Using the DSM-5 to Diagnose Characters in “The Office”


*Please note that the following diagnoses possess no real scientific backing and were created for the sole purpose of entertainment. This article may contain spoilers.

To start off, one does not have to be a fan of the series The Office to have heard of Michael Gary Scott. The self-centered, often childish branch manager of Dunder Mifflin Scranton spends a great deal of his life seeking the attention and approval of others. When Michael cooks his foot on his Foreman grill, he spends the entire workday exaggerating the severity of his injury, asking Pam to take care of him like she would a dying relative, and even inviting a disabled man to the office so that he could ‘teach a lesson’ about disabilities (with Michael comparing his burned foot to paraplegia). This is not the only time Michael exaggerates. When one of his co-workers suggests that Michael’s life is “cushy” and not dangerous, Michael pretends to be suicidal by standing on the roof and threatening to jump– of course, he almost kills himself pretending to kill himself. Michael’s emotions are shallow and rapidly shifting, and he will go to extremes to be the center of attention (often putting his and his coworkers’ safety at risk). In the presence of women, Michael is grossly over-friendly and ostentatious; his flirtation exceeds what is socially acceptable and makes the women of the office– and any woman, frankly– incredibly uncomfortable. Due to this pattern of excessive emotionality and attention-seeking that hinders his ability to function in everyday life, it is evident that Michael Scott suffers from histrionic personality disorder. 

As those who watch The Office know, Michael Scott always has a loyal #2 by his side: Dwight Schrute. Proprietor of a beet farm that he owns with his cousin Mose, Dwight is Assistant to the Regional Manager at Dunder Mifflin, and he is indubitably the most passionate employee in the paper industry. Dwight is also a volunteer sheriff for the Lackawanna County, as he considers himself to have a duty to use his superior survival/combat knowledge to serve the community. Dwight acts as safety officer after stealing the responsibility from his coworker, he has been taking karate for his entire adult life, and he has various weapons (including but not limited to: swords, nunchucks, knives, blow-darts, crossbows, smoke grenades, and daggers) hidden in various places around the office. When Michael enters the office running one day, Dwight’s immediate response is, “Is there someone after you, Michael?!” He runs to the door to inspect. Dwight also knows statistics such as “Seven out of ten attacks happen from behind,” so he always walks behind his coworker Jim, and “In the event of a collision, the driver always protects his own side of the vehicle,” so Dwight sits in the back seat behind the driver. Noting his feelings of superiority toward himself and his responsibilities alongside his delusion that there is always someone out to get him, it is only appropriate that Dwight Schrute be diagnosed with paranoid personality disorder. 

Dwight has one friend in the office, and that friend is Pam Beesly. During the show’s first season, we find out that Pam and Roy (a worker from the warehouse) have been engaged “for three years, [with] no end in sight.” Even though it is made clear that Roy treats Pam poorly– leaving her at a hockey game, not being involved in the planning of their wedding, paying her little attention– she stays will him. Eventually, after Jim tells Pam that he loves her, she calls off the wedding. But Jim moves away and Pam goes on a few dates before ultimately ending up with Roy once again. When Pam and Roy break up for real, it does not take long for her to get together with Jim. When analyzing Pam’s pattern of serial monogamy, one clear cause can be deduced: Pam has anuptaphobia, or, a morbid and persistent fear of being married to the wrong person or remaining unmarried forever. 

Now, if you’ve seen The Office, it’s time to address what we all know: there’s definitely something going on with Creed. Let’s face it, the man does not know the name of half the employees in the small company, nor does he know where he works or what his job title is. On several occasions, Creed has referred to Dunder Mifflin as either a dog food company, a SCUBA company, or god knows what else. When asked about Dwight, Creed once responded, “You didn’t hear? Decapitated. We had a funeral for a bird.” When Jim suggests that Creed’s statements are untrue, Creed angrily replies, “You’re not real, man!” and storms out of the break room. It is also safe to assume that Creed’s disconnection from reality has led to violent crime as he races home after it is implied that he is a suspect in a murder case (the office workers were playing a role-play murder mystery game, and Creed arrived late). Additionally, at the end of the series, we find out that Creed was involved with a drug cartel and was a heavy user of hallucinogenic and stimulant drugs in the ’60s. Due to literally everything about him, Creed is definitely schizophrenic. 

Known as the “Actually” guy, accountant Oscar Martinez prides himself on his intelligence, rationale, and sophistication. He is a founding member of the Finer Things Club, part of the Party-Planning Committee, and he never hesitates to insert himself into a conversation with “Actually,” followed by a correction. Oscar often brags about his talents and interests, such as cycling, and he even has coffee with Michael one day just to flaunt his intellectual superiority. His exaggerated concern for his looks, arrogance, and heightened feeling of self-worth are all clear indicators of narcissistic personality disorder. 

Oscar’s desk-neighbor, Angela Martin, is obsessed with maintaining order and structure. She is head of the party planning committee and cannot handle the inevitable last-minute changes that occur, ultimately resulting in full breakdowns as she does not know how to properly cope. Angela also owns an excessive amount of cats, likely because she feels compelled to keep adopting them (spending upwards of $7000 on one named Princess Lady). She uses hand sanitizer after touching something that Oscar touched previously, and she is often condescending toward her coworkers when they do not follow her directions exactly; this trait combined with all her other characteristics makes it evident that Angela Martin suffers from obsessive-compulsive disorder.

Finally, we come to Kelly Kapoor. Kelly is attached to her boyfriend, Ryan Howard, at the hip, and she begins to panic when he leaves the office for more than an hour. After one date, Kelly already has their whole life planned (wedding and babies included), and she cannot even imagine being without him, even though he makes it known that he does not feel the same way. Kelly works in an isolated area of the office called the annex, and she claims that it’s so boring sometimes that she actually screams. Kelly also has an incredibly inflated sense of self-esteem, and her energy level is always an eleven-out-of-ten. She never. Stops. Talking. (Even if there is no one listening). Her emotions are all over the place, and her behavior is completely erratic (as evidenced by her outbursts at the office, telling Ryan that she’s pregnant so he will take her to dinner, threatening to kill herself on a whim, etc). Because of her constant need for companionship and intense hyperactivity that exceeds chaotic energy, it is safe to say that Kelly can be diagnosed with both dependent personality disorder and mania. 

While none of these evaluations have been completed by a licensed, practicing psychiatrist, they do pose a very important question: is The Office actually a psych ward with the “employees” being patients who are experiencing a collective delusion?