True Blood Psychology: What’s wrong with Sookie’s character?

Sookie is supposed to be our heroine and the main character of our show…yet… Many people have a difficult time understanding some of the reasoning behind Sookie’s actions/decisions and consider her to even be one of their least favorite characters despite her position on the show. Many audience members even also find Sookie “annoying” for a variety of reasons.  There must be a reason for this right? Well, let’s consider things from a psychological viewpoint…Shall we?

 

 

Sookie's parents were scared of her because of her ability (society rejected it as well)...

 

 

 

...And let's not forget that Sookie was molested as a child...

 

…There is no doubt that Sookie would be profoundly affected by being essentially rejected her parents and subsequent molestation psychologically. I believe that many of Sookie’s problems or actions stem from this event in her life.

Some people respond to childhood sexual abuse by being completely withdrawn when it comes to sexual activity. Sookie certainly was hesitant to engage in sexual behavior initially not just because her ability isolated her, but because of the trauma of past sexual abuse. She admitted this hesitation/anxiety to Bill after the first time they had sex as she told him the story of her molestation. This happens even as Sookie insists that she supposedly “does not blame herself” and downgrades the severity of the situation by saying “it was just touching, not as bad as what some girls go through…”

People who experienced sexual abuse as a child can be underemployed in comparison to their abilities for a variety of reasons related to the trauma, included a lowered self-esteem. Sookie’s difficulty in studying with her ability/disability and societal rejection only exacerbated this symptom. As a result, Sookie ends up becoming a waitress and initially doubts her abilities for a better career until vampires begin using her ability.

Victims of childhood abuse can develop a feeling that their lives are out of their control and can focus on things they can control such as their home. This is part of what made Maryann’s violation of her home so much worse for her.

If the victim of sexual abuse does not respond to the sexual abuse by withdrawing completely, physically and emotionally, the victim can have trouble understanding boundaries since their own boundaries were not respected. In regards to Sookie, it can refer to the times she consciously intrudes in the minds of others when it isn’t necessary (such as hearing Arlene’s fears of pregnancy, Tara covering for Jason, and Alcide’s personal thoughts regarding Debbie and their situation) and moving too fast in relationships, which she was obviously able to do with Bill.

Other than the pure psychological trauma itself, I believe Sookie has developed a case of Dependent Personality Disorder or (DPD) as a result of her molestation and rejection throughout her life, despite her seemingly strong will  and personal abilities.

 People with DPD are attracted to forceful and dominant people who come into their lives.

People with DPD can use sex to feel close to someone emotionally after loss and/or personal trauma (even if the personal trauma occurred with the sexual partner).

People with DPD can become submissive in romantic relationships.

People with DPD seek people in their lives they consider “protectors” and when one “protector” is gone, it is replaced with another “protector figure” in their lives.

People with DPD can be excessively naive and be hyper-sensitive or ignore criticism from others (easily perceive criticisms as personal attacks no matter how well-meaning the intentions behind the criticisms are).

People with DPD tolerate a lot of mistreatment from others, especially romantic partners or close friends, so that they can avoid being alone.

secret file

People with DPD  can easily attach to new romantic relationships or the idea of a new romantic relationships when they feel vulnerable and/or alone.

There are further examples which could be explored but we can see a lot of the behavior that we have been frustrated with or were disappointed about stems from a personality disorder (Dependent Personality Disorder) Sookie developed as a result of childhood molestation and isolation that she also experienced as a child and into adulthood.

Sookie is obviously not a typical heroine who is always strong and independent and ready to conquer anything. In fact, Sookie is a better heroine than that because she is human (at least partly lol) just like you and I. She takes advantage of her strengths while also struggling with her weaknesses. Maybe, the heroic part of her story will be to either learn her personal strength and independence with a love like Eric that encourages that side of her or it will simply be her learning her independence. Sookie’s story will be inspiring because it will either be tale of overcoming personal struggles with love OR it will be a tale of learning personal strength and independence…

…or perhaps, IT IS BOTH!

———————————————————————————————————

Sources Include: WebMD, “Psychology” by Myers (Publisher Worth Edition 9), and The Dependent Personality by Bornstein.

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  1. #1 by Freyja on March 12, 2011 - 5:53 pm

    Great post Kat 🙂 This is how I’ve always understood Sookie’s character. Being telepathic helps in no way with her fragile self image. She is damaged by her uncle, her parents were afraid of her, she has few friends, hears every thought from everybody since she was a baby. To hear what others think of you all day long since you were an impressionable child, it molds the character, it can’t be healthy.
    All of this transfers into DPD of course, how could it not?
    I see Sookie’s story in TB and SSN as a journey and in the end she will be a strong woman who has overcome her difficulties in life and is healed as much as she can be. She has gotten to know the bad side of love and she will know the good side too, it will help her on her journey. It already has in the books.

    • #2 by Katya on March 12, 2011 - 6:30 pm

      ^^Hey “Favorite Reader for Life”. Remember, you inspired me to begin blogging! 🙂

      Her relationships are definitely her drug because of DPD since she lacked a lot of meaningful ones before and was betrayed by many of those who gave her attention.
      I love your POV and I totally agree. This is a story of a woman who will overcome her struggles, a real heroine we can relate to. Except, I think TB will tell other “stories” in addition to Sookie’s story.

      • #3 by Freyja on March 12, 2011 - 6:55 pm

        You know what Katya, I forgot LOL. I’m so glad that I did, you are doing a great job 😀

        Sookie being so naive and unexperienced thought it was wonderful to finally meet a person who’s thoughts she couldn’t hear. It didn’t occur to her that silent mind didn’t actually mean trustworthy. She just wanted to have peace and quiet. And what a hard wakeup call it was for her to realize her mistake. I have a pretty good idea what she will go through to gain her confidence (that wasn’t even there to begin with) and trust towards another person (f.exp. Eric another vampire)

      • #4 by Katya on March 12, 2011 - 7:13 pm

        I thought you might have so I had to give you a well deserved reminder!

        Well she was so used to knowing 100% through mindreading whether someone was trustworthy or not OR a good person that she didn’t actually know how to figure that out through other ways….like BODY LANGUAGE LOL……
        And like you said, she isn’t naturally suspicious because it’s not a feeling she really needed to have before.

        Soon, ofc, she will have peace and quiet with someone that she can trust…for the most part haha.

        She will go through a lot and people will grow to love Sookie..like we’re supposed to.

  2. #5 by Mony on March 12, 2011 - 6:31 pm

    I alway found her annoying and i really found myself in the position to dislike her very much even if i love book Sookie, but my dislike for her in the show was exactly what AB wanted…
    He wanted the audience to become her friend, to yell at her like when one of your friend is doing a terrible mistake and you know she should stop and you cannot understand why she doesn’t do the right things that for you are abvious.
    Sookie in the tv show started in a worse way than the books.
    She is suffering a lot and she is scared to be alone and she tried not to be alone by staying even with the wrong guy who abused of her, who controled her and her life becouse the fear to stay alone is bigger than everything.
    That’s what Bill is in her life, he is the bad part, the toxic part of a relationship that sadly most of women experienced in their life.
    I have hope for her, becouse i think that now that she broke with this toxic part of her life she will understand how to grow up as a woman even without a man in her life, even if i’m sure 100% that her slow and complex relationship with Eric who showed her respect, truth, joi de vivre, love, will heal her a lot in Season 4 and then in the other seasons too like in the books.
    It’s a slow journey but she will become the woman i came to love in the books.

    • #6 by Freyja on March 12, 2011 - 6:42 pm

      Agreed Mony. What woman hasn’t had her share of toxic relationships in their lives? I know I’ve had 2 of them 😛 If I were looking at my life as a movie/tv-show right now, I’d be yelling at myself and be annoyed with my behavior when I had my share of brain numbness and DPD. But you know what, I’m a stronger individual for it and know what love and life is suppose to be like, I know my strength!
      As Kat said above, this is a story of a woman who will overcome her struggles, a real heroine we can relate to.

      • #7 by Katya on March 12, 2011 - 7:08 pm

        exactly
        sometimes you have to learn the hard way…in fact, most of the time and in the end, Sookie will be a REAL example to us all despite the fact that this is a supernatural show, ironically.

    • #8 by Katya on March 12, 2011 - 7:05 pm

      Yeah, as everyone says, everything is made more extreme on True Blood. AB pushed her negative qualities to the max BUT I am sure that also means AB will push her positive qualities to the max (including the positive interaction with Eric).

      Exactly, Sookie will become the woman we love in the books, maybe even better in the end!

  3. #9 by Bobsgran on March 13, 2011 - 11:37 am

    Really interesting Katya. Hearing some of the real life difficulties some women have had makes me extraordinarily grateful that I was lucky not to go through a relationship so toxic. My admiration to all who are coping and growing past such sadness.

    What I found sad in Sookie was the constant assertion that “he (Bill) loves me” to who ever pointed out the problems with the relationship. As if that was going to make everything clear. In that talk with Tara while they were sunbathing, she was almost arrogant when she compared herself to Bill and that she had the same ability to harm.
    I sure do hope she becomes better in the end, because her traumas and the fact that she is an outsider in her community could crush a soul.

    • #10 by Katya on March 13, 2011 - 2:38 pm

      Hey Bobsgran!
      Yeah, I have gone through my share of relationship problems even though they were actually mostly brought on by me in my case haha.

      About the Tara Situation:
      It seemed like she was feeling guilty for having thoughts about cheating too, even though she knew Bill actually had. She was in the denial stage about the end of the relationship I guess and since she has DPD, of course she would be like that when a friend criticizes some of her actions.
      Yeah, I think if AB wants to tell an inspiring story for Sookie, the story will be as I described. Otherwise, it will be the story you described and AB doesn’t always give a happy ending as we all know.

  4. #11 by Rose-with-thorns on June 11, 2012 - 4:47 am

    waw, indeed i never saw ( or even tried to see) things that way ! very good post that you made there, you totally changed my mind about sookie ! poor sookie, now that i think about it, she has been through a lot, even before the show started…but still I like Pam better ^^hihihi

    • #12 by Kat on June 14, 2012 - 11:19 am

      Thank you! I love some Pam myself.

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