Psychology of Westeros

This article focusses on the Psychology of Westeros as seen through the Game of Thrones series of posts, which look at the psychological characteristics of some of the main players in the game, and acts as a bit of a recap of the posts and further information about upcoming posts. Remember also that this is the most pirated TV series ever so buy the books and the DVDs, it might just help give George RR Martin the motivation to complete the books somewhere in the next decade.

Firstly, we started out with two of the young main characters, the seemingly immoral Joffrey Baratheon (Lannister…) and the traumatised Arya Stark. These two characters show particularly how early experiences in childhood and adolescence can contribute to the emerging personality structure of the individual. Whilst Arya could probable benefit from some treatment, I would have to argue that it would be unlikely that Joffrey would benefit from treatment, so it was lucky for that poison…

Joffrey’s personality structure is rooted in a lifetime of (probable) poor parenting, involving poor boundaries and a ‘win at all costs’ attitude which is exhibited strongly throughout the family from Tywin all the way to Tyrion (although to a more adaptive extent). As for an update for him, there is none, it all ended there at the Purple Wedding.

On the other hand, Arya’s behaviour seems to have emanated from the recent trauma that she has experienced, which is relatively acute in nature. From what we have seen, she has had a supportive family environment and has been provided with care and affection in appropriate amounts. Arya has been constantly traumatised, most recently seeing her keeper being brutally killed (?) by Brienne. Whilst she may have been more of a captor to the Hound, the breaking of this relationship will no doubt have an impact on Arya building a further sense of self resilience.

Then there was Stannis Baratheon and whilst this post was not as popular as the rest of them, it asked the question, could the players in this game just be exhibiting some sort of mental illness? Believing in ghosts and spirit assassins is not a normal experience, but this is a world away from what we know. This post was more meant to illustrate one of the more novel psychiatric illnesses, that of folie a deux. a shared psychotic delusion.

Then it was the turn of the Lannister matriarch, Cersei, the post received much attention and has been one of the most popular posts of all time here at Couch Potato (second only to Reeking of Stockholm – on Theon Greyjoy). I (admittedly) got this one wrong, I fell into the trap of diagnosing based on limited symptoms. Cersei exhibits some behaviours of Borderline Personality disorder, but then again most humans exhibit some symptoms of some type of psychiatric illness. This does not mean that they are mentally unwell, but rather that it is a symptom constellation which makes a diagnosis, not a few symptoms in isolation. Cersei is another product of that dastardly Lannister family, and therefore plays out a lot of the learned behaviours and attitudes. Further, she is the oldest female and with that comes a sense of responsibility, but also shame, she will never be monarch and her father treats her as such. So, does she has a mental health disorder that could be diagnosed? No. Do the lessons of her family and her life experiences make her a nice person? That would also be a no.

Theon, as mentioned above, had been the most read article here and since writing his plight has continued on a downward slope. He has now been led to double cross his own people, which has further led to his reliance on his subservient relationship to Ramsay Snow (aww, Ramsay Bolton, wasn’t that a sweet moment?). For Theon, I can’t see that things will be getting better any time soon.

Lastly, was the skull crushing finale for poor Oberyn which was looked at through the psychology of fighting and the techniques used by both combatants in that duel. As watchers of the show will know, this did not end well at all for either party, but we definitely won’t be seeing Oberyn again. However, we may well be seeing the Sand Snakes sometime in the next series, the daughters of Oberyn, which promises to be interesting.

I will be working on some more of the characters in the next few weeks and will probably include the Lannister males somewhere in there, is there a favourite that people would like to see. In addition to previous posts on shows like Sons of Anarchy and the writing of Dexter Morgan, there will also be further posts on other new and popular shows, let me know if there is anything that you would particularly like to see.


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