October 31, 2010

Psycho-analysing Shaggy: Part One

My youngster JD enjoys watching "Scooby Doo" though the cliched concepts and familiar storyline patterns are beginning to annoy him a little, which is perhaps a sign that he is maturing in his thinking.

We were discussing the show tonight as I drove him to his Youth Group. I said, "If I were ever going to take up psychology and do a thesis, I could probably write one about Shaggy and his strange compulsion to continue in his career when he is so obviously frightened to death of ghosts and ghouls. Despite all of his experiences, he has not even begun to overcome his fears."

"What is it that draws him to these experiences? Is there some deep-seated need to prove himself macho and manly?"

"And while we're on the subject, I suspect that Scooby-Doo is not really a dog at all but a human being in a dog-suit, otherwise Shaggy would be making millions of dollars out of the world's first talking dog."

The idea gave both JD and Ana pause for thought, but it prompted me to consider other seriously flawed cartoon or comic characters. 

The first that came instantly to mind were Jughead, Archie and Betty from the Archie comics. 

Archie Comics

There must be something in Archie's upbringing that pushes him to pursue the selfish and spoilt Veronica, over the sweet and giving Betty. Was his own mother a selfish, manipulative woman which would have led to Archie being naturally drawn to a similar type personality, despite his aversion to his mother's shortcomings?

Deep down inside himself, Archie understands that while Veronica loves him as much as she can, she is a shallow girl who will never be able to give him the fulfilling love that he desperately craves and needs. Deep down he knows that Betty is the only one that can give him that love. So there must be some part of him that does not believe he deserves to be fully loved. Or perhaps the example his mother has set him, has him believing that a shallow and manipulative kind of love is the best that one should aim for.

Why does Betty chase a man with such obvious emotional deficiencies? Even if Archie chose her, he would always struggle with feelings of inadequacy and unfulfilment. Ultimately his need to be controlled would lead to an unhealthy relationship, with Archie pushing Betty to take on a more dominant role in their relationship, with which she would feel uncomfortable and eventually resentful.

This would lead to continual bickering in their marriage, with Betty pushed into acting in a forceful manner. While Archie would appear to resent her nagging, he would secretly feel a sense of relief and almost pleasure at the result.

Jughead on the other hand is a rebel without a cause or a clue. His obsessive need to be different, yet accepted by the cool group shows a strange need to still fit in. 

The shape of his hat: a crooked, broken crown, suggests that he sees himself as somehow flawed and of little value.

Jughead's obsessive compulsive need to always wear his hat suggests his feeling of vulnerability and his need to conceal his true self from others in case they realise he is weak or broken.

This in the long-term is surely going to lead to serious conflict as his need to express his own uniqueness, clashes with his own desire to find a niche in society. I predict that when Jughead grows up, he will either have to take up psychiatry himself and be his own therapist, or find himself on the receiving end of psychological care, possibly in a padded room.

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