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Friday, September 23, 2011

The Psychiatric Couch: The Brady Bunch

Show Open for The Brady Bunch
I'm not a clinically trained psychiatrist, but I know how to spell "clinically" without using spell check. And while I don't have a degree in psychiatry I can easily read the degrees on a thermometer.

Given those credentials, I believe that I'm more than qualified to dispense clinical diagnoses for fictional characters. That's why I write this periodic series titled The Psychiatric Couch....

The first installment of this series explored the psyches of Winnie the Pooh and Friends.

The most recent  installment was another ensemble session that looked at the cast of Gilligan's Island.

Today's edition explores the most famous blended family of all time - The Brady Bunch.

CASE HISTORY: The premise underlying The Brady Bunch was that Mike Brady was a widowed architect with three sons. He then married a woman named Carol who was the mother of three daughters - oddly the series never addressed what happened to Carol's first marriage. Carol and the girls accepted the Brady surname and moved into a suburban duplex that Mike designed. They also had a live-in housekeeper named Alice.

The Psychiatric Couch: The Brady Bunch.

Mike and Carol Brady: This relationship was laden with systemic passive aggressive behavior between both parents, but Mike consistently sought to assert his dominance in the relationship. Carol manifested her latent frustration in a typical avoidance pattern away from Mike, directing it at the housekeeper Alice whom she micromanaged in all aspects of managing the home. Alice did all of the cooking, cleaning and laundry while Carol was a stay-at-home mom - yet Carol seemed to exhibit very little mothering and nurturing despite her copious amounts of free time. By comparison, Carol Brady makes Octo-Mom seem like mother of the year.

Greg: He clearly repressed Oedipal leanings toward his stepmother Carol. This is evidenced by the fact that the actor who played Greg (Barry Williams) admitted to an extended affair with the actress who portrayed Carol (Florence Hendrson) that occurred during the show's later seasons. Apparently Mrs. Brady had something cooking offscreen beyond her spokesperson contract with Wesson Cooking Oil.

Marcia: Classic narcissistic personality disorder, perhaps driven by overindulgence and overvaluation from parents; constant praise for perceived exceptional looks by adults;  as well as excessive auto-admiration that was never balanced with realistic feedback. This last contributing factor was evidenced in the classic episode when Marcia was hit in the face by a football and her resultant hysteria regarding the appearance of her swollen nose.

Peter: Clearly exhibited a savior complex during an episode in season two when he saved a girl in a local toy store before a large shelving unit collapsed on top of her. His heroic deed was covered in the newspaper and quickly spiraled out of control into delusions of grandeur where he became self-obsessed with a false sense of  importance, power and ability. That all changed episodes later when his voice changed and cost the kids a recording contract - curse you Peter Brady and your post-pubescent vocal cords!

Jan: Possibly the most mentally ill of all the children, as a result of an unavoidable inferiority complex to her seemingly perfect older sister, "Marcia, Marcia Marcia." Jan was prone to defeatist self talk, inventing fake boyfriends and self destructive behaviors such as riding her bike without her glasses - which can only be described as painful attempts to overcompensate for her self-perceived inadequacies.

Bobby: Apparently he had a poor relationship with his father since he constantly fantasized about having relationships with other replacement father figures such as outlaw Jesse James and NFL athletes including Deacon Jones and Joe Namath. Bobby also appeared to be emotionally stunted since his most meaningful relationship was with the family dog Tiger.

Cindy: The youngest one in curls, suffered from "last child syndrome" where she was dependent on her siblings yet struggled for parental acceptance, affection, attention and love as suggested by resource depletion theory. This may explain why she spoke with a debilitating lisp and endowed her Kitty Karry All doll with an imaginary persona to fill the loveless void - or maybe not.

Question: What was your favorite Brady Bunch episode?

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