I thought about this as I wrote Character Study: Jecht (Borderline Personality Disorder). I posed this question:
Is Jecht abusive or not? Many people say “no” because Jecht only acts out of love. Others say “yes” because what he does is terrible, despite what it’s supposed to accomplish. So this argument is whether the means justify the ends, or whether the means are an end to themselves. But no matter how you feel about Jecht’s action, to critically analyze them seems to suggest a severe personality disorder…
That’s right. I think he has a severe disorder. And who is Jecht?
Jecht (Tidus’ “old man”) is a surly, arrogant bully. His verbally abusive father is why Tidus is so troubled.
At least, that’s what I write. Here’s his profile in the Final Fantasy Wikia:
Jecht is surly, arrogant and a bully.
Jecht used to be emotionally abusive to Tidus, giving him the nickname “crybaby”, and otherwise brushing him off or berating him.
Despite his numerous flaws, Jecht is a good man at heart. He criticizes Tidus in the hope of encouraging him to try harder and disprove him.
So many people are confused by this paradoxical personality. How can a man be both good-hearted AND abusive? Simple: people are complex. Back in the day, teachers would use corporal punishment to help their kids learn. Jecht wasn’t a bad person, but he used bad methods to help his son.
Since many others have trouble reconciling the two characteristics, they reduce him into either all good or bad. That is since they want to think of Jecht as good, Jecht’s actions must necessarily be for good. I think it’s a very immature way of looking at personalities.
Abuse also doesn’t just mean “to hurt for no reason”. Abuse is still abuse, despite the intentions for it. No amount of reason will make abuse, not abuse. Psychologists have come a long way from thinking about abuse as simply “wanton cruelty”.
I also think many people unjustly justify the means to an end. That is, they think if Jecht’s abuse makes Tidus a better person, it’s not abusive. At least, that’s the intention.
But I still think it’s emotional abuse; Jecht is just trying to desensitize Tidus to bullying by using bully tactics on him. Still, Tidus cries a lot, so it didn’t really work too well throughout most of the game. Jecht’s words challenge Tidus’ person directly. To what end? Just to bully him. That may be mild, but it’s a form of abuse.
Sometimes, positive reinforcement and support are much more effective than bullying disguised as “tough love”. This is one of the messages of Final Fantasy X, I think. I don’t think we as a society are there yet in our human development. I’m not sure what Final Fantasy fans are picking up from the series.
Did they belt children in a different time period? Yes. It wasn’t right back then, it was just what they thought was right. Being from a “different era, different generation, different expectations” doesn’t mean it wasn’t abusive. The time doesn’t make it right. Jecht might not have mean-spirited intentions. But he’s verbally and emotionally abusing Tidus in the hopes he’ll grow to be less sensitive. It has the opposite effect. Only through positive reinforcements does Tidus grow up into a healthy individual.
This posts makes the same mistakes everyone else makes about abuse. It doesn’t matter if the reasons for abuse are malevolent or benevolent. The outcome is still abuse. The game shows it wasn’t beneficial to Tidus (although he learns what Jecht tried – but failed – to do)…
But what are your thoughts on this subject?