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January 04 2008

Joss' Creations on the Couch: "The Psychology of Joss Whedon" Book Review. Just released, this collection of essays explores the inner motivations and actions of Joss' distinctive, colorful cast of characters from a psychological perspective.

"The twist is that the essays are all written by mental health professionals – psychiatrists, psychologists and therapists – who display obvious glee at applying the skills of their day jobs to fannish passion."

I'm somewhere halfway through the book, but Im enjoying reading it. As the article says, there are a few essays that are no good, but overall it is a very interesting read with decent background information.
That sounds interesting, I might pick it up. I used to think of writing a fake analysis of Buffy from the point of view of the psychiatrist in Normal Again after both BTVS and Angel ended. Figured it would be too hard to be convincing when it came to technical terms, so I never did it. Now we're getting actual analyses from actual professionals. Cool.
This is just reminding me of a fanfic called "Case Notes on Summers, Buffy". It had Buffy going to a psychologist, and her analysis...

(heading off to read it again)
Could anybody reading it tell us how much emphasis there is on psychiatry and how much on the other "mind stuff" ?

Cos i'm not so interested in the former but think the latter's fertile ground (the psychology/neurobiology of free-will for instance - if you reckon Mal's in bad shape now, wait until he finds out there's evidence "we" don't even decide to do things before they start getting done. Existential crisis Pt 2 ahoy ;).
Saje I'm reading the book at the moment and it's funny you mention the idea that 'there's evidence "we" don't even decide to do things before they start getting done' as one of the chapters of the book is titled 'Free Will in a Deterministic Whedonverse' and deals with that exact topic.
I highly recommend this book to other whedon fans with any interest in psychology, philosophy or just love analysing characters and sub-plots as much as i do.
Saje, the essay about free will deals exactly with that issue, for example. The other essays that I've read focused more on the psychiatry, I'd say. I'm only halfway through the book, so someone else should comment on the rest of it.
Well sussy and Valentyn beat me to the punch, as I was just about to come in here and comment about Thomas Flamson's Free Will In A Deterministic Whedonverse. I too am only about halfway through this book, and though I'm loving everything I've read so far this one is most likely my favorite.

As Forrest Gump would say, I'm not a smart man. But I don't think there's a lot of focus on psychiatry in this book. Correct me if I'm wrong (which I probably am) but psychiatry deals more with the medical conditions and/or treatment of mental disorders, whereas psychology is a little more about understanding how the mind and emotions work and affect us. Or something like that. Well anyways, so far the essays in that I've read here are more about the psychological source of the characters (and Joss') actions and the impact they have within the stories, and much less about who might need medication.

(Although Carol Poole's "Darn Your Sinister Attraction", despite sounding like the exact kind of "why Spike was such a bad boyfriend" kind of argument I usually despise, was really very interesting.)
Aha, excellent, thanks for that sussy, Valentyn and Haunt, I think i'm definitely going to take a look at this in that case.

Psychiatry to me says a) more the therapeutic side and b) lots of bollocks about the symbolism of stakes etc. (though I admit this may be largely down to my own prejudice/ignorance) which is not really my thing.

(neither Amazon UK/US or Benbella Books' site have the table of contents available as far as I can tell so it's hard to ascertain what's in it - and it's unlikely to be on sale in any local bookshops so the Mark 1 Human Browse won't work either ;)
Mal's Morals - Robert Kurzban
"Darn Your Sinister Attraction!" - Carol Poole
Free Will in a Deterministic Whedonverse - Thomas Flamson
The Adaptive, the Maladaptive, and the Mal-Adaptive - Nicholas R. Eaton & Robert F. Krueger
An Analysis of Slayer Longevity - Tracy R. Gleason & Nancy S. Weinfield
How Buffy Learned to Confront Her Fears - Brian Rabian & Michael Wolff
Terror Management Aboard Serenity - Wind Goodfriend
Existentialism Meets Feminism in Buffy the Vampire Slayer - C. Albert Bardi & Sherry Hamby
Dealing with the F-Word - Misty K. Hook
"Stripping" River Tam's Amygdala - Bradley J. Daniels
Buffy the Vampire Dater - Siamak Tundra & Karthik Panchanathan
More Than Entertainment - Stephanie R. Deluse
Buffy's Search for Meaning - Mikhail Lyubansky
Psychology Bad - Ed Connor
"There's My Boy..." - Joy Davidson
Haunt, you rule ;). Thank-you very kindly.

(4 or 5 sound really interesting just from their titles so it's now a definite purchase)
I'm only about halfway through with the book as well. I've been skipping around to the essays the pique my interest the most. Read Mal's Morals first of course. ;) I find it all to be very interesting, but don't expect much actual insight into most of the characters or even Joss, (which is kind of what I thought the book was going to be... psychologists analyzing him using his characters.) But with subtitles like "Buffy Hates Being Killed" it's a hard book to pass up.
Well, it was okay, but the entire BenBella psychology series (Seinfeld, Simpson, South Park, Survivor and now JW) is less than it seems and less interesting that the other critical theory/media stuff they do. I find "The Existential Joss Whedon" a far better read- but I still get 'em all anyway!
For those looking for writings about the physiological/psychological aspect of things, there are two different essays on what the inward and outward manifestations of amygdala stripping (the neorological procedure reportedly performed on River) would actually be. My fanwank is that either the procedure changed radically between our time and the time of "Firefly/Serenity" or Simon was simplifying things for his extremely unversed-in-medical-technology audience.
Wow! Two of my favorite passions put together!

Psychiatry to me says a) more the therapeutic side and b) lots of bollocks about the symbolism of stakes etc. (though I admit this may be largely down to my own prejudice/ignorance) which is not really my thing.

Saje, you're wrong. That's not what psychology is about at all. Well, therapy is one sub-field.

Mis-leading title, but it sounds cool.

Dang! I HATE being poor.
That's not what psychology is about at all.

Which is why, tehabwa, I specifically used the word "psychiatry" rather than psychology (the whole gist of my question was whether it was more psychiatric or more psychological).

psy·chi·a·try (sĭ-kī'ə-trē, sī-)
n. The branch of medicine that deals with the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of mental and emotional disorders.

from dictionary.com. Remember, only careful readers get a lollipop ;-).
Aha! Another book for my list, unless it's on the list previously given that I already put on my list. It's a listy list. Darn Your Sinister Attraction really leaps out at me as being interesting along with others.

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