3 Chistmas Characters that May or May NOT Have Compulsive Behavior Problems: RUDOLPH THE RED-NOSED REINDEER

December just wouldn’t be December and Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas if we didn’t get see that adorable 9th reindeer with the illuminating red nose displayed on front lawns and rooftops across the country. Would you not feel a little empty if you went the entire holiday season without hearing the beloved song, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer? I know I would. Rudolph is a symbol of strength and perseverance during the holiday season. He is the Christmas underdog (deer) that rose to the occasion after being bullied and beat down. Yes, yes, we LOVE that little guy!

But do you really think that Rudolph walked away from this experience unscathed? Surely we aren’t naïve enough to think that everything was just peachy for Rudolph after that particular foggy Christmas Eve. Year after year we sing about him, wear his picture, and tell his heroic story. In the midst of our praise, have we stopped to consider the possibility that Rudolph may have suffered a great deal in his youth? Have we taken a step back and contemplated the likelihood that his childhood (fawnhood??) experiences with his peers may have resulted in his own battle with mental health issues? Well, let’s take a deeper look, shall we?

♫ But all the other reindeer ♪
♪ Use to laugh and call him names ♫
♫ They never let poor Rudolph ♪
♪ Join in any reindeer games ♫

Was Rudolph traumatized? Rudolph was clearly a victim of bullying. If you have never experienced chronic bullying as a child then it is likely that you can’t understand and fully appreciate just how devastating, scarring, and life-changing it can be. People who have experienced this level of cruelty from the Scut Farkus’ of the world often suffer from the dark aftermath well into their adult life. And although healing is definitely within the realm of possibility, scars will nonetheless be left behind.

For Rudolph, I often wonder, “what ever became of him after the night he saved Christmas?” From the looks of it, this seems to be where his story ends. At least I am not aware of any more dreadfully foggy Christmas Eves that needed the light of a red-nosed reindeer to guide Santa’s sleigh. In fact, in the age of technology, I am sure that Santa’s sleigh and eight reindeer are outfitted quite nicely with the latest lighting systems and GPS technology. Whatever may have become of poor Rudolph, I just hope that he found happiness and healing from the wounds of his childhood. I hope he eventually realized that his self-worth isn’t and never should have been dependent on his nose or performance.

♫ Then how the reindeer loved him ♪
♪ As they shouted out with glee! ♫
♫ Rudolph the red-nosed Reindeer ♪
♪ You’ll down in history! ♫

Did Rudolph battle with compulsive attachment? So, we just established the possibility that Rudolph may have suffered some lasting negative effects from the traumatic experiences he had among his peers. Well, if that be the case, then there also may be a slight chance that Rudolph may struggle with compulsive attachment, particularly in the form of traumatic bonding. “What is traumatic bonding?” you ask. Simply stated, people who experience traumatic bonding are often attracted to others who are dangerous and/or simply not good for them. They often desire and long for the acceptance and approval of others who will never give it to them. There usually is a lot more that is involved in this phenomenon, but you get the picture, right?

Back to our red-nosed friend, Rudolph seemed adamant to be a part of this crowd that constantly belittled, demeaned, and rejected him. I am particularly bothered by the notion that he was finally accepted as part of the group ONLY after they found use for his “deformity” not in spite of it. BUT HE WAS SO LOVED!! Blah blah blah! Yada yada yada! Hogwash! Rudolph, if you’re out there, I hope you have found the peace, love, and acceptance that you have longed for and rightly deserve. Please accept my deepest apologies if I, in any way, have contributed to your pain by burying my head in the sand. I hope you have moved beyond those dirty reindeer games to a way of life that is filled with peace, integrity, and love.

Here’s my disclaimer: Magic sleighs! Flying reindeer! Illuminating red noses! Obviously there is something magical and mysterious going on at the North Pole that is beyond my understanding. Thus, I think it is safe to say that these human concepts and phenomena likely don’t fit with the relational complexities of magical reindeer. So, I am sure that I, once again, am over analyzing the entire situation with Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer; but, you can’t help but wonder, right?

My challenge to you this holiday is to remember the underdog. Take time to remember that even in the midst of holiday cheer, there are still people suffering and longing to be loved and accepted. Take it upon yourself to show them your unconditional love for humanity through acts of service and kindness. If you happen to be one who is suffering this holiday season, whether it be the lasting effects of bullying or something altogether different, I hope you won’t delay in getting the help that is likely long overdue. Take the first step in loving yourself by gifting yourself the gift of therapy. You deserve to have peace.

Joshua Nichols
Licensed Marital & Family Therapist

Here are some more fun holiday blogs by Josh.  Enjoy!

6 Lessons Learned from Buddy the Elf

5 Christmas Songs the Kid in Me LOVES, but the Therapist in Me LOATHES ENTIRELY!

10 Christmas Characters in Therapy

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