On House

The Sidekick

By Joyce Millman

(NEW YORK) Researchers at the Ethel Mertz
Institute of Behavioral Science have undertaken the first study of the chronic and socially
debilitating condition known as “Sidekick
Syndrome.” For years, the syndrome was thought
to affect only high-risk individuals, such as
supporting characters on TV sitcoms. But
researchers now believe that the psychological
condition has been under-diagnosed in the general population.

Those suffering from Sidekick Syndrome exhibit an extreme interest in the life of a more
charismatic friend (“MCF”), unusual susceptibility to that friend’s influence, and a higher than average tolerance for humiliation and
abuse. According to researchers, many historical figures and celebrities who were long
regarded as boring or useless are now believed
to have been victims of Sidekick Syndrome. The
list of famous sufferers includes Ed McMahon,
many vice presidents, and William Shakespeare’s
oft-forgotten friend “What’s-in-a-Name?” who,
historians say, never complained about being
stuck with the pub tab whenever the playwright
claimed he left his purse in his other pantaloons.

Dr. Gilda Morgenstern, lead researcher of the
Mertz Institute study, revealed that her own
mother, Rhoda, suffered for years with Sidekick

“Rhoda lived in the shadow of a slimmer,
perkier friend who was able to turn the world
on with her smile and take a nothing day and
suddenly make it all seem worthwhile,” said Dr.
Morgenstern. “The stress took its toll. Rhoda
sought refuge in food addiction, yo-yo dieting,
and a disastrous marriage to a guy who was better looking than herself. Her low self-esteem
finally  …

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