Thursday, December 01, 2005

Pathological Names

In every generation there seem to be given names of children associated with a much higher proportion of pathology. No recent DCYF worker will be naming her own daughter Crystal, for example. The mechanism for this is opaque to me. Most Justins and Jasons are just regular people, but somehow an enormous number of pathological mothers decided that those were the best names for their sons. This annoys the hell out of the regular Crystals, Justins, and Jasons, who usually sense that they share their name with a lot of delinquents pretty early. The delinquents themselves never pick up on it – it’s always a surprise. “Krystl, that is like so amazing! My boyfriend last summer was like Justin, too, and he had to go to rehab!” Amber, Brandon, and Sean were problem names earlier. Cheyenne may be on the rise.

Update: In England, I learn, Fiona is a problem name. Now that's a pity. Perhaps this is a regional phenomenon and these names only have such a problem association in New England, my region. That might suggest that other regions have different problem names. I don't recall any pathological names from my youth except perhaps Renee, now a rather innocuous name. Maybe you have to be an adult to see it.


SC&A said...

Ever notice how often 'Wicked' goes in front of Wanda?

Never mind.

Nicholas said...

An interesting observation. I hope some sociology or psychology grad student runs with it and picks it up as a thesis for study.

Helen said...

You know, in my work--I find the name of the most pathological to be Dwayne. I also knew a Dwayne as a kid who was a horrible menace--my guess is he is in prison by now.

OBloodyHell said...

> You know, in my work--I find the name of the most pathological to be Dwayne.

I concur, it does seem to be associated with societal maladapts -- "Earl" does, too.

There's a reason the show is titled "My Name Is Earl".

Reginleif said...

I think what you're putting your finger on are class issues, not nomenclature issues. The names you mention were trendy once upon a time among the well-to-do, but have since "trickled down" the socio-economic ladder. A quarter-century ago, whatever Justins or Crystals were around probably had much higher prospects in life. The ne'er-do-wells had names that had lost the status they'd held in older generations.

Purple Avenger said...

I have an uncle named Earl who is a complete deadbeat and always flirting on the wrong side of illegalities.

His son, also named Earl, is even worse, boldly embracing a life of petty crime, thugishness, worthlessness and deadbeatism.