In most forms of fiction, the most interesting character is the villain. But what’s most interesting is the villain as they are…not as the were. Let me explain.
I think most villains’ backstories are wholly inadequate…with few exceptions (Walter White, anyone?). But there is a recipe for a villain. You take anyone and have them live through certain events and the hero within is destroyed…and the villain is born.
I’m writing about this for one reason. We need far fewer villains and far more heroes. And if we know the recipe for a villain, maybe we can stop making them.
No one is born a blank slate. We all have a slightly different natures. But no matter our natures, very few of us are born villains.
The worst villains we call psychopaths. Those with psychopathic traits only account for about 1% of our population with about .6% of the population having the full blown disorder. But these aren’t the only villains.
There are other psychopathologies with antisocial tendencies. These tendencies are brought to the front through the complement of nature. Nature is where most villains are made.
We are born incomplete. Compared to mammals such as horses or cows, we’re born half baked. Within hours of birth, they’re completely ambulatory and able to do almost everything an adult of their species can do. For us, it takes years to achieve adult level of functioning.
To reach this level of functioning requires nurturing, connection with a caregiver. The caregiver has to connect enough with the child to provide all the things a child needs. And that child needs more than things than to be fed and changed.
A child needs regulation. And that regulation comes in a few forms. And all of those forms come in the form of connection.
The unique viewpoint we offer at THE MOVEMENT is the connection between sensation and action. But these connections aren’t all the way inborn, or embodied. They are something we learn…from our caregivers.
When a child is upset, the caregiver attends. The caregiver figures out what the child is upset about. And the caregiver acts.
The child learns from this interaction. But what does the child learn? Does the child learn his upsets can be quelled…or does he learn that upsets cannot be rectified or are they simply ignored?
When the child learns their feelings don’t matter, the effect is profound. It isn’t just that they learn that their feelings don’t matter to their caregivers. The child doesn’t learn to value their own feelings, either.
We are born so immature, that we are born somewhat disconnected. Caregivers, at their best, teach correct connections. When you feel this way, this action (that I, the caregiver, do for now) makes you feel better. When you feel this way, you’ll eventually be able to do this for yourself.
Conversely, when the caregiver ignores or doesn’t act effectively based on their feelings, misconnection, even disconnection occurs. And any form of “dys-connection” makes up the blueprint of the villain. That villain’s dys-connection can wreak havoc on the rest of us.
Whether it be trauma in the form of neglect of abuse, a dys-connection occurs. The caregiver is dys-connected to the child. And the child is dys-connected to himself.
The child will learn to neglect or abuse himself when he feels a particular way. Maybe he’ll even start to neglect or abuse others. If neglecting or abusing others makes him feel better than he did…the villain starts to emerge.
And disconnecting dys-connection, especially connection that was made at a young age, is a daunting, sometime impossible task. It’s so impossible that we’re content to sequester those dys-connected in cages…guarded under lock and key. And as bad as we are treating dys-connection, we’re almost as bad at preventing it.
If functional, stable, and secure connection doesn’t occur between child and caregiver, all other connections in that child’s life will be disrupted. Those connections include the ones the child has with himself. And it’s all about connections.
While we are born with prosocial tendencies, if these tendencies aren’t wired correctly we can’t connect with them. And when we’re not well connected within ourselves, we can’t feel the positive reinforcement from connection to others. This can start a downward cycle.
When we don’t connect well with others, they lose interest in connecting with us. We lose the opportunity to learn to better connect to others and ourselves. And if we cannot connect with others, it is hard to value others…and makes it easier to act antisocially towards others.
If someone, anyone, makes a connection with us, it can be all the momentum we need. From that momentum, we can more thoroughly connect with ourselves and others. This leaves us with a moral imperative.
For those of us with more connections, we must help those with less connections. If we see someone less connected, it is up to us to succeed where either nature, nurture or both left them dys-connected. This is what heroes do.
That doesn’t mean we have to connect with everyone less connected than ourselves. But if we cannot connect with them, we can help them or find someone else to connect with them. Most villains are made, not born, which means they can be unmade.
They’re villains because they’re dys-connected. They’re dys-connected from others…and themselves. How we make ourselves (and them) a hero is through reconnection.
If caregivers didn’t connect, it falls to the extended family. If the family fails, as well, it falls individuals within the community. The problem of connection is too big for something so big as society or government to address. We, individually, must find a people and a place for everyone…or risk making ourselves the victim of a newly made villain.