One thing that you must take in account for when you try to write
Winifred Burkle is that we do not know all that much about her. Yes,
she was studying to be a physicist in Los Angeles before taken to
Pylea; she has two parents (Roger and Trish Burkle) who are still
married; and she is from Texas, a little town probably in the middle
of no where Texas. That is pretty much it when it comes to history for
Fred. However, there are things that you can assume about her history.
It has been stated in an interview with Amy Acker (who plays Fred)
that Fred graduated from high school when she was 14, going on 15. For
all intents and purposes we do not know if she was a Grad Student or
Doctoral Student when she went to LA. If you are going to make her a
Grad Student, she could be any where from 23-25, going on 24 or 26
respectively. If you are going to make her a Doctoral Student, then
she would be about 26-28, going on 27 or 29. It is hard to say because
another thing we do not know about Fred is her birthday.
Living as a slave and runaway in a small cave of an alternate
dimension can take its toll on a person as we saw when she returned
from Pylea. For the first few months of her return she would only go
outside her room for Angel and he was the only one she seemed to feel
safe around. If you are writing fiction that is pre-Fredless you well
have to take that into account and explain why she is coming out of
her room, for whom, and why this sudden trust in this new person.
What Fred is suffering from is called Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
The National Center for PTSD lists this as a basic definition for PTSD:
A psychiatric disorder that can occur following the experience or
witnessing of life-threatening events such as military combat, natural
disasters, terrorist incidents, serious accidents, or violent personal
assaults like rape. People who suffer from PTSD often relive the
experience through nightmares and flashbacks, have difficulty
sleeping, and feel detached or estranged, and these symptoms can be
severe enough and last long enough to significantly impair the
person’s daily life. The disorder is also associated with impairment
of the person’s ability to function in social or family life,
including occupational instability, marital problems and divorces,
family discord, and difficulties in parenting.
For more information about PTSD go here: http://www.ncptsd.org/index.html
or to see the official criteria as listed in the DSM-IV go here:
In other words the reason behind her acting all crazy is fairly
simple. With a combination of her high intellect, which is always
trying to find a mathematical explanation for everything, and the
trauma in being pulled out of her own dimension, the girl’s brain hit
overload, big time!
Trust is a big part of PTSD. Fred thought that she had built a trust
with Wesley, and a type of understanding with him. He appreciated her
intelligence and understood what she was saying half the time. Gunn on
the other hand made her laugh a lot, however it is uncertain if she
was just laughing at his stupidity, because some of his jokes are just
so dumb that it is hard not to laugh. If you are writing pre-Billy
fiction you should take in to account that she still has not quite
over come her PTSD, which she probably will not be able to fully deal
with until she meets with a therapist, something that she can not do
unless she is begging to be take away in a little white jacket, or the
therapist is a demon.
When writing a post-Billy fiction though you are going to have to take
in account for Fred’s ability to forgive Wesley. Often times this type
of forgiveness is considered to be yet another type of disorder.
(Note: This is what happens when a former psychology major writes
about Fred, girl’s had a number of disorders.) Stockholm Syndrome can
sometimes be called Hostage Syndrome; however, there is no universal
definition for Stockholm Syndrome. The basic definition has to deal
with the phenomenon when a captive or hostage starts to identify with
their captor. The cause of Stockholm Syndrome in Fred’s case was the
fact that before she was pitted against Wesley she perceived him as a
good man, making it harder for her to actually be mad at him for what
For more information about Stockholm Syndrome go here:
, or go to
Google.com and use that search. As there is no official definition it
is harder to find information on unless you have access to a
Psychology 101 text.
Since Fred probably knows about Stockholm Syndrome and realized that
the fact that she forgave him so quickly after everything happened
could be conceived as a symptom of Stockholm Syndrome, it can be said
that the reason she started to distance herself after Billy was to
prevent the accusation of having that psychological reaction. Thus she
did the next logical thing her mind, she started to have a closer
relationship with Gunn. However, I will say this, what Fred
experienced is not true Stockholm Syndrome. It is understandable why
she might think that it is and explains very well why she started to
It is clear that Fred is still remarkable comfortable around Wesley.
However it should be noted that she did show some signs of being a
little uncomfortable with his protective nature in Offspring. This is
probably the starting point of her distancing herself from him in
order to protect her own psyche. That’s right folks, the reason Fred
did this was because she said to herself, "I think I have had my share
of psychological disorders, thank you!"
If you are writing a Wesley/Fred fiction here is where you can start
to cheer up. It is very likely that Fred has only temporarily
distanced her self from Wesley. The reason she developed a
relationship with Gunn was that her mind perceived it to be safe and
would not cause any more psychological trauma for her. However this is
only a temporary defense, the brain is very good at putting up these
defenses, protecting itself from becoming further damaged. But in the
case of Winifred Burkle, this is mental defense will only be used
until her brain says, "Okay times up. You are just going to have to
So if you are writing something that is a post Gunn/Fred relationship
then you can chalk up the reason for her going out with Gunn as a type
of mental defense.
If you are writing Gunn/Fred your life is much easier, and hey good
for you, cause lord knows love is complicated enough. Although I could
talk you through Gunn’s psychological issues but I won’t. Anyway Fred
gravitates towards Gunn because she has seen him fight. She likes the
strong-ness in him and needs that because she is very dependant. Since
Fred did not get the therapy required she had developed a major
dependency issue, she needs other people to make her feel normal, she
wants to feel normal.
Fred herself might not actually be capable yet of feeling actually
feelings on a full-blown scale. It is very likely that she was not in
a lot of relationships before she was abducted into Pylea, because of
this she does not really know what to do in a relationship and does
not know what is excepted of her, which is a good thing in they
Fred/Gunn relationship as Gunn likes to be in control. Do to they
maturity level it is hard to say how long their relationship will
last, also because Fred is a lot smarter, to put it bluntly, it is
likely that she would intimidate Gunn, well once she is sane again.
At the end of this season it seems like Fred is almost back to normal,
but there is a chance, and a very big one, that if something happened
to her, even something small, she could be sent back into her previous
state. Like if Gunn dumped her again, but this time for real, she
would go back to hiding under desks and such.
How will the loss of Angel and Cordelia affect her? Well it is really
hard to say but at first she will refuse to accept it. Much like she
was when she found out that Wesley had left she will go around saying
that there is no way, they will find him. Fred will also be able to
forgive Connor for what he did, if she ever found out about it. Fred
would claim that Connor did it because he was confused about coming
from one dimension to another and that she stands the best chance in
talking to Connor. If things had gone differently it is likely that
Fred and Connor may have bonded do to they experiences in hell
There is one thing that is really never brought up and that is how was
Fred actually able to survive living in Pylea. She is very small and
well she was a librarian before she was abducted, yeah I can see my
librarian surviving a hell dimension, well not really. We really don’t
know anything about what Fred was like before she left so play with
it, have fun. After all the psychological trauma that she has been
through would change anyone.
If you want to be true to her character make her smart and often times
she can be witty without realizing it. Something else about her having
PSTD is that she still has not quite gotten human interaction down.
She is working on it and if you are writing post-Birthday you probably
will not have to deal with it. But if you want to try go for it.
I should mention something else. This essay is written by the
viewpoint of a former psychology student, and while my psychological
profile for Fred is fairly accurate you do not have to follow it if
you do not want to. Case in point Hope, which I wrote because an evil
Fred-muse came and said, "Hey you, psychoanalysis lady, check out this
reason for why I doing the things that I do."
The most important thing I can stress about writing Fred is to have
fun with it. Do what you want with it, this is merely a guideline for
writing; nothing is every set in stone. And even if it is set in stone
you can still break stone if you try really, really hard, in other
words explain why your Fred is doing what she is doing. I hope to see
the results of your writing soon, good luck.