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 Post subject: Does Ray have Aspergers?
PostPosted: May 28th, 2013, 8:35 am 
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Extreme Ghostbuster
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Just a warning, this will contain a few spoilers, as well as details from canons apart from the movies. I put it in the movies section since character observations didn't seem to belong anywhere else.

I strongly suspect that Ray has Aspergers syndrome. You might think that Egon has Aspergers or Autism and he certainly shares several personality traits as one who does, but the evidence built up over the canons of the movies, comics and cartoons suggests that Egon's personality came about as a result of his parents emotionally neglecting him and him never having any friends until college. He may have a condition on top of the problems of his childhood, but his issues with emotions run so deep it would be pretty difficult to tell trained behaviour apart from any mental condition.

Now, to start off, I'm going to point out that Dan Aykroyd has mild Aspergers, being diagnosed when he was 13-ish. This doesn't mean his characters all have Aspergers, like just because George Takei is gay doesn't mean Hikaru Sulu is. However, Dan did write Ray, and based a great deal of Ray's personality on himself, right down to the extreme fascination with the paranormal. People with Aspergers usually have a special topic or two they become an expert in out of love for the topic to the point of obsession (For example I have Aspergers and my special topic is superheroes), and the paranormal is most definitely Ray's topic.
Egon is into the paranormal, but only for the scientific side of things; Ray is the go-to guy for all things supernatural. Dan Aykroyd himself says his special topics are the paranormal and the police, and if you remember from the cartoon episode "Captain Steel saves the day", Ray says one of the major factors in him becoming a ghostbuster was to fight evil. This was probably a coincidence, but still valid for my observations.

This brings me to Ray's personality overall, forgetting Dan Aykroyd for a moment. Ray is a perfectly capable and functioning adult, but he is definitely less traditionally mature than the others. As Egon observes in the Boogieman's debut episode, Ray's state of mind is generally akin to that of a child. He loves cartoons and comics, and cried harder when his favourite comic was cancelled than when he thought Egon had died in "Egon's Ghost". He sleeps with plushtoys in both the cartoon and several of the comic series, and is eternally positive to the point of naivety, as though he doesn't have a proper awareness for the situation around him.
Have a fifty foot monster chase after him, and unless it's some kind of doomsday beast like Gozer, the reaction you get out of him will usually be "Cool! An actual such-and-such" or "At least if it's after us it can't be trashing the city". In one episode of RBG Egon thought a ghost tried to kill him, and trapped it while Ray was trying to communicate it. When Ray complained, Egon angrily pointed it the ghost had tried to "saw him in half". Ray responded with "Well you're hard to talk to!" and then went and stood in the corner in a deep depression. He really has trouble seeing the full scope of situations beyond his favourite topics, a common trait in people with Aspergers.
I should point out that childish and interests in cartoons and comics aren't a symptom of Aspergers or autism, but the way the interests manifest in Ray really comes across as such in my opinion.
As a side note, Ray's speech pattern feels very aspergery to me, especially in the movies. Not all people with Aspergers talk the same, and it's a little hard to explain, but besides myself I have a couple of close mates with Aspergers who speak the exact same way Ray does, and his speech pattern is one of the first things that made me start thinking he had some kind of disorder.

Now, concerning Ray's family. Ray's parents loved him and coddled him, but going by the impression I've gotten from them, they didn't seem to think of him as being a very capable person, despite the fact he has a genius level IQ and he was working at a college at the time of their deaths in a plane crash. Ray's brother and sister both hate Ray enough to not be on speaking terms with him; The brother's reason is given as him being a close-minded jerk who didn't believe in the paranormal, but the sister is a far more open minded liberal, and I don't think a reason for hating Ray was ever given for her, making it sort of a mystery.
Around the time of Ray's birth, the common scientifically accepted theory about Autism and Aspergers was that the conditions were caused by the parents (Called "refrigerator mothers or fathers") not loving and caring about their child enough, resulting in the child mentally and/or emotionally withdrawing into themselves to cope with the neglect. The parents were blamed for the child's condition and were assumed to be unloving or unfit parents no matter how they really treated their kid, and sometimes the kids were even taken away, or the parents were pressured to give them up.
Perhaps when Ray was young, he was diagnosed with Aspergers, and to prevent him from being taken away, as well as an attempt to cure him of his condition, they coddled him and showered him with special treatment. This left Ray's normal siblings feeling resentful of the favouritism, thus triggering their lifelong grudges towards their brother. I'd love to hear your opinions.

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PostPosted: May 28th, 2013, 2:48 pm 
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Good post. When I first saw the thread title, I admit I thought to myself ‘Don’t you mean Egon?’. But speaking as someone who also has Asperger’s, I think you do make some good points, especially about Ray’s obsession with the occult and how it affects his interactions with ghosts. It’s interesting about Aykroyd having AS too but I should point out that it wasn’t actually finalised as a diagnosis until 1994 – about thirty years after when Dan was supposedly diagnosed. Myself, I always chalked up Aykroyd’s speech patterns to being a natural Large Ham (as one website would put it) rather than anything neurological.

I would also suggest Ray’s teenage years as an influence on his later behaviour; his parents died in a car accident, and he was raised by emotionally distant foster parents in Morrisville, portrayed in “look Homeward, Ray” as a fairly dead-end town. I’d say it’s possible that his later demeanour is either an overreaction to this, or an attempt to relive his childhood, free from tragedy.

About Egon, his character does seem to be a product of his upbringing….his parents stressed academic success above everything, punished him when he got an A-minus and allowed him no toys barring a Slinky. However, he is a better fit for the Asperger’s personality for Ray in many ways; he misreads social cues quite often (like drinking the glass of water meant for Ray in "Bustman’s Holiday" or him misunderstanding Winston’s “Why are we here?” in “Drool the Dog-Faced Goblin.” and has a poor relationship with his own emotions (even discounting their use completely in "The Grundel") despite having some quite strong emotions at times (the Bogeyman episodes, "Egon's Dragon" and "Robo-Buster"). I believe that autistic spectrum disorders are inheritable, so it’s possible that Edison Spengler had Asperger’s and passed it to his son, both genetically and through upbringing?

A very interesting post, in any case.

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PostPosted: May 28th, 2013, 4:24 pm 
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The Joker wrote:
Good post. When I first saw the thread title, I admit I thought to myself ‘Don’t you mean Egon?’. But speaking as someone who also has Asperger’s, I think you do make some good points, especially about Ray’s obsession with the occult and how it affects his interactions with ghosts. It’s interesting about Aykroyd having AS too but I should point out that it wasn’t actually finalised as a diagnosis until 1994 – about thirty years after when Dan was supposedly diagnosed. Myself, I always chalked up Aykroyd’s speech patterns to being a natural Large Ham (as one website would put it) rather than anything neurological.


Ah, I did not know that. I read about Dan having Aspergers on Wikipedia and tried to google it, all the sources say he was diagnosed in the 1960s. I must have misread that as being suspected in the 1960s, and the formal diagnosis came later.

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I would also suggest Ray’s teenage years as an influence on his later behaviour; his parents died in a car accident, and he was raised by emotionally distant foster parents in Morrisville, portrayed in “look Homeward, Ray” as a fairly dead-end town. I’d say it’s possible that his later demeanour is either an overreaction to this, or an attempt to relive his childhood, free from tragedy.

Didn't Ray's parents die in a plane crash in his adult years? They went down over the Bermuda triangle, and Egon attempted to comfort Ray by suggesting they may stil be alive, prompting a grief-stricken Ray to punch him in the face.

Quote:
About Egon, his character does seem to be a product of his upbringing….his parents stressed academic success above everything, punished him when he got an A-minus and allowed him no toys barring a Slinky. However, he is a better fit for the Asperger’s personality for Ray in many ways; he misreads social cues quite often (like drinking the glass of water meant for Ray in "Bustman’s Holiday" or him misunderstanding Winston’s “Why are we here?” in “Drool the Dog-Faced Goblin.” and has a poor relationship with his own emotions (even discounting their use completely in "The Grundel") despite having some quite strong emotions at times (the Bogeyman episodes, "Egon's Dragon" and "Robo-Buster"). I believe that autistic spectrum disorders are inheritable, so it’s possible that Edison Spengler had Asperger’s and passed it to his son, both genetically and through upbringing?


Well, it's definitely possible Egon has it too. It would also contribute to why the two get along so well, though they both find each other's behaviour perplexing at times due to the vastly different ways their syndromes manifested. If Egon has an inheritable strain, it certainly explains why the Spenglers are the way they are towards emotion. They might not even think they have Aspergers; if it's common in their family, they wouldn't see anything amiss; they'd just see it as family resemblance.
However, It would still be hard to tell; Egon literally had no friends growing up, and the only real interaction he had was with family members. Even if he lacked Aspergers, he's already learned to emotionally repress himself from his parents and extended family and grown up with the opinion hammered into him that that is how smart people act, and that kind of behaviour doesn't just vanish when he finds friends. Kids pick up stuff like a vacuum cleaner, but adults are far more resistant to total personality overhauls.

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PostPosted: May 28th, 2013, 5:51 pm 
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ghostbuster-cahill- I think you are getting most of Ray's history from Richard Muller's adaptation of GB1. That may be how the details get questioned/confused by The Joker, some sources have slightly different information.

I don't know enough about Asperger's to get in detail on this topic, but it is very interesting.
I always just thought Ray was very OCD about the Occult and the car personally. But really, if you study something long enough and in depth enough to obtain a doctorate in it, then aren't you bound to end up a little obsessed. I mean people with doctorates are experts in their field and are driven to always explore the field and expand on it for other generations. I just figured Ray really likes his job. :)
We don't see him in a lot of social settings outside of hanging with the guys, so it's always been a little difficult for me to get a full feel of his personality. I mean, when you're with your best friends and you know that, then you a more apt to let you 'freak flag fly' if you will. He may be a lot more down to earth outside of ghostbusting cases and away from the guys.

And I also agree that Egon's parents pretty much messed him up. But I think he is to sarcastic in his humor to have Asperger's. He also seems to grow the most in personality over time, which would lead you to think that he can lighten up and change, he just has to learn how, but that he can learn it.

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PostPosted: May 28th, 2013, 9:00 pm 
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Yeah, there's some discrepancies about the timing of Ray's parents' deaths. Mueller's novel says it happens eighteen months before GB1; while RGB doesn't directly say when they died, we know he was born in the Bronx but raised in Morrisville. The idea that the Stantzes died when Ray was a child was postulated by Shiela Paulson or one of her circle of writers, I believe. They may or may not have been aware of the novelization's account.

The only thing really set in stone is that they're dead before GB1. ("My parent's left me that house")

The "GBOT fanon" I use in my own stories takes elements of both; Paulson's death of the parents, but includes Ray's brother and sister. The two actually complement each other pretty well, as seen in CJ London's "A Boy Named Ray" and my own story For The Best

Anyway, I find gb-cahill's idea fascinating. I'm still chewing it over in my head, but it's certainly provoked an interesting conversation!

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PostPosted: November 3rd, 2017, 5:00 pm 
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I happen to have it and I htink egon is mroe aspie than rayI just think ray is one of those sabant type guys or something. but im not sure I foudn this site looking up if egon had autism becuase of the new comic that was put out by iw for halloween comicfest and they stated Egon might be on teh spectrum so i wanted ot look it up becuase now adays when they say spectrum they nine times out of ten mean teh autism spectrum


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