Nov 04

Lucy van Pelt of “Peanuts”: Her Best Psychiatric Advice

  Lucy van Pelt:

She rarely soft-pedals her counsel, believing instead that her clients should accept blunt criticism and face up to their problems. Although the rigorous demands of her profession prompted a few vacations during the early years, Lucy quickly realized that her replacements were no substitute for the real thing; by 1965, she had resigned herself to full-time consultation. Derrick Bang with Victor Lee (Five Cents Please)

Lucy van Pelt, who first showed up in Charles Schulz‘s Peanuts comic strip in 1952, is still alive and kicking in The Peanuts Movie, coming out this Friday. Who is Lucy van Pelt? And, more relevant, what makes her such a formidable shrink?

One word suffices to define Lucy, says James C. Kaufman, PhD, Psychology Today: “crabby.” He adds, “Typical portrayals of Lucy feature her bossing around her friends, dominating her little brother, mocking Charlie Brown’s self consciousness, and generally being a pain in the ass. Her attempts at psychiatry generally involve misguided advice delivered loudly and angrily.”

But Christopher Caldwell goes beyond the limits of that assessment of Lucy Van Pelt. “She’s an American nightmare, a combination of zero brains, infinite appetites and infinite self-esteem, who is (for that reason) able to run roughshod over all her playmates. At her best, she is the most terrifying character in the history of comics.”

Some Notable and Representative Lucy Quotes:

I was surprised to hear this oft-used statement is attributed to Lucy:

I never made a mistake in my life. I thought I did once, but I was wrong.  

I can’t help thinking that this would be a better world if everyone would listen to me.

And from 1984, this pertinent tidbit:

By the time I’ve grown up, we’ll probably have a woman president. You know what that means, don’t you? It means I won’t get to be the first one. BOY, THAT MAKES ME MAD!! 

Lucy in the Psychiatric Booth

Although Lucy counseled many of the Peanuts gang during the course of the comic strip, none is so associated with being her client as good old Charlie Brown. Some examples cited online:

Depressed Charlie Brown‘s first experience with “Dr.” Lucy in the 1950’s:

 Snap out of it! Five cents please. 

Another bit of Lucy advice aimed at fixing Charlie Brown’s depression:

Go home and eat a jelly-bread sandwich folded over. 

According to Go Comics, on one occasion Charlie’s stomach hurts, so Lucy tells him,

You’ve got to stop all this silly worrying!” He asks how he can stop. “That’s your worry! Five cents, please!!

And here’s Lucy after establishing that people take advantage of Charlie because he talks too much:

It’s your own fault! You’re just too wishy-washy! People who talk too much deserve to be insulted! They deserve to have other people walk away from them! Talking too much is an unforgivable social sin – absolutely unforgivable! The only way to deal with people who talk too much is to let them know just how boring they really are. You can’t waste your time with them, no, sir! Why should you sit and waste your valuable time while some bore talks on and on about nothing? Life is too short to waste it listening to some person who doesn’t know when to shut up! Time is too valuable! Time is…

Time…to see The Peanuts Movie. One scene has Lucy at her psychiatry booth telling Charlie Brown, If you really want to impress people, you need to show them you’re a winner. Snapping him out of his ensuing reverie of imagined success, she adds, Of course, when I say ‘you’, you know I don’t mean “you personally.”

Check out Lucy (and others) in the trailer: