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Joss Whedon

"Psychology of Joss Whedon : Unauthorized Exploration of Buffy, Angel, & Firefly" Book - Cityofangel.com Review

Friday 1 February 2008, by Webmaster

Think you know the characters of Buffy, Angel and Firefly? Think you understand the inner workings of the Scoobie gang or the affects of the Master, Wolfram & Hart and the Alliance on those who fight the good fight? Well think again, because they might just be a group of psychopaths, narcissists and victims of antisocial behavioral disorders. Don’t believe me? Luckily the research has already been done for us and now we can sit back and enjoy looking at our favorite characters and universe through the psychological perspective of those more qualified. Our beloved, yet flawed - which is why we love them - Joss Whedon characters are open to psychological examination by no less then 21 psychologists, professors and anthropologists.

A clinical observation, 256-pages worth, in the form of a new book: The Psychology of Joss Whedon: An Unauthorized Exploration of Buffy, Angel and Firefly by author Joy Davidson, PhD and published by BenBella Books. What is most enjoyable about the Psychology of Joss Whedon are the authors inclusion of humor, which is such a key element of the Whedonverse, as in the footnote of Chapter 3 where Thomas Flamson recaps the Sahjhan storyline in Angel and follows with a comparison in Firefly where the character Tracey smuggles both parts within his own dead self, Tom comments, "I said it was less-mystical, not less weird." But the psychology insight we receive from reading the Psychology of Joss Whedon offers new fodder for thought on a ’verse that will never be satiated, at least not by its clinical fans and critics alike.

Chapters in the Fireflyverse 

* Predisposed Evolution
* Adapting to the Mal-adapted
* Terror Management on Serenity
* River’s Amygdala and the Sum of Her Parts

While we get to enjoy delving into the Whedonverse via a multitude of psychological theories and practices you won’t need a University degree to follow the panegyric of essays which reflect upon the characters and ’verses of those established by Joss Whedon. It will however benefit you to be well versed in the Whedonverse, that of Buffy, Angel and Firefly as many of the characters and episodes are touched upon by name, title and personality, as well as some of your favorite quotes. Being well versed in the world of literature won’t be too bad either as references to the Count of Monte Cristo, Shakespeare and a quote from Theroux are commonly tossed about. We open with Malcolm Reynolds and look at his character as defined by nobility, loyalty and morality and why we are psychologically drawn to such individuals.

Eaton and Krueger take a Criminal Minds approach to looking into the psyches of Firefly’s Malcolm and Jayne. From Antisocial Personality & Psychopathic Disorders to situational variable and stable personality traits defined by "Maladaptive possibilities" and "Pathological properties." Phew! What that is really saying is easily described by Eaton and Krueger in their analysis of Mal and Janye by the essence of who they are. Undeniably the most well defined characters in the Whedonverse, despite their brief existence. Firefly offered us a wide spectrum of characters just begging for deeper analysis (which follows later in the book) but this was done exceptionally well here.

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