Freddy Krueger and More Horror Villains Are Linked to Psychiatric Disorders in University Course
Freddy Krueger and Michael Myers are just a few iconic horror movie villains that are getting the psychiatric treatment
Freddy Krueger and Michael Myers are just a few iconic horror movie villains that are getting the psychiatric treatment.
Students at Rutgers University are analyzing what makes these tormentors tick in a class called “31 Knights of Halloween” — all with the intent of finding out what each movie character is mentally afflicted with.
Anthony Tobia, a psychiatry professor who teaches the course, told Rutgers Today the point of the class “is to discuss the exaggerated and fictionalized portrayals in movies while being cautious not to stigmatize individuals with mental illness.”
The course — which was introduced to the university three years ago — offers psychology students the opportunity to observe 31 horror movies (one for each day of October) and post their insights on REDDIT and on a blog for Psychology Today.
For A Nightmare on Elm Street’s Freddy Krueger, students hypothesized he represented Nightmare Disorder (ND), which is “defined through repeated awakenings with [the] recollection of terrifying dreams usually involving threats to survival such as being hunted by a child murderer,” according to a Psychology Today blog.
In the film, the lead protagonist Nancy (Heather Langenkamp) is able to remember every detail of her darks dreams involving Krueger — something that Tobia’s students argued was a sign of Nightmare Disorder.
In John Carpenter’s Halloween, the film depicts a 6-year-old Michael Myers brutally murdering his older sister on Halloween night. He is sent to an asylum but escapes 15 years later to continue terrorizing his hometown.
Psychology students theorized the iconic villain — who returns in this year’s Halloween with Jamie Lee Curtis — suffers from a conversion disorder which allegedly shows itself in Myers’ inability to talk after the murder of his sister.
Myers is also famous for stalking his victims, particularly Curtis’ Laurie Strode, who is tormented by his silent and violent presence.
In this case of horror, Myers is alleged to have a voyeuristic disorder, although his motivations are unclear, according to the blog.
Other movie villains that Tobias’ students studied are Samara, the little girl from The Ring, Ghostface from Wes Craven’s Scream and Jigsaw from Saw.