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'Paper Towns': A Psychologist Explains Margo’s Need For Revenge

Revenge is a dish best served never.

Spoiler alert for "Paper Towns!"

Today's the day that "Paper Towns," the bestselling YA novel by John Green makes its way from the page to the big screen. And you know what that means -- we're finally going to get to see Margo Roth Spiegelman take revenge on all the people who've wronged her in high school.

But while we're excited for Margo's intricate prank-filled plan to finally come to life, we're curious -- does revenge actually make you feel better? To answer that question we spoke to licensed clinical therapist Dr. Janina Scarlet about what compels a person to seek out vengeance.

"After something really painful happens, whether it's a traumatic experience or after, in Margo's case, after she's been cheated on and wronged in some kind of way, people feel a sense of loss of control," Scarlet told MTV News over the phone. "Sometimes the way to maintain control that people exercise is by being aggressive, irritable, or in her case, being vengeful towards other people.

"Vengeance can feel good in the moment -- planning revenge can actually cause our bodies to release certain endorphins because it feels good, it feels like we're doing something to take action and maintain control."

That's probably why Quentin and Margo were having so much fun draping saran wrap all over her former friends' cars, by the way.

"However, in the long term," Scarlet continued, "vengeance is more hurtful than helpful in general. It doesn't quite allow for the healing that tends to be more therapeutic."

And things are even worse for those of us who -- unlike Margo -- have to stick around and witness the aftermath.

"People who are capable of feeling empathy tend to actually feel worse and tend to feel guilty over what they've done," Scarlet noted. "Therapeutically, what we know is people who seek vengeance tend to not fare as well as people that allow themselves to grieve and make meaning out of tragedy or being wronged, and people that establish meaningful connections that allow themselves to recover."

In fact, Scarlet thinks that Margo's desire for revenge and her decision to run away falls in line with her mysterious "paper girl" image. She "doesn't connect with people on that deep emotional level... maybe she practices emotions on a superficial level. For whatever reason, this is why she's hurting herself. Her planning vengeance -- yes, it's hurting the people who wronged her, but more than anything it's hurting her. And that's one of the reasons I think she ends up running away and doing what she did, and really struggling with recovering."

So if you find yourself in a position where you've been hurt by someone else -- like maybe if your boyfriend cheated on you with your friend, just like Margo's ex Jase did -- what should you do? First item: don't sneak into their rooms late at night and mess with their stuff.

"The best course of action is to surround yourself with people that you love, to open up to loved ones and to that struggle that's going on," Scarlet said. "I view emotional pain as almost like an infection. If we ignore it and run away from it, it sits there and builds toxicity and it poisons us from the inside. On the other hand, if we treat it, initially it's going to hurt but in the long term that's how we heal."

But self-care and compassion is just as important, too. "In Margo's case, I think she really needed that, to notice how hurt she was and give herself that same kind of love and support that she could get from someone else," she added.

Basically, as cool as it might seem to be Margo Roth Spiegelman, you're better off being more like Quentin, who has the emotional support he needs from his friends to help him get through the bad times. And also go on road trips with him too, of course.