A Psychological Evaluation of Dean Winchester


When the Winchesters went into a psychiatric hospital on Supernatural, they weren't just facing a Wraith, they were facing their own psyches. They may have gone a little cuckoo, but "Sam, Interrupted" was one of the more psychological episodes of Supernatural, exploring the root causes behind Sam and Dean's actions.


For Dean, there are two obvious character flaws. The first is his compulsion to save everyone and his willingness to sacrifice himself to do it. The second is the way he copes with that stress: a steady stream of booze and women.


Even though the hot shrink was a Wraith-induced hallucination, she helped reveal some of Dean's inner feelings, particularly when it comes to saving people. Dean thinks that he needs to save the world, that no one else can do it, and that his own life doesn't really matter. This is no surprise to fans who've seen him literally sell his own soul to save his brother.


The origins of this Hero Complex are fairly obvious to deduce. As a young child, one of his first memories was being told to take Sam out of a burning house and save him while his mother died. John Winchester's frequent absences only continued this pattern, forcing Dean to take complete responsibility for Sam's protection, denying Dean any kind of a childhood. Ever since, Dean has been conditioned to ignore his own needs and safety for the sake of others.


How does Dean deal with this? Sex and alcohol. Just look at "Sam, Interrupted." The very first thing Dean hallucinates is a sexy woman whose job is to talk to him. During their first conversation, he also reveals that he only sleeps three or four hours every few nights and that he has somewhere around 50 drinks per week.


The steady stream of sleep deprivation, booze and sex helps to numb the pain, to dull Dean's senses to that he can get through the day. There's no way anyone can possibly enjoy being the sacrificial savior of humanity, but since Dean doesn't think he is allowed to stop, he has to resort to flirting and drinking to lessen the pain.


When you actually explore Dean's psychology, what you're left with isn't a classic hero, a mythic figure incapable of fault. Much like the hallucinatory shrink did, Dean is someone to feel sorry for. He has the hardest job in the world and he can't get out of it. He really does have the weight of the world on his shoulders.


What do you think? Is this analysis dead-on, or am I completely misinterpreting Dean's psyche?


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Jan 22, 2010 4:48PM EST

"When you actually explore Dean's psychology, what you're left with isn't a classic hero, a mythic figure incapable of fault."
Well duh. There's no such thing - everybody's got reasons. And thankfully, the characterisation on Supernatural is a step or two above that of cardboard heroes.
But yeah, most of that sounds about right. We knew all that long before this episode, though, which is why "Sam, Interrupted" was an episode wasted. Okay, maybe we didn't have confirmation on Dean's alcoholism, but that's not a point that takes an episode to make. But yes, Dean's a messed up lil puppy, and Daddy Winchester has a lot to answer for. Sam's messed up too, in a creepier way. And this is why I can't wait to see how this show ends. I want to see how the writers retire these boys. Hopefully, they won't just kill them off.

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Nov 11, 2015 4:11PM EST

same here i just felt as though "sam, interrupted" was an episode that started nowhere and ended nowhere.
i felt like the writers are just confirming what we already know, again.
we know about sam's anger and the fact that there seems to be a whole other "dark side" to him.and we know that dean just lives day to day doing what he can for the greater good because he has never known anything else.
i love this show to the bottom of my heart.i just think that the episode seemed weak because it was regurgitating and recycling.coming back from a long break, i was expecting something fresh.
but theres always next week :]

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