In Session with “Elf”

Just in time for Christmas, join Dr. Sam and Dr. Fran this week for a holiday-themed session. Follow the doctors across the seven levels of the candy cane forest as they put the movie Elf on the couch!  

To better understand Buddy and his adventure to NYC, Dr. Sam & Dr. Fran discuss adoption. Can real-world lessons be learned from a tale about a human who is adopted by elves and Santa? We review Buddy the elf’s relationship with his biological, human father and his relationship with his adopted father, Papa Elf. The doctors attempt to diagnose Buddy, which is tricky. We consider possible diagnoses which require viewers to pretend that Santa is not real and Buddy was not raised by elves. Could Buddy be experiencing delusions or mania? We also discuss the possibility of ADHD and mourn a previous diagnosis in a Diagnosis Graveyard. 
Finally, Dr. Sam and Dr. Fran try to get to the bottom of how Buddy remains so positive and happy. To do so, we introduce positive psychology and related strategies. 
The best way to spread holiday cheer is to play our podcast loud for all to hear! 

Glossary of Terms

Adoptive identity – what it means to be an adopted person, often involves aspects of both adoptive and biological cultures

Delusion – a fixed belief that doesn’t change even when presented with conflicting evidence

Mania – a period of extremely elevated or irritable mood

Goal-directed behavior – excessive planning or participation in activities beyond an individual’s typical activity level

Pressured speech – rapid speech that doesn’t stop at appropriate intervals, often speaking at a louder volume and about many ideas at once

Positive psychology – field of psychology focused on identifying strengths that lead people to have meaningful and fulfilling lives


A major theme of Elf is adoption and adoptive identity, learn more about adoption disclosure and developing an adoptive identity

We also discuss some potential diagnoses for Buddy (assuming he is not actually an elf). Learn more about manic episodes, along with delusional disorder.

Finally, we discuss how Buddy’s presentation may overlap with symptoms of  attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and we finally put ADD in our diagnosis graveyard. That’s right! Read more about how this diagnosis was removed from the DSM in the 80s here.