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We asked a shrink to psychoanalyse these TV bozos

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Ralph Jones
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We asked a shrink to psychoanalyse these TV bozos 2

What moulds a human punchline? Psychology professor Wind Goodfriend puts seven icons on the couch

Joey Tribbiani – Friends

We asked a shrink to psychoanalyse these TV bozos 3

“Joey grew up with seven sisters and he probably didn’t get a lot of attention as a child, which means he feels the need to validate his worth by getting attention from women. That leads to what we call ‘anxious ambivalent attachment’ – he’s constantly seeking attention.

He is likely to have trouble in his relationships because he is very needy and co-dependent.”

Zapp Brannigan – Futurama

We asked a shrink to psychoanalyse these TV bozos 4

“Zapp would qualify as having narcissistic personality disorder. He was probably the type of child who was given everything by his parents, and that led to him feeling entitled. There’s a type of attachment called ‘dismissive’ to describe people who have such inflated self-esteem that they have delusions of grandeur. It leads to some emotionally abusive behaviours.”

Roland ‘Prez’ Pryzbylewski – The Wire

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“I wonder if the police felt masculine to him and the pressure of that led to his aggression [he is nearly fired after punching the police commissioner]. Research shows that people who resort to aggression are not as skilled at verbal communication. When he becomes a teacher he explores a more sensitive side of himself.”

Harry Crane – Mad Men

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“He’s very willing to make moral compromises. And I think he’s resentful if he’s not given the attention he feels he deserves. He seems to view women as objects. I would say that he has an ‘avoidance attachment’ style – the result of parents who were either very inattentive or even abusive. It makes people very cynical about social relationships.”

Tobias Funke – Arrested Development

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“Tobias experiments with his identity in every way except the way that maybe is the most threatening to his ego; maybe he is just afraid to admit to himself that he is gay. It would be interesting to wonder if his never-nude disorder [he cannot be naked, even when alone] is because he’s so uncomfortable with his own genitalia when he’s around attractive men.”

Father Dougal McGuire – Father Ted

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“Father Dougal probably had a very loving childhood where he was treated as a child beyond the age where most people are expected to start taking on critical thinking skills. I imagine this led to his lack of interest in women sexually because he sees women as mother figures. Becoming a priest might reflect his lack of sexual desire.”

Manuel – Fawlty Towers

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“He probably had a very happy childhood. I imagine his parents taught him that he can build a better life through work. He’s no doubt modelling what he saw in his own upbringing, which was trust and kindness and hard work. He seems to have a lot of joy in his life and is stereotypical of a first-generation immigrant: hard-working, eager to please and willing to do what he’s told.”

(Illustration: James Fosdike, Images: BBC/Channel 4/ITV/HBO/Showtime/AMC/Netflix)

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Ralph Jones

Ralph Jones is a staff writer for ShortList magazine. In April 2015 he won a seven-foot throne of dildos but he’d rather you didn’t mention it. He performs sketch comedy and is on Twitter at @OhHiRalphJones

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