1. notleia says:

    I think we like villains for the same reason we like trickster gods — playing with the tension between self-serving and community-serving. I also think we like to think we know how bad guys are made — so that we can soothe ourselves that by doing everything right, the kids will end up okay.

    Except research seems to show that it’s more complicated than that. You can (probably) prevent your kid from becoming a narcissist (tho narcissists can unintentionally come from good parents), but psychopaths (or was it sociopaths?) are born, not made. Except narcissistic behavior is often rewarded by (at least our) society and why a good number of CEO’s are narcissists. And this is constitutes your reminder to eat the rich, because they are probably terrible people and it’s the best way they can contribute to society.

    • Narcissists and psychopaths tend to be attracted to power, so they unfortunately gravitate toward politics, leadership positions at companies, religious organizations, schools, etc. Kind of hard to escape 🙁

      Supposedly, if handled right, a psychopathic child can be raised in a manner that will make them less abusive, etc. as an adult, though they will probably be a little destructive still.

      One issue I’ve heard is that when some of this research was starting out and getting popular, people were selecting leadership positions based off psychopathic traits because they thought they would be more intent on accomplishing business goals, etc. What people didn’t (and don’t) realize is that a psychopath has such different behavior sets than a normal person. Full blown psychopaths pretty much literally can’t care about anyone in a positive way and probably won’t give a damn if they, say, run a giant company into the ground.

      But then we could have probably had something similar happen in a more socialist society, if some circumstances happened. Like, if people thought more ‘ruthless’ individuals would be better at law enforcement or tax collecting, they would get hired and corruption would abound. And there’s always the question of whether the dictators of some more socialist regeme had NPD or APD.

      Of course, one problem now days is misdiagnosis. EVERYONE has instances when they will behave in a narcissistic or psychopathic manner, especially if they get stuck in situations they aren’t prepared for or self righteously assume they are in the right and that the other side is ‘evil’. And once people learn about NPD and APD, suddenly everyone they dislike or is scared of ‘might be’ a narcissist or psychopath.

      Like, one time I saw a video that was trying to say that Darkstalker from the Wings of Fire series is a psychopath. I decry practically all Darkstalker’s behavior, but labeling him as a psychopath is a misdiagnosis. Hate to say it, but he’s pretty much got a normal psychology, and it’s just that his circumstances, personality and upbringing made for a toxic mix. He clearly loves his little sister, his mother, and his girlfriend, and actually wants to be liked by others. Psychopaths probably don’t feel any of that, at least not in the same way. If he were a psychopath, he would have been more likely to become abusive to those three people with no provocation at all. He does kind of hurt Clearsight, but that’s partly because he’s trying to reconcile his goal with the fact that he cares about her, which is actually more of an INTJ thing, though other personality types have a chance of doing that, too. Thing is, INTJs can be pretty amazing people once they understand themselves and mature enough, and most of them probably won’t ever encounter the stimuli that will make them act like Darkstalker.

      People also discuss the idea that regular, normal people have started behaving in a psychopathic or narcissistic manner with the advent of social media. Like, it’s easier to disregard others when we can’t see their face and have the power to publicly shame them/ rip their reputation to shreds and feel like a hero at the same time.

      Buuuut, a true, full blown psychopath or narcissist is actually so much worse than people realize, and the behaviors are so different than an average person’s and are so much more pervasive, and the fact that people don’t fully understand that is probably why misdiagnosis happen.

      • notleia says:

        From what I read, it’s on a continuum. On one side is the actually diagnosible stuff. In the middle are your garden-variety douchebags and sh*theels, because being a douche is not actually in the DSM-5, given that they’re not really SUFFERING because of it. Then on the sane end is a lot of people who do some occasional selfish things. (And not even on that continuum, there’s people practicing self-care, which is not selfish despite what manipulators might want them to think.)

        • There certainly is a spectrum, but what people don’t realize is that the behaviors do technically still exist in everyone. Unfortunately, it is a bit of a necessity. If someone’s in the middle of a fight, for instance, they have to focus on protecting themselves and can’t worry if their opponent is feeling pain. The problem is that people take that way too far. People can be CONVINCED that whoever is opposing them or scaring them or whatever is actually a threat, and not worthy of any regard. And then people start attacking that ‘threat’ without any remorse, etc. This happens on both sides of politics, for example.

          People have a thing for assuming that they are good or in the right even when they are not. Given the right stimulus, nearly anyone can act in a way that almost looks psychopathic or narcissistic, and it’s scary. But, most people fit into the category of ‘not actually evil but have life circumstances that are causing them to be problematic at the moment’.

          Whereas a full blown psychopath fits more into the category of ‘doesn’t actually have the capacity to have emotional empathy or love anyone or feel genuine guilt/remorse and probably never has.’

    • Travis Perry says:

      I don’t like tricksters of any kind, sitting in a patheon or not. But I do find genuine studies of evil interesting…(not all portrayals of evil show actual evil).

  2. Travis Perry says:

    I am rather tired of origin stories, actually…

    But I do find evil interesting. Looking at what human beings are really capable of points out how much we need a savior…

  3. Old Coot says:

    As Solzhenitsyn said, “the line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being. And who is willing to destroy a piece of his own heart?”

  4. Interesting, it looks like I’m in the minority because I don’t enjoy origin stories about villains. I don’t want to humanize a villain, that takes away who the villain is.

What do you think?