Annihilation

by

Jeff VanderMeer

Teachers and parents! Struggling with distance learning? Our Teacher Edition on Annihilation can help.

The Psychologist Character Analysis

The psychologist is the leader of the twelfth expedition. She takes part in interviewing and screening the other women, and the biologist instantly dislikes her, since she asks the biologist invasive questions in the interviews. After the biologist inhales the spores in the Tower, she becomes immune to the psychologist’s hypnotic suggestions and realizes how much the psychologist has been lying to them about the nature of Area X. The evening after they discover the Tower, the psychologist coerces the anthropologist down into the Tower to take a sample of the Crawler, which kills the anthropologist and wounds the psychologist. The psychologist then abandons the biologist and surveyor to return to the lighthouse, where she has a vision of the biologist coming after her and attacking her. This leads the psychologist to jump off of the lighthouse, landing in the sand below and seriously injuring herself. When the biologist finds the psychologist, the psychologist doesn’t reveal much about Area X’s mysteries—only that it is slowly expanding. After the psychologist dies, the biologist discovers the different hypnotic suggestions that the psychologist implanted in each of the expedition’s members—including one (“annihilation!”) that will induce their suicides.

The Psychologist Quotes in Annihilation

The Annihilation quotes below are all either spoken by The Psychologist or refer to The Psychologist. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
The Sublime vs. The Mundane Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Farrar Straus & Giroux edition of Annihilation published in 2014.
Chapter 1 Quotes

Far worse, though, was a low, powerful moaning at dusk. The wind off the sea and the odd interior stillness dulled our ability to gauge direction, so that the sound seemed to infiltrate the black water that soaked the cypress trees. This water was so dark we could see our faces in it, and it never stirred, set like glass, reflecting the beards of gray moss that smothered the cypress trees. If you looked out through these areas, toward the ocean, all you saw was the black water, the gray of the cypress trunks, and the constant, motionless rain of moss flowing down. All you heard was the low moaning. The effect of this cannot be understood without being there. The beauty of it cannot be understood, either, and when you see beauty in desolation it changes something inside you. Desolation tries to colonize you.

Page Number: 5-6
Explanation and Analysis:

Most important, however, I now could guess at one way in which the spores had affected me: They had made me immune to the psychologist’s hypnotic suggestions. They had made me into a kind of conspirator against her. Even if her purposes were benign, I felt a wave of anxiety whenever I thought of confessing that I was resistant to hypnosis—especially since it meant any underlying conditioning hidden in our training also was affecting me less and less.

I now hid not one but two secrets, and that meant I was steadily, irrevocably, becoming estranged from the expedition and its purpose.

Related Symbols: The Tower/The Tunnel
Page Number: 18
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 2 Quotes

How what we had seen below could coexist with the mundane was baffling. It was as if we had come up too fast from a deep-sea dive but it was the memories of the creatures we had seen that had given us the bends.

Related Symbols: The Tower/The Tunnel
Page Number: 68
Explanation and Analysis:

At first, I must have seemed mysterious to him, my guardedness, my need to be alone, even after he thought he’d gotten inside my defenses. Either I was a puzzle to be solved or he just thought that once he got to know me better, he could still break through to some other place, some core where another person lived inside of me. During one of our fights, he admitted as much—tried to make his “volunteering” for the expedition a sign of how much I had pushed him away, before taking it back later, ashamed. I told him point-blank, so there would be no mistake: This person he wanted to know better did not exist; I was who I seemed to be from the outside. That would never change.

Related Characters: The Biologist (speaker), The Biologist’s Husband, The Psychologist
Page Number: 77
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 3 Quotes

But there is a limit to thinking about even a small piece of something monumental. You still see the shadow of the whole rearing up behind you, and you become lost in your thoughts in part from the panic of realizing the size of that imagined leviathan. I had to leave it there, compartmentalized, until I could write it all down, and seeing it on the page, begin to divine the true meaning. And now the lighthouse had finally gotten larger on the horizon. This presence weighed on me as I realized that the surveyor had been correct about at least one thing. Anyone within the lighthouse would see me coming for miles. Then, too, that other effect of the spores, the brightness in my chest, continued to sculpt me as I walked, and by the time I reached the deserted village that told me I was halfway to the lighthouse, I believed I could have run a marathon. I did not trust that feeling. I felt, in so many ways, that I was being lied to.

Related Characters: The Biologist (speaker), The Psychologist, The Surveyor, The Crawler
Page Number: 93
Explanation and Analysis:

The lighthouse had drawn expedition members like the ships it had once sought to bring to safety through the narrows and reefs offshore. I could only underscore my previous speculation that to most of them a lighthouse was a symbol, a reassurance of the old order, and by its prominence on the horizon it provided an illusion of a safe refuge. That it had betrayed that trust was manifest in what I had formed downstairs. And yet even though some of them must have known that, still they had come. Out of hope. Out of faith. Out of stupidity.

But I had begun to realize that you had to wage a guerrilla war against whatever force had come to inhabit Area X if you wanted to fight at all. You had to fade into the landscape, or like the writer of the thistle chronicles, you had to pretend it wasn’t there for as long as possible.

Related Characters: The Biologist (speaker), The Psychologist
Related Symbols: The Lighthouse
Page Number: 110
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 4 Quotes

“How many of your memories do you think are implanted?” the psychologist asked. “How many of your memories of the world beyond the border are verifiable?”

“That won’t work on me,” I told her. “I am sure of the here and now, this moment, and the next. I am sure of my past.” That was ghost bird’s castle keep, and it was inviolate. It might have been punctured by the hypnosis during training, but it had not been breached. Of this I was certain, and would continue to be certain, because I had no choice.

Related Characters: The Psychologist (speaker), The Biologist (speaker), The Biologist’s Husband
Page Number: 126-127
Explanation and Analysis:

“I’ll give you this scrap: The border is advancing. For now, slowly, a little bit more every year. In ways you wouldn’t expect. But maybe soon it’ll eat a mile or two at a time.”

The thought of that silenced me for a long moment. When you are too close to the center of a mystery there is no way to pull back and see the shape of it entire. The black boxes might do nothing but in my mind they were all blinking red.

Related Characters: The Psychologist (speaker), The Biologist (speaker)
Page Number: 129-130
Explanation and Analysis:

Cleaning up a little later, a fit of laughter came out of nowhere and made me double up in pain. I had suddenly remembered doing the dishes after dinner the night my husband had come back from across the border. I could distinctly recall wiping the spaghetti and chicken scraps from a plate and wondering with a kind of bewilderment how such a mundane act could coexist with the mystery of his reappearance.

Page Number: 153
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 5 Quotes

There were thousands of “dead” spaces like the lot I had observed, thousands of transitional environments that no one saw, that had been rendered invisible because they were not “of use.” Anything could inhabit them for a time without anyone noticing. We had come to think of the border as this monolithic invisible wall, but if members of the eleventh expedition had been able to return without our noticing, couldn’t other things have already gotten through?

Related Characters: The Biologist (speaker), The Biologist’s Husband, The Psychologist
Page Number: 157
Explanation and Analysis:
Get the entire Annihilation LitChart as a printable PDF.
Annihilation PDF

The Psychologist Character Timeline in Annihilation

The timeline below shows where the character The Psychologist appears in Annihilation. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 1
The Sublime vs. The Mundane Theme Icon
Self-Reliance, Mistrust, Secrecy, and Isolation Theme Icon
The biologist, the anthropologist, the surveyor, and the psychologist all start out for Area X; they are the first expedition to travel there in... (full context)
Self-Reliance, Mistrust, Secrecy, and Isolation Theme Icon
The psychologist is excited by their discovery and asks if the others are also excited. The biologist... (full context)
Self-Reliance, Mistrust, Secrecy, and Isolation Theme Icon
...the process to get ready for entry into Area X, but the linguist never reappeared—the psychologist explained that she had second thoughts. (full context)
Self-Reliance, Mistrust, Secrecy, and Isolation Theme Icon
The psychologist then hypnotized the other members so that they would not experience hallucinations when crossing the... (full context)
The Sublime vs. The Mundane Theme Icon
Self-Reliance, Mistrust, Secrecy, and Isolation Theme Icon
...tall pines on both sides. They marked their location with a red cloth; if the psychologist became incapacitated, the others were told to return here to wait for “extraction”—though they were... (full context)
Objectivity vs. Subjectivity Theme Icon
...experience, the anthropologist was once an architect, and the biologist knows very little about the psychologist. (full context)
Objectivity vs. Subjectivity Theme Icon
The psychologist weighs all of the opinions and asks if anyone wants to leave yet—everyone shakes their... (full context)
Objectivity vs. Subjectivity Theme Icon
At the tower, the group examines the structure. The psychologist comments on the tower’s different measurements: its height, its diameter, and its building materials. She... (full context)
Self-Reliance, Mistrust, Secrecy, and Isolation Theme Icon
Objectivity vs. Subjectivity Theme Icon
At the top, the biologist tells the psychologist what they saw, and the psychologist insists on going down to observe the words. When... (full context)
Objectivity vs. Subjectivity Theme Icon
The psychologist flatly remarks that what she saw was very interesting. This offends the anthropologist, who becomes... (full context)
Self-Reliance, Mistrust, Secrecy, and Isolation Theme Icon
Objectivity vs. Subjectivity Theme Icon
The psychologist decides that the next day they should return to the tunnel wearing breathing masks and... (full context)
Self-Reliance, Mistrust, Secrecy, and Isolation Theme Icon
After the psychologist snaps, the women return to their tents. The biologist realizes how much control the psychologist... (full context)
Chapter 2
Self-Reliance, Mistrust, Secrecy, and Isolation Theme Icon
In the morning, the group discovers that the anthropologist is gone. The psychologist, who seems shaken, explains that what the anthropologist saw in the tunnel unnerved her, and... (full context)
Self-Reliance, Mistrust, Secrecy, and Isolation Theme Icon
Sensing that the psychologist is lying, the biologist knows that she and the surveyor have a choice: they can... (full context)
Self-Reliance, Mistrust, Secrecy, and Isolation Theme Icon
...the tower, the surveyor and biologist plan to spend the full day inside while the psychologist stands guard at the top of the tower. They have their weapons and breathing masks,... (full context)
The Sublime vs. The Mundane Theme Icon
Objectivity vs. Subjectivity Theme Icon
...that the wall is only made of stone. The biologist wants to explain everything—about the psychologist hypnotizing them—but she doesn’t. She knows the surveyor can’t experience what she’s experiencing, so she... (full context)
The Sublime vs. The Mundane Theme Icon
...biologist almost wishes that she weren’t aware of the tower’s true nature, wondering how the psychologist withstood the knowledge. The biologist again observes the words on the walls, which continue in... (full context)
Self-Reliance, Mistrust, Secrecy, and Isolation Theme Icon
...up, there is another, fourth set of boot prints. The biologist then realizes that the psychologist and anthropologist came down together, and the psychologist hypnotized the anthropologist. She forced her to... (full context)
Nature, Power, and Persistence Theme Icon
The biologist explains her theory to the surveyor, noting that the psychologist has been hypnotizing them while she (the biologist) has been impervious. The surveyor is aghast,... (full context)
Self-Reliance, Mistrust, Secrecy, and Isolation Theme Icon
...is shocked at how mundane the outside world feels in comparison. They cannot find the psychologist. Even at base camp, they can’t find her, but she took half their supplies and... (full context)
The Sublime vs. The Mundane Theme Icon
...now, and the biologist says they should eat dinner, look along the perimeter for the psychologist, and think about what to do the next day. The surveyor insists that they’re not... (full context)
Nature, Power, and Persistence Theme Icon
...the tower. The surveyor has no interest in either, even though it might be the psychologist in the lighthouse—she’s worried that the psychologist will have a much better vantage from the... (full context)
Self-Reliance, Mistrust, Secrecy, and Isolation Theme Icon
...but it becomes clear that she knows the biologist tried to use one of the psychologist’s hypnotic cues and resents her for doing so. She says that the biologist would do... (full context)
Chapter 3
Nature, Power, and Persistence Theme Icon
Self-Reliance, Mistrust, Secrecy, and Isolation Theme Icon
...gasps at what she finds: a space 15 feet deep and 30 feet wide. The psychologist has been there, as her knapsack and other supplies are there, though she is not... (full context)
Nature, Power, and Persistence Theme Icon
...The biologist lays the table across the entrance to the stairwell, so that if the psychologist comes, the biologist will hear her. The biologist again feels a growing brightness inside her,... (full context)
Self-Reliance, Mistrust, Secrecy, and Isolation Theme Icon
...yet, but she takes it and a handful of others, along with two of the psychologist’s guns, and climbs out. (full context)
Self-Reliance, Mistrust, Secrecy, and Isolation Theme Icon
...get some air, she’s horrified to notice a body in the sand below her: the psychologist. (full context)
Chapter 4
Self-Reliance, Mistrust, Secrecy, and Isolation Theme Icon
Everything that the biologist knows about the psychologist comes from observations during training, which amount to little. The biologist recalls training interviews with... (full context)
Nature, Power, and Persistence Theme Icon
The biologist approaches the psychologist in the sand in front of the lighthouse; she must have jumped or been pushed... (full context)
Nature, Power, and Persistence Theme Icon
Self-Reliance, Mistrust, Secrecy, and Isolation Theme Icon
When the biologist touches the psychologist gently on the shoulder, the psychologist recoils and desperately screams “Annihilation!” over and over again,... (full context)
Nature, Power, and Persistence Theme Icon
Self-Reliance, Mistrust, Secrecy, and Isolation Theme Icon
The psychologist says that she saw the biologist coming, and that she was like a “flame.” She... (full context)
Self-Reliance, Mistrust, Secrecy, and Isolation Theme Icon
The biologist then asks what happened with the anthropologist. The psychologist explains she miscalculated—the anthropologist got too close, and the creature reacted, killing the anthropologist and... (full context)
The Sublime vs. The Mundane Theme Icon
Objectivity vs. Subjectivity Theme Icon
The biologist then asks what happens when they cross the border. The psychologist replies cruelly that removing that veil from her mind and letting her access the memories... (full context)
Self-Reliance, Mistrust, Secrecy, and Isolation Theme Icon
The biologist tries to get the psychologist to talk about the Crawler and Area X, but the psychologist seems to take pleasure... (full context)
The Sublime vs. The Mundane Theme Icon
...asks more questions—how many expeditions there have been, what the first expedition found. But the psychologist is again vague and obscure, saying only that there are a lot of journals, and... (full context)
Nature, Power, and Persistence Theme Icon
...seems to become more alive. The biologist asks if she can do anything, and the psychologist simply says to leave her where she is when she dies. She says, dismally, that... (full context)
Nature, Power, and Persistence Theme Icon
The biologist finds the psychologist’s journal in her jacket. She also sees that under her shirt, her arm was “colonized”... (full context)
The Sublime vs. The Mundane Theme Icon
Nature, Power, and Persistence Theme Icon
...Tower with a few scribbled notes—including one that says, “lighthouse keeper.” She is glad the psychologist did this work so she wouldn’t have to examine the Tower again. On the psychologist’s... (full context)
Self-Reliance, Mistrust, Secrecy, and Isolation Theme Icon
In the psychologist’s pants pocket, the biologist finds a paper that includes a list of hypnotic suggestions and... (full context)
Self-Reliance, Mistrust, Secrecy, and Isolation Theme Icon
As the biologist stands beside the psychologist’s body, she knows that her husband’s journal will reveal the real nightmares he encountered in... (full context)
Nature, Power, and Persistence Theme Icon
...and as she looks back, she sees a thin green light emanating from the dunes—the psychologist’s wound glowing brightly. A phrase that the biologist saw copied in the psychologist’s journal comes... (full context)
Nature, Power, and Persistence Theme Icon
Self-Reliance, Mistrust, Secrecy, and Isolation Theme Icon
Objectivity vs. Subjectivity Theme Icon
The surveyor calls out to the biologist, asking where the psychologist is. The biologist explains that the psychologist jumped from the lighthouse. She begs the surveyor... (full context)
Nature, Power, and Persistence Theme Icon
...her body, and she is numb and delirious. In a vision, she sees the anthropologist, psychologist, and surveyor peering down at her as though through water. In a second vision, she... (full context)
Chapter 5
The Sublime vs. The Mundane Theme Icon
Nature, Power, and Persistence Theme Icon
The psychologist told the biologist that Area X’s border is advancing, but there are thousands of transitional... (full context)
Nature, Power, and Persistence Theme Icon
Objectivity vs. Subjectivity Theme Icon
The biologist examines the cells from the psychologist’s wounded arm and from her own body, but she finds they are normal human cells.... (full context)
The Sublime vs. The Mundane Theme Icon
Nature, Power, and Persistence Theme Icon
Objectivity vs. Subjectivity Theme Icon
...so well—and she realizes that she might not think that’s a bad thing anymore. The psychologist had said the biologist changed, perhaps meaning that she changed sides—she was persuaded to see... (full context)
Nature, Power, and Persistence Theme Icon
...the village the past few days as she watched figures head to the Tower. The psychologist’s body is totally gone, as if she melted into the sand. (full context)