The Nathaniel Syndrome: A Desperate Need of Love and Attention

6 Min Read

M E N T A L  H E A L T H

Fiana Islam 

When HBO released the first season of Euphoria, it immediately got everyone’s attention, because it seemed relevant to our young generation in cases of romance, trauma, drug dealing, pornography, molestation—issues that cannot be practically ignored. One can think of this piece as a regular high school drama but actually, it is more than that. This show centres around the protagonist Rue starred by Zendaya, but the antagonist Nathaniel Jacobs has caught my attention. The fact that I could not avoid is that he seems a bit of a psychopath deliberately portrayed in a ‘not fully evil’ way by the makers. 

You will see him just as an ordinary guy in his adolescents, struggling with high school and things that any normal person would do at his age. But Nathaniel, also known as Nate, as one of the most striking characters of Euphoria, shaped his image into a dark one from his childhood. It is his family, more specifically his father who had an impact on him, not in a good way; rather it is the opposite. A boy, who always knew his father as an ideal figure, ended up discovering the bitter secrets his father has been keeping all his life—the inexplicable sexual desire for the young. 

Even though Nate is a fictional figure, his personality develops a sort of psychological disorder that occurs specifically among the young generation, as a result of something traumatic in childhood. I would like to name this: The Nathaniel Syndrome (let us assume, it is a fictional psychological disorder), so that it gets easier to explain his mental condition. 

As a result of witnessing his own father’s sex tapes, Nate has suffered from mental breakdown, denial and developed a disgust for minors. Children often get distracted when they feel cheated by their families. Sometimes parents suffer from an unhealthy marriage, which results in an unstable relationship with the kids as well. Subsequently, kids try to isolate themselves from anything positive.

Although Nate’s character is an imagination of the makers, people like him exist in reality in this postmodern era. These kinds of people or ‘patients’, often seem to hide their inner self from the world. People with this disorder are not entirely feelingless. What they feel more is like a desperate need of love and attention. They do not want to be ignored, abandoned, and more importantly, they do not want to be judged. So they work in a certain pattern through which they become the judge, jury, and executioner on their own. They become vengeful, because they have been living their lives with the idea of how things were not fair enough for them. This sort of toxicity also appears when someone wants to take control over everything happening around them. They no longer possess a sense of righteousness when things get messier. 

These features are may be caused by the lack of care, peer pressure, or absence of morality. As a result, young people with this syndrome feel a sort of hunger. Hunger for power. They build a hierarchy and crown themselves as the superior ones. Moreover, they can do anything to turn things in their favour, and that is how they enjoy inflicting fear on others. Violence and abusive nature emerge within them.

To get a clear understanding, a glance of Euphoria (1×4) will project how Nate got abusive towards his partner Madeleine, later justified it, and framed another innocent one to save himself from the law. He did not even feel guilty for this cruelty. What we only saw was his lack of empathy, remorse, and shame.   

So finally, how can we define this Nathaniel Syndrome? Is this permanent or similar to having a temporary episode? The answer can be anything. But what I think is, it is a specific psychological phase where humans try to break their shell that was created and protected by their parents for a long time. It is more likely an excuse for them to be someone they are not; someone who is cold-hearted and at the same time emotionally vulnerable. Is there any cure for this phase?  Maybe yes. Maybe no. But then again, who are we to define a fictional disorder?   


Fiana thinks of herself as a human-ish, who wants to count each of her steps on Earth just like she counts the pages of her books while reading. 

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