ) <ewetoo@g[ ]l.com ['mai' in gap]> on Sunday December 26, 2004 @05:38PM (#11186536) Homepage Journal

      You are SO wrong. If there was a prize for geeky wrongness, you are it. You are the wrongest LoTR geek on the planet and here is why: you didn't read the book.

      The book says in Appendix B, The Tale of Years, Third Age and I quote

      2463 The White Council is formed. About this time Déagol the Stoor finds the One Ring and is murdered by Sméagol.

      Which makes him only 556 years old. I hereby banish you to an eon of nerd. Go, and never return! And take those medical students with you!

      • Re:Wrong! (Score:3, Insightful)

        by HiThere ( 15173 ) *
        But how old was he when the ring was found? Based on that assertion (i.e., appendix B) he might well be 580 or older. (Hobbits reach their majority at when? 30? 33?)
      • You are the wrongest LoTR geek on the planet and here is why: you didn't read the book.

        Oh that's so true! To confess completely, I don't even know how to read. The Silmarillion quote was beamed into my head by grey aliens the one night I forgot to wear my tinfoil nightcap. The rest I learned from watching the Rankin & Bass cartoons.

        What we have here is a discrepancy in Tolkien's work, of which there are more than a few. All his writing was continually in flux as he wrote and re-wrote his stori

        • You can't blame Tolkien for not checking your sources. Even the Tale of Years is under suspicion, but at least it provides a factual basis. You might get away with such remarks about Galadriel for instance, but Gollum is much firmer ground even if the odd errant statement about the Ring got out. And remember, if you find a discrepancy, point it out, don't just run away with theories. You didn't even post where you found that line, so the non-geeks could check.

          But I didnt add Smeagols apparent age at the ti
  • by meldroc ( 21783 ) <meldroc&frii,com> on Sunday December 26, 2004 @04:43PM (#11186254) Homepage Journal
    One thing that was mentioned in the movie commentaries, but not mentioned in the medical journal reports is that the One Ring, along with other mystical phenomena, provides sensations of euphoria to its bearer. Also, if a bearer is deprived of contact with the One Ring, he experiences symptoms akin to withdrawl. All bearers of the One Ring experienced these symptoms, but because Gollum had possession of the Ring for over five centuries, his symptoms are extreme. So, on top of Antisocial Personality Disorder, Dissociative Personality Disorder, as well as Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, I would have to diagnose Gollum with addiction to the One Ring, and have him checked into a substance abuse treatment center as soon as possible.
  • House (Score:3, Funny)

    by DJTodd242 ( 560481 ) on Sunday December 26, 2004 @05:07PM (#11186381) Homepage
    When asked for comment, Dr. Gregory House muttered something sarcastic and hobbled away.
  • They're at least as interesting as the article.
  • by j_w_d ( 114171 ) on Sunday December 26, 2004 @06:01PM (#11186645)
    The article was interesting and enteraining. I did notice a couple of unconsidered aspects. First, the ring renders the wearer transparent to visible light. Depending on upon its response in the ultraviolet spectrum (UV-B exposure is necessary), this could have induced some Vitamin D deficiency. This would have been exacerbated by Gollum's increasing photophobia, growing nocturnal habits and finally his relocation to a subterranean habitat. In addition to rickets, restlessness and irritability are possible symptons of inadequate Vitamin D.

  • Dates are wrong (Score:3, Insightful)

    by StrawberryFrog ( 67065 ) on Sunday December 26, 2004 @08:07PM (#11187592) Homepage Journal
    This can't be right: "Sméagol (Gollum) is a single, 587 year old ... When Gollum was 25, the ring was stolen by Bilbo Baggins".

    The events of "The Hobit" must be at most a decade or two earlier than those of LotR. By the time that Bilbo aquired the ring, Gollum was already far gone; thus he must have been over 500 years old when he lost the ring to Bilbo.

    Gollum's main aliment is a powerful addiction to the strong magic that both sustained and ravaged him over the centuries. Hobbits, which Gollum basically is, do not normally live to be over 150.

    Jackson's movies worked with that angle, having him look and act like a totally ravaged junkie.
  • by walterbyrd ( 182728 ) on Sunday December 26, 2004 @09:17PM (#11188065)
    To me the movie made it clear that gollum's mental problems were the result of:

    1) Magic power of the ring.

    2) 550+ years of solitude.

    3) Terrible guilt.
  • I just got done watching Elephant Man.. brilliant movie... in it, there actually IS a medical diagnosis of John Merrick (The Elephant Man), but not so much a psychological one. I'd say he'd pretty much be in the same situation as Gollumn, except for the all-powerful mind control ring of invisibility that is.

The best defense against logic is ignorance.