Sans Depression (A comprehensive review)

In this article, we will discuss about Sans Depression. Sans is a fictional character from the famous role playing video game named Undertale. We will see what is it about his character that makes one wonder if he is in depression, the development of the character and the relatability of the fans with his character. We will then move on to do an in-depth analysis of his personality and behaviour and see if he has symptoms of depression. 

Is Sans depressed?

There are quite some factors that say ‘Yes’. Sans has a smile that is almost like its plastered on his face. This combined with some of his dialogues makes the fans believe that there is a psychological concern regarding Sans. But before we get into dissecting the personality and behaviour of Sans, lets get to know about him.  

Who is Sans?

Sans is a fictional character, a skeleton, from the role playing game Undertale. He was developed by Toby Fox and appeared for the first time in 2015. His name is based on the Comic Sans font that is used for his dialogues in the game.

If the player of the game chooses to end all the monsters to go down the genocide route in the game, Sans would appear to provide a rather comic relief. 

Sans uses bones, lasers, psychokinesis and manipulation of gravity as his weapons. 

Unlike his brother, Papyrus, Sans is not interested in capturing humans. Sans explains, that he befriended a woman behind a large door in Snowdin who had a love for puns as him. He promises to that lady that he would never destroy humans who happen to come to the Underground. He explains to the player that if he had not made that promise, the player would have been long dead. 

How was the character developed?

Sans was inspired by the eponymous skeleton named after the Helvetica font in the web comic named Helvetica. Helvetica was developed by J.N. Wiedle. Toby Fox made the first concept drawing of Fox on his college notebook. 

As stated previously, Comic Sans is the font used for dialogues Sans says during the game. Lowercase Comic Sans is used normally and uppercase is used when he has to say something serious or wishes to threaten the player. 

How did the fans receive the character?

The character was received well by fans and critics of the game. Mainly for his dialogues and the ‘boss fight’ which is considered a crucial and difficult part of the game. 

His popularity rose to such a level that it inspired several other projects and modifications of the game created by players of Undertale. 

TheGamer, a popular game review website, ranked Sans as the third best Undertale character among the total of 169 characters overall in the game. This credit was bestowed upon him for his spot on delivery of jokes.   

Psychological dissection of Sans’ character

Psychological dissection is exploring the specific uniquely identifiable mannerisms and traits of a person to understand more about their personality and their struggles, if any. 

In the case of Sans, there are some distinct traits that might indicate he could be someone with depression. What are those traits? Read further.  

His smile

Sans has a smile stuck on his face all the time. He never stops smiling. It is almost like he is wearing a smiley-face mask. Masks are commonly used metaphors in depression, used to show that there is a difference in what the person is feeling within and what they are showing outside to the world.   

His costume

Sans is dressed in the colour blue. The colour blue is often used to denote moods commonly used as a phrase “I am feeling the blues.”. Feeling blue means the person is feeling sad or upset or “under the weather”. This tiny detail makes us wonder if the creator of Sans wanted us to pick on this added detail about his or Sans’ psychological state of mind.  

His behaviour

Even though Sans is well known for his comedic abilities there are other details in his behaviour that can indicate an opposite reality. Sans tends to fall asleep often sometimes in his booth and sometimes even in the middle of a battle. 

Connecting this with the common symptoms of depression which are Insomnia and Fatigue. People with depression have a tough time getting a good night’s sleep. They often tend to spend hours tossing and turning on their beds and very rarely getting undisturbed sleep. This leads to restlessness and tiredness during the waking hours of the day causing them to fall asleep anywhere at anytime even if it is considered inappropriate because they cannot help it. 

Decreased interest in activities 

In Undertale, when Papyrus lets Sans make a puzzle, he just leaves a word search on the ground. Feeling lazy and lethargic can be a sign of depression.   

Recurrent thoughts about death or self-destruction

This one is not noticeable unless you are in the genocide route of the game. He knows you as a player can reset any minute and he will die but he still decides to take the plunge of saving his brother or taking revenge. This could be an indicator of how he drives himself to self-destruction. 

His dialogues

His dialogues like ‘Just give up. I did.’ and “you can’t understand how this feels”, and “knowing that one day, without any warning, all is going to be reset.” indicate that he felt pretty lonely and hopeless. 

He also uses humor often which can be a misleading indicator of his happiness but actually is a defense or coping mechanism to not let anyone know his real struggles. 

These are strong traits of a person who has depression. 

Humor as a defense or coping mechanism

One might wonder why is there a need to read more into Sans’ mannerisms when his comic timing is so great. 

Can someone who is considered funny, jolly, happy-go-lucky, who makes others laugh be depressed?

Yes, there is a possibility. 

Defense mechanisms are normal, and we all use them to a certain degree. But, as the research explains, it’s when these behaviors are used to the extreme that things take a turn for the worse: toward obsessive and even neurotic tendencies.

Humor has been considered a common defense mechanism against sadness. Many great comedians and actors playing comic roles were found to be people battling depression in their personal lives. 

Sigmund Freud, a famous psychotherapist, says “.. humor in general as a socially accepted outlet for repressed ideas…”  Depression is still so socially stigmatised that people often wish to mask their insecurities and sadness under the shield of jokes. 

These jokes can be self- deprecating, sarcasm or plain old pure jokes for distracting purposes. Self deprecating jokes are jokes that are directed towards one’s own self and can be understood by others as a fun person who is able to laugh at their own selves. Sarcasm is used to aggressively attack, belittle or mock someone under the guise of a joke. Jokes might otherwise also be used just to avoid conversations that are emotionally intense or personal. 

Humor and laughing can be therapeutic too. Many professionals encourage people to engage in activities that boost mood levels and laughing is certainly one of them. But, using it to distract oneself or avoid conversations that should matter can be detrimental to the person’s mental well being. 

Identifying that humor is being used as a defense or a coping mechanism is the first step towards progress. For identifying one has to be mindful of how they are using their defenses. Thought also has to be given to how defense mechanisms are holding you back. Giving yourself the permission to be vulnerable is important too. 

Consulting a counsellor to learn more about the self and what is causing the person to use defense mechanism is a good step further. The counsellor will also be able to help the person overcome the underlying insecurities or struggles that the person is facing which are making them use defense mechanisms as shields. Once the root cause is tackled, the use of defense mechanism also reduces. 

Conclusion

In this article, we discussed about Sans Depression. We got to know about Sans, the skeleton fictional character from the famous role playing video game named Undertale. We looked at how the character was developed and received by the fans. We also did an in-depth analysis of his personality and behaviour to see if he has symptoms of depression and if he is using humor as a coping mechanism from his depression. We also talked about what can be done if one is using defense mechanism too much. 

If you’ve enjoyed the ”Sans Depression” mentioned above, I would recommend you to take a look at ”Is the mad world about depression?” and ”Depression + emo” too.

Frequently asked questions: Sans Depression 

Does Sans ever stop smiling?

Sans is usually always smiling, but there are two instances where the corners of his mouth do move.It’s difficult to point it out or notice but look closely at the sprites show that Sans’ smile is slightly different when he is ensnared by Flowey’s vine.

How old is Sans from Undertale?

Sans is 22 years old. He doesn’t grow physically because his body died but his soul did not. 

Does Sans know about resets?

Like every other character, Sans too gets little memory from non-true resets. But the main difference is that Sans is aware about the existence of resets. He will also give those pieces of memory more importance. But that still doesn’t mean he remembers literally everything.

What we recommend for depression

Professional counselling

If you are suffering from depression then ongoing professional counselling may be your ideal first point of call. Counselling will utilize theories such as Cognitive behavioural therapy which will help you live a more fulfilling life.

References: 

  1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sans_(character)#:~:text=video%20game%20mods.-,Development,Fox%20on%20a%20college%20notebook
  2. https://aminoapps.com/c/undertale/page/blog/sans-and-depression/5PBF_VuLla7W24EP0x8Dj0K3wk0z8lW 
  3. https://www.sovcal.com/mental-health/psychology-behind-defense-mechanisms-humor-cope-part-4-of-4/ 

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