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General Hospital: Medicalizing Spinelli

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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 turned into medical fodder? 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, perhaps 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 to 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 has 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 delayed 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 have 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 that 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 that 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. You have the perfect combination of elements involved – 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.”

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About Spin\'s Vixenella

  • Bring it ..

  • I completely agree with your assessment of the character and, of course, the actor. I’m not sure I want GH to travel down that road of ‘diagnosing Spinelli’ though.

    I love him the way he is! Just because he’s differnt, does that mean he has to be labeled? I may feel differently if I thought the writers/TPTB would take us on a journey where viewers would learn about whatever form of autism they would decide he has and follow Spin on his coming to terms.

    Instead, I fear they would begin to explore it, only to have the story dropped to make room for another gunshot/explosion story that puts current mob fractions on the brink of the dreaded mob war. Remember when they gave Epiphany a heart attack to launch a women’s heart health story. We were going to follow her through her recovery… that ended up being about 3 scenes in her hospital room and one luncheon.

    For a ‘medical’ based drama, they often fall short in that department and rarely do the topics they broach justice.

    While I’d love to see more Spinelli laden scenes, I really hope they don’t give him a diagnosis.

    Oh yeah, bring on all that backstory you’re talking about. They’ve been promising us he’s going to end up with family connections in PC almost since the day Anderson went from reoccurring to cast member. Just make it a story worthy of this actor’s talent.

  • christine

    Interesting article… And I agree, Connie, Spinelli is a good guy!

  • Iincluded a link to this post in an article I wrote today.