Ebenezer Scrooge: A Case Study

December 26, 2019

 My favorite Christmas movie is A Christmas Carol. Every year, I like to watch it on Christmas Eve. It's my little tradition. 


It's my favorite because deep down I believe that everyone is capable of change and redemption if they understand how their actions have harmed others, ask and seek forgiveness, and make an effort to live a better life. 


This year, I found a new version produced by BBC and available on Hulu. So, naturally I tuned in!


This version was unlike anything I'd ever seen. It's a darker tale that fleshes out each character's backstory including their thinking and motivations. 


TRIGGER ALERT: In this version, there are references to mental, emotional, physical and sexual abuse, as well as emotional blackmail. 


 We all know that Ebenezer Scrooge hardened his heart sometime in his youth and turned away from love in search of profit. This new version opens with Ebenezer in his office as usual, but he has OCD like tendencies, anxiety, and is one-step away from a panic attack due to the street noise and activity outside his office window. We're also privy to a backstory on how and why Jacob Marley came back in an effort to save Scrooge's soul. 


At times, Ebenezer displays characteristics of both a Narcissist and an Empath. His heart is hardened, but he still has a soft spot for the suffering of animals showing there is at least some speck of goodness left within him. This gives Jacob Marley and the other spirits hope for eventual salvation. 


The Ghost of Christmas Past takes several guises in his tour of Ebenezer's past. We see that Ebenezer was terrified of his abusive father and conditioned to believe that he must avoid any affection that doesn't result in profit. His father had a gambling addiction that brought the family to financial ruin. In exchange for Ebenezer's schooling, he made an arrangement with the Headmaster of a boarding school to keep him over the Christmas holiday where he was sexually abused. This further caused him to shut down and withdraw from healthy love and affection. Ebenezer is tormented by nightmares of his time at the boarding school displaying classic PTSD symptoms. The Ghost of Christmas Past must coerce him to re-visit these memories with a promise: "If you come with me now, you never have to enter this nightmare again". 


Ebenezer's journey with the Ghost of Christmas Past represents a tour of the Survival and Emotional brains. We see how the horrors of his past eventually shaped the man he became. The tour expands and touches on how his greed overcame his care and concern for human life. If we examine his behavior through the lens of his past, we understand why gaining power became so important due to being victimized in his youth.


As a consequence of his quest for power, he spared little thought about others in his business operations. Many people suffered and died because of his actions. Although the story is set in the Victorian era, similar themes are being played out in the news today. Ebenezer even explained that he tried not to think about the suffering of horses in one of his mines (further displaying empathy only to animals who had never harmed him). This is an example of how he used cognitive dissonance to explain away his behavior even though part of him knew it was wrong. Eventually, you see him resort to emotional blackmail in an effort to feel powerful. He treats others as pawns in his game of power and control. To avoid feeling like a victim, he began to victimize others and became a classic bully. 


Throughout his tour of the past, he attempts to justify his actions. However, the Spirits show him different points of view which cause him to alter his feeling and perceptions of the events. When this happens, he begins to feel shame and regret. 


As he continues his tour with the Ghost of Christmas Present, he's forced to witness the ripple effects of his evil deeds and how deeply they have emotionally impacted others. He admits that his father placed him on this path, but this is an attempt to make excuses and avoid taking responsibility for his behavior. 


It's the Ghost of Christmas Future who has the most impact toward change. This Spirit encompasses all 3 brains (Survival, Emotional, and Logical). It elicits fear for his life (Survival), forces him to admit his feelings and own up to his guilt and shame (Emotional), and if he does not change his ways, shows him the most likely outcome (Logical). It's this Spirit who puts all the pieces together for him. 


At first you begin to wonder if he's just offering lip service to save his life. Is he just a man who is bargaing for his life and willing to say or do anything it takes to get out of a predicament, or does he really care? The Ghost of Christmas Future had to really believe he meant what he said, or he would be sentenced to an eternity of suffering.


The verdict: Scrooge had to make the decision to leave his old life, ways of thinking, and his awful treatment of others behind. Then, his actions needed to reflect the man he said he would become. 


In this version, we see the WHY and HOW Ebenezer Scrooge became the man did over time. We see how traumatic events shaped his thinking and behavior. He didn't change until he delved into his own darkness to understand, release old behavior and thinking, then commit to living a life of his own choosing with healthier actions. 


This is also possible for YOU!!!! 


Neuro-Emotional Technique (N.E.T.) is not supernatural like the 3 Spirits, but it can help you understand how the traumas and conditioning of your past shaped your actions and behaviors. It allows you to release guilt, regret, and shame you've been holding onto which has negatively impacted your life and possibly caused you to harm others. 


At the end of the film, Ebenezer Scrooge experiences a rebirth where he feels happy and free while making a vow to live an exceptional life. If you'd like to experience the same, then it's within your grasp. 


"Everything is a lesson if you care to learn". 

-Ebenezer Scrooge







Dr. April Darley is an expert at resolving stuck patterns of behavior through Neuro-Emotional Technique (N.E.T.). By identifying self-sabotaging behaviors, she can help you regain confidence, improve relationships, remove blocks to health, wealth and success in any area of your life.



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