Michael Myers Syndrome

Does Abstinence Turn You Into a Murderous Psychopath?

Michael Myers from the 'Halloween' film franchise

Show of hands--and be honest...you ever wanted to kill somebody just because you'd been going through an extended dry spell without sex? I don't mean this as a tongue-in-cheek sort of query. I mean it as, have you ever felt a sincerely disturbing urge to go nuts on somebody simply out of sexual frustration? 

If you have (and I'm not saying I have; we are talking about you here!) then you're not alone (I almost, for a split second, wanted to bust out a chorus of "You are not alone/I am here with you/Though we're far apa--" aaand I'm done). 

But seriously, if you've felt that way, don't worry. It happens. You may be in extremely disturbing company, but...you're not alone. 

Why is that? And who else are we talking about here? Who makes up that company I just mentioned? Well, since it is nearly Halloween, who better to analyze than: 

Michael Myers

'Halloween'

Yes, you frustrated freak, I am lumping you into the same category as THIS guy! I don't care. You said you want to murder somebody just because you're horny?! Well, that puts you on equal footing with a whole slew of very bad dudes. 

No, no--don't try to back out of it now! It's too late for that, so let's read up on the company you apparently would feel comfortable around. Weirdo...

Did you think it was coincidence Michael Myers, the un-killable killer from John Carpenter's classic Halloween films, always butchers lovers? He hates them with a passion, and he's been that way ever since his older sister Judith was busted making out with her boyfriend on that fateful 1963 Halloween night in Haddonfield, Illinois. 

Little Michael, still snug in his cozy clown costume for Trick or Treating, snags a quite long kitchen knife, stalks upstairs, and murders his own sister in her room...then calmly walks outside and hangs out in front of the house until his folks arrive. 

Obviously something about Judith's hanky panky was getting under Michael's skin (or his clown mask, I mean). But was the murder due to bizarre jealously? He was only six at the time...surely not old enough to understand what the couple upstairs were up to. Yet it seems he knew enough; and he knew she needed punishment for it. 

Lethal punishment (sounds like a good title for an action flick, eh?). 

Not sure if there is an expiration date on when etiquette requires a spoiler alert, but to play it safe: SPOILER ALERT! So...fifteen years later, after breaking out of his mental institution, Michael was back to his old tricks, this time chasing after his other sister, Laurie, and her promiscuous pals...

As Professor Pat Gil of the University of Illinois wrote in "The Monstrous Years: Teens, Slasher Films, and the Family," Laurie's friends:

"think of their babysitting jobs as opportunities to share drinks and beds with their boyfriends. One by one they are killed... by Michael Myers an asylum escapee who years ago at the age of six murdered his sister for preferring sex to taking care of him."

So in Gil's take, it wasn't so much sexual jealousy as it was hostility about being ignored...at least in the early years. But come on; by 21, Michael was all grown up, a virgin who'd been shielded from the company of women for a decade and a half. Don't tell me that didn't take it's toll... 

You know it did! 

Michael moves in...

Reelclub makes an interesting point, that while Michael rampages through the sleepy little town killing young couples who are either having sex, just had sex, or are making plans to have sex, the one woman able to defeat him is the only person in the movie who ISN'T involved in sexual activity! 

Like Michael himself, Laurie Strode (his sister and next intended victim) is also wildly inhibited. She is, as they say in the film, a prude.

Some interesting (and gross) analogies are made regarding Michael's continual use of either a long-blade kitchen knife (his stainless steel, razor-edged penis replacement) or his bare hands (for those intimate moments when he just wants to hold somebody. By the throat. Until they are dead). 

But again, as Reelclub notes, Laurie's own decisive weapon is none other than a long, smooth, thin sewing needle, thrust straight and deep into her bro's neck! Well, that doesn't kill him; nothing kills Michael Myers. But it did kick him down a gear or two...

Jamie Lee Curtis as Laurie, Michael's sexually frustrated nemesis

I clearly remember watching Halloween in the mid-80's (on VHS tape!) with my girlfriend and one of her friends. Less than halfway into the film, my girlfriend poignantly uttered, "He needs to get laid!" Her BFF agreed with a knowing nod. 

That was it; problem identified. Michael's compulsive behavior, all the bitterness and rage, the overt aggression? Comes from not coming at all. Or in more clinical terms, his libido has been sublimated. His "erotic energy," as Sigmund Freud might put it, has only been "allowed a limited amount of expression, owing to the constraints of human society and civilization itself."  

Like all of us, we need outlets in order to stay sane. If our sexual urges are repressed, those urges must be vented by other means. If only Michael had turned to handicrafts or perhaps freelance writing...

Michael Myers was far from being the last sexually frustrated killer on the block. Nor was he the first. That honor perhaps goes to Norman Bates from Alfred Hitchcock's 1960's film Psycho (itself based on the novel by Robert Bloch...) Norman was THE epitome of the psycho-sexual whackjob, dressing up as his overbearing dead mother then going out to slaughter the guests of his infamous Bates Motel...

But Halloween brought the convention into the modern era, and helped pave the way for the slasher genre which followed...along with all its recalcitrant horndog villains--Jason Voorhees from Friday the 13th, Freddie Krueger from A Nightmare on Elm Street, Leatherface from The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, and so many many others... All close friends of yours, I'm sure!

And you know what, don't let me neglect to mention as least one ultra-repressed female psycho (apart from the mothers of all those mentioned above, that is). Annie from Misery

Yes, we must make a quick nod to "number one fan" Annie, a quite bitter single lady who takes hostage the author of her favorite romantic novel series (whose heroine's name is Misery Chastaine), then hobbles said author with a sledgehammer so he can't escape. That, my friends, is taking things too far. 

Annie Wilkes from Misery

One creepy-cool Kathy Bates as Annie from 'Misery'

But all jokes aside--sexual frustration is a very real problem and can lead to erratic behavior if it isn't addressed properly. I'm no doctor (nor do I play one on TV), but you don't need to be an MD to take a step back and look at yourself objectively. Are you feeling irritable? Did you really just snap at the drive-thru burger guy? Have your co-workers made recent comments about your needing to get laid before you shoot up the whole office like Al Pacino in Scarface?

If you're noticing that your own actions are being impacted, don't let it build up! Find a way to release that tension before turning to the kitchen cutlery.

If I might humbly offer one suggestion, from Seinfeld's "The Contest..." Not a permanent fix, but it might work in a pinch!

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Michael Myers Syndrome
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