Movie Characters With Social Anxiety

By Arlin Cuncic, Guide

Movie characters with social anxiety tend to be featured in two types of films — thought-provoking or laugh-a-minute.

When these types of characters show up in the latter, you can be sure their awkwardness and social bumbling is there to generate laughs.

But when the main character suffers from something akin to social anxiety disorder, a window into their internal world is often opened for viewing.

This can either leave the audience scratching their heads or nodding in understanding, depending on their own experience with social anxiety. Below are some characters that you may (or may not) be able to relate to.

Joel Barish (Jim Carrey), “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind” (2004)

Writer Charlie Kaufman brings us this tale of a man who — upon discovering that his ex-girlfriend has undergone a procedure to erase all memories of him from her mind — decides to do the same.

During the process, however, Joel (Jim Carrey) discovers that he isn’t ready to let go of Clementine (Kate Winslet).

The anxious aspects of Joel’s personality, including his inability to speak with strangers and his near hermit-like lifestyle are emphasized in contrast with the extroverted Clementine.

Deb (Tina Majorino), “Napoleon Dynamite” (2004)

Napoleon Dynamite (Jon Heder) steals the show in this film about teenage awkwardness, apathy and angst.

However, Deb (Tina Majorino) brings to the screen a social awkwardness different from that of the lead role.

While Napoleon is awkward and indifferent, Deb is aware of how others perceive her and it shows in her self-conscious behavior. This is never more evident than in their first meeting when Deb nervously tries her hand at door-to-door selling.

Barry Eagen (Adam Sandler), “Punch Drunk Love” (2002)

Adam Sandler stars as Barry Eagen, a hen-pecked entrepreneur with seven sisters, intent on exploiting a loophole in a pudding promotion to cash in on free flights.

Although prone to fits of rage, Eagen may be the character who most resembles a social phobic, with his odd self-conscious mannerisms and private self-loathing. Subplots include a love interest (Emily Watson) and a soured relationship with a phone-sex operator.

Amelie Poulain (Audrey Tautou), “Amelie” (2001)

Amelie is the story of a woman who, despite her own shyness and inability to connect with others, embarks on a voyage to bring happiness into the lives of others through arms-length manipulations.

This film brings into question the impact of an isolated and sheltered childhood on later social anixety. Although capable of bringing happiness to others, Amelie struggles with her own loneliness and inability to find love.

It is only with the help of an eccentric neighbor that a relationship eventually develops with an attractive stranger.

> From longer article: The Top 8 Movie Characters With Social Anxiety

> Arlin Cuncic, M.A. “has a background in clinical psychology with a focus on anxiety and mood disorders.”


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