On shows created by Joss Whedon

"Darn Your Sinister Attraction!"

By Carol Poole

Buffy the Vampire Slayer (BtVS) fans have long debated whether it was genius or the opposite that led the show’s creators in season six to involve Buffy in a violently sexual affair with Spike, a vampire. Dark as it was, the story of their relationship impressed me as an insightful metaphor for the psychodynamics of narcissistic disturbance. As I will argue, Buffy’s state of mind throughout her affair with Spike was a nuanced, accurate reflection of how it feels to suffer from narcissistic pathology.

In this view, informed by psychoanalytic and Jungian ideas, Spike was not simply an unhealthy boyfriend choice for Buffy; he was an image of her own shadow, a reminder of every greedy, primal need she had disowned for the sake of being a hero. Her affair with him was a mirror image of the disturbance in her soul, and yet it also represented a desperate, unconscious attempt to repair a split in her psyche by passionately tangling with her disowned self.

Buffy Hates Being Killed

Dying never brought out the best in Buffy. Twice in her seven years as Sunnydale’s resident vampire slayer, Buffy died and was resurrected. In both cases, she went out like a hero but came back darker, more hurt, defensive, and self-absorbed.

Following Buffy’s first death and resurrection,1 she returned to Sunnydale High after a summer spent shopping, not sharing, with her dad in L.A. (He complained to her mother, “She was just, I don’t know, um … distant. No brooding or sulking, just … there  …

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