The following creative project defends that, whether intentionally or not, mental illness and substance abuse are inevitably romanticized in young adult media and discusses the dangers of this romanticization. This project is divided into three parts. The first part consists of psychological evaluations of the main characters of two popular, contemporary forms of young adult media, Catcher in the Rye by J.D Salinger and Euphoria by Sam Levinson. These evaluations use textual evidence and the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5) to determine what symptoms of psychopathology the characters appear to display. The second part consists of a self-written short story that is meant to accurately depict the life of a young adult struggling with mental illness and substance abuse. This story contains various aesthetic techniques borrowed from the two young adult media forms. The final part consists of an aesthetic statement which discusses in depth the aesthetic techniques employed within the short story, Quicksand by Anisha Mehra.
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