Wednesday Addams, the protagonist in the Netflix series “Wednesday,” possesses a distinct and multifaceted personality with important psychological implications. The show portrays Wednesday as a pessimistic and introverted teenager with an unusual interest in death and the paranormal. Centering around her life at the school “Nevermore,” an educational institution for those labeled as “outsiders,” the series examines how the protagonist finds ways to uncover her family’s history and adapt to the challenges that coincide with adolescence. Initially, Wednesday isolates herself from others at school, preferring to act independently without the support of classmates. For instance, she finds peace in individualistic hobbies such as writing and playing the cello. However, as the show progresses, she develops a strong friendship with her roommate, Enid, as well as a brief romantic relationship with Tyler, the sheriff’s son. Ultimately, the eccentric and direct nature of Wednesday defines her character, as her parents describe their daughter as someone who “always looks half-dead” and is “allergic to color.” Despite the fact that Wednesday’s introverted personality and aggressive tendencies encourage others to view her as cold-hearted, she makes a conscious effort to not only help her friends in times of need but also to break traditional standards of conformity. From a psychodynamic perspective, Wednesday lacks the ability to control her unconscious desires and thoughts, often expressing her honest opinion regardless of the situation. Furthermore, throughout Wednesday’s childhood, she faced constant bullying and harassment due to her different style of dress. Therefore, a psychodynamic psychologist or neo-Freudian might emphasize how the protagonist’s childhood experiences led to emotional instability as a teenager. Focusing on more of a social psychology and personality viewpoint, Wednesday’s ability to stray away from social norms and exhibit introverted tendencies illustrates the complexity of her behavior patterns. Ultimately, the psychodynamic, social, and personality perspectives of psychology all offer valuable insight into the intricate psyche and behavior of Wednesday Addams.
The psychodynamic perspective of psychology provides a unique viewpoint in terms of the abrasive and direct nature of Wednesday. According to Sigmund Freud, the leading figure in psychoanalytic theory, individuals possess three distinct levels of the mind, including the conscious ego, preconscious superego, and unconscious id. Furthermore, the ego serves as a compromiser or mediator between the unconscious desires of the id and the moral standards of the superego. Psychoanalytic theory also encompasses defensive mechanisms people utilize to keep unacceptable thoughts out of the conscious mind, such as repression. As it relates to the character of Wednesday, supporters of the psychodynamic perspective might attribute her blunt honesty toward others to the lack of control over her unconscious thoughts or id. For example, during her first confrontation with Bianca Barclay, a popular student with siren abilities, Wednesday impulsively says, “And you must be the self-appointed queen bee. Interesting thing about bees. Pull out their stingers, they drop dead.” Although individualist countries such as the United States value honesty and open dialogue, Wednesday’s passive-aggressive behavior toward her classmates contradicts traditional societal norms regarding first impressions. In accordance with an article written by Michael Hotchkiss, a professor of psychology at Princeton University, “The simple message is that we form first impressions of people all the time, and we should be mindful of this. It matters.” Therefore, Wednesday fails to consider the thoughts of others and acts on her unconscious thoughts. Additionally, defense mechanisms, including reaction formation and denial, play a major role in the personality of Wednesday. Reaction formation, the name of the defense mechanism in which one acts in the complete opposite way of their true feelings, applies to Wednesday regarding her feelings for the sheriff’s son Tyler. Initially, she is reluctant to admit her true romantic interest in Tyler and acts coldly when he invites her on a date. Wednesday also denies and deflects any opportunities to explore her unconscious desire to pursue a relationship with Tyler. Moreover, childhood experiences, especially in terms of Neo-Freudian theory, play an important role in one’s behavior in the later stages of life. As a child, Wednesday received labels such as a “freak” and “outcast” due to her atypical persona. In agreement with Neo-Freudians such as Alfred Adler, who believe that negative childhood experiences can lead to an inferiority complex, the bullying Wednesday experiences early on drives her current aggressive behavior to compensate for her feelings of unworthiness. For example, Wednesday stood up for Pugsly, her brother who experiences bullying similar to her, by releasing piranhas into a swimming pool at school in order to compensate for her own insecurities. Ultimately, Freud’s psychodynamic theory clearly links the abrasive and aggressive personality of Wednesday to the subconscious.
Social psychology and trait theories of personality also provide explanations for the complexity of Wednesday’s behavior and psyche. In particular, Wednesday rejects the concept of conformity and refuses to abide by the influence of social norms. For instance, Wednesday’s outgoing and sociable roommate, Enid, emphasizes how social media plays a major role in the lives of many students at Nevermore. Even in real-world scenarios, “92% of adolescents are active on the internet daily, and on average, they are active on at least four different social media platforms,” according to the Youth Medical Journal. Therefore, the fact that Wednesday considers social media to be a “soul-sucking meaningless void of affirmation” sets her apart from the typical adolescent, highlighting her non-conformist attitude toward life. Although Wednesday displays a unique personality compared to her classmates or out-group, she tends to conform to the influences of her family and in-group. Wednesday experiences the in-group bias in that she behaves in similar mannerisms to that of her family. For instance, similar to her parents, Wednesday obsesses over the occult and presents herself in dark-colored clothing. As a result, environmental familial influences serve a much larger role in Wednesday’s behavior as compared to peer influence. Furthermore, trait theories such as the Big Five, devised by Robert McCrae and Paul Costa, provide another insightful perspective into the behavior of Wednesday. The theory suggests that five major dimensions, including one’s openness, conscientiousness, extraversion, agreeableness, and neuroticism, shape overall personality. When applied to the character of Wednesday, McCrae and Costa’s personality theory explains her high openness and low extraversion levels. A reasonable inference can be made that Wednesday scores high on openness due to her unrelenting curiosity throughout the series. For example, she attempts to uncover her family’s obscured history by seeking out information on her own. However, despite scoring high on openness, Wednesday’s character falls on the low end of the spectrum for extraversion due to her introverted nature. Ultimately, the ability of the Big Five personality test to define almost all of her behaviors indicates the commonality of these different traits. The perspectives of both social and personality psychology reveal the multifaceted characteristics of Wednesday’s untraditional patterns of behavior.
The psychodynamic, social, and personality perspectives of psychology all offer an explanation regarding Wednesday’s eccentric personality and introverted behavior. For example, Wednesday’s unconscious thoughts partly describe her abrasive and aggressive nature. Additionally, Wednesday’s limited social influences and non-conformist attitude illustrate her independent and distinct persona. Ultimately, the character highlights the strength of individuality and the importance of embracing uniqueness rather than following traditional societal norms.
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