Why was Helga Pataki so mean on Hey Arnold?
I recently watched the first few seasons of Hey Arnold for the nostalgia value and to see how well it held up. The character of Helga is a pretty awful person to everyone around her, which I can kind of understand, given her home life is a mess. She bosses her classmates around to feel respected and powerful because she is ignored and neglected at home. She is especially cruel to Arnold because she has feelings for him; he represents everything her parents aren't: kind, big-hearted, starry-eyed, principled.
There's one episode in particular in which she pulls pranks on him, then immediately berates herself and wonders why she has to be so awful to him. It's almost like she's compelled to act that way, and I started wondering why. My own theory is that she has such low self-esteem that she feels she doesn't deserve happiness or love, and therefore does everything she can to alienate the one person she really does like and who might like her if she started being nice. Is there a psychological term for this kind of thing? What was your take on their strange relationship?