Psychologically abused by his overbearing mother, Eddie Kaspbrak finds his inner strength as a child, but trauma follows him into his adult life.
“Welcome to the Losers Club” is a seven-part series that looks at and analyzes each member of the famed Losers Club from Stephen King’s It. It will be published in the weeks leading up to “It: Chapter Two”. Beyond this point, there will be spoilers for the novel It and for the film “It: Chapter One”. There will be discussion of extremely upsetting topics. such as bullying and racism. Please proceed with caution.
Eddie Kaspbrak is the member of the Losers Club that is known best for his trusty inhaler. When the situation is dire, there’s a good chance that Eddie is going to pull it out and take a hit. The inhaler, however, is completely unnecessary and is just a prop in the many lies that his mother has told him over the years.
Because of this, Eddie has become a nervous child who teeters on the edge of hypochondria. And while he and his friends believe him to be a very sickly child, he is actually far from it. Eddie’s friendship with the other Losers gives him a reprieve from his overbearing mother and a safe place where he can be a normal child.
As an adult, Eddie gains a great deal of success as an owner of a popular limo service. But even then, he cannot rid himself of the voice of his nagging and abusive mother that is so horridly ingrained in him.
When the audience meets Eddie as a child, in both book and movie alike, he appears to be nothing more than an anxious kid who has an over protective mother.
She suffocates him and takes him to the hospital over most minor of ailments and injuries. But most wouldn’t even require an appointment to a doctor, much less a trip to the emergency room. On top of being stealthily abused and controlled by his mother, Eddie is a target for Henry Bowers and his gang of degenerates.
The only peace Eddie seems to be afforded in his youth is when he’s with the Losers. Even with the threat of It looming over them, the friends create a space where they can all be safe with one another. The band of young misfits’ makeshift family is one of the few places that they can all escape to.
Eddie’s mother, Sonia, isn’t pleased with her son’s friendships, chiefly because it gives him a sense of independence and a safety net outside of her.
Sonia’s actions and behavior fall in line with Munchausen by proxy.
This is a complex psychology disorder that involves a parent or caretaker either making a child purposefully ill or making the child and those around the child believe that the child in question is gravely ill.
Sonia’s abuse of Eddie falls more into the latter. She has Eddie and everyone around them convinced that Eddie is an extremely sick child with a slew of troubling illnesses. The Nemours Foundation states on their website KidsHealth:
In MBPS, an individual — usually a parent or caregiver— causes or fabricates symptoms in a child. The adult deliberately misleads others (particularly medical professionals), and may go as far as to actually cause symptoms in the child through poisoning, medication, or even suffocation. In most cases (85%), the mother is responsible for causing the illness or symptoms.
Many Munchausen by proxy victim studies terrifyingly echo Eddie’s.
In “Effects of Munchausen by Proxy on the Victim,” author Kimberly Glazier writes, “The mothers of these children consistently presented false clinical histories and fabricated symptoms that resulted in unnecessary harmful medical investigations, hospital admissions, and treatment” (70).
Sonia is guilty of doing the aforementioned and thus has heaved trauma upon her own son because of her selfish nature. Sonia has Eddie believing that he is severely asthmatic, when in reality he is fine. The inhaler he is given is merely filled with water with camphor to make it taste medicinal.
One particular case of a victim of Munchausen by proxy depicted in the article “Munchausen by Proxy Victims in Adulthood: A First Look” by Judith A. Libow eerily mirrors Eddie’s situation. Libow dictates:
A 71-year-old woman who was brought up believing she had tuberculosis. She spent her childhood in “fresh air” classrooms for children with TB and her mother tried to convince doctors to have her put in a sanitarium. She was puzzled about the fact that, despite her “ill health,” her mother forced her to do heavy lifting and carrying. She also has a large scar from a childhood abdominal operation, with no explanation. It wasn’t until age 50 that she had herself tested and was shocked to realize she had never had TB. (1134)
In the novel, King goes to great lengths to detail how much of an absolute spineless pushover Eddie’s primary doctor.
He describes how Sonia relentlessly bullies him in order to get her way. This makes Eddie not only a victim of parental abuse but one of medical neglect as well.
Eddie eventually goes on to break his arm. In the novel, it’s at the hands of Henry Bowers. But in the film, it’s a result of falling through the ceiling at the house at 29 Neibolt Street. Sonia takes this opportunity as one to alienate Eddie from his friends and finally, at long last, gain entire control over her son and have him all to herself.
The broken arm turns out to be a blessing in disguise for Eddie in both book and movie. In both instances, it gives Eddie the courage to stand up to his disturbingly domineering mother and rejoin his friends. One of the most heartfelt observations from the book comes from Eddie when his mother turns his friends away from him. Eddie muses:
These were his friends, and his mother was wrong; they weren’t bad. Maybe, he thought, there aren’t any such things as good or bad friends—maybe there are just friends, people who stand by you when you’re hurt and who help you feel not so lonely. Maybe they’re always worth being scared for, and hoping for, and living for. Maybe worth dying for, too, if that’s what has to be. No good friends. No bad friends. Only people you want, need to be with; people who build their houses in your heart (King 806).
How Eddie discovers that he’s not truly ill differs in the film.
The novel has the pharmacist Mr. Keene getting fed up with Sonia’s treatment of Eddie. He sits the young boy down to tell him the truth of the matter. The film depicts Greta, one of the few female bullies in the novel and film — who is made Mr. Keene’s daughter in the film version — telling Eddie that his medicine is nothing more than placebos and that they’re “bullshit.”
After revealing the truth of Eddie’s medicine, Greta offers to sign Eddie’s cast. Instead of writing her name Greta scrawls ‘LOSER’ on the pristine white plaster cast. This prompts Eddie to go home and mark a V over the S in loser, call his mother out on her abuse, and meet back up with the rest of the Losers in order to face It.
As an adult Eddie has made a successful life for himself as the owner of a limo service, but he remains haunted by his mother.
Her carping commentary stays with Eddie, even though at this point she is long dead. Sonia still has her figurative claws in her son despite being in the grave and him being an adult at this point.
Eddie is wed to a woman named Myra, who bears a striking resemblance to his mother and shares many of her personality traits, though she is less malicious and domineering. He is still dependent on his inhaler and a whole slew of other medicines. And when he goes about packing to leave for Derry, he packs an entire bag filled with medicine.
It’ll be interesting to see how Eddie is adapted to screen in Chapter Two.
I predict that we might see a bit of a career change for him since limo services are more of a bygone institution. Is it possible that we could see Eddie being the owner of a popular ride sharing company or something of the sort? It would definitely be a timelier update to his job.
I have my doubts that Myra will appear in the film and think that, for this adaptation, Eddie will be unmarried. With those details aside, I see Eddie remaining very much like he is in the book given Andy Muschietti’s attention to detail and faithfulness to the characters in the past installment.