Aggressively sadistic, poor wee soul!

Postby pantodragon » Wed Apr 09, 2014 3:17 pm

Cathy Cassidy is a popular UK children’s author. She writes about the social/emotional aspects of growing up e.g. about children coping with their parents’ divorce. Cassidy’s books are intended to be educational. So, for example, her novel “Scarlett” is a “book for anyone who has ever felt angry”.

There are several aspects of the book that are unrealistic. Some of these concern the portrayal of Scarlett.

Scarlett is a 12 year old whose character underwent a transformation as a result of the breakup of her parents’ marriage. One minute she was a model daughter and school pupil and the next, an extremely angry, highly aggressive bully and troublemaker.

This is totally unrealistic. Somebody who has never displayed anger or aggression in her life will not know how to display anger or aggression. Further, a good girl would find it extremely disturbing to display anger or aggression. Where one sees anger or aggression bursting forth unexpectedly in a person, it has been there already and the person is practiced at anger and aggression but has just controlled themselves in front of you. So unless Scarlett was suffering from Multiple personality Disorder, the scenario portrayed in the book would be impossible.

Another unrealistic aspect of Scarlett’s character is that she is portrayed as a normal, healthy 12 year old when the portrayal indicates that she is, in fact, seriously sick. The transformed Scarlett is somebody who enjoys causing suffering in other people. She is gratified to have been the cause of her father’s distress when she runs away from home. When she throws school desks across a class room, when she brandishes a scalpel in front of her teacher’s face, when she instigates pupil riots, when she sees the blood drain from the school secretary’s face at the mere sight of her, Scarlett feels satisfaction. In other words, she enjoys inflicting fear in other people. This is not healthy. No healthy person would do this. (A normal person might hit out at others if they themselves were hurt, but far from enjoying the effects, they would feel regret at having caused any distress in others.)

Further, the author states of Scarlett that “……. she attracts the wrong kind of attention at school”. Further, she states that it is not Scarlett’s fault.

Scarlett is portrayed as highly emotional. Excessive emotionalism attracts trouble. The correct interpretation of the fictional situation is that Scarlett’s excessive emotionalism attracts trouble. If such a child were to calm down, s/he would that s/he ceased to be a magnet for trouble.

These books are intended to offer children an education on emotional and psychological issues. However, the author has displayed her own confusion and ignorance and therefore these books, far from assisting children, will only leave them more confused and misinformed than they already are.

Ultimately we are expected to sympathise with a character who can only be described as aggressively sadistic. Thus sadism is called anger and is excused on the basis that it has been brought on by the distress caused by the breakup of her parents’ marriage. This licences every child to practice whatever immoral, cruel or vicious behaviours they choose and to justify these behaviours by claiming themselves to be some sort of victim or in some sort of distress.

Finally, the cure for Scarlett according to Cassidy is love and being made to feel special --- trite or what???!!! --- the giveaway really, if one needs one. What is Cassidy REALLY about? Answer: money. She offers a facile but fashionable view of children which is as false as it is fashionable. But fashionable sells. She has spotted a modern trend and cashed in on it.

In conclusion, it is advisable that these books be kept well away from children. But perhaps they might be used as educational tools firstly by discussing the author’s misunderstanding of emotions and psychology, leading to a proper understanding of these topics. And secondly as a warning to children that they should not believe everything they read.

Also, Cassidy is actually a good and entertaining writer. For that reason, she is worth reading.
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Postby Candid » Sat Nov 24, 2018 8:58 am

Yeah, you gave one of her books a rave review there. :roll:
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Postby moondaddy1 » Sat Nov 24, 2018 1:11 pm

I don't know for sure and I've never heard of this author (not having any particular interest in children's books) but it looks to me that maybe the idea is just to portray how in the context of kids anger as an emotion works and to show the consequences of it and then how best to deal with and overcome it, rather than it supposedly being an accurate portrayal of someone getting unrealistically angry for little or no apparent reason, though of course that does happen but usually only with adults.
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Postby tokeless » Sat Nov 24, 2018 1:19 pm

Books like these aren't meant to be literal interpretation of how people feel. In the circumstances of that book the child is feeling anger and other emotions because of powerlessness. Her nice life was turned upside down by the split and she didn't know why or what happened, hence the lashing out. This is a common reaction to being hurt and feeing pain for a child. Adults can't understand why such a change has happened but for a child to read the book they can see things that they may relate to, feel less like a freak because this is a reaction they can understand can happen and it makes sense of how they feel. I'm not a big fan of this kind of thing and they can come across as a bit middle class angst management but they can help some.
Children are more resilient than we think but they need support and help when things so close to them go wrong because of no fault of theirs.
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