Santa Goes to Therapy Pop Psych!

Welcome to Pop Psych!, where we analyze what’s wrong with your favorite fictional characters.

Episode 2: Santa Goes To Therapy | Pop Psych | Written by: Patrick Bulger

Created & Directed by: Jared Bauer
Starring: Tessa Goss
Animations by: Brodie Rush
Illustrations by: Nanci Ayala Rush
Opening Music by: David Krystal (
Academic Consultant: Angela Belden
Edited by: Ryan Hailey
Opening Animation by: Luis Vega
Producer & Additional Artwork by: Jacob S. Salamon

Santa Goes to Therapy – Pop Psych!

Episode 2: Santa’s Personality Disorder
Santa Claus and Schizotypal Personality Disorder
Ego-syntonic and ego-dystonic behaviors

Ok. Today’s patient…
Kris Kringle, Santa Claus, St. Nick, Father Christmas, Père Noël.
This guy’s whole identity is a mess.
Seriously, Santa has more origin stories than the Joker.
He also has a magical train that brings unaccompanied children to the North Pole on Christmas Eve each year.
It’s basically the locomotive version of a van full of lollipops. Seems like a bad plan to me, but I digress.
Santa is most likely dealing with some sort of personality disorder but whether it is Egosyntonic or egodsyntonic is important to note. With Egosyntonic your beliefs, feelings and behaviors are in harmony with the needs and goals of your ego; they are consistent with your ideal self. You’re exhibiting behaviors outside of the norm, like only wearing red and white or subsisting mainly on cookies, but you see these as ideal behaviors.

Egodsyntonic is the opposite of that. You’re exhibiting behaviors, contrary to how you see your ideal self. This is your OCD behavior, where people are aware that these obsessions are not a positive. It is a conflict that can often lead to depression. Santa is obviously, the opposite of depressed. His personality disorder is also obviously in lock step with what he sees as his ideal self. So, he has a egosyntonic disorder. The question is why? and which exact disorder? Let’s think. Santa’s only goal in life is selflessly giving to others. Like a Bill Gates on steroids. But Santa is not just altruistic. He has rules for who gets help and when. Hence, his ridiculous naughty and nice list. I mean how naughty or nice could a 3-year-old even be? So, there are conditions to his altruism. And this whole he sees you when your sleeping, he knows when you’re awake thing. It clearly points to a belief in clairvoyance or telepathy…a belief that’s inconsistent with cultural norms.

Then there are the constant red and white outfits. The coming in and out of chimneys, which I want to believe is not a sex thing. The sled driving. The shaking when he laughs like a big bowl of jelly. All very atypical behaviors.
He also has no personal connections outside of his immediate family.
He has the elves, but that is more of a work thing and he has the reindeer, but you know… REINDEER CAN’T BE YOUR FRIENDS!

Santa’s methods and beliefs are also troubling. He’ll only show up to deliver gifts if everyone is asleep. And he thinks he’s going to disappear if people stop believing in him. Both clear indications of underlying paranoia and excessive social anxiety. So, what do we have here? Conditionally altruistic, magical thinking, eccentric, lack of close friends, paranoia and excessive social anxiety. Plus a whole sled full of egosyntonic jolly and what do you got?

Diagnosis: Schizotypal Personality Disorder. That’s Santa! Right there!
The bad news is, personality disorders like this are extremely difficult to treat. I think Family Therapy could be helpful. Plus, I’d get to meet Mrs. Claus. She seems so stately, like a pretty Barbara Bush. Or an Ugly Jenna Bush or a regular Laura Bush. Holy shit! Is Mrs. Claus really Laura Bush?! No. That’s…No. She’s not. For more analysis of some of our culture’s most troubled personalities, be sure to click the subscribe button. You’d be crazy not to.

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